Maple Leafs vs. Panthers: Game # 62
Time: 7:00 PM EDT
Location: Air Canada Centre, Toronto
Broadcast: Sportsnet Ontario, (blackouts in effect)
Opponent SBNation Site: Litter Box Cats
Tonight is the second of four games against the Panthers this season. The first was back on November 22 where the Panthers won 2-1 in a shootout. You may recall this was in the “Leafs can’t start on time” era of the season. The shots on goal by period were 7, 12, 23.
Luongo was in net and made a lot of great saves, but Andersen was the one on the ball with mere seconds left in OT with a mere four seconds on the clock. Watch through until he lifts up his pad to see the puck sitting right at the red line.
Here are line projections for tonight. These will be updated as morning skates happen, and further information is available.
Tyler Bozak is absent from #Leafs morning skate. Toronto plays Florida at 7 pm tonight.— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) February 20, 2018
There is not yet any confirmation Bozak will not play tonight so the lines below do not reflect Leivo in for Bozak.
UPDATE: Bozak is in
Toronto Maple Leafs (from recent game)
Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Patrick Marleau - Nazem Kadri - Mitch Marner
James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Connor Brown
Leo Komarov - Dominic Moore - Kasperi Kapanen
Not Playing: Josh Leivo, Matt Martin
Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner - Nikita Zaitsev
Travis Dermott - ??????
Sixth defender (to be confirmed): Connor Carrick or Roman Polak
Starting (not yet confirmed): Frederik Andersen
Backup: Curtis McElhinney
Florida Panthers (from recent game)
Evgenii Dadonov - Aleksander Barkov - Nick Bjugstad
Jonathan Huberdeau - Vincent Trocheck - Denis Malgin
Jamie McGinn - Jared McCann - Radim Vrbata
Micheal Haley - Derek MacKenzie - Colton Sceviour
Keith Yandle - Aaron Ekblad
Mike Matheson - Mark Pysyk
MacKenzie Weegar - Alexander Petrovic
Starting: Roberto Luongo
Backup: James Reimer
Looks like Connor Brickley and Ian McCoshen are slotting back into the #FlaPanthers lineup tonight; MacKenzie Weegar and Radim Vrbata out.— Jameson Olive (@JamesonCoop) February 20, 2018
Luongo returned to the Panthers lineup after two-months out for a groin injury for the Panthers game against the Flames on Saturday February 17. Luongo, now 39 years-old, was backed-up primarily by ex-Leaf Reimer during that time. The Panthers last game was Sunday where they were trounced 7-2 by the Jets. Reimer was in net for six of those seven goals.
Panther’s coach Bob Boughner has confirmed Luongo will start tonight, and that he wants to rely on Luongo. “He’s our No. 1 guy. We’re in a playoff race. Be crazy not to.”
The Maple Leafs sit comfortably in an Atlantic Division playoff spot with 77 points. The Panthers are the closet trailing team in the division, with only 58 points. It seems you would have to “be crazy” to think they could catch the Leafs, though they do have five games in hand. Nevertheless, their fate would be nearly sealed if the Leafs won tonight.
Meanwhile, we sit less than one week to the NHL trade deadline. One wonders if this is the last game in which the Leafs lines will be the same as above.
It’s a Tuesday night game against a former south-east division team, so be ready for anything.