I skated the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena Thursday morning.
For the second season in a row, Leaves Center Auston Matthews He was nominated for a Hart Award.
“The way he plays the game is unique and special,” said Devinsman. Morgan Riley. “The work ethic he sets both in and off season really sets the tone. I don’t think he takes anything for granted. He goes out there and earns it…When he does what he’s doing it’s tough. Not following and playing hard.”
Matthews put on a MVP type performance in Game Five on Tuesday. He scored the winning goal at the end of the third half. Matthews also led all players with seven strokes.
“His overall game is as good as everyone else in the league, so it’s not surprising,” said the Leafs captain. John Tavares. “He’ll play hard and compete. They make it hard for him to win the ice and his chance, so it’s good for him to play them hard and work for his ice. He’s a motivator, a leader for us.”
It will be hard to win the ice in Tampa as John Cooper has the advantage of the last change and can get it Brayden PointAnd Anthony Cirelli And Victor Hedman against Matthews. Toronto’s top streak failed to score with the same force over the two games here during the series.
“If they play the way they played last night it will take them a long way,” said Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe. “Auston, in particular, 200 feet of ice, the way he skates and races and reclaims pucks, that really goes a long way.”
Matthews has been more productive at home during his playoff career. He has 13 goals in 19 home games, but only three goals in 18 matches when the other coach has the advantage of a recent change.
So how did his streak make a breakthrough in Game 6 in Tampa?
“We just need to try to attack,” Matthews said. “We need to be good on both ends of the ice, but only attack and fitness. They will try to neutralize us, try to be above us defensively and things, and we have to be good at defense as well. Those pucks can get those pucks into the O-zone.”
As for Hart’s nomination, Matthews calls it “a great honor,” but the Arizona native wants to keep the focus on the task at hand.
“This is what we play and work hard for,” he said. “It’s moments like this.
Leaves 0-7 at Matthews age when they have a chance to eliminate an opponent.
“We’re in a good mood,” said Matthews, who has scored a goal and made two in those seven games that are potentially nearing an end. “Everyone is excited about the opportunity we have tonight… a really good opportunity for our group to seize the moment.”
It was business as usual for The Leafs on Thursday morning. The team was carrying a full skate, which is normal after a day off the ice, and there were no line-up changes.
“If anything, we’ve learned that you can’t focus too much on the fact that it’s an elimination match,” Keefe said. “All of these things go without saying. You know what you’re playing in. You have to focus on the things that you did well in the series. You have to focus on continuing to improve in the series.”
The Leafs are 1-8 when he’s leading a streak in the past six years, including 0-2 against Lightning this year.
“The chance to win and move forward is huge and we all know that,” Riley said. “We’ve learned in the past what happens when you’re not able to do that.”
Toronto squandered their 3-1 lead last year against Montreal and are 3-2 ahead of Boston in 2019.
Riley, the longest-serving sheet, embraces pressure.
“You want to be prepared, you want to have fun and just get out and play and not overthink,” Riley said.
Keefe spoke with Mitch Marner on the ice before starting to skate. His message to the star wing?
“Just play,” the coach revealed. “Have fun. You know, do what he was doing. I think he feels really good about his game and his series so far, so just go out and do whatever you want.”
Marner tied Matthews to lead the team by seven points in the series. He earned a pass in the match-winning goal on Tuesday.
Marner provided assists in seven close matches he played.
The Leafs made a change to the higher power unit in game 5 like Mark Giordano Riley replacement.
“With Geo Shot, he’s more prepared and programmed to just guide the puck into the net,” Keefe explained. “Morgan, all season long, has been our distributor at the top there.”
Foliage tied 16.7 percent of their chances in the series (4 versus 24), a drop from 27.3 percent in the regular season when they led the NHL.
Keefe admitted that “getting a clean look was a challenge,” but we found a way to score consistently. When you get one goal in one game, you will win that. When you get strong early in the games, you like to see them hit and build momentum for us.”
An early power-play goal propelled the Leafs to victory in Game 3 in Tampa, but Toronto suffered from a man advantage early in the fifth game.
“When you don’t keep playing with force, it tends to draw attention to every other area, and then you feel like your whole game isn’t there,” Keefe said.
Lightning has faced elimination only once during two Stanley Cup rounds. Tampa defeated the New York Islanders 1-0 in Game Seven of last year’s Eastern Conference Final.
“If we limit a little bit of self-destruction on our part we will give ourselves a chance to win,” Cooper said. “I can’t guarantee we’ll win, but we will definitely show up tonight, I’ll tell you.”
“The systems are kind of taken out of it at this point,” said the Third Line Center. Nick Paul. “We know what they’re going to do, and they know what we’re going to do, so it’s about our will against theirs.”
Paul had four shots, including a breakup, in Game 5 but couldn’t beat Jack Campbell. Paul is not planning any changes. The former Ottawa senator is not a superstitious person.
“I can’t leave this mess with my head,” he said. “I’ve had some good chances and, in my opinion, it’s inevitable to get in at some point. So, just waiting to bounce back.”
Paul broke his stick on the first shot he took on Thursday morning.
“I thought that was the thing, so I don’t think so,” he said of the flawed twig with a smile. “I hope this is good luck.”
Lines in Leafs Skate:
Darsa – Matthews – Marner
Mikheev – Tavares – Kervot
Nylander – Kampf – Engvall
Spiza – Blackwell – Cassie
Symonds, Clifford, Anderson
Riley – Lyubushkin
Muzzin – Brody
Giordano – Hall
Sanden – Lilgreen
Lines in Lightning Skate:
Bales – Stamkos – Kocherov
Cirelli – Point – Killorn
Hagel – Paul – Colton
Maroon – Belmar – Berry
Hedman – Cernack
McDonagh – Boghossian
Sergechev – Foot / Rota