The Maple Leafs are home as they get ready to host the Florida Panthers. Here are three keys to a win.
Panthers desperate and motivated
Just four points out of a wild card berth, Florida will be desperate to put themselves two points back of a post-season spot by the end of the night. Florida has a mix of young players that have performed well. They will be without the services of defenceman Dmitry Kulikov, who was suspended four games for his hit on Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin. The Panthers are winless in their last three games and are feeling a little desperate, having only scored twice in the last three games. The Leafs have to continue playing defensively, as Florida will be hot out of the gate to get some points and bust out of their mini-slump.
Get to the goalie
It’s likely Roberto Luongo will be between the pipes for the Panthers. Luongo is 11-1-0 in his last 13 starts against the Toronto Maple Leafs. If there is a lesson to learn in the Leafs loss to Montreal, it’s the necessity to bring traffic to the opposing goaltender. A goalie the calibre of Carey Price had an easy time keeping pucks out of the net. Luongo will have as easy of a time if Toronto doesn’t bring the heat.
Showcase Showdown + Special Teams
The Maple Leafs are playing for pride at this point. For many Maple Leafs, the changing of the roster presents an opportunity some may not have got a chance to have otherwise. Petter Granberg will get a chance to fill the void left by the recently departed Cody Franson. Brandon Kozun has been called up, he hasn’t played in the NHL since December 10th. The Maple Leafs are ranked 14th on the power play and eight on the PK compared to Florida’s 27th PP and 21st penalty kill. The Leafs hold the edge in that department and should look to exploit it.