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The Lowdown: Panthers vs Maple Leafs

by "Hockey Pat" McGrath / Florida Panthers

THE LOWDOWN is a gameday preview produced by “Hockey Pat” McGrath, a lifelong Cats fan who previously wrote for the Florida Panthers themed blog “TheRatTrick”. The contents of THE LOWDOWN and all opinions expressed therein are solely those of Hockey Pat and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Florida Panthers or Sunrise Sports & Entertainment LLC. Having said that, if you find yourself laughing or smiling as you read THE LOWDOWN, feel free to thank us. We accept thank you notes, tweets and ticket purchases.

Florida Panthers Vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

The Basics

Panthers Maple Leafs
Record 21-27-7 30-21-6
Points 49 66
Place 7th in Atlantic 3rd in Atlantic
Stanley Cup Final Appearances Since 1968 1 0

The Florida Panthers will take on the Toronto Maple Leafs at the BB&T Center tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Leafs are currently the hottest team in the NHL, winners in 9 of their past 11 (9-1-1). The Panthers are coming off a tough road trip where they dropped three of four, including a 6-3 loss in Toronto on Thursday night, which evened the season series between the two clubs at one apiece. This will be the first time the teams square off in Sunrise.

Below we will take a look at tonight’s matchup from every sensible angle and maybe if we’re lucky we will hit some non-sensible ones along the way:

Toronto Players to Watch:
#81: Phil Kessel (Leafs top scorer and member of Team USA. One of the quickest releases in the game.)

#21: James van Riemsdyk (Leafs second leading scorer and also a member of Team USA.)

#28: Colton Orr and #38: Frazer McLaren (Toronto’s tough guys. If they’re on the ice, gloves could be dropping at an arena near you.)

RED HOT Cats To Watch:

Brad Boyes: B-Squared comes into tonight’s game on a 4 game point streak, raising his team-leading point total to 26 (15-11-26).

Dmitry Kulikov: The 23-year-old D-man has banged in four of his six goals in the last eight games making him one of the biggest offensive threats to come out of Russia since…

Phil Kessel Hottest Forward in the League…..yeah, this guy!

A picture is worth a thousand words so all I will say is; those Team USA glamour shots are the gifts that keep on giving.

But on a serious note, Kessel is legitimately on fire right now. He scored 20 points (7-13-20) in 15 January games and was named the league’s second star of the month. Well surely he will cool off in February right? Not so fast…Kessel scored three goals and one assist in the Leafs’ first February game, a 6-3 win over the Ottawa Senators. Kessel is 2nd in the NHL in goals scored with 30, behind only Alex Ovechkin who has 39.

Lookout for tandem bikes cruising around Sunrise over the next few days as Kessel and best friend for life Tyler Bozak will probably be unable to pass up such a golden opportunity to get out and soak up that Florida sun while listening to “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen.

Mandatory GIF for any preview involving Toronto:

Yes that’s the famous death-stare from James Reimer’s wife April followed by the patented eye-roll from Elisha Cuthbert, actress and wife of Leafs’ captain Dion Phaneuf. This incident occurred after Toronto lost a playoff game in OT to the Bruins last season and it set off a firestorm of rumors about the players’ wives feuding. Ultimately the ladies cleared things up and confirmed their friendship via a twitter picture. Pretty standard stuff for hockey-crazed Toronto.

(PSA: Now that 24 is back can Elisha Cuthbert please reprise her role as Jack Bauer’s daughter?!? We can all agree that season 1 was the best season of 24 and a lot of that had to do with Cuthbert’s presence. So to whomever makes that decision, I beg you, please do the right thing and bring back Kim Bauer. The future of the (hockey) world depends on it.)

Speaking of Leafs bench boss Randy Carlyle, it is probably smart to be sure that all toaster ovens at the BB&T Center are locked away in storage because if that man sees a toaster oven, he will break that toaster oven.

A brief interruption by some statistics

34.7: The total shots allowed per game by the Toronto Maple Leafs, 29th in the league.

46: The number of games out of their 57 played this season that the Leafs have been outshot by their opponent.

43.2%: The Maple Leafs Corsi For % which also ranks 29th in the league. If you are new to hockey’s advanced stats, Corsi For % (CF%) essentially measures possession, using shots as a proxy (all shots, including blocked shots and shots that miss the net). The thinking goes, a team that shoots more generally possesses the puck more and teams that possess the puck more are generally more successful. But as the kids say, “generally” only counts in horseshoes (or something like that) and the Leafs stats on the standings page are the ones that count the most.

Your “Young Gun” Lead Pipe Lock of the Night

(Where I pick a young Panther to have a strong game and give a totally foolproof reason to back up that pick.)

Tonight: Jonathan Huberdeau is your “Young Gun” Lead Pipe Lock of the Night (or YGLPLOTN as we like to say in the biz). I am thinking at least a goal, maybe a couple of points if we are lucky.

Why? Because after yesterday’s Cats practice, Handsome Mr. Huberdeau made a young girl’s day by signing a Valentine for her. What a nice guy, right? Right. And good things come to good people. So tonight, Johnny will have a big night.

Pre-game mandatory watch:

Vintage Video:

The “Pat-Burns-mullet-mustache-combo” needs to make a comeback immediately

Some Toronto Fun Facts:

  • The Maple Leafs are the NHL’s most valuable franchise according to Forbes Magazine. They are the only NHL franchise valued at over $1 Billion, making them a prime target for a hostile takeover by Dr. Evil (played by uber-Leaf fan Mike Myers).
  • The word Toronto originates from the Mohawk word Tkaronto, which translates to “where there are trees standing in the water”.
  • Toronto mayor Rob Ford became a huge fan when he saw Toronto’s 1927 logo and mistook the Maple Leaf for another kind of leaf.

Enjoy the game tonight! Let’s go Cats!

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