Toronto Maple Leafs @ Florida Panthers
07:00 PM at Amerant Bank Arena
Watch on: TVAS, BSFL, TSN4
The Leafs last game was at home on October 16 against the Chicago Blackhawks, which Toronto lost by a score of 4-1. The Leafs have a record of 2-1-0 so far.
The Florida Panthers last played an away game on October 16 against the New Jersey Devils. The Panthers won by a score of 4-3, and their current league record is 1-2-0.
Looks at the lines, wonders where old friend Sam Bennett is... Oh, that's a shame, he seems to be injured and not yet ready to start the season.
What hasn't changed is that Florida is leaning heavily on a very few forwards (where have I heard that before?) and filling in with young players and inexpensive supplementary players. It works most of the time.
As always, Matthews Tkachuk is the elite star of the team – whether you like it or not – and Alex Barkov is not the best 1C in the NHL, but he's good at absolutely everything in a way that looks a lot like elite talent when you add it all up.
Their new defence setup, with Aaron Ekblad on IR again, is headlined by Oliver Ekman-Larsson who is not as miscast as John Klingberg, but isn't good. He's paired with Gustav Forsling who has some good offence, and is a threat to score and set up goals, but can't defend well. This really is their big weakness, but they mitigate it a great deal with the defensive impact of many of their forwards.
Last Game (10/16) via Daily Faceoff
Sam Reinhart - Aleksander Barkov - Evan Rodrigues
Carter Verhaeghe - Eetu Luostarinen - Matthew Tkachuk
Nick Cousins - Anton Lundell - Justin Sourdif
Ryan Lomberg - Kevin Stenlund - Steven Lorentz
Gustav Forsling - Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Niko Mikkola - Dmitry Kulikov
Josh Mahura - Uvis Balinskis
Sergei Bobrovsky - starter
The Leafs debuted some new lines at practice before they flew to Florida, and there were some unsurprising changes. The uninspiring John Klingberg has been swapped for Timothy Liljegren, and Matt Knies gets a chance to make a more meaningful contribution than he has to date.
Tyler Bertuzzi - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Matt Knies - John Tavares - William Nylander
Max Domi - Fraser Minten - Calle Järnkrok
Noah Gregor - David Kämpf - Ryan Reaves
Morgan Rielly - TJ Brodie
Jake McCabe - Timothy Liljegren
Mark Giordano - John Klingberg
Ilya Samsonov - confirmed starter
This is only game four. We're still early in the everything is weird territory of mid-October. I have to admit to being less than thrilled to see Klingberg living down to my expectations so quickly, but I do hope some of his troubling results are due to a lingering injury. Faintly hope.
I expect Florida to bring out maximum Knies, and it would be nice to see something like Max-imum Domi too, instead of the bare minimum we've gotten so far. By which I mean offensive zone competence not grrrr argh stuff.
If ever the Leafs were going to be up for a game, it should be these two in Florida, so they shouldn't need any Reavesian effects.