The Toronto Maple Leafs will face the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Leafs were able to claim the No. 2 seed out of the Atlantic division, fending off the Bolts and the Boston Bruins during the regular season.
Toronto has failed to make it out of the first round in each of the past five seasons. You could say the Maple Leafs have been living up to historic expectations. Is this the season things change? Well, it isn’t going to be easy for Toronto but the team is loaded up to make a deep playoff run. Center Auston Matthews is set to win his first Hart Trophy for League MVP after scoring 60 goals, the first player born in the U.S. to do so.
What may be different about this Leafs team is on the blue line. Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin, Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie provide plenty of experience and leadership. The biggest question mark comes in net with Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek. If either of those two can get hot enough, the Leafs have a shot at ending the first-round exit drought and then some.
The Lightning remain the champs for a reason, and are the playing their best hockey at the right time. They’ve won five of their last six, beginning with an 8-1 blowout of Toronto two weeks ago. With multiple future Hall of Famers (Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov) as well as a goalkeeper that has won two Stanley Cups already in Andrei Vasilevskiy, there is no team that can score more goals faster in hockey. They can also defend with two elite pairs in the back.
They also have what is potentially the best power play in the world, but the depth of the last two championship teams isn’t as tested as this team. Will all the mileage of the last two Covid-scheduled seasons catch up with the champs?
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Toronto Maple Leafs schedule
Game 1: Monday, May 2, 7:30 p.m. Tampa Bay at Toronto, ESPN2, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA
Game 2: Wednesday, May 4, 7:30 p.m. Tampa Bay at Toronto ESPN2, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Game 3: Friday, May 6, 7:30 p.m. Toronto at Tampa Bay TBS, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA
Game 4: Sunday, May 8, 7 p.m. Toronto at Tampa Bay TBS, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA
* Game 5: Tuesday, May 10 TBD Tampa Bay at Toronto TBD
* Game 6: Thursday, May 12 TBD Toronto at Tampa Bay TBD
* Game 7: Saturday, May 14 TBD Tampa Bay at Toronto TBD