Toronto Maple Leafs at Florida Panthers - Game 37 Preview

Florida: 18-11-7 (43PTS)
Toronto:
18-13-4 (40PTS)
Season Series: 1-0-0
Game Time: 7:30 PM EST
Television: Fox Sports Florida, SportsNet Ontario
Radio: 560 WQAM

The holiday break is over and it's time for a decimated Panthers squad to return to action. The last couple of weeks were a killer for the Cats and this week is going to be equally rough if they don't get some of their injured players back quickly. This could be the last week we'll see the classic trio of opponents during the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve. The schedule changes starting next season will probably mean we'll be seeing the Bruins in the Rangers' place in coming years.

But enough about the Rangers and Bruins. Tonight's game is against the Maple Leafs. The Leafs got off to a hot start for the second year straight, but held that start for a bit longer. They slumped a little in December, but have won their last two and are sitting at sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Starting goaltender James Reimer missed a bunch of games, but is now back in the lineup. This will be Toronto head coach Ron Wilson's first game after receiving a contract extension during the holiday break.

More from our Toronto cohorts at Pension Plan Puppets.
Maple Leafs vs Panthers coverage at SB Nation.
SB Nation Tampa Preview.
LBC Game Thread will open 30 minutes prior to puck drop.

News and Notes

Last meeting

The Panthers won 5-1 in Toronto in early November. Five Panthers had goals and Jose Theodore stopped 38 shots in the win.

Last game

The Bruins lost only two regulation games in November and December; one each to the Panthers and Jets. They got their revenge on the Panthers on Friday night with an 8-0 blowout of a Panthers team that was missing seven forwards.

Lineup

Last week saw the injuries pile up for the Panthers. Just as they were starting to look towards getting Scottie Upshall and Marcel Goc back in the lineup, they lost Jack Skille, Sean Bergenheim, Marco Sturm, Mikael Samuelsson and Stephen Weiss. Four players are up from San Antonio: Evgeni Dadonov, Michal Repik, Tim Kennedy and Bill Thomas. Following the injury on Stephen Weiss in Ottawa Thursday night, the Panthers were unable to get Mark Cullen up in time for Friday's game and instead played defenseman Erik Gudbranson on the fourth line. Cullen has cleared re-entry waivers and will play tonight.

Weiss and Samuelsson are expected back later in the week. Bergengeim and Sturm may also be back soon. Upshall is skating and expected to be back in the next couple of weeks. Goc is expected to begin skating this week.

Injuries

  • F Scottie Upshall (hip), 11/10, 6 to 8 weeks
  • F Marcel Goc (concussion), 11/16, unknown
  • F Jack Skille (shoulder), 12/16, at least a week
  • F Sean Bergenheim (groin), unknown
  • F Marco Strurm (face), day to day
  • F Mikael Samuelsson (tailbone), day to day
  • F Stephen Weiss (chest), day to day

Healthy Scratches

  • D Keaton Ellerby OR
  • D Erik Gudbranson

Starting goaltenders:

With three big games this week, and the Panthers needing some wins, we'll likely see Jose Theodore start all three games. The Leafs are on a three game road trip, with a day off between each game. They will likely start James Reimer.

Projected Lines

Forwards
  1. Fleischmann-Matthias-Bradley
  2. Kopecky-Santorelli-Versteeg
  3. Repik-Kennedy-Barch
  4. Dadonov-Cullen-Thomas
Defense
  1. Campbell-Garrison
  2. Jovanovski-Ellerby/Gudbranson
  3. Kulikov-Weaver
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