LGD: Fancy Cats

I won’t get into a long-winded introduction for this game tonight, because we’ve been through enough of these matchups over the years to know what we’re getting in to. It’s another dreaded mid-week Flortheast game. The trap of all traps, and made even worse by the fact these teams are actually good now. 

The Leafs are in tough tonight against a Panthers team that’s likely going to be near the very top of the conference at season’s end, and comes into tonight as the second-best team in the league so far by possession metrics. That said, this Toronto team has shown to be able to make any game interesting.

We know Freddie Andersen is going to be under the microscope until he breaks out of this rough stretch, and he’ll get another chance to do so tonight. That may or may not be the best move depending on who you ask, but either way, another poor outing this evening and the concern only ramps up another notch, perhaps to where we’re talking “conditioning stint” like Bernier went through last year. Andersen needs this game badly.

Anyway, on to the skaters in front of him, who could also stand to be better on the defensive side of things. 

THE LEAFS

Griffith in, Holland out. One step forward, one step back. On the back end, Marincin gets in for Hunwick, which is a relief, but Corrado is still looking for his first game. Regardless, it’s nice to be safe from the dreaded Hunwick-Polak “shutdown” pairing for a game.

THE PANTHERS

The Panthers are a good team but they’re suffering some key injuries right now with Huberdeau and Bjugstad being sidelined, making the forward group a bit thin. Toronto shouldn’t be out of their depth at all here, and should be able to take advantage of a somewhat weakened divisional opponent. 

STARTING GOALTENDERS

Unfortunately Reimer doesn’t get the net against his old team, so there goes that storyline. Luongo will start for the Panthers. He’s been clipping along with a .922 save-percentage through his four starts.  

As mentioned above, Babcock will go back to Andersen in hopes of a turn-around. 

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Make no mistake, the Leafs need these points. This isn’t a teardown year and shouldn’t be treated as such, but the longer that ‘1’ stays in the win column the more the Nolan Patrick talk starts to kick into gear. 

Aside from, you know, not winning, things have undeniably been a lot of fun in terms of watching this team. Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid have basically going back and forth for the Art Ross lead this week, so let’s see if that continues. I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence. 

  • Brandon

    I thought Corrado looked pretty good in the pre-season, so I’m not sure why he hasn’t seen any time. I’m happy to see Gardner and Carrick paired; I’d like to
    see that second pairing given a chance. I’d be interested in seeing a Marincin-Corrado third pair too, but maybe I’m just desperate to believe that the Leafs don’t have to trade any good forward prospects to get defense. I feel a bit bad for Holland given that I’d prefer to have him in there instead of Martin.

  • Bryan

    So if Andersen gets torched again, what’s the excuse this team?

    Obviously Polak, then a bit of Marcincin to offer some faux nuance and it’s getting excessive so maybe be radical and question Carrick (put the jersey buying on hold?) and say Gardiner is playing on the wrong pair.

    Nah, we’ll just pin the loss on Polak.