The Florida Panthers will try to get back to their winning ways tonight, when the Toronto Maple Leafs come to town. These two teams met just a short week ago. In Toronto, Florida was able to come back from a 2-goal, 3rd period deficit to earn an overtime win. The Cats also gained 2 points earlier in January, skating to a 4-2 win against the Leafs.
Toronto comes into tonight's game playing some of the best hockey they have all season. Winners in 3 of their last 5, the Leafs are coming off of an impressive 5-2 victory over the Montreal Canadians. Jason Blake continues to lead the Leafs. He has 6 goals and 5 assists over his last 7 games. Florida will need to contain Blake if they hope to get a W tonight.
The Panthers' offense will also look to get back on track, and will have a good chance to do so tonight. Toronto's blue line is a bit beat up, and will be missing 3 of their top 6 d-men. Tomas Kaberle, Staffan Kromwall, and former Panther Mike Van Ryn are all out of action. Florida will need to be even more aggressive then usual, if possible, to force the more inexperienced Leafs defense into some turn overs.
A win tonight is key, not just for playoff points either. Florida sits 1 point behind 8th seed Carolina, but after tonight, the Cats hit one of the toughest stretches on the schedule of the year. Confidence needs to be high as Florida heads into the stretch, and after a pretty uninspiring effort in their last game, they need to get the full 2 points against the last team they will play that is below them in the standings for a few weeks.