Leafs To Play Without A Breather
Just before the weekend, the Toronto Maple Leafs (28-15-2) will have to do with an extra workload, as they will face two teams in a matter of 23-and-a-half hours, visiting the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday before traveling to Sunrise to face off against the Florida Panthers the following evening. Coming into the double set, the Leafs had managed to win just two of their last seven contests (2-5-0) after recording a five-game winning run prior. Ahead of Thursday, Mitch Marner was leading the team with 59 points (18 goals, 41 assists), while John Tavares (50 points) had picked up the most strikes (29).
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) January 17, 2019
Goalie Frederik Andersen (20-10-1 on the season prior to the double-header with a 2.54 GAA and a .922 save percentage) was already set to start between the sticks in Tampa Bay, so Garret Sparks (6-2-1 with a 3.01 GAA and a .905 save percentage) is very much likely to tend the twine versus Florida, despite having never faced the Panthers before. He is, however, 2-6-2 against the Atlantic Division previously with a 3.23 GAA and a .879 save percentage. The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, were entering the upcoming schedule, sitting 3rd in most goals scored per game (3.58), 9th in least goals allowed on average (2.84), 9th in power play (22.2%) and 12th in penalty kill (80.9%).
Cats Register A Nightmare Run
The Florida Panthers (17-20-8) lost for the seventh consecutive time (0-5-2), marking their longest losing streak in the last five seasons after being beaten 5-1 by the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Tuesday. The Cats outshot the hosts 53-28, but managed to bury just one goal, as Mike Hoffman (22 snipes, 41 points this year) opened the scoring in the first period before the Habs netted three times in the following frame, adding two more markers, including an empty-netter, in the final third. The Panthers have now endured their longest skid since Oct. 22-Nov. 10, 2013, when they lost nine in a row (0-5-4).
“Everything is pretty much back to normal back on the ice and my conditioning is up to speed. It’s about getting that hockey mind back.” -Vincent Trocheck on returning to practice with the team pic.twitter.com/JGjXTdH1Su
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) January 17, 2019
Goalie James Reimer made 23 saves in Montreal and has now gone 8-8-5 for the year with a 3.21 GAA and a .893 save percentage. He has posted a 1-1-0 past tally versus Toronto with a 3.99 GAA and a .859 save percentage, while Roberto Luongo (8-11-1 on the season with a 3.34 GAA and a .892 save percentage) is 23-12-3 against the Maple Leafs historically with a 2.32 GAA and a .925 save percentage. The Panthers are 12th in most goals scored per game (3.04), 3rd in most goals conceded on average (3.58), 4th in power play (25.9%) and 16th in penalty kill with 79.5% effectiveness.
- Home team is 10-1 in the last 11 meetings.
- Maple Leafs are 0-4 in their last 4 meetings with Panthers in Florida.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Three 5-1 outcomes aside, four contests on the current seven-game losing run of the Panthers have all been decided by a single goal, with two of those outing going past regulation. So, the Cats have just about been there to grab a victory. They have a great chance of finally doing that while hosting the Maple Leafs, who might be a much better team than them, but 1) will be playing with no rest, 2) have been struggling lately, winning just two of their last seven games ahead of the current back-to-back set, 3) have already lost four consecutive trips to Sunrise. The underdog looks decent in this one!
Prediction: Florida Panthers
Full-Game Total Pick
The very last three meetings between Florida and Toronto have all finished with seven goals on the scoreboard. Another such fixture is definitely not out of the question. The Panthers have already gone past the set goal-mark in five of their last six home contests, while seven of the previous nine road outings of the Maple Leafs against sides with a losing home record have all turned out to be high-scoring matchups.
Prediction: Over 6.5