Heading into Thursday nights game the Florida Panthers and the Toronto Maple Leafs are 5th and 6th in the Atlantic Division respectively. Both teams are 1 game above .500 which for the Panthers may not be anything to celebrate, but for the Leafs its a sign that things are looking up! Former Maple Leaf James Reimer is expected to get the start in net and I cant wait!! I always liked Reimer and being a former Leaf means he will probably play the game of his life on Thursday night.
The Leafs seem to dominate in most offensive categories compared to the Panthers, with an advantage in goals for, shots for, PP%, SH% and even faceoffs. The Panthers have an advantage in…you guessed it defense! Like that surprises us Leaf fans. On average the Panthers take 2 less penalties a game which can turn the tide of any game so the Leafs will need to show their discipline on Thursday night. The Panthers still pack an offensive punch with Barkov, Ekblad, Jagr, Marchessault and Yandle so this team is not to be taken lightly. They are capable of burning the Leafs weak defense to the ground if they have a good night.
Projected starters for the game are James Reimer for the Panthers and Freddie Anderson for the Leafs who just came off another great game Tuesday against the Predators. You can most likely assume the Kadri line will match up against the Jagr line almost all night. Expect the Marner and Matthews lines to be rolling once again as Mike Babcock will have last change and his choice of match ups for the night.
For the advanced stat nerds:
This should be an exciting game headlined by both rosters young elite stars. Both teams are on a win streak but I am still leaning towards a Leafs win 4-2. Game time is 7:30!
Who will win the battle in net..Reimer or Anderson?
Will Auston Matthews finally break his bad puck luck and score?
Which teams young guns will win the showdown?
Who do you think will win? Or what players are you excited to see? Let me know!! Comment below or on Facebook or tweet me @TMLHockeytlk