Preview: Panthers at Leafs

Next Game

Florida Panthers
@ Toronto Maple Leafs

Tuesday, Feb 3, 2009, 7:30 PM EST
Air Canada Centre

Pre Game: 6:30 p.m., Leafs TV
Broadcast: 7:30 p.m., Sportsnet, Leafs TV Interactive, AM640
Post Game: 10:00 p.m., Leafs TV

Opposing Coverage: Litter Box Cats

Complete Coverage >

The Leafs are shooting for their third win in a row tonight against Florida. Hopefully Jason Blake's surprising play as of late (9G 7A 16Pts in his last 12GP) continues, as one would have to imagine a team would take someone that hot at the deadline regardless of the remainder of their contract. To be honest this is the player the Leafs thought they were signing two summers ago, and speaking as one of the people who's been Blake's harshest critics, I think we're finally seeing him recover from leukemia and find his role on the Leafs.

Florida could assume 7th place in the East if they win their games in hand over Carolina and Buffalo, and with a D corps comprising Bouwmeester, McCabe, Ballard, and Boynton the Panthers might actually have the defense to make it to the playoffs this season. 

Bryan McCabe

#24 / Defenseman / Florida Panthers

6-2

220

Jun 08, 1975

G A P +/- PIM
2008 - Bryan McCabe 9 12 21 7 24

That's right, 9 goals, 12 assists and a PLUS SEVEN on Florida. Bryan McCabe and his wife are clearly enjoying the Florida weather down there. The Panthers are getting excellent goaltending from the duo of Vokoun and Anderson:

GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Craig Anderson 22 1095 9 4 5 0 45 2.47 642 597 .930 3
GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Tomas Vokoun 35 1875 14 14 3 5 82 2.62 1009 927 .919 3

Having your "backup" goaltender play 22 games and put up a .930 SV% is a lovely problem to have. Anderson currently makes $575K and is a UFA next summer. Hint hint.

Led up front by David Booth's 20 goals, the Panthers are also getting production from a young core. Nathan Horton has 13, Jay Bouwmeester has 11, as does twenty year old Michael Frolik. I think these Panthers are going to surprise a lot more people as the season goes on. From here I'm going to turn it over to SBNation's Whale4ever, author over at Litter Box Cats.

With three games remaining in the season series between the Leafs and Cats, both clubs have the ability to control the post-season fates of one another. Florida, at 54 points and one behind eighth-place Carolina, obviously has the upper hand, but a sweep by Toronto, with 46 points, could certainly alter the pecking order down the stretch.
 
The Panthers won the last bout at Air Canada Centre 4-2, behind goals from Peltonen, Weiss, Campbell, and Frolik with the winner, allowing goaltender Tomas Vokoun to grab his 200th career victory. A good night all around, especially on the road, during Bryan McCabe (1 assist) Appreciation Night. Ponikarovsky and Blake scored for the Leafs, with Toskala making 30 saves.
 
David Booth is questionable (flu) but the Cats are otherwise healthy, minus long-term IR poster children Bryan Allen and Rusty Olesz. Vokoun will start his eleventh consecutive game.
 
Will McCabe once again overshadow the event? Can the Cats recover from a No-Show on the Island Saturday? Will Toronto continue their high-scoring ways (12 goals in two games)? Should the Leafs give an explanation for the presence of that organ-tissue donation photo on their website?
The previous meeting this season didn't go so well for the Leafs:
Final - 1.6.2009 1 2 3 Total
Florida Panthers 2 1 1 4
Toronto Maple Leafs 0 0 2 2

Complete Coverage >

Hopefully tonight the Leafs can avenge this game at the ACC. Puck drops at 7:30, go Leafs go!
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