Hard to believe, but here we are at the end of March and the Florida Panthers will be meeting a division rival for the first time when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight.
Toronto is chasing the Panthers in the Atlantic Division race and probably need to get five out of the six available points in this abbreviated season series to even have a chance to catch them.
Yes, six points.
Due to a quirk in the schedule, Florida will only face Toronto three times in the regular season instead of the usual four.
Toronto failed to not only keep pace with the Panthers on Saturday night but ended up losing ground.
As it stands as of this morning, the Panthers hold a seven-point lead on Boston, eight on Tampa Bay with Toronto nine points back of first.
And, it looks like Toronto’s arena will be ready to go after it had to be evacuated Saturday night during a Raptors game due to an electrical fire.
That game was continued after the all-clear was given — with no fans in the building.
Back to hockey.
Florida is flying high these days with wins in nine of its past 11 road games — with at least a point in 10 of them.
The past couple have not been pretty, however, with Montreal and Ottawa giving the Panthers fits.
This being Toronto and all, expect the Panthers to be ready to play on Sunday night. Even though they heard about Saturday night’s loss — they are in Canada, after all, so it would be hard to ignore — the Panthers are not going to take a key division rival lightly.
“It is a really good team and it’s a back-to-back,” Jonathan Huberdeau said. “It is our first game against them and we’re excited. It’s going to be a challenge. We just have to be ready, have a good start tomorrow.”
— Looking for a place to watch tonight’s game in Toronto?
Join me at the Inn-Field in Sunrise (Oakland Park just west of Hiatus) for wing specials and more.
Sound on so we can all listen to Goldie, Randy and Jessica…
UP NEXT FOR THE FLORIDA PANTHERS
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
- When: Sunday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM/SiriusXM
- Draft Kings odds — Toronto favored: Money Line (-120); Puck line (-1.5, +185); Over/Under 7 (+105/-125)
- Last season: Did not play
- All-time regular season series: Toronto leads 44-34-5, 7 ties
- This season — First meeting
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 28 Claude Giroux
11 Jonathan Huberdeau // 9 Sam Bennett // 10 Anthony Duclair
17 Mason Marchment // 27 Eetu Luostarinen // 13 Sam Reinhart
94 Ryan Lomberg // 55 Noel Acciari // 98 Maxim Mamin
8 Ben Chiarot // 52 MacKenzie Weegar
42 Gus Forsling // 7 Radko Gudas
18 Robert Hagg // 62 Brandon Montour
30 Spencer Knight
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
Scratched: Patric Hornqvist, Petteri Lindbohm, Joe Thornton, Lucas Carlsson
Injured: Markus Nutivaara (LTIR), Jonas Johansson (IR), Anton Lundell (ill), Aaron Ekblad (LTIR)
PROJECTED TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS LINEUP
58 Michael Bunting // 34 Auston Matthews // 16 Mitch Marner
15 Alexander Kerfoot // 91 John Tavares // 88 William Nylander
65 Ilya Mikheyev // 64 David Kampf // 47 Pierre Engvall
11 Colin Blackwell // 19 Jason Spezza // 24 Wayne Simmonds
44 Morgan Rielly // 46 Ilya Lyubushkin
78 T.J. Brodie // 3 Justin Holl
55 Mark Giordano // 37 Timothy Liljegren
35 Petr Mrazek
50 Erik Kallgren
Toronto Maple Leafs lines courtesy DailyFaceoff.com