In many ways, it feels like we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be. Dragon slaying was always down to Game 7.
– Toronto Maple Leafs May 14, 2022
The Leafs and their fan base are back in a very familiar setting after letting elimination slip through their fingertips in Game 6, but the way they got here this time around. Feel Much better, and there’s something reassuring about him being the first home snowboarder since 2004. Only time will tell if he’ll be enough to end the Game 7 curse against an opponent of his caliber.
One of the biggest positives the Leafs could take away from Thursday’s loss was their ability to control the disc and beat Tampa from the start in five against five through a clean round of equal-strength play in the first frame, a rarity in a streak characterized by early penalties. Game 6 may have been indicative of what was to come from the ruling crew regarding the standard of elimination game, but the Leafs should be prepared for any eventuality after six matches that saw a little bit of everything. Notably, the 5v3 goal, the shortened goal, and the 4v4 goal are what put the Leafs in overtime first in Game 6.
The Leafs’ other hope is that a return to home ice, with a crowd who was the Leafs’ seventh man on ice during their SBA win and Sheldon Keefe’s latest change, will allow the Leafs to find an edge on the sidelines, as this contested game and series will eventually be determined. strongly.
Another encouraging sign was that Matthews’ streak managed to win their road match against the Cirelli-Point-Killorn line, scoring against them to start the comeback and finish with commanding control over shot attempts.
With the home ice feature and the latest Game Change 7, the Engvall-Kampf-Mikheyev trio will get a wealth of defensive zone draws while getting the Tavares and Matthews lines with the most kicks in the box in the attack zone and exploiting singles. A mismatch is where Keefe can find one.
Overall, the Leafs have managed to come out on top in a five-on-five fight so far, winning goals (12-10) and xGoals/60 (2.52-2.38). They’ve used special teams to their advantage at times in the series, but they’ve hit a negative overall with six matches: The Leafs have 16% play power versus Lightning’s 23%, and PK’s 77%. for Lightning’s 84%.
A 2-1 advantage in short cuts closes the gap – not to mention a pair of 4v4 Leafs in Game 5, if you want to consider that special teams time – but the 5v5 game has generally favored the sprouts, and avoiding them early would be penalties against a TB power game that could To score a foul in a timely manner with ruthless efficiency is crucial tonight.
You could argue that it was a case of shooting in their foot that cost the Leaves a chance to finish this streak in six on Thursday: a blind drop pass to a goal-versus-from-nothing, consecutive high-stakes fouls within 15 seconds of each other, a spin that leads to a reduced goal against. Having said that, it’s three games in a row now that the Leafs have fallen into a multi-goal deficit; As much as The Leafs have resolved it somewhat routinely in the series, with Andrei Vasilevskiy’s history of locking in chances of elimination, that’s not the recipe they’ll be looking to replicate this evening.
Most stats point to a series that will be decided on the lowest margins, but we can also usually throw away the numbers when it comes to Game 7. Often, the team that makes the fewest mistakes and gets the few bounces away to walk away victorious.
From the other locker room, Toronto native John Cooper captured what the night represented for the Leafs Nation and the hockey world in general:
Paradoxical, isn’t it? Saturday night. Hockey night in Canada. Inside Toronto. I’ve got heroes twice. You have a team rich in tradition and very popular in this country. These moments do not come often.
Getting myself out of the situation, you should watch TV if you are a hockey fan or any kind of sports fan.
Try and enjoy this, Leafs fans. We’ll see you on the other side.
game day quotes
John Cooper on the benefits of his team’s experience of elimination:
You learn from experience. Experience doesn’t win you the game, but it can certainly help you through tough times. You can’t let that moment get too big for you. This is a big message for young people.
It’s hard to say it’s just another game because they’re human, but don’t let the moment consume you.
Cooper on Game Play 7:
The sun will still rise tomorrow regardless of the outcome. I’ve been on both sides of it. The phrase used by Jim McKay, “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” This really is.
The sun will rise tomorrow, but you are working hard to put yourself in a position. When you lose it’s really hard, but damned it’s exhilarating when you win.
Sheldon Keefe on his stress level entering Another Game 7:
I don’t feel any nerve. Just exciting. That’s confidence as far as I’ve been coaching this team.
Confidence is earned, right? Part of it is that all season we have been top of the league. We established the ice on our soil in a very difficult division and beat this opponent [it].
Through this series, both teams have been dealing with each other. Both teams hit the other on the butt a bit, but both recovered and carried on. We’ve been really up there with back-to-back champions. Our men have gained so much confidence in knowing that they belong to this moment.
Keefe talks about why his team’s confidence increased in Match 7:
This is because of the way we played this series and how we played against this opponent. Part of the way we’ve played all season and responded to challenges. Much of our confidence has grown in this series [as well].
You do not know how the outcome of the match will turn out. I think the opponent is confident in himself. but where are you [most] Confident that players will feel comfortable, they will go out, compete and play with energy. This is what I trust.
We will give ourselves every chance to win the match.
Keefe talks about the mentality his team is taking to another blockbuster game:
Many nerves are not nerves. It’s exciting. You want to go out and play. You know what’s at stake. You know it’s Game 7.
The mental approach should be that you are going to play another game. It is another game in this series. We played really well in this series. We played really well in this building.
We don’t need to make it bigger than it is. It’s big enough, we know that. this is the truth. It is not announced. We’re just trying to keep things focused on what we can do as a team and keep playing the way we have. This gives us a chance to win.
Why Keefe chose to have his full morning skate shoe today:
That’s what we’ve been doing in all chains. We are on vacation – a day of travel. We just keep the same routine.
On whether Keefe plans to make any tactical changes tonight:
Regarding the plan, I will continue on the path. When it comes to Game 7, both teams know each other very well. In this sense, there is not much difference.
There are other areas we have been focusing on and we need to continue to do a better job both defensively and offensively. I think both teams have generated a lot of speed coming through the neutral zone in this series. The team that manages it best will have the advantage tonight.
How to Grow Auston Matthews:
He has established himself as an elite player in the league but is also a player who has been through a lot. At this time of year in particular, he believes in himself and believes in his ability to go out and play.
Keefe on how big an impact the Toronto fans will have on tonight’s game:
All I can do is check out what we have tested in this series so far. For me, it has undoubtedly made a difference. I expect it to be the same here tonight.
It will be electric. Obviously, we have to follow that through our game play. Another source of my confidence is that I know what our team is going to bring here today and I really believe in that very much because of what they have shown us in this series.
I know our fans will be attending tonight too. For all these reasons, let’s leave the tweaks and get to it.
Keefe on how the team prepares for tonight’s referee:
What is important is that our expectation is that they will release penalties. They’ll call the infractions. We have to take responsibility with sticks. We have to move our feet. We have to establish the position of the body.
At the same time, we can’t get distracted and lose focus on how the game is called or not. There are enough distractions and things that happen outside of our control as they are. We just have to stay focused on our shift in play so as not to give those responsible a reason to ask for penalties.
Keefe on what he is looking for from the start of his team to the match:
I think I got off to a good start, no matter who scored the goals. We want to look comfortably at skiing and competition.
We didn’t get the first goal last night, but I still liked the way we were playing and we kept playing. It was the same here. Needless to say, scoring the first goal puts you in the game.
Toronto Maple Leafs expected lines
#56 Michael Banting – #34 Auston Matthews – #16 Mitch Marner
#15 Alex Kerfoot – #91 John Tavares – #88 William Nylander
#47 Pierre Engvall – #64 David Kampf – #65 Ilya Mikheev
#25 Ondrej Kase – #11 Colin Blackwell – #19 Jason Spezza
#44 Morgan Riley – #46 Ilya Lyubushkin
#8 Jake Muzin – #78 TJ Brody
#55 Mark Giordano – #3 Justin Hall
Author: #36 Jack Campbell
#50 Eric Calgren
Sanitary scratches: Wayne Simmonds, Timothy Lillegren, Nick Abrosis, Kyle Clifford, Rasmus Sandin
injured: Peter Marazek
Lightning streaks projected into Tampa Bay
#18 Ondrij Balat – #91 Stephen Stamkos – #86 Nikita Kucherov
#17 Alex Killorn – #21 Brayden Point – #71 Anthony Cirelli
#38 Brandon Hagel – #79 Ross Colton – #20 Nick Paul
#14 Patrick Maron – #41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – #10 Corey Berry
#77 Victor Hedman – #81 Eric Cernak
#27 Ryan McDonagh – #24 Zach Bogosian
#98 Mikhail Sergachev – #52 Calfoot
Author: #88 Andrei Vasilevskiy
#1 Brian Elliot
Sanitary scratches: Riley Nash, Jean Ruta