Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Florida Panthers - 2/17/15 NHL Pick, Odds, and Prediction
Florida Panthers (24-19-12) at Toronto Maple Leafs (23-29-5)
NHL Hockey: Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 7:30 pm (Air Canada Centre)
The Line: Toronto Maple Leafs -110 / Florida Panthers +100 --- Over/Under: 5.5 See the Latest Odds
The Panthers look to make a push into the Eastern Conference playoff picture as they head into Toronto to face off against the Maple Leafs who have entered a fire sale earlier than anticipated.
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The Florida Panthers have quietly been a consistent team all season long and while they are only five game above the .500 mark and are anything but a lock to make the playoffs they have certainly looked the part at times this season and they'll look to make a statement once again on the road here against the Leafs. Florida sits just three points back of the Bruins for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and if they can go on a stretch of solid team hockey to close out the season there is a very good chance that last season's doormat could sneak into the playoffs and mark the second consecutive seasons where the team selecting with the first overall draft pick rebounded and made the playoffs the following season. The timing on this game is very interesting as there have been swirling trade rumors surrounding the Panthers and Phil Kessel and while it may be a pipe dream for both sides as Florida has indicated it won't give up its top three prospects (Ekblad, Huberdeau, and Barkov) it is still interesting to note especially considering the GM's will be in the same arena.
The Maple Leafs have already entered the rebuilding phase and it comes a lot sooner than any Leafs fan would have expected as many figured they were a shoe in to make the playoffs this season and perhaps even challenge for the Atlantic division title. However, with Sunday's trade that sent fan favourite and the biggest trade chip next to Kessel in Cody Franson back to Nashville with former Preds pick Mike Santorelli in return for veteran Olli Jokinen and a first round draft pick it is clear that the front office has given up any hope this season and that they're looking towards the draft and the trade deadline to make some serious changes. Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer haven't had magical seasons in the crease but it is hard to fault them and I don't expect they will be going anywhere but everyone has a price and I don't think anybody on the Leafs roster right now outside of Morgan Reilly is safe and that is very unsettling when going into work everyday. This game looks like an absolute gift as the Panthers are competing for a playoff spot while the Leafs are an absolute night mare and I think Roberto Luongo has one of those games tonight where he sees everything and leave Toronto fans crying in their own hands.