Toronto Maple Leafs v. Florida Panthers

First off, remember the Festivus contest. Enter early and enter often.

Tonight the Leafs play the Florida Panthers in the second half of their Snowbird tour. Going to this Christmas break fixture was a highlight of my last trip to Miami since I got to see the Leafs win and Pavel Bure play one last time. The crowd is usually pro-Leafs which is kind of funny and also a little sad for the kittens.

To fire up the troops, Bill Pullman (Best.President.Ever) has agreed to re-enact his famous speech prior to the united attack against the Aliens in Independence Day. While some would have the Leafs quit after just 35 games with 47 remaining (back to hating the Leafs' chances eh Damien?) Billy will have none of that:

Good morning. In less than six hours, players from here will join others from around the world. And you will be a launching the largest invasion of snowbirds in the history of Leafs Nation.

Leafs Nation -- that word should have new meaning for all of us today.

We can't be consumed by our petty differences anymore.

We will be united in our common interests.

Perhaps its fate that today is the 22nd of December, and you will once again be fighting for the playoffs, not for the division, bragging rights, or to avoid last play -- but for the right to play into the Spring.

You're playing for the right to challenge for the Cup, to be champions.

And should you win the day, the 22nd of December will no longer be known as the day before the day before Christmas Eve, but as the day when the Leafs declared in one voice:

"We will not go quietly into the night!

We will not vanish without a fight!

We're going to move on!

We're going to the playoffs!"

Today, you start your march to the playoffs!

Here are the home and road splits for some stats that might be considered either interesting or scary. The Panther's home powerplay is going at a Montreal-like clip. Thankfully the road is where the Leafs' PK works best. In the past two games Gill and Kubina have been absolute workhorses on the PK and have been the reason for it's strength. It would be nice if the Leafs' powerplay could start working it's way out of the cellar since it's now actively costing the team games just as blatantly as when it was giving up a shorthanded goal every game.

Road/Home Maple Leafs Panthers
Powerplay 11.6% - 29th 25.0% - 4th
Penalty Kill 85.3% - 7th 81.7% - 18th
GF / GA (GP) 46/47 (17) 49/47 (17)
Record 7-8-2 9-7-1

Vesa Toskala's heroics were enough to earn him another Player of the Game nod. Remember to put your guesses for who will score take the first shot, get the first penalty, and score the first goal in the comments. I'll keep a running tally of the results in the right sidebar. I'll update the results from the last three games tomorrow.

As always, the comment section is a wonderful place to vent and rage between periods or make hopeful predictions that you can tout in the future if they happen to come to pass. Each period and overtime/shootout gets their own section so just reply to the relevant section's main post and question how the team can look so good one night and so bad the next or even from minute to minute within the exact same game. Whatever you want to say all that you need to say it is to set up an account to comment so register and share your thoughts.

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