The Maple Leafs take on the Lightning in Tampa in the back half of a Florida doubleheader. Here are the Leafs three keys to a win.
Slow it down
The Maple Leafs got caught in another shooting gallery against the Panthers on Sunday. There were odd man rushes going back and forth. When it was all said and done, the Leafs fell on the losing side of that. It was lesson the Leafs needed to learn. Get back to the fundamentals and play a good road game. The Leafs need to slow the pace of the game down against the Lightning and it should go a long way to securing two points.
Tyler Johnson has been tearing it up for the Lightning. In the month of December, Johnson has tallied 14 points in 12 games and leads Tampa in scoring with 37 points in 36 games. Johnson’s rise in production give the Lightning two lines with dangerous centres in Johnson, and of course, Steven Stamkos. This will give the Leafs all kinds of line matching issues as to which lines to use for shut down assignments.
The Lightning’s success this year has been a direct reflection of their 5-on-5 play this year. Their power-play and penalty-kill rank in the middle of the pack. But their even-strength goals for/goals against ratio is at 1.33. Simply put, if the Leafs are going to come out on top, they have to be the better team from an even-strength standpoint. The defence has to be better and the Leafs have to increase offensive zone possession time.