I guess that, in the end, the Toronto Maple Leafs accomplished their mission. They came into Tampa Bay and took one of the two games to retain their home-ice advantage. The problem was, Game 4 seemed like such a letdown after the Game 3 win.
Still, as Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe noted, ”We came on the road here and got a split.” And, for him, that was “a successful road trip in that sense.”
However, the phrase “in that sense” sort of says a lot. He expected more. He expected his team to play better. He actually expected them to win.
Still, coach Keefe took the long-range view when he noted ”Whether you lose the game 2-1 or in the manner that we did it doesn’t matter. You wash it and move on. We’ll be better next time.”
In this edition of Maple Leafs’ takeaways, I’ll take a look at the events of the game and comment on what they might mean moving forward.
Takeaway One: Jon Cooper Was Right, His Team Can Score Against Jack Campbell
Recently, I had written that Jack Campbell was actually outplaying the Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy in this series. My fellow hockey writers noted that I had jinxed the series with that post. I did speak too soon, I guess.
In Game 4, Campbell gave up five goals on 16 shots before he was replaced by Erik Kallgren. (Kallgren didn’t give up a goal in 10 shots.) In short, Campbell was not effective. The result was a 7-3 Game 4 loss last night to the defending champions the Lightning.
With Kallgren stopping everything (the Lightning might have gone into a bit of a shell with a 5-0 lead) the Maple Leafs came back. However, it wasn’t enough and it didn’t happen quickly enough. Campbell has had two good games out of four; and, as a result, his team is tied in the series 2-2.
However, he has to be better if Toronto is going to win this series. His next chance will be on Tuesday night back home in Toronto for Game 5. He’s the tipping point for the Maple Leafs in this series.
Takeaway Two: Too Little, Too Late for William Nylander
William Nylander finally scored one goal; and, in fact, he scored two goals. But, sadly for his team, they were too little and they came too late to hold his team in the game. One can only hope that the Maple Leafs can take some confidence that they can score on Vasilevskiy and that that confidence carries over into Game 5.
Another one for Willy!
Nylander and Tavares combine for the @MapleLeafs 2nd of the night
— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) May 9, 2022
However, scoring a couple of goals – even in a losing effort – might just be the motivation Nylander needs to start to carry the team a bit. He had been held without a point during the first three games of this series. Similar to Campbell, he’ll have another go at it on Tuesday.
Takeaway Three: Finally, the Penalty Killing Was Good Again
I know I seem to be searching for something positive to say in the wake of a 7-3 beatdown; however, the Maple Leafs’ penalty killing was solid. The Lightning drew eight power plays during the game; and, but they only scored on one of them. [The Maple Leafs had three power plays during the game and scored on one.]
It has been a constant parade to the penalty box for both teams, I guess.
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