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Florida Panthers

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Joffrey Lupul

What an impressive showing by Joffrey Lupul last night. Re-united with 2011-12 running mates Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel after an in-game audible by coach Carlyle, he led the Leafs to a not-always-convincing 3-2 win over the lowly Florida Panthers with goals five and six in his last four games.

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Toronto overcame a slow start on the second night of a back-to-back set to close out the league-worst Florida Panthers at home.  The game featured the return of Joffrey Lupul to the Kessel line, simultaneously heralding the revival of said line as contributing members of the team.

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After a game in which the Leafs sat back, tried to limit the damage and relied on the counterattack against Boston, tonight you hope to see the Leafs exhibit spells of dominance against the 30th-placed Florida Panthers. It’s a back to back scenario with travel in between, but we would love to see some killer instinct out of the Leafs knowing the state of the opponent and the importance of the two points.

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One of the more interesting, borderline meaningless stats associated with the Maple Leafs at the moment is their league-leading hit count despite the subtraction of Luke Schenn’s ~270 “hits” (not that Schenn wasn’t physical, but pity the ACC stat recorder who decided his patented three-step push counted as one). Through 16 games in 2013, the Leafs lead the league, ahead of the Flyers and Rangers, with 454 hits.

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Toronto Maple Leafs at Florida Panthers

The 9-6-0 Toronto Maple Leafs kick off their first of two games in Florida tonight vs. the 4-6-4 Panthers, who have lost their last three games in OT. The Panthers are once again awful after looking like a legit team again last year, currently sitting dead last in the NHL in goals against per game and not a whole lot higher (25th) in goals scored per game.

The last time the Maple Leafs were in Miami… March of 2012, they were thoroughly routed 5-2. In that game, how Tim Connolly managed to finish -3 with only 11:38 of ice time in that game I will never know… although his new AHL career seems to explain it.

Coming off a strong game vs. those grieving Ottawa Senators, if Toronto can deliver the same physical, high pressure game they have in 3 of the last 4, with Scrivens continuing to deliver in Reimer’s absence, another road win is in the cards.

Photo Credit: The Star

Toronto Marlies 3, Abbotsford Heat 2 – Marlies take series 4-1

Game sheet

The Toronto Marlies continue their playoff march towards the Calder Cup finals after disposing of the Abbotsford Heat in overtime of game 5 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Despite not playing a great game, it was good enough to get them the victory. Abbostford were the more desperate of the two teams and it showed—Toronto was down 2-0 during the first period and being outplayed, for the most part.

In the 2nd and 3rd period, The Marlies slowly started to chip away at Abbotsford, and ultimately, it was a game that came down to special teams. The Marlies league leading penalty kill and improving powerplay were too much to for Abbotsford to handle.

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Why the Maple Leafs should make the playoffs in 2010-11‏

By: Joe Cino

Everything that could have gone wrong for the Maple Leafs in 2009-10 did. A combination of cold streaks, underperforming veterans, bad goaltending and a slew of injuries capped off a basement finish. The roster has been fine tuned, with additions like Giguere, Phaneuf and Versteeg chief among them, but by and large most of the roster is the same as last year’s iteration. With so many holdovers from the previous year, are the playoffs a realistic goal for the Maple Leafs? I believe that they are, with Corsi ratings, Goals versus Threshold and the realistic impact of the new Leafs taken into account.

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Great to see such an active group of readers. Here are a couple of FanPosts for your Friday afternoon reading enjoyment with today’s theme being youth, youth and more youth. Paul LeMay (B. Leaf) takes an in-depth look at the team’s organizational prospect depth while Chuck Johnson compares Nazem Kadri’s chances of making the NHL as a 2nd year player with those of previous high draft picks.

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The two greatest military tacticians of the past 5000 years – Sun Tzu and Sgt. Slaughter – both spoke on the value of knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your enemies in the field.  To effectively assess the situational realities of the Toronto Maple Leafs it pays to look at the status of their direct competition within the Northeast division.  Playing 24 games against teams from their own division, pride, points and position are all on the line.  While by no means comprehensive (as yet), take a gander at the past 3 weeks of moves.

The Canadians, Senators, Bruins and Sabres all earned playoff positions last season.  A successful, playoff calibre Leafs squad must commit themselves to dominating these frequent opponents as more than a quarter of the season will be played against them.

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There has been much speculation that GM Brian Burke is working to acquire a 1st round pick in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft and now it’s time to add some more fuel to the fire. According to the Vancouver Sun, projected mid 1st round draft prospect Mark Pysyk of the Edmonton Oil Kings has held discussions with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks, and Florida Panthers prior to the NHL’s scouting combine next month.

Pysyk currently plays the role of a minute-munching machine for the Oil Kings: killing penalties, shutting down opposing teams’ top lines, and even earns time on the team’s powerplay. Mark is currently projected 16th overall by ISS and 7th among North American Skaters by Central Scouting, which means he could expect his name to be called anywhere between picks 10-20 on draft day. The mere fact that the Leafs scouting team is putting this much effort into evaluating players that would seemingly be out of the team’s picking range seems to indicate that there is at least a reasonable chance that Burke will be able to lay his hands on a fairly high draft pick come next June.

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In the second installment of the Prospect Season In Review, we will take a look at a couple of Maple Leafs prospects who have proven a positive product of the John Ferguson Jr / Cliff Fletcher draft era.

Profiles in this segment include German DEL winger Jerome Flaake and defender Korbinian Holzer, as well as a prospect closer to home: Windsor Spitfires winger Dale Mitchell.

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Whichever way you cut it, the Leafs endured a torrid season that no statistical tinkering can mend. Regardless, if there is one thing most opposing NHL fans can agree on it’s the increasing need for an overhaul in the leagues points’ structure and the farcical awarding of points in the overall standings.

Where once every game had two points at stake, either by means of two for the win or split after an OT tie, the inclusion of an extra point for teams losing in OT or, more prevalently, after the shootout, has spawned an lopsided points structure that favours teams and coaches who adopt an cautious approach toward the end of regulation time that is the polar opposite of what was originally intended.

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As you are no doubt well aware, the NHL draft lottery will be held tonight in New York to determine the order of the 14 non-playoff teams heading into the June 25-26 draft in Los Angeles. You can catch coverage of the lottery at 8pm on TSN.

Update
And the winner is … Edmonton.  Leafs fans, prepare yourselves to endure “Kessel Trade” debates for the better part of the next decade.

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    Phil Kessel has but one point in five games against his former side while recurrent Leafs nightmare Tuukka Rask, league leader in goals against average and save percentage, stands 3-1-0 against the club that drafted him. This match-up tonight marks the final opportunity this season to get a little bit of that sour taste out of the fan base’s collective mouth and perhaps symbolize that we, too, can make good trades.

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      This involves the Leafs, as well as around the league.
      TFP: The Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators are among the teams to have serious interest in Alexei Ponikarovsky. Various reports suggest the Leafs are looking for a first-round pick in exchange for Ponikarovsky, though it’s believed Burke is willing to accept a second-round pick and a top prospect.”
      5:00 PM Update – Mueller, Roloson, Hamhuis, Voros/Lisin.

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        We have all had a few days to digest Sunday’s trades, but there is still a well of untapped implications.  Here’s a closer look at the forwards involved: both the outgoing Leafs and our lone newcomer.  Be sure to check out Garrett’s excellent pre-game analysis here before tonight’s tilt with the New Jersey Devils.

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          Tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs play host to the Los Angeles Kings. Fortunately for the Leafs, they are back at home where they have a better record (9-10-5) than when playing as the visitors (8-16-5) this season. Unfortunately for the Leafs, the Kings have a better away record (15-10-1) than they do when playing as the host team (14-9-2)… also Kopitar. Yeah.

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            Tonight at 7:00, the Toronto Maple Leafs will visit the Florida Panthers in a battle against former Maple Leaf, Bryan McCabe, and his Panthers. Also, Brian Burke addressed the media regarding his outlook towards the remainder of the season, as well as what has been highly regarded as a “double deadline” year with the Olympic break and the trade deadline.

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              With the World Junior Championship gold medal game taking centre stage tonight (7:30pm, TSN), Leafs’ fans can be forgiven for overlooking tonight’s matchup against an inconsistent Florida Panthers squad (7:00pm, Sportsnet).

              Coming off a disastrous mini-road trip out West, featuring losses to the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, the Maple Leafs will look to inject some confidence into their lineup with a victory against the visiting Panthers, who sit only 4 points ahead of the Leafs in the Eastern Conference standings.