Panthers Go Belly Up in Home Finale, Lose to Leafs 4-0

USA TODAY Sports

Playoff bound Toronto rolls Florida to another loss, Cats lock up 30th place.

Last season the Florida Panthers brought out the brooms when they played their final game against the Toronto Maple Leafs before embarking on their first playoff appearance in years, but this season those tables turned. This season Florida was swept by the Leafs, including two shutouts; Toronto gears up for the playoffs, Florida shakes off the dust on the Central Scouting reports. With the loss Florida is guaranteed a top two pick in this summer's entry draft, and with it comes a 30th place finish for the scrapbook.

With what essentially breaks down to the worst home record in the NHL, a 4-0 shutout was all but expected. A little effort would have been a nice change of pace, but it could have been worse.

Observations...

Forwards:

  • Jonathan Huberdeau - Skating a lot harder over the last two game, and the extra speed has translated into extra chances. Quieter than last game though, especially since the red jerseys all blended together as I passed out when the Leafs took a 4-0 lead.
  • Jack Skille - The black sheep on the third line, saw lots of Matty and Uppy but very little of #12. Skille certainly isn't making a late season push for a new contract.
  • Tomas Fleischmann - The difference between his defense at the beginning of the season and now has been night and day; Flash has been as good as any of the forwards on breakouts and backchecking.
  • Drew Shore - Worked had to win battles along the boards and wasn't afraid to use the body. I'd say Shore was the best Panther besides Flash.
  • Shawn Matthias - Good early shifts, drifted out of interest in the second. Nearly worked some powerplay magic but was stopped by Reimer.
  • Scottie Upshall -Like Matty, Upshall was good early and dropped out afterwards.
  • George Parros - No fight, so nothing to say.
  • Nick Bjugstad - Had a really good chance to score his first goal on a rebound opportunity during the powerplay. Other than that, a big step backwards in the 'visibility' statistic.
  • Quinton Howden - Howden still has his speed after missing a few days, and he made the most of it. I'm really liking Howden, he's one of the players on this team who has to prove himself to stay up; so he makes the most of every second of ice time he receives. Drew a penalty
  • Marcel Goc - Nothing much to say, Goc goes as the offense goes...and tonight there was no offense.
  • Tomas Kopecky - Saw him fall down once. Spearheaded some resistance to the Leafs defensemen in the third, and cut off a few close quarters passes.
  • Peter Mueller - The hair might be holding him back. Doesn't look quite as dynamic as he did before the roadtrip he missed.

Defensemen:

  • TJ Brennan - Paired with Strachan, so things naturally went downhill. I won't pin it all on Strachan though, Brennan has been downright awful lately. Lost a battle with McClement to set up the first goal and missed the trailer on the second. Better in the 2nd and 3rd.
  • Filip Kuba - Drifted so far from the play on the 4th goal that he was out of frame on 3 replay angles.
  • Tyson Strachan - First game back from injury, and it didn't go so well. Looked lost on the first goal and followed Frattin behind the goal instead of picking up the trailer on the second goal. Used the body here and there, shook off the rust as the game went on.
  • Mike Weaver - Pulled to the wrong side of the net to give the Leafs scoring chances and couldn't handle the bigger Toronto forwards tonight.
  • Brian Campbell - Had a sweet chance in the first, but the low angle shot went right across the crease. Soupy played well through the game and had a few good offensive rushes.
  • Alex Petrovic - Remember last game when I mentioned his tendency to pinch in during risky situations? Yep, it came true. Can't blame him for trying to make a play, but if he'd have put on the brakes and returned to the blueline after his cross ice pass to Mueller went awry, he might have been able to cut off the ensuing 3-on-Campbell. Petrovic got a little nasty with Kadri in the second period and took a penalty because of it.

Goaltender:

  • Jacob Markstrom - Let in the Leafs first shot of the game and froze as MacArthur pounced on a rebound for the second tally. The following two weren't all his fault, though another 4 goals added to his goals against tally sure isn't painting a pretty picture.

All the Toronto specifics on Thursday's "game" via our pals at Pension Plan Puppets here. One more event left on the schedule people, as Saturday the Panthers will close out the 2013 lockout-slashed season (and hopefully the cyclic losing pattern that plagued the team over it) with a cross-state trip to Tampa Bay. Both Florida teams will have high draft picks this summer and some much needed down time. Will there be confetti rain? Find out here on LBC, Cats at Bolts 7:00.

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