Leafs-Lightning Preview: Leafs Will Have Tough Time

Mark MakuchCorrespondent IOctober 28, 2008

As far as I can see it, the Leafs are due for a little humbling. There is no better team to deliver that than the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The recipe for what I predict to be a loss for the Leafs has 3 main ingredients:  1) the Lightning are getting fantastic goaltending; 2) the Lightning have some phenomenal offensive talent that has yet to, but is more than ready to, explode; and 3) the Leafs have just had a nice heaping of praise from their coach and the media.

We all know that the Leafs are having trouble scoring. In fact, only the Lightning has fewer goals in the East. However, it's for certain that at the end of the year, Tampa will have more goals than the Leafs.

Stamkos, Lecavalier, and St. Louis...they are slow to start this year, but they will put up big numbers. It won't last much longer either, maybe only a couple of hours.

Despite their offensive struggles, the Lightning have been experiencing excellent goaltending. Even with a losing record, Mike Smith is operating at a sizzling .941 save percentage and 2.13 goals against.

The San Jose Sharks—a much more offensively talented team than the Leafs—had to pepper Smith with 45 shots to net three goals. If Smith is on his game, expect the Leafs to struggle to put one or two in the net, tops.

To cap it all off, everyone, from the coach to the media has been praising the Leafs lately: the work ethic; five of six points in the last three games; and Luke Schenn.

Have you noticed that every time the Leafs get a nice pat on the back, they pretty much stop trying the next game out? The big win over Detroit was followed by a stinker against the Canadiens. I would love to be proven wrong, but to me it doesn't bode well.

Leafs resting on their very thin laurels, plus a Lightning team with serious superstars ready to bust out of a scoring funk, and solid goaltending could make for an ugly, ugly night.