For many of the Florida Panthers, a trip to Toronto to play the Maple Leafs is a chance to see family and friends who either live in the city or in its surrounding area.
The Panthers have a number of ties to not only Toronto but to the Maple Leafs as well with Paul Maurice once coaching the team to Carter Verhaeghe growing up in the area and being drafted by the team.
One familiar face for the Panthers will be on the ice in blue-and-white this series as old pal Noel Acciari could prove to be a thorn in Florida’s side.
The Panthers did not have the money to re-sign the popular forward and, after three seasons with the Panthers, Acciari left as a free agent to sign with St. Louis.
Acciari’s physical and hard-nosed play in the 2019 playoffs with Boston helped him secure a three-year deal with the Panthers in their big free agent spending spree that summer — and he was a solid addition to the Leafs at the trade deadline.
Although Ryan O’Reilly was the big name in that trade, Acciari was a underrated addition.
In the 6-game series win against the Lightning, Acciari scored twice; O’Reilly also has two goals.
“You never know what can happen in a Game 7,” Acciari said when asked about Sunday’s game between his two former teams per the Toronto Sun. “A great game, great series and Florida will have a lot of confidence after knocking off the No. 1 team.”
As for seeing the Panthers again?
“I have nothing but good memories,’’ he said. “They’re a different team, but I still have friends there.”
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW
The Panthers are back in Toronto, the place where this run to the playoffs all began.
Remember how beaten down the Panthers were way back on March 29? Florida had sort of fallen out of the playoff race with four straight losses — then got ripped by Keith Tkachuk on the radio that morning. Who could forget Paul Maurice melting down on the bench?
— It has been a tough sophomore season for Anton Lundell, but he really looks like a different player in these playoffs. He was terrific in Games 6 and 7 against the Bruins.
— The Panthers were able to enjoy their momentous upset of the Bruins on Monday as they traveled to Toronto and just took ‘er easy. The team is either out of gas or “flying in on the fumes.”
— Hey, did you hear that the Panthers refused to sell tickets to anyone affiliated with Canada or the Maple Leafs? OK, this little ‘controversy’ has definitely been overblown. Matthew Caldwell tells us the Great Canadian Ticket Ban ends today.
— Verhaeghe certainly has a knack for scoring overtime goals in the playoffs, doesn’t he?
— Maurice appeared to get a little emotional talking to the media on Sunday night. Been a long first year with the Panthers and Sunday was what Matthew Tkachuk called a ‘legacy win.’
— Sasha Barkov and Tkachuk may have garnered the headlines after the Panthers won Game 6 on Friday night, some unsung heroes who helped get it done. We introduce you to them.
— Eetu Luostarinen is turning into a star right before our eyes. Had another nice game on Sunday.
— Ryan Lomberg has a hand injury and is out indefinitely. Monday, Maurice said he is now considered “week-to-week.’’
— A lot of video from the past few days is up on the FHN YouTube Channel including Game 7 postgame reaction from Paul Maurice, Sergei Bobrovsky, Sasha Barkov, Matthew Tkachuk, Brandon Montour and Carter Verhaeghe.
There is also pre-game comments from Maurice, Barkov and Eric Staal as well.
To see all the videos, you can click the embedded videos below or head directly to the FHN YouTube Channel RIGHT HERE to see everything all in one place.
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NHL NEWS/NATIONAL HOCKEY NOW
The New Jersey Devils rallied from an 0-2 home start and will be moving on to the second round after beating the Rangers 4-0 on Monday night in Game 7.
New Jersey will open in Carolina on Wednesday night.
— Matt Murray has rejoined the Leafs as their No. 3 goalie for the Florida series.
— The Leafs say “there’s a lot to handle” when it comes to one Matthew Tkachuk.
— Was Boston Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark playing through a serious injury?
— The Vegas Golden Knights are getting healthier and are ready for Edmonton.
— The Calgary Flames are not rebuilding — but they are looking for a new coach after firing Darryl Sutter. If Gerard Gallant does get fired by the Rangers, perhaps he and Jonathan Huberdeau reunite in Alberta.
— Could Marc-Andre Fleury go back to the Pittsburgh Penguins?
— The Colorado Avalanche are looking for a No. 2 center.
— The Los Angeles Kings are going to have some changes this offseason.
— Should the San Jose Sharks make a deal and trade Kevin Lebanc?
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (ATL2) VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS (WC2)
- When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto
- TV/Streaming: ESPN, ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- First Round Schedule — Game 1: Tuesday at Toronto, 7 (ESPN); Game 2: Thursday at Toronto, 7 (TNT); Game 3: Sunday at Florida, 6:30 (TBS); Game 4: Wednesday at Florida, 7 (ESPN); Game 5*:Friday, May 12 at Toronto (TNT); Game 6*: Sunday, May 14 at Florida (TBA); Game 7*: May 16 at Toronto (TNT). (*) – If Necessary
- How They Got Here: Toronto d. Tampa Bay 4-2; Florida d. Boston 4-3
- Season Series (Toronto won 3-1): Maple Leafs 5, @Panthers 4 OT (Jan. 17); @Maple Leafs 6, Panthers 2 (Mar. 23); Panthers 3, @Maple Leafs 2 OT (March 29); Maple Leafs 2, @Panthers 1 OT (April 10)
- Last season: Florida won 2-1
- All-time Regular Season Series: Toronto leads 48-36-7, 7 ties
- Postseason History: First Meeting