Exchange blowouts en route to 2-2 series tie in NHL Playoffs
In a playoff series, especially between two very good teams, the Lightning and the Maple Leafs, we expect twists and turns. No one expected a short streak, which means twists and turns as teams trade wins. Momentum usually depends on how well your goaltender performs the next night, but things in hockey can stick a bit more than, say, baseball, where the next starting pitcher determines everything (or did before the lifter's age).
Teams find a weakness, a defender whose box they want to get into or a way to move the goalkeeper more often or whatever. And it can still happen in this first-round series.
Note: - Get More Information Leafs and Lightning are playing the strangest series.
But for two teams that feel pretty even, the Leafs and Lightning haven't just tied the wins. They coincided with the blowouts. Over the course of four matches, they alternated with each other. The Leafs opened the series by winning 5-0. The Lightning returned the favor in Game 2 5-3, but at one point they were leading 5-0. The Leafs flew to Tampa and won Game 3 5-2. And then the Lightning last night scored a touchdown with a PAT in a 7-3 win. You rarely, if ever, see teams able to stuff each other into a trash can one night and be completely destroyed the next, let alone twice each.
The underlying numbers suggest the Lightning mostly had the upper hand, getting the shot attempt advantage in all four games. But the expected goal percentage shifted to the team that won all four games, suggesting the Leafs match the Lightning on odds. They just do it in any other game.
It's too easy to suggest that Jack Campbell isn't good enough to win four of seven games against the defending champions. And he cut himself twice. But Andrei Vasilevskiy was not himself either, having been robbed twice. It may be that these infractions are too serious to keep secret for more than one game at a time.
Fatigue could play a role. We've already seen the score rise in the second half of the season and speculate that fatigue from another COVID season with a busy schedule was wearing on the will to play defense.
Add to that the fact that Lightning has played the most rounds over the past two years and he might not have the guts to put it together more than any other game. It won't do them much good in this series, considering they only answered the Leafs to even the series. Every game featured at least one team getting at least five power plays, suggesting someone is dragging butt every night.