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Will the Panthers Rest Up Against the Leafs? Depends on Boston



Florida panthers
Although the Toronto Maple Leafs don’t have anything to play for Tuesday aside for trying to get Auston Matthews to 70 goals, the Panthers could have something on the line. That’s if Washington beats the Bruins on Monday night. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

With the victory over Buffalo on Saturday, the Florida Panthers clinched home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.

They will almost assuredly open against the Maple Leafs, so Tuesday’s game will be a playoff preview of sorts.

Both teams could rest many key players.


With the Eastern Conference race still in flux, Florida’s three consecutive home victories have made it possible for it to overtake Boston and finish first in the Atlantic Division.

If Florida were to somehow surpass Boston — Florida would have to win Tuesday and Boston could only get one point in its final two games — the Panthers will play Wild Card 1 which will be the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The second wild card team, which will play the Rangers or Carolina, continues to be a slog to the finish.

There was no action Sunday involving the contending teams but Washington’s win over Tampa Bay Saturday vaulted them into the final wild card spot.

Pittsburgh started the day in that position, but after losing to Boston on Saturday night, it dropped out of a playoff spot and now are on the outside looking in, needing help to make it.

Saturday, the final wild card slot changed three times before the Caps settled in – but not comfortably.

With both Detroit and Philadelphia winning Saturday, the race became even tighter.

Four teams — Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington — are separated by a point.

A multiple-team tie will leave Detroit out because it has fewer regulation wins than the others.

It is conceivable there will be a two-or three-way tie in points.

The tiebreaker (regulation wins) between the remaining combatants is so close that it can go to the second (regulation and overtime wins) or third (all wins) levels.

Even a fourth, which is the point differential between the tied teams in games against each other.

While all this is happening, the Islanders are sitting in third place in the Metropolitan Division.

They have not clinched yet.

If they don’t register at least a point in their final two games, they can be bumped down to Wild Card 2 — or even out of the playoffs if Philadelphia or Washington tie them in the Metropolitan.

They do not own the tiebreaker against either.

So where does all of this leave the Panthers?

With one regular season game remaining, the Panthers have just two potential playoff opponents in Toronto or Tampa Bay.

Coach Paul Maurice has indicated he would like to rest a few players.

He also said he would ice his best lineup if necessary.

If the Panthers have the opportunity to win something — like the Atlantic — he said they would try and win it.

But if Boston wins Monday, well, that’s that.

Monday, the Bruins go against Washington, a team fighting for its playoff life.

If Boston fails to get two points, Florida is still in the mix for first place.

“If it makes more sense to rest, we’ll do it,” he said. “If we get a chance to compete for something we’re going to compete.”

Stranger things have happened.

As far as playing against the final seed, well, we all remember what happened last year.

For The Best Coverage of the Florida Panthers Anywhere:



  • When: Tuesday, 7 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
  • Up Next for the Panthers: GAME 1, Eastern Conference Quarterfinals; TBA

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