Jake Muzzin scores the first goal of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs

The Toronto Maple Leafs have scored the first goal of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Fittingly, it was 2014 Stanley Cup champion Jake Muzzin who beat Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy from distance to give the Leafs a 1–0 lead late in the first period of Monday’s Game 1 at Scotiabank Arena.
Muzzin’s 10th career playoff goal came at the 18:19 mark of the opening frame and was assisted by Ondrej Kase and Ilya Mikheyev.
With the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes still locked in a scoreless draw early in the second period of their Game 1, Muzzin’s goal was the first scored by an NHL team in the 2022 post-season.

MUZZIN OPENS THE SCORING! pic.twitter.com/vNHhQBSa4F
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) May 3, 2022

Muzzin, 33, scored three goals and 14 points in 47 regular-season games this season, his fourth as a member of the Maple Leafs. In 66 career playoff contests, Muzzin has 10 goals and 26 points.
The 6’3″, 222-lb. left-handed defenceman amassed 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 26 games with the Kings en route to winning the 2014 Stanley Cup over the New York Rangers.
After an excellent period which saw them successfully kill a five-minute major penalty to Kyle Clifford, the Leafs lead the Lightning 1–0 in the second intermission. Toronto outshot Tampa Bay 8–5 in the first 20 minutes of play.
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TLN Three Stars: Curse You, Hockey Gods!

Ryan Dzingel scored his first goal in almost two months by shooting a puck wide, it bouncing off the glass and directly back onto his stick, and then scoring immediately on it. That should probably tell you everything you need to know about this game.
I figured that even when you factored luck into it, there was no way that the Leafs would lose this game with how good they were and how bad the Coyotes were. But, it was a trap game on a silver platter, and it’s what we got.
It felt like the Leafs were the Harlem Globetrotters with how much they were dominating play and all the moves they were putting on, and Auston Matthews even got a goal to give us hope, but the Washington Generals came out with the win this time, putting an end to the Leafs six game point streak. Hopefully Krusty the Clown bet on them again this time.
Three Stars
Stars 1-39: Karel Vejmelka
The Coyotes had no business being in this game, but they were because Vejmelka passed on to the spiritual world and became a god tonight for them. He stopped 45 of 46 shots and despite the fact that the Leafs had a 66.32% CF% and 67.78% xGF% at 5v5, they come out of this with a loss.
40th Star …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Fixing the Leafs powerplay

In the past 16 games the Leafs have scored on the powerplay exactly one time. They’ve had 38 opportunities in that time. They’ve been outscored on the powerplay having given up two shorthanded goals during that time. I’m pretty sure we can make the argument that if the Leafs did nothing, the powerplay would eventually improve beyond 2.6% effectiveness (coincidentally Taylor Hall’s success rate this season as well), but our crew here at TheLeafsNation.com has some ideas that might fix it quicker, and beyond simply bringing it above rock bottom.
Here they are:
Ryan Hobart:
I’ve always been an advocate of having inverted wingers on the power play. I think you need a presence behind the net as well, so your net front role and your “bumper” role shift down to be a behind the net and front of the net combo. The behind the net player sets up the one timers for the inverted wingers or dishes to the point if they’re covered. The net front and behind the net players are both down low to clean up pucks and maintain possession. It’s a bold strategy as you’re very deep in the zone, …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs knocked down a peg, losing second game against Vancouver

After a quick goal the Canucks scored to take an early lead in the first period, the Toronto Maple Leafs continued their excellent play this season to take over this game for the rest of that period.
Their defending looked excellent, limiting the Canucks to low-danger chances mostly. They also showed elite passing and movement in the offensive zone to create zone time.
John Tavares capitalized first with this ripper of a slap shot that fools Demko:

John Tavares with a slap shot past Thatcher Demko tie the game at 1-1! pic.twitter.com/7H7iuGbsaK
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) March 7, 2021

Into the second period, the show continued, as the fourth line and Jimmy Vesey continued their good form by creating a smart in-zone 2-on-1 against a walking pylon in Tyler Myers and found the back of the net:

John Tavares with a slap shot past Thatcher Demko tie the game at 1-1! pic.twitter.com/7H7iuGbsaK
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) March 7, 2021

However, after this, the tide turned in favour of the Canucks, as they started to generate some more sustained offense, and killed off a penalty with what seemed like ease.
The Leafs began to look sloppy and …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Leafs by the Numbers: John Tavares

John Tavares scored 26 goals in 63 games in what is largely being treated as a down year for him. Somehow 60 points in 63 games is a cause for concern, and we are now questioning whether he is the right player to captain the Leafs, and if this is part of a steeper decline in his game now that Tavares has hit the magic 3-0 age milestone, and with an $11M annual cap hit the panic seems to be starting early on JT.
Given the panic, Tavares’ number is 5. There are five years remaining on John’s contract with the Leafs, and it’s entirely possible we’re going to hear about more and more about Tavares for the next five years with an increasing number of people painting this as a bad contract, or bad signing.
So let’s start off with one universal truth, Tavares isn’t a bargain, and as an unrestricted free agent he certainly cashed in at his maximum value. Tavares is going to be a great player for the Leafs, but expectations about living up to $11M contracts are better focused on players like Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner who received those deals as restricted free agents …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Raptors control Game 4 in Orlando, win 107-85

Kawhi Leonard scored 34, as a hot shooting night powered the Raptors to a 3-1 series lead. Towards the end of Game 1 last weekend, the Raptors were giving everyone a familiar knot in their stomach. Late-game execution left a lot to be desired, the team looked out of sorts, and a lower-seeded squad was stretching them to their limit. Common sense coming out of that game was that the Raptors would balance out quickly. After all, with the roster turnover of 2018-19 — and the addition of Kawhi (freaking) Leonard — there was no way history could repeat itself again, right?
If that was your leading thought coming out of the first game of this series, Game 4 was the realization of it — the demonstrative proof that the Raptors are better than the Magic. Throughout Sunday’s game, Toronto’s defence forced Orlando into unsustainable forms of offence. Despite some intermittent scares and an awesome performance from Aaron Gordon, it worked out. Led by 34 points from Leonard in an outstanding bounce back performance from a flu-ridden Game 3, the Raptors won Game 4 107-85 to take a 3-1 series lead home to Toronto.
Kawhi was more than his 34 points in Game 4 and showed what having a …

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Author: John Gaudes / Raptors HQ