Lightning vs. Maple Leafs: Who has the Advantage?

Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /
5 of 6
Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /


Advantage: Tampa Bay

Andrei Vasilevskiy is the greatest equalizer in the NHL and he is by far the most significant advantage the Lightning will have over Toronto in this series. Vasilevskiy was not at his absolute best throughout the series with Toronto last year. In the seven games, Vasilevskiy surrendered 24 goals. The biggest difference was that he only allowed one goal in the final four periods of the series and pushed the Lightning over the edge. Tampa Bay will need the Vasilevskiy they got in game six and seven last year if they are going to take down Toronto again.

For the Leafs, Ilya Samsonov has been a great find after he was not qualified by Washington this past summer. Samsonov was potentially expected to be in tandem with Matt Murray who has continued to have difficulty shedding the hospital bracelet. The net looks to belong to Samsonov going into the playoffs.

One big thing to keep an eye on has been that Samsonov has not been as strong on the road as he has been in Toronto. On the road this season, he is just 8-7-2 compared to 19-3-1 on home ice. He has allowed almost a full goal per game more on the road than he has at home. If Toronto is going to win this series, they will likely need to win at least twice on the road.