Toronto Maple Leafs @ Florida Panthers
07:00 PM at FLA Live Arena
Watch on: ESPN, CBC, TVAS, SN
Can you win a game, Leafs? Ideally I'd like four in the next four games, but at the moment let's just focus on one, eh?
You know the stakes, you've been waiting two days to get here. I thought the last game was surely going to be a win, because there's no way the Leafs could fall 0-3 in the series. But they did, and that brief moment of belief that something had to be true because it hadn't been true yet washed away. Dammit, Gambler's Fallacy, not you again.
The Leafs aren't guaranteed to win this game. There's a good chance they'll lose it. But it'd be really nice if they figured their game out and won. Just one, worry about the other three later.
As can be expected, there will be no lineup changes for the Florida Panthers.
Morning Skate (Game 3) via Daily Faceoff
Carter Verhaeghe - Aleksander Barkov - Anthony Duclair
Nick Cousins - Sam Bennett - Matthew Tkachuk
Eetu Luostarinen - Anton Lundell - Sam Reinhart
Colin White - Eric Staal - Zac Dalpe
Gustav Forsling - Aaron Ekblad
Marc Staal - Brandon Montour
Josh Mahura - Radko Gudas
In Game 3, Matthews had a postseason low four shot attempts and 0.4 individual expected goals for, while Mitch Marner had a worse 0.08 expected goals and carried only 25% of the expected goals against the Panthers. They were absolutely smushed.
Despite playing their worst game of the playoffs, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are stuck together one more time, possibly the last time? They'll need to come up with something if the Leafs have any chance of winning.
Sheldon Keefe has brought back the guys he trusts into the top six, with Järnkrok and Kerfoot on the top two lines. It's presumed the Leafs will go 11/7 tonight and play Kämpf and Lafferty, who combined for a goal in Game 3.
On defense, there are two all-new pairings. Gone is the hard defensive pairing of McCabe-Brodie, and instead there are three balanced pairs of offensive-defense. The Leafs three offensive defenders (Rielly, Holl, and Liljegren) have been paired with the three defensive defenders (Schenn, Brodie, and McCabe). Mark Giordano – whom I would call the only real two-way threat – is back as the seventh defenseman and will be rotated in throughout the night.
In Game 3, Giordano had his icetime split with Erik Gustafsson (expected to be a scratch tonight) while paired with Holl. Gio got a career low 7 minutes in icetime. Could he be nursing an injury? Was it a one game blip? We'll see tonight. I think Keefe tried to maximize Gustafsson on offense and Gio had to fall by the wayside. With the new pairings, that plan is out the window and I expect Gio is going to get more time on the power play (the Leafs didn't get a power play in Game 3), with Holl, and possibly with Brodie, too.
Joseph Woll is the confirmed starter tonight. Matt Murray will back him up. I expect the switch to come quickly if things look tenuous.
Calle Järnkrok - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Alex Kerfoot - John Tavares - William Nylander
Michael Bunting - Ryan O'Reilly - Noel Acciari
David Kämpf - Sam Lafferty
Morgan Rielly - Luke Schenn
TJ Brodie - Justin Holl
Jake McCabe - Timothy Liljegren