Turmoil In Toronto: Tampa Hammers Leafs, But Injuries, Potential Suspension Could Impact Series

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Sam Lafferty

Turmoil In Toronto: Tampa Hammers Leafs, But Injuries, Potential Suspension Could Impact Series

News, NHL

The Toronto Maple Leafs have been a very good team for a number of years. But this group of players hasn’t been able to get out of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. So their start to this year’s postseason against the Tampa Bay Lightning — who have played in three straight Stanley Cup Finals — felt like it carried more weight in Toronto than any other market.

Game One was not what the fans in Toronto wanted or expected. Tampa put a thunderous beatdown on the Leafs on their ice, beat them by a football-like 7-3 score. The Bolts scored four power play goals, including three in the final six minutes of the second period after Toronto had pulled within a 3-2 margin. It was an ugly game from start to finish for the Leafs.

Now, they might be without one of their key forwards. But Tampa might be hurting in significant ways as well.

With a little more than four minutes left in the second period, Michael Bunting went shoulder-to-head on defenseman Erik Cernak. He received a match penalty and, after the game, the Department of Player Safety announced he will have a hearing because of the hit.

Cernak is one of the Lightning’s top defenseman. Their best — one of the best in the game — was also out for most of the night.

Victor Hedman skated nine shifts (6:35) in the first period. He came out to warm up before the start of the second period, appearing to test a lower-body injury. Hedman went back to the room after skating a bit and did not return to the game. He was seen in the dressing room after the game welcoming his victorious teammates without anything wrapped or crutches, so it’s hard to tell what was wrong (and obviously the team isn’t going to tell us anything more than “lower body”).

Even though Tampa blew out the Leafs in Game One in Toronto, the rest of the series might be significantly impacted by the two big injuries on their blue line.

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab