The post Can the Lightning Simply Flip a Switch to Beat the Maple Leafs? appeared first on NHL Trade Talk.

The Tampa Bay Lightning team is about as close to an NHL dynasty as we’ve had over the past five seasons. Interestingly, however, as the Toronto Maple Leafs head into the postseason, they are slight favorites to win their playoff series against the Lightning. Although Tampa Bay has experienced success in recent seasons, the Lightning have struggled this season.

Related: 4 Keys the Maple Leafs Must Address to Beat the Lightning

Can the Lightning Simply Flip the Switch?

There might be reasons to explain Tampa Bay’s recent struggles. Perhaps they’ve been saving their best until the postseason. However, on the other hand, perhaps what you see with the Lightning is just what they will show come the postseason.

Whatever arguments can be made on either side, all the narratives disappear once the playoffs begin. As fans will hear over and over, the postseason is a different animal. And that’s probably true. The other thing that’s apparent is that the Lightning can win. They’ve proved it for three seasons in succession.

But are the Lightning capable of competing as they have in the past, for a fourth season in a row?

Were the Lightning Complacent During the Regular Season?

It might be that Tampa Bay was complacent during the regular season because of their recent success. They could simply flip the switch and come out flying. They certainly have some great players.

However, it might also be that there’s no switch to flip. What fans have seen during the regular season is exactly what the Lightning can bring. If that’s the case, it will give Toronto an advantage.

Ilya Samsonov Maple Leafs 2

It’s also notable that Tampa Bay has lost some key contributors from last season’s team. The Maple Leafs have had the stronger lineup all season, and they might just have the stronger lineup with the postseason begins.

One thing that’s for certain, this is the year that the Maple Leafs really need to beat the Lightning.

Related: Keys to Winning Round One for the Lightning & the Maple Leafs

The Argument for Toronto Might Really Be the Argument Against the Lighting

The argument for Toronto getting into the second round is that they have a really good team this year. With that team, they have the potential to break their playoff curse. Yes, Tampa Bay might be a tough opponent. However, the truth is that they haven’t been playing particularly well for the past two months.

Additionally, the fact is that Tampa Bay is an older team. They have played a lot of hockey this year. Could that fact also work in Toronto’s favor?

Can the Maple Leafs Beat All-World Andrei Vasilevskiy?

Toronto has a big disadvantage. The Lightning have Andrei Vasilevskiy in their net. And, on paper, that seems to be a mismatch. He’s all-world at this time of the season. There have been few playoff goalies with as much success – ever.

That said, Ilya Samsonov has had his best season – ever. He’s been great five-on-five. He stops high-danger chances better than any other NHL goalie. He seems to have swagger. While he once was better at home than on the road, that’s evened out.

Can the Maple Leafs’ Core Four Lead Them?

At the same time, the Maple Leafs have a Core Four that has proven to be strong this season. All four are better than point-a-game players. Both William Nylander and Auston Matthews have scored 40 goals. Mitch Marner has had his best season ever with 99 points. John Tavares is still going strong, leading the NHL with 18 power-play markers.

All these facts suggest that the Maple Leafs have a strong-enough team to overcome whatever the Lightning can throw at them. This could be the year that Toronto finally gets to the second round after years of disappointment.


The post Can the Lightning Simply Flip a Switch to Beat the Maple Leafs? appeared first on NHL Trade Talk.

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