PANTHERS (33-31-11) at TORONTO (35-24-15)
7:30 pm (TSN4)
After a game that basically couldn’t have gone any worse last Saturday in Buffalo, the Leafs return home to face the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. If you’ll remember back a couple of weeks ago, the Leafs went into Florida and lost a game that they thought couldn’t have been much worse. The more things change, the more they stay the same, right? The difference is, this time they lost more than a game, they lost starting netminder Frederik Andersen, at least for Tuesday night’s contest, with what is being termed an upper body injury. Andersen is certainly high on the list of players the Leafs can’t afford to have miss much time, as he’s been sensational for most of the season.
Curtis McElhinney will get the start in goal for the Leafs. If there’s one thing we can say about McElhinney, he’s had to start under some stressful circumstances already this season. You’ll remember he steadied the fort the night after the OT loss to the Islanders in February, a game in which the Leafs blew a two goal lead, and then blew a lead with less than three minutes to play. McElhinney also recorded a shutout the night after a 6-3 loss to Ottawa, a game that saw the Leafs come back from 2-0 down to take a 3-2 third period lead, before suffering one of the most disheartening losses of the season. Fear not BeLeafers, McElhinney is up to the task.
Kasperi Kapanen will make his season debut after spending most of this year with the Marlies, as well as several weeks recovering from a high ankle sprain. The 20 year old Kapanen has 43 points in 43 games with the Marlies this season.
The Panthers come in off of a 4-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres Monday night, a game in which they fell down 3-0 early in the second period. They’ve lost 6 of their last 10 and have fallen out of contention in the Eastern Conference.
Be sure to tune in to see if the Leafs can pull further ahead in the playoff race, and I’ll be back with the post game afterwards.
Projected Line Combinations
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Hyman — Matthews — Nylander
Komarov — Kadri — Brown
van Riemsdyk — Bozak — Marner
Martin — Boyle — Kapanen
Rielly — Carrick
Gardiner — Zaitsev
Hunwick — Marchenko
Huberdeau — Barkov — Jagr
Jokinen — Trocheck — Smith
Vanek — Bjugstad — Marchessault
Thornton — MacKenzie — Sceviour
Yandle — Demers
Matheson — Petrovic
Pysyk — Kindl