Not much of a Game 1…that’s for certain. Toronto literally won every phase in this hockey game versus the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions who go by the name of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Even strength, power play, penalty kill, between the pipes. and even the fight with nine minutes left in the third period.
This game had Toronto all over it.
Those of us who love hockey know the Toronto story. They haven’t won a Cup since 1968. They haven’t won a first round series since Kevin Durant was still carrying the cupcake-snowflake Sam Presti on his back.
The Maple Leafs have become known as a regular season fake tough guy. But this year could be different if their goaltending can hold itself together.
This game was over when Coach Sheldon Keefe smartly used his timeout in the second period when his team had a 5 on 3 powerplay. He knew how important it was to score another goal and, in a sense demoralize the uninspired Lightning in Game 1 at home.
It was textbook. Touch, touch, Auston Matthews in the back of the net and this game was over in the second period. As in a standing eight count.
Toronto needs to win a Stanley Cup championship. An Original Six member in a city where it actually snows needs to hoist a Cup.
The Raptors won a championship just a few years ago over the injury ravaged Warriors. The Blue Jays won a World Series in 1993 when Oklahoma’s own Joe Carter walked-off against Mitch ‘Wild Thing’ in 1993.
My dad was Joe Carter Sr.’s lawyer. We were at his house that night Joe Jr. went yard. I swear it was something I’ll never forget. A black kid from Millwood high school winning a world series for the Toronto Blue Jays.
So… let’s get to the Sheldon Keefe postgame presser which I’m sure both the Oklahoman and Tulsa World will both be featuring this morning. That was sarcasm.
My press conference is this…the Tampa head coach is John Cooper. I think he’s the best head coach in the league. He knows what his team didn’t bring to the rink in Game 1. He knows. His team got outworked and the Lightning didn’t throw enough pucks at the net against Toronto’s at times soft goaltending. I’m sure his team will not go down without a fight.
Coach Cooper will look at the film with his team. Circle half a dozen plays and tell his team if they’d won those plays it would have been a different hockey game.
Gotta score goals. Jack Campbell is not Jonathon Quick. Put the puck on the net.
For the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs…I think I’ll primarily cover Tampa vs. Toronto and Nashville vs. Colorado.