The Tampa Bay Lightning (43-18-7) finishes their home stretch as they host the Toronto Maple Leafs (44-19-5) at Amalie Arena. The Lightning and Leafs currently both sit tied for the second position in the Atlantic Division, both two points ahead of the Boston Bruins, who sit in a wildcard spot and are eager to move into the top three for the division.
The Lightning have played the Leafs two other times this season, winning one game and losing the other. The Lightning hope to catch a win on Monday night after a disappointing 5-4 shootout loss against the Montreal Canadiens just two nights before.
The Lightning have been trying to climb back up from a bad slump, having lost 7 of their last 13 games. While the slump seemed like an issue that could affect the future of the season, it seems as though the Lightning may be finding their mojo once again, especially now that it seems the Brandon Hagel and Nick Paul trades have been working out better than fans had hoped in the early going.
Both teams have a plethora of star players at their disposal, with the Leafs having a generational goal scorer in Auston Matthews and an elite playmaker in Mitch Marner. While the Lightning have Steven Stamkos, who’s having a great season despite the instability regarding some of his star teammates. These top players will be based on their stats starting with the Lightning.
Steven Stamkos: 32G 44A 76P
Victor Hedman: 19G 47A 66P
Brayden Point: 27G 27A 54P
The Lightning’s offense has had its struggles throughout the season, but with Kucherov’s latest surge of superstar play, giving him multi-point nights on what seems like a regular basis, the offense has nothing to be worried about. While Brayden Point isn’t playing to the level fans expected him to be at, there’s no doubt that he’s been one of the biggest pieces of this team this season.
The Lightning’s defense was something that was not addressed at the trade deadline. Victor Hedman and Mikhail Sergachev have been their best defensemen, with Erik Cernak and Cal Foote also playing increased minutes. The biggest issue is having Ryan McDonagh currently out of the lineup with an upper body injury.
Now for the Maple Leafs.
Auston Matthews: 51G 37A 88P
Mitch Marner: 28G 53A 81P
John Tavares: 24G 41A 65P
The Leafs offense has been one of the best in the league since Auston Matthews debut in the NHL. If the Leafs can keep their bottom six players consistent, it would undoubtedly make the Leafs the best offensive team in the league.
The Leafs defense is solid but needs work. So far, the Lightning’s defense beats out the Leafs, but with Mark Giordano playing well with the Leafs since he was traded from the Seattle Kraken, the Leafs defense could make Monday night quite the show.
Andrei Vasilevskiy (2.37 GAA, .919sv%) should be starting in net for the Lightning, while Jack Campbell (2.66 GAA, .914% save) should be starting for the Leafs. It’s possible Campbell doesn’t start just as a precaution so that he doesn’t reaggravate his recent injury, but with the solid night he had in Philadelphia in his return, he should be starting for the Leafs.
Score: 5-4 OT Leafs
Shots: 27 Lightning/41 Leafs
Best Performer: Nikita Kucherov (2G 1A 3P)
Overall Performance: B-
The Lightning have struggled, and not just against playoff teams, but also to some of the worst teams in the league. It’s going to be a tough night for them, and the Leafs barely winning makes the most sense when looking at both teams recent play.