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Leafs @ Panthers Preview and Game Chat: Toronto can clinch home ice tonight

Auston’s back

NHL: APR 16 Maple Leafs at Senators
OTTAWA, ON - APRIL 16: Toronto Maple Leafs Center Auston Matthews (34) during warm-up before National Hockey League action between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators on April 16, 2022, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada.
Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Toronto Maple Leafs @ Florida Panthers : Game #78

7:00 p.m. ET at FLA Live Arena
TV/Streaming: CBC, SN
Opponent’s SB Nation Site: Litter Box Cats

It’s a long shot, but with a win tonight and a Tampa Bay Lightning loss to the Nashville Predators, the Leafs will officially be able to clinch second place in the Atlantic Division, rending the rest of the season moot in terms of the race to the playoffs. If this were to happen, they could still have power over who they face in first round depending on how the Boston game goes.

All that said, Florida is a very good team and will be hard to beat, while Tampa just beat us 8-1, so it’s hard to see them losing so easily against Nashville. But mathematically, it could happen.

Tonight is also the night of Auston Matthews’ return to the lineup following an injury that kept him out for more-or-less a week. He goes back on the top line with Marner and Bunting. Jason Spezza will be out tonight to make room, likely meaning Colin Blackwell will slot back into the fourth line center job and Alex Kerfoot will move to the wing.

It’s unclear as of yet whether Nylander and Engvall will go back to playing with David Kämpf, or Nylander will move back with Tavares and Kerfoot. I think the most likely scenario is the former, with Mikheyev on the second line instead.

The Matthews injury was probably more than nothing, but it seems the team and player played it cautiously and hopefully everything will be fine as the playoffs begin. Let’s be honest, if we don’t have Auston Matthews for a series, we probably lose it.

Huberdeau gets it.

Last bit of news, Carl Dahlström was called up ahead of the game to be there in case someone can’t go at the last minute. I wonder who that is?

Leafs Lines

Michael Bunting - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Alexander Kerfoot - John Tavares - Ilya Mikheyev
Pierre Engvall - David Kämpf - William Nylander
Nick Abruzzese - Colin Blackwell - Wayne Simmonds
OUT: Jason Spezza (scratched), Kyle Clifford (scratched), Ondrej Kase (head)

Morgan Rielly - Ilya Lyubushkin
T.J. Brodie - Justin Holl
Mark Giordano - Timothy Liljegren
OUT: Jake Muzzin (undisclosed), Rasmus Sandin (knee)

Jack Campbell - confirmed starter
Erik Källgren

If someone can explain to me why Nylander is always on the left and Engvall is always on the right when they’re in the lineup that would be great. I have no idea why that’s the case. Nylander very clearly lines up on the right side and Engvall on the left every game. He’s on the left on the power play when he filled in for Matthews, but or when he was with Kaše, but not on this line. Engvall is a lefty, too, so it makes extra nonsense.

Panthers Lines

Forwards

Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Anthony Duclair
Mason Marchment - Sam Bennett - Claude Giroux
Maxim Mamin - Anton Lundell - Sam Reinhart
Ryan Lomberg - Eetu Luostarinen - Noel Acciari

Defense

Ben Chiarot - MacKenzie Weegar
Gustav Forsling - Brandon Montour
Lucas Carlsson - Radko Gudas

Goalies

Sergei Bobrovsky
Spencer Knight