LGD: Return Of A Leafs Legend

The Leafs welcome back a storied member of their past tonight at the Air Canada Centre, as Seth Griffith returns for his first game against his former team. There will be many spirited battles as life-long friends become on-ice foes, and it should be a hard fought affair. As is tradition among all former marginal Leafs, Griffith will score at least one goal tonight – perhaps more – but whether it’ll be enough to beat Toronto is something we’ll have to wait and see.

The Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff

LW C RW
Zach Hyman 
Zach Hyman
Auston Matthews 
Auston Matthews
William Nylander 
William Nylander
James van Riemsdyk 
James van Riemsdyk
Tyler Bozak 
Tyler Bozak
Mitchell Marner 
Mitchell Marner
Leo Komarov 
Leo Komarov
Nazem Kadri 
Nazem Kadri
Connor Brown 
Connor Brown
Matt Martin 
Matt Martin
Ben Smith 
Ben Smith
Nikita Soshnikov 
Nikita Soshnikov
Defensive Pairings
Morgan Rielly 
Morgan Rielly
Nikita Zaitsev 
Nikita Zaitsev
Matt Hunwick 
Matt Hunwick
Roman Polak 
Roman Polak
Jake Gardiner 
Jake Gardiner
Connor Carrick 
Connor Carrick

The only change from last night’s game looks to be Connor Carrick (thankfully) coming in for Martin Marincin. I would’ve preferred if it was one of the guys on the second pair (good god why is that second pair a thing and how are they THE SECOND PAIR), but what can you do right (this team will be the death of me).

The Panthers

Florida Panthers lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff

LW C RW
Jonathan Marchessault 
Jonathan Marchessault
Aleksander Barkov 
Aleksander Barkov
Jaromir Jagr 
Jaromir Jagr
Jussi Jokinen 
Jussi Jokinen
Vincent Trocheck 
Vincent Trocheck
Reilly Smith 
Reilly Smith
Seth Griffith 
Seth Griffith
Denis Malgin 
Denis Malgin
Colton Sceviour 
Colton Sceviour
Greg McKegg 
Greg McKegg
Jared McCann 
Jared McCann
Kyle Rau 
Kyle Rau
Defensive Pairings
Keith Yandle 
Keith Yandle
Jason Demers 
Jason Demers
Mark Pysyk 
Mark Pysyk
Aaron Ekblad 
Aaron Ekblad
Michael Matheson 
Michael Matheson
Alex Petrovic 
Alex Petrovic

The Panthers are still battling some injuries and started slow, but they’ve come around of late winning three of their last four. Their forwards are pretty deep (especially when they make their captain a healthy scratch) and they’ve got players who can play on every line. The top six is especially scary as they’ve basically got two first lines. The thought of Polwick/Hunlack matching up against one of them is practically nightmare fuel. 

Since we’re on the subject of defence, take a look at the Panthers back-end. You’ll notice that there’s absolutely no one filling the role of “designated disaster” which is an interesting strategy that I think the Leafs should at least consider.

Starting Goaltenders

James Reimer gets the nod over his former team and will likely have a fire raging inside him propelling him towards a 47-save shutout. How is Reimer doing this year? Just okay. Actually, not really, I just wanted to get that joke off. Right now he’s got a .905 save percentage on the year which is much worse than okay and is in fact bad. That likely means that my other joke about the 47-save shutout is even more likely to come true.

For the Leafs, it’s likely going to be Frederik Andersen between the pipes. After a very rough start to the season, he’s been pretty great for the team and has single-handedly won some games. I mean, he owes them for singlehandedly losing some to start the season, but that’s an argument for another day perhaps.

What To Look Out For 

Don’t let the 8-7-1 record fool you, these Cats are good. They’re a top 10 Corsi team, in fact they’re better than #TheActuallyGoodLeafs in that department, which is a big step-up from last season where they were deemed frauds for most of the year. Instead of doubling down on good fortune, they chased players and ideas that’ll actually help them win long term. They’re a very strong team and even though they’ve got some injury issues, the Leafs have a big test ahead of them.

It’s still early obviously, but this is a big game for the “Leafs are making the playoffs this year” crowd as the Panthers are likely one of the teams they’ll be chasing, and the four point swing will be critical to the team’s chances.

Can The Leafs Actually Win?

The answer is maybe.

This game should be extremely close, as the Panthers are the better team, but the Leafs have home-ice advantage at their disposal. #mymodel (which you probably know about if you follow me on twitter dot com) gives the Leafs a 50.4 percent chance of winning tonight. A virtual coin flip. Should make for an exciting game to watch. Puck drops at 7:30.

  • joekool

    It’s a PVR game because there’s a high probability of a Leaf loss. They lose big, I delete the video, they win, I watch. Good Corsi teams like Panthers will make it very difficult for the Leafs, until the rookies learn to get out of their own end. Last game was better in that respect but a possession team like the Panthers can make the newbie Leafs look like confused CHL players. Pray for Hunwick, he’s been thrown into the lion’s den tonight.

  • LukeWarmWater

    The leafs coming off a high scoring effort and playing entertaining hockey at home for the ever so loyal fans. Platinum, blonde sushi crowd included. My money is on the leafs going over 500 by 2 games as they beat the Panthers by 2 goals.

  • LukeDaDrifter

    @Dom Luszczyszyn..Re- “This game should be close as the Panthers are the better team”

    Re- Leafs Defensive Pairings “(good god why is that second pair a thing and how are they THE SECOND PAIR),”

    Re- Panthers back-end. You’ll notice that there’s absolutely no one filling
    the role of “designated disaster” which is an interesting strategy that I
    think the Leafs should at least consider.

    Re- The Panther’s ” top six is especially scary as they’ve basically got two first lines.
    The thought of Polwick/Hunlack matching up against one of them is
    practically nightmare fuel.

    Re- James Reimer will likely have a fire raging inside him propelling him towards a 47-save shutout. (ok I know you were joking with that one)

    Re- ” these Cats are good. They’re a top 10 Corsi team”

    Re- Can The Leafs Actually Win? The answer is maybe.

    Mmmmm… The Panthers kicked Dale Tallon upstairs and let go the guys that got them to dominate the top of the division last year. They brought in some analytic guys. Now they look basically like Sh!t on a Stick. With a top 10 Corsi team rating. .

    Just having a little fun at your expense. I hope you don’t mind.