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Leafs vs. Panthers Game Preview: Kool Things

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The Leafs travel to Florida for a Wednesday matchup.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Florida Panthers Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Toronto Maple Leafs at Florida Panthers: Game 23

Time: 7:00 PM EST

Location: BB & T Centre

Broadcast/Streaming: Sportsnet Ontario

Opponent SBNation Site: Litter Box Cats

Kool thing, walkin’ like a panther.

Things haven’t been going so hot for the Panthers this season. Despite the renewed reign of General Manager Dale “Thank God I’m Back” Tallon, the Panthers are second-last in the East, and already facing a very steep hill to make the playoffs. This is a little tragic, given they’re wasting a truly fantastic top line, centered by underrated Corsi superstar Alexander Barkov and featuring quietly brilliant KHL signing Evgeny Dadonov (the LW on the line is Jonathan Huberdeau, who is also pretty cool.) But after that, their scoring depth is pretty much just Vincent Trocheck. Super weird how losing Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault for nothing turns out to have hurt them, but perhaps the analytics nerd in me, talking about fancy stats like “you don’t have enough goals.”

Toronto Maple Leafs Line Combinations

Forward Lines

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander

Patrick Marleau - Nazem Kadri - Leo Komarov

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Mitch Marner

Matt Martin - Dominic Moore - Connor Brown

Defence Pairings

Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey

Jake Gardiner - Nikita Zaitsev

Andreas Borgman - Connor Carrick

Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

Mike Babcock has indicated the lines will be as usual for tonight’s game. Frederik Andersen should get the start.

Florida Panthers Line Combinations (via Daily Faceoff)

The Panthers have called up their free agent summer signing, Henrik Haapala, and he is due to slot in somewhere in the forward lines tonight.

Forwards

Jonathan Huberdeau - Alexander Barkov - Evgeny Dadonov

Connor Brickley - Vincent Trocheck - Nick Bjugstad

Jamie McGinn - Jared McCann - Colton Sceviour

Micheal Haley - Chase Balisy - Dryden Hunt

Defence

Keith Yandle - Aaron Ekblad

Michael Matheson - Mark Pysyk

Ian McCoshen - MacKenzie Weegar

Goalies

Roberto Luongo - confirmed starter

James Reimer

The Panthers’ lineup may be shallow in places, but it has some quality players on it. Yandle - Ekblad really ought to be a pretty decent top pairing, though their stats together are middling, and Matheson and Pysyk have excellent second pair numbers. Between that top four, four really good forwards, and Roberto Luongo, the Panthers are absolutely capable of beating teams above them in the standings. The Leafs had better be ready.

Go Leafs Go!


UPDATE: We have one report that Nikita Soshnikov is in for Dominic Moore.

Why that is or how that affects the lineup is up for speculation, so speculate away.