We had to wait a long time before we finally knew the duels in the first round of the NHL playoffs. The league chose not to let supporters wait: it starts with four clashes on Monday. Overview.
Posted at 6:00 p.m.
Toronto Maple Leafs Vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Poor Maple Leafs could not bear to lose in the first round against the Canadians last year. Rarely in recent years have they had the energy to open the playoffs. After a long and painful rebuild, they lost in the first round to the Washington Capitals in 2017, losing the next two springs to the Boston Bruins and here against the Stanley Cup champions for the past two years. Tampa Bay Lightning.
The champions may have missed the entire third line last summer (Gordo, Gudro and Coleman), but they enjoyed another 100-plus-point season, thanks to Steven Stamkos’ recovery. Best offensive season of his career (106 points).
Lightning rose late in the season and won seven of their last nine games, trying to send a clear message to the Panthers and Maple Leafs that they were torn. Lightning will become the first club to win three Stanley Cups in a row after the Islanders 40 years ago.
Although they were already done …