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Odds Taken from FanDuel Sportsbook
Toronto Maple Leafs
42-32-8 (4th in Atlantic Division)
50-21-11 (2nd in Atlantic Division)
Matthew Tkachuk (16)
Mitchell Marner (14)
Brandon Montour (6)
Auston Matthews (5)
Matthew Tkachuk (11)
Mitchell Marner (11)
Matthew Tkachuk (9)
Morgan Reilly (10)
Sam Bennett (3.30)
Shots (Per Game)
Auston Matthews, William Nylander (4.10)
The Florida Panthers will travel to Toronto, Ontario, to face the Maple Leafs in Game Five of this Second Round series. The Panthers stunned the Maple Leafs and won the first three games of this round. Toronto entered Game Four on the ropes but kept their season alive with a gritty 2-1 win. The Maple Leafs once again have a chance to keep this series alive with a win at home.
The Panthers’ offense has not been excellent in this Second Round, but they have scored enough to take a commanding lead in this series. More importantly, Florida has seen their defense, led by Brandon Montour, play some massive minutes and limit the Maple Leafs to only eight goals in four games.
The Panthers’ Playoff success should be largely attributed to Matthew Tkachuk, Carter Verhaeghe, Brandon Montour, Aleksander Barkov, Sam Reinhart, and Sam Bennett. Tkachuk leads the team with 16 points and is playing over 21 minutes a game, Verhaeghe has four goals and ten assists, Montour has been a defensive wizard and has six goals, Barkov has seven assists, Reinhart has six goals, and Bennett has four goals and four assists. Simply put, the Panthers have a large group of players contributing at a high level.
Sergei Bobrovsky will likely get the start in net for the Panthers. Bobrovsky has played every minute of this series and is allowing exactly three goals a game in the Playoffs. The 34-year-old is not the best goalie left in the Postseason, but he is currently excelling. Bobrovsky has only allowed eight goals in this series’ four games and has been critical to Florida’s success.
The Maple Leafs have been led by the likes of Mitchell Marner, Auston Matthews, Morgan Reilly, William Nylander, Ryan O’Reilly, and John Tavares in the Playoffs. Marner leads the team with 11 assists, Matthews has a team-leading five goals, Reilly has played some key defensive minutes and had eight assists, Nylander and O’Reilly have nine points, and Tavares has four goals. This group has not been as strong as the Panthers’ group I mentioned above, but they are accountable for the majority of Toronto’s offense.
Joseph Woll will get the start in net for the Maple Leafs. Woll only started seven regular season games but has been called on to step up in Ilya Samsonov’s absence. The 24-year-old is coming off one of the best games of his career in Game Four. He saw 25 shots and saved 24 of them. This is the time for Woll to play his best hockey, and he is doing it.
The Panthers may be playing on the road, but I expect them to win this game and move on to the next round. Florida may have lost Game Four, but they have been playing better hockey than Toronto and will win.
The Panthers are the underdogs but will win if they score first and score a power play goal.
The Panthers no longer have home-ice advantage, so they will have the tough task of winning this game on the road. However, they can push the odds a little more in their favor by scoring first. If Florida strikes first, they will quiet the Toronto crowd (at least temporarily) and give themselves some necessary momentum.
The Panthers' only Game Four goal came on a power play. If they did not draw a penalty with about ten minutes left in the third period, they would have been shut out. Florida will score at least a couple of goals at full strength today, but they also must score one with a man advantage. That goal will win them the game.
The Maple Leafs are the favorites but will only win if they win the faceoff battle and play aggressive defense.
The Maple Leafs destroyed Florida in the faceoff circle in Game Four. They won 11 more faceoffs than the Panthers in that game. Toronto must do that again today. If they do, they will increase their scoring opportunities.
The Maple Leafs had 26 hits in Game Four. That is a solid amount, but they need to increase it to 30 in Game Five. If Toronto hits Florida 30 times, the Panthers will be a little more discouraged and less aggressive on the offensive end.
As I mentioned above, Brandon Montour has played some significant defensive minutes. Montour has also provided a lot of offense, but defense will be his #1 priority today. Montour must slow down the Maple Leafs’ best player on the ice at all times.
I have to pick Mitchell Marner for this award. The Maple Leafs are again on the ropes, so Marner must provide them with a lot of offense. That may be the difference between a win and a loss.
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Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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