Game Day Preview: Florida Panthers Vs Toronto Maple Leafs

Feb 16, 2013; Sunrise, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier (4) reaches for the puck in front of Florida Panthers goalie Jose Theodore (60) and defenseman Mike Weaver (43) in the second period at the BB

Toronto Maple Leafs (9-6-0) 18 pts at Florida Panthers (4-6-4) 12 pts

The Florida Panthers take on the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight in South Florida at 7:30 pm. Florida is playing the last game of a four game home stand in which they have so far gone 0-0-3 losing three straight in overtime. Florida has not gotten a win since their 3-2 shootout win in Philadelphia Thursday Feb. 7th. The Panthers last win in regulation was over two weeks ago in Buffalo. A 4-3 win on Super Bowl Sunday Feb. 3rd.

The Maple Leafs have been playing well this season and especially well as of late. Toronto has won five out of their last six with their only loss coming on the road at Carolina. The Leafs are a bit of a surprise this season. Many expected the team to struggle much like they did last year but instead they sit in the 6th spot in the Eastern Conference.

Series History:

Tonight will be the first of three match ups between the teams this season. The Leafs are a rare team that the Panthers have had success against recently. Last year Florida beat up on Toronto wining all four of their match ups. Florida has won five straight against the Maple Leafs and are 8-1-1 in their past ten games against Toronto. (Source)

Players To Watch:

James Van Riemsdyk came to Toronto last season in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers. Van Riemsdyk is looking like he is settling nicely in Toronto leading the team with eight goals this year.

After scoring 37 goals last year, Maple Leafs star Phil Kessel has been quiet so far this season scoring twice so far through the teams 15 games.

Kevin Dineen may have been on to something when he put Jack Skille, Marcel Goc and Shawn Matthias on a line in Florida’s 6-5 OT loss to Tampa on Saturday. The line contributed on the first two Panther goals of the game and were pests the entire game. The Panthers need a line like this in order to be successful. Last season Samuelsson-Goc-Bergenheim were a successful trio that could pick up the scoring slack if the top lines were not getting anything done. Could Skille-Goc-Matthias fulfill that role this year? They certainly have the right combination of energy, grit and talent to be a successful third line.

Injury Report:

Nothing new to report here, Jovanovski, Upshall and Bergenheim still out for Florida. Versteeg is questionable. Here is the lineup I could see Dineen go with tonight:

Kopecky-Weiss-Fleischmann

Huberdeau-Shore-Mueller

Skille-Goc-Matthias

Kovalev-Smithson-Parros

Campbell-Kuba

Kulikov-Weaver

Gudbranson-Strachan

Pre Game Points:

  • Tomas Fleischmann is one goal away from 100 career goals.
  • If Versteeg is back, I would go with Kovalev as the healthy scratch. He has not shown much this year and really looks to be showing his age.
  • Jonathan Huberdeau is tied for first in goals amongst rookies and is third in total points. The campaign for Huberdeau for rookie of the year officially begins now.
  • I can’t take another overtime loss, I just can’t. I think one more would put me in a mad house. The space between the Panthers and the 8th slot in the East keeps growing. The Panthers need two points tonight. Lets GET IT ON!

As usual, you can follow us on twitter @fansidedtherat for in game updates and opinion.

 

Topics: Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs

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