The Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs meet Tuesday in game 1 of the NHL East Second Round Playoffs at the Scotiabank Arena. Let’s preview this game and give out a pick and prediction.
The Florida Panthers are averaging 3.71 goals per game and are scoring on 25 percent of their power play opportunities. Matthew Tkachuk leads Florida with 5 goals, Carter Verhaeghe has 6 assists and Brandon Montour has 22 shots on goal. Defensively, the Florida Panthers are allowing 3.86 goals per game and are killing 59. percent of their opponent’s power plays. Alex Lyon has given up 9 goals on 92 shots faced and Sergei Bobrovsky has allowed 17 goals on 156 shots.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are averaging 3.83 goals per game and are scoring on 28.6 percent of their power play opportunities. Auston Matthews leads Toronto with 5 goals, Mitchell Marner has 9 assists and William Nylander has 23 shots on goal. Defensively, the Toronto Maple Leafs are allowing 3.50 goals per game and are killing 76.2 percent of their opponent’s power plays. Jospeh Woll has given up 1 goal on 5 shots faced, and Ilya Samsonov has allowed 19 goals on 190 shots.
The Panthers are 7-1 in their last 8 road games and 0-4 in their last 4 Conference Semifinals games. The Maple Leafs are 59-26 in their last 85 home games and 8-2 in their last 10 overall. The over is 4-0 in Panthers last 4 overall. The under is 5-2-1 in Maple Leafs last 8 games playing on 2 days rest. The Panthers are 2-9 in the last 11 meetings in Toronto. The home team is 15-5 in the last 20 meetings.
For me, this game comes down to which team can get back mentally to the new series quicker. The Panthers are coming off possibly the biggest upset in the sport, taking down the Bruins Sunday in overtime. The Maple Leafs won their first playoff series since the moon landing. Which team can regain focus sooner? I'll give the Maple Leafs the edge because they're at home and have the rest advantage. The Panthers flew directly from Boston to Toronto and are being thrown into a new series with no time to rest the legs. I like the Maple Leafs to draw first blood.