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MAPLE LEAFS (31-22-14) at PANTHERS (29-27-11)

7:30 pm (TSN4)

If any of you are wrestling fans, you’ll remember a few years back at WrestleMania 26, Shawn Michaels put his career on the line against the long win streak of the Undertaker. While the stakes are not quite that high tonight in Sunrise, Florida, there are some similarities.

A loss of any kind pretty much ends the playoff hopes for the Florida Panthers after coming into the season with such high expectations and being in a Wild Card spot as recently as three weeks ago. A loss would hurt the Leafs as well, as they come in to Florida riding three consecutive wins, a streak which has seen them reclaim the 2nd Wildcard spot in the Eastern conference. However with only a one point lead over the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning, every point is absolutely critical.

Mitch Marner comes in riding a five game point streak, as the JvR-Marner-Bozak line have been absolutely spectacular the last two games, accounting for four of the Leafs seven goals. That stat is even more impressive if you take away Nazem Kadri’s empty netter on Thursday against Philly, making it four of the Leafs last six goals scored against a goalie. Thus far against Florida this season, Marner has a three assist game, a highlight reel goal, and a game in which he had nine shots on goal and scored the shootout winner in the Leafs only shootout win of the season.

The Leafs will likely see old friend James Reimer, as Roberto Luongo is on the shelf for Florida. Luongo was outstanding the last time these teams met. Reimer on the other hand struggled in his return to Toronto in November, yielding six goals to his former mates.

Leafs defenseman Connor Carrick practiced with the team for the first time since suffering an injury against the Winnipeg Jets on February 21, however head coach Mike Babcock said after practice that Carrick is still “a ways away” from returning to the lineup, meaning that Martin Marincin, who filled in admirably on Saturday night, will likely reprise his role alongside Jake Gardiner on the Leafs 2nd pair. In recent games Babcock has been pairing Gardiner with Roman Polak and/or Matt Hunwick late in games, choosing to go with five defenders, rather than rely on players he lacks trust in.

Projected Line Combinations


Komarov — Kadri — Brown
van Riemsdyk — Bozak — Marner
Hyman — Matthews — Nylander
Martin — Boyle — Soshnikov

Rielly– Zaitsev
Gardiner — Marincin
Hunwick — Polak



Huberdeau — Barkov — Jagr
Jokinen — Trocheck — Smith
Vanek — Bjugstad — Marchessault
Thorton — Sgarbossa — Sceviour

Yandle — Demers
Matheson — Petrovik
Kindl — Pysyk


Mike Babcock — Practice — 03/13/2017

This post first appeared on Leafs Hub, please read the originial post: here

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