Panther Preview: Cats vs. Leafs





The Inconsistency Game!

Wish I could tell you which team is going to show up in Toronto tonight for the Panthers.  Will it be the hi scoring, hi flying Mr. Hyde, or the tentative, defensively out of position Dr. Jekyll?  One just never knows with a bunch like this, but you can bet that no matter what, by the end of the game you’ll probably say, that wasn’t expected.

Coming off a solid performance against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday, Florida embarks on a three game road trip in Canada in hopes of gaining some ground in the standings.  The team is running hot and cold as displyed by the sudden goal drought of Stephen Weiss who has been held scoreless for three games, while Radek Dvorak whose hat trick led the Panthers Sunday, was scoreless in his previous five games. 

To add the level of inconsistency, here’s something to digest.  Sunday was the eighth time in sixteen games that the Panthers scored more than four goals.  In those other eight games they scored eleven, and lost all of them.  This inconsistency is the primary reason for their head scratching play.

Against the Leafs in the last seven games the Panthers are 5-1-1, losing the first matchup at home by a 6-4 score where rookie defenceman Dmitry Kulikov scored his first two goals of his young career.  In Florida’s last three visits to the Air Canada Centre, they have outscored Toronto 16-5 and have won all three games.

The Leafs are not without struggles of their own this season as the Brian Burke rebuild has taken a bit of a hit to the armour.  The Leafs have lost seven of their last nine and have been outscored 29-18 during that time and have had a poorly performing power play to go along with that.  On top of that Toronto has lost Wayne Primeau for two weeks and Mikhail Grabovski for six weeks with injuries.

Former Panther Niklas Hagman leads the Leafs with 16 goals and Tomas Kaberle leads in points with 35.  Phil Kessel has been quiet lately with only one point in his last eight games.  The Leafs have the worst penalty killing unit, killing off only 70.5 percent, but the Panthers have only scored on 17 percent of their power play chances.

Based on the fact that the Panthers should have some momentum after winning Sunday’s game over the Pens, one would think that they should come out of this on top.  However, just when you think that, they surprise, and go the other way.  Leafs pretty much have been doing the same thing this year.  So for a game that you don’t know what you’re gonna get, all I can say is, “Watch and find out”.

Thanks for reading.


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Tags: Brian Burke Florida Panthers Niklas Hagman Phil Kessel Radek Dvorak Tomas Kaberle Toronto Maple Leafs

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