LGD – Back At It In The Sunshine State

After snapping a three game skid in Dallas on Tuesday, the Toronto Maple Leafs will look to build their own winning streak against the Florida Panthers this evening. As the Panthers are one of the teams nipping at the heals of both Toronto and Washington, the Leafs would do well to secure a win in regulation and grow their playoff buffer.

The Panthers own a mediocre 15-9-8, and don’t do anything particularly well. While they allow only 2.44 goals against per game (9th best in the league, thanks to Roberto Luongo), Florida has only scored a paltry 68 goal so far this season, better only than the Buffalo Sabres’ 67.

The Leafs are the better team, but they can’t take the Panthers lightly. Florida took three of four games last season against Toronto.

The Leafs

It looked like Leo Komarov was close to returning to the lineup, having been sidelined with a concussion for almost a month, but it appears that won’t happen this evening. Though he’s been cleared to practice, the Leafs placed Komarov on the IR today and recalled goaltender Christopher Gibson from the AHL Marlies.

Gibson, who’s sporting a 2.52 GAA and .919 SV% in 17 games this season, could potentially make his NHL debut sometime soon if one of Jonathan Bernier or James Reimer are banged up. That being said, we don’t know yet which one of the Leafs’ regular goaltenders is injured, but we’ll operate under the assumption that Bernier is ready to go tonight.

UPDATE:

Lineups Provided by DailyFaceoff.com

Joffrey Lupul – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel

James van Riemsdyk – Nazem Kadri – Mike Santorelli

Richard Panik – Peter Holland – David Clarkson

Daniel Winnik – Trevor Smith – David Booth

Dion Phaneuf – Cody Franson

Jake Gardiner – Roman Polak

Morgan Rielly – Stephane Robidas

The Panthers

Florida has a bunch of several nice pieces sprinkled throughout the lineup, including Jonathan Huberdeau, Nick Bjugstad, Aleksander Barkov and Aaron Ekblad. They’ve also got some nice depth – a fourth line that includes players like Tomas Kopecky and Scottie Upshall isn’t half bad. It’ll be interesting to see four well-balanced Panthers lines go up against four-well Leafs balanced lines, but ultimately the Leafs have better quality forwards.

Lineups Provided by DailyFaceoff.com

Jonathan Huberdeau – Nick Bjugstad – Vincent Trocheck

Sean Bergenheim – Aleksander Barkov – Jimmy Hayes

Jussi Jokinen – Dave Bolland – Brad Boyes

Tomas Kopecky – Derek MacKenzie – Scottie Upshall

Brian Campbell – Aaron Ekblad

Willie Mitchell – Dmitry Kulikov

Erik Gudbranson – Dylan Olsen

Starting Goaltenders

What To Watch For

  • Which Leafs goaltender is injured? It’d be a disaster if either Bernier or Reimer were injured long term, as Toronto’s trio of goaltending prospects (Gibson, Bibeau and Sparks) have alarmingly little pro hockey experience.
  • A packed, rowdy BB&T Center… full of Leafs fans.
  • Aaron Ekblad. He’s pretty fantastic.
  • LUUUUUUUUUUU