In one of the most anticipated matchups of 2019 in the regular season, the Toronto Maple Leafs travel to Tampa for their second meeting with the Lightning this season. The first didn’t go so well for the Leafs, who were dispatched by a score of 4-1 in Tampa. This will be the third game in a row that the Lightning have had the benefit of playing the Leafs in their home arena.
And the way it’s going, they’re going to easily have home ice advantage over Toronto if they happen to meet in the playoffs. The Lightning are up on the Leafs comfortably with 74 points compared to 58 for the Leafs. Toronto’s biggest threat to overtake them might be lurking behind them, an old nemesis, the Boston Bruins.
There are a few teams the Leafs don’t want to play in the first round. One of them includes the Bruins. They’ve developed into a major thorn in their side and it’s continued years after they blew a 4-1 lead in Game 7. As I write this, the Bruins are up 2-1 on the Flyers, so if they do hold on to win, then they will be going into tonight with a 1 point lead over the Leafs in the Eastern Conference.
What could flip the narrative for the Leafs in the second-half is if William Nylander comes on strong. He hasn’t done much of anything since returning, and has looked like more of a liability on the ice rather than a contributor. Mike Babcock is putting Nylander back on a line with Hyman and Matthews. The idea is that Hyman and Matthews can help him rebuild his confidence. He’s going to have chances on a line with Matthews, so we’ll see what he can generate against the Lightning on Thursday. Head below for our free Maple Leafs vs. Lightning pick.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Pick
The Lightning are on a three-game winning streak over the Leafs dating back to last season. The Leafs won a meeting, while the Lightning were winners in two of three. Tampa scored 4 goals in each of those games. They’re a team you are likely going to have to score against often to come out of it with 2 points. The Lightning left the door open for the Stars, but they couldn’t find the back of the net.
Tampa got away with a 2-0 win which came after an ugly 4-1 loss in Brooklyn. It was a rare off night for the Lightning, but it didn’t help that Thomas Greiss played the game of his life on Sunday. Good teams know how to respond and that’s what the Lightning accomplished in their next outing. With just 3 goals in their last two games, the best offence in the league is bound to breakthrough.
Considering the success they’ve had against the Leafs and Frederik Andersen, their offence should be able to get it going on Thursday night in Tampa. Andersen has had difficulties trying to slow down the Bolts, as he enters with a 3.77 GAA and 0.873 save percentage in ten appearances against them.
He had a shaky return against the Avalanche following his return off the IR. The Avs beat him for 4 goals on 36 shots. As a team, Toronto have allowed 3 goals per game on the road, though are averaging 4 goals per game offensively which is better than their effort at Scotiabank Arena.
The Lightning have found it awfully easy to score at home this season, with 4.35 goals per game at Amalie Arena. They rank 1st overall, notching 4 goals per game while the Leafs are 4th with 3.58 goals per game. Three of their last four meetings have resulted in final scores of 4-3. Expect something similar, which leads us to a play on the OVER.