The Toronto Maple Leafs have escaped the question of “will they advance?” and won their first-round series vs the Tampa Bay Lightning. They had not won since 2004, almost two decades of agony for Leafs Nation, and now is the time to play hockey like it is drawn up and go the distance.
For the Tampa Bay Lightning, this was a tight game from the get-go, and for the Toronto Maple Leafs, this was a characteristic win.
They did enough to figure out Andrei Vasilevskiy’s game between the pipes as he was as good as any goalie can be. He was tested less than Ilya Samsonov who put up a spectacular show in his net in the Leafs’ defensive end and allowed them to stay in the game.
As I observed the game, I noticed that the Toronto Maple Leafs defense was firm on their box zone play and what made it more difficult and frustrating for the Lightning players was that every time they had the puck, the Leafs players would attack and take away from Tampa Bay’s usual gameplay.
How did the Toronto Maple Leafs advance in this series?
As I said, the patience of the Toronto Maple Leafs handling a team such as the Tampa Bay Lightning was the real bread and butter of the series. It was so neat watching the Leafs shut down Tampa’s offense during most of the series, even though one or two errors cost them important goals in the first round.
John Tavares’s go-ahead goal gave the Toronto Maple Leafs the win of the series, with Auston Matthews with the first goal of the game.
Looking at the current Tampa Bay Lightning.
Tampa was a phenomenal team to watch as well though, because of the intensity this team brings to the ice. It gives the opposing team a run for their money, and they pulled off wins like no other team could have.
Their arsenal is quite compelling to observe and commit to with head coach Jon Cooper leading the way as possibly the best coach in the last five years and a true role model in the locker room.
Captain Steven Stamkos was a nonfactor in the series for the most part, as the Leafs did their best to keep him off the scoreboard, except for the two goals he knotted in the series that kept his team in the games.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are the future.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were a force to be reckoned with, as they had lost game one of the series in dramatic fashion but rebounded and won three-straight contests. They were the better team in the series and were able to close it out in dramatic fashion as well.
Toronto’s game from the get-go was to keep the Tampa players from exploding around the net with their tic-tac-toe passing, along with the nifty stick-work that the Lightning players can utilize. That helped the Leafs contend in the series.
After beating the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Toronto Maple Leafs will wait upon their next opponent and look to keep playing a solid team game that they are playing with now that the big guns warmed up and are ready to play.
Given that they will have rest to their advantage, this team is looking good heading into the second round of the 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, and we will look forward to them putting on a show.