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Leafs Pack for Florida AND Boston, Unsure of Where Playoffs Start

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FORT LAUDERDALE — The Florida Panthers still have something to play for as it goes into tonight’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs with a shot at winning the Atlantic Division.

Although it has long been figured the Panthers and Leafs would open the playoffs against one another this coming weekend, Boston has opened the door for the Panthers to jump it in the standings.

On Monday night, the Bruins gave Washington’s playoff hopes a strong shot in the arm as the Capitals won 2-0.

Boston remains a point up on the Panthers and both teams have a game to play.

If Florida wins Tuesday and Boston loses in any way to the visiting Ottawa Senators, the Panthers would win the division.

The Panthers hold the tiebreaker over Boston due to more regulation wins.

If Boston wins in any fashion tonight, it would win the division and play Tampa Bay in the first round with Florida opening against the Leafs.

A Florida loss, and, hello Toronto.

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With there still being a question on the first-round matchup, the Maple Leafs were forced to pack for both cities.

Toronto will play the Panthers before visiting Tampa Bay on Wednesday night; the Leafs will either stay in Florida for Game 1 or fly to Boston.

“I probably packed more warm clothes than I should have,” Ryan Reaves said according to the Toronto Sun.

“I was anticipating nice weather since we’re going to Florida now, but don’t think I’ve ever travelled to a city you might be in for playoffs. too. This is like a long road trip, you just pack accordingly.’’

Both Florida and Toronto could have a number of players out of the lineup.

Auston Matthews is not expected to be one of them, however, as he chases down his 70th goal this season.

For Toronto, defenseman Jake McCabe practiced Monday after leaving Saturday’s game; he should be back.

Max Domi, Bobby McMann and Calle Jarnkrok may sit. 

For Florida, it was missing Sasha Barkov and Oliver Ekman-Larsson on Monday with coach Paul Maurice saying both would be decided on today.

The Panthers will hold an optional morning skate in Fort Lauderdale.

Other players could take the night off.

Maurice said they would discuss it amongst themselves.

“There are probably four or five guys in your lineup who have big minutes on them,” Maurice said. “We’ve been talking. Fortunately for me, with a veteran team, the top-end guys push their bodies hard so they know what they want.

“The early returns on the players who I would consider giving an option do not want it. They don’t want a week off between games. You can just as easily get banged up on your way to the rink as you can in a hockey game.”

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ON DECK

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: ESPN/ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • This Season (Leafs Lead 2-1) — At Florida: Panthers 3, Leafs 1 (Oct. 19); Tuesday. At Toronto: Leafs 2, Panthers 1 (Nov. 28); Leafs 6, Panthers 4 (April 1).
  • Last Season: Toronto won Regular Season Series 3-1; Florida won Eastern Conference Semifinals 4-1
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Toronto leads 50-37-7, 7 ties
  • END REGULAR SEASON
  • Up Next for the Panthers: GAME 1, Eastern Conference Quarterfinals; TBA

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