Underdog Maple Leafs To Tame Troubled Panthers

Dana Lane

Wednesday, December 28, 2016 5:58 PM UTC

Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016 5:58 PM UTC

Expert capper Dana Lane finds value on a short NHL card with the Toronto Maple Leafs matchup against Florida. The Panthers are having a rough month of December and the Leafs might be able to capitalize on their issues.

Official 2016-17 Selection Record: 36-30 .546 +14.37 units

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No team has had to overcome more adversity on and off the ice than the Florida Panthers. They've had a major overhaul in their front office and they've only won three times in their last 11 games. Before Christmas Florida dropped their final two games including a heartbreaking shootout loss to Detroit after holding a two-goal lead. 

Before the break, Toronto outscored Colorado and Arizona by a combined score of 10-1 and are 2-0 against Florida this season including a 6-1 route in November. Leafs netminder, Frederik Anderson, is starting to show why the Leafs have so much faith in him. Anderson has allowed two goals or less in five of his last six starts.

Austin Mathews has scored 10 of his last 16 goals over his last 14 games but it's another rookie, Mitch Marner, who has stolen some of the spotlights. The marker is second on the team in scoring, one behind Mathews. With Smith on the shelf, Tom Rowe will once again have to shuffle his line combinations. This may not seem like a big deal but it's the same premise as when a star play comes back after an injury. It takes a few games to get adjusted as it will to Reilly being out. 

Expect Vincent Trocheck to skate with Jussi Jokinen and Nick Bjugstad. Trocheck will play out of his normal right wing position as he moves to center. It may be a good change as Trocheck is in a major slump but it will take a few games for him to get comfortable. Toronto's power play is starting to heat up as they've converted three of their last six chances while killing off 10 straight penalty kills. This doesn't seem to be a time where these trends will chance with the Faceoff advantage with the Leafs tonight. This is an area of the game that is overlooked when handicapping. 

Not only has Florida dropped eight of their last 11 games but they've also lost six of seven against the East to go with a 1-5 mark against the Atlantic Division. The 'under' is 10-1 in the Leafs last 11 games overall and 7-3-2 for the Panthers when playing on three or more days rest. 

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Free NHL Pick: Toronto Maple Leafs +110Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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