The Maple Leafs host the Florida Panthers tonight at Air Canada Centre. Here are three keys to a Leafs win.
Intensity from the start
It’s been lacking significantly for much of the season, more recently in the last month or so. The Maple Leafs just aren’t getting up to speed until later in games. The Leafs have trailed after one period of play in their last six games. More intensity is needed from the opening faceoff to the final horn. The Panthers are a fast team that can strike quickly.
With the Panthers desperate for points, it’s expected Roberto Luongo will be between the pipes for Florida. Luongo is coming off a performance in which he gave up four goals on 25 shots in a 4-3 loss to Tampa. Luongo made 19 saves on 19 shots in a bizarre meeting between these two teams which saw Luongo and Panthers goalie Al Montoya injured. Luongo is the key to Florida’s success and in games where he has struggled, the rest of the cast hasn’t been able to pick him up. Get to Luongo and the Leafs should get two points.
Watch for Hayes and Jokinen
While the Panthers have a lot of weapons on offence, it’s been the unsung heroes that have inflicted the most damage against the Maple Leafs. Both Jimmy Hayes and Jussi Jokinen have four points in three games against Toronto. Nazem Kadri leads the way for Toronto with four points in three games against the Panthers. However, Kadri will be unavailable due to suspension.