Sunday, May 26, 2024

The playoffs begin, and so do the Maple Leafs’ problems

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Alan Binder
Alan Binder
"Alcohol scholar. Twitter lover. Zombieaholic. Hipster-friendly coffee fanatic."

And that’s exactly what the series between Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning will bring us. For hockey fans, this showdown (which begins on Monday night) promises to be a real treat. vintage!

Auston Matthews

Photo: The Canadian Press / Frank Gunn

Baffled by the Canadians in the first round last spring, the Maple Leafs successfully beat the bull by the horns and exited the best season in their history. nothing less.

The Leafs are betting on the NHL’s leading scorer at Austin Matthews. Mitch Marner and Matthews have just reached their peak. Their powerful unit of play is the most devastating in the league and they’ve scored more goals than any other team except the Florida Panthers.

After this season and with so many assets on hand, the Maple Leafs have no right to lose. Just as they weren’t allowed to lose last year. Just as they weren’t allowed to lose when they’ve been knocked out in the first round five times in a row over the past five years, and in the last six they’ve been in the playoffs.

In fact, the Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t won a streak since 2004. And as I explained in this column before the papers fell by CH last year, these are the constant reminders of this losing tradition – and the pressure that comes with it – that always ends up sinking them.

Regarding the maple leaf, the top couldn’t be more noticeable. Moving into the second round would be a great release, and maybe even the start of your climb to the cup. Getting out with the blow will trigger another Armageddon among the minions and team management.

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The Tampa Bay Lightning story is quite different because the incredible successes of the past few years have led them into a tough battle against mental exhaustion and frustration.

In 2018, after two back-to-back Stanley Cup wins, the Pittsburgh Penguins fell flat and were swept away by the hungriest New Yorkers. For Sid and his gang, there was no more energy in the tank.

The Lightning team won the Pandemic Cup under harsh conditions. Additionally, the pandemic has affected the NHL’s finances to the point of causing a salary cap to freeze. And so general manager Julien Presboa was forced to drop a slew of important players (his full third streak!) at the end of last season.

A hockey player raises his stick.

This season, Stephen Stamkos became the all-time leading scorer in Tampa Bay Lightning history.

Photo: Getty Images/Mike Ehrmann

But here it is: Tampa Bay still counts on the best goalkeeper in the NHL (Andrei Vasilevsky) and one of Victor Hedman’s three best defenders. Furthermore, Tampa Bay’s attack led by Stephen Stamkos, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov remains some of the toughest in the NHL.

Add to that the fact that since 2002, none of the four North American major pro leagues has won three consecutive titles. In the NHL, the islanders of the early 1980s were the last to achieve this massive feat.

For Lightning, in addition to the disgrace of pulling against the foliage, the elimination means the end of a unique opportunity to celebrate the history of hockey and professional sports in North America.

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My expectation: Because of all of the above, lightning in 6.

And about the other series:

Carolina Hurricanes vs Boston Bruins : Although goalkeeper Fredrik Andersen is dubious in the series, the Hurricanes excel in talent and depth. Hurricanes in 6.

Florida Panthers vs Washington Capitals : Capitals aren’t defensively equipped to handle the Panthers’ depth and best offense of the last 27 years. Panthers at 5.

New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins : The Penguins fell at the end of the season and goalkeeper Tristan Gary, one of the poles, was injured. Rangers has the experience, his fiery youth and the most effective goalkeeper of the past two seasons at Igor Shesterkin. Rangers at 5.

Colorado Avalanche vs Nashville Predators : The Predators’ only chance in the series rested on the shoulders of excellent goalkeeper Juuse Saros. However, Saros was injured. Avalanche at 5.

Minnesota Wild vs St. Louis Blues : Everyone is expecting an exciting trench warfare between these two teams who have accumulated 113 and 109 points respectively this season. He went wild 12-2-3 last month and fought back the Blues at 12-2-2. I’m going with Minnesota, one of the three teams that impressed me the most this year. wild at 7.

Edmonton Oilers vs. Los Angeles Kings : The Oilers have been on fire ever since Jay Woodcroft drove them. However, the script for this series appears to be pre-written: Phillip Danault will tie Connor McDavid, and easily injured 40-year-old Mike Smith will struggle if the series continues. Kings in 7.

Calgary Flames vs Dallas Stars : The Flames, because their defense is exceptional, are the true contenders for the Stanley Cup. The stars don’t have enough dynamism in attack to turn the tide. flame in 6.

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