Sports

Breaking down the Maple Leafs-Lightning series

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Projected Game 1 lineups

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Toronto

Forwards

Alex Kerfoot    Auston Matthews    Mitch Marner

Ilya Mikheyev    John Tavares    Ondrej Kase

William Nylander    David Kampf    Pierre Engvall

Kyle Clifford    Colin Blackwell    Wayne Simmonds

Defence

Morgan Rielly Ilya Lyubushkin

Jake Muzzin TJ Brodie

Mark Giordano Timothy Liljegren

Goalies

Jack Campbell

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Erik Kallgren

Tampa Bay

Forwards

Ondrej Palat    Steven Stamkos    Nikita Kucherov

Brandon Hagel    Anthony Cirelli    Braydon Point

Alex Killorn    Ross Colton    Nick Paul

Patrick Maroon    Pierre-Edouard Bellemare    Corey Perry

Defence

Victor Hedman   Jan Rutta

Ryan McDonagh  Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev   Zach Bogosian/Cal Foote

Goalies

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Brian Elliott

Offence

Stamkos finished the year on a roll, but a motivated Matthews and Marner have been magic all year with a hot Engvall and Mikheyev added to secondary scoring.

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Advantage: Toronto.

Defence

Have the Leafs fixed their playoff Achilles heel at this position? Certainly they’re more physical with Lyubushin, more seasoned with Giordano and hope Muzzin is healthy all through the series. But Hedman is a beast and he has lots of help.

Advantage: Tampa.

Goaltending

Vasilevskiy stands taller in more ways than one. Though he has lost more games to Toronto than any foe other than Florida, he has endured the most scrutinized position in playoffs a lot more than Campbell, yet to prove his mettle with a series win.

Advantage: Tampa.

Special Teams

For years the Leafs and the entire league have lived in fear of the Stamkos one-timer on the power play. Now he competes with Matthews with his quick release from anywhere and extra room on the man advantage with a talented cast that had the league’s best numbers. Leafs also lead the NHL in short-handed goals.

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Advantage: Toronto.

Coaching

Sheldon Keefe has impressively built the Leafs ‘game plan and confidence back from last year’s first round denouement. But there’s a reason Jon Cooper’s name is on the Cup twice for pushing the right buttons.

Advantage: Tampa.

Intangibles

Toronto has home ice, but still need a win or two down south. Tampa has some new players who feel the pressure to meet expectations of a third straight Cup, but nothing like the baggage Leafs have from so many first -round failures. Each team has decent depth, with Leafs’ Michael Bunting and Rasmus Sandin due to return from injury.

Advantage: Even.

Postmedia picks

Steve Simmons : Lightning in 7

Lance Hornby: Lightning in 7

Terry Koshan: Leafs in 7

Mike Traikos: Leafs in 7

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