Sure, the Toronto Maple Leafs are coming of their first victory since what feels like the Middle Ages, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Leafs will host the Tampa Bay Lightning this evening, one of only five teams in the league that have already clinched a playoff berth, so I certainly hope you weren’t looking for a winning streak.
Toronto’s first line came alive on Saturday against the Senators, but who knows if they’ll show up tonight. I certainly don’t know why, at this point in a losing season, Nazem Kadri hasn’t been promoted to the top line to play with Phil Kessel. We’re firmly in “shits-and-giggles” territory so, hell, I don’t know why Casey Bailey isn’t centering the top line for that matter.
Not only is this Tampa Bay lineup incredibly talented, but holy hell are they young. Stamkos, Killorn, Palat, Johnson, Drouin, Namestnikov, Kucherov and Paquette… all 25 or under and contributing in significant ways. And that’s just the forwards. This team is going to be very good for a very long time, or at least until Stamkos defects to Toronto.
What to Watch For
- Stamkos, at the top of the circle. For the love of God, why is nobody covering him!?
- Zack Sill, heart and soul of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
- Slater Koekkoek was recalled by the Bolts earlier today. The Winchester, Ontario native will likely make his NHL debut tonight. I think Morgan Rielly is an old friend from their days with the Notre Dame Hounds, so that’s pretty cool.