The Toronto Maple Leafs play their second-to-last game of the 2013-14 NHL regular season in beautiful Sunrise, Florida (current temperature is 27 degrees Celsius, FYI) tonight. The Florida Panthers don’t have anything to play for either, except a better draft lottery position. So yeah, if you’re looking for an intense, playoff-style atmosphere, you better go watch another game.
This game might not mean anything in the standings, but I assure you, it means a lot to one Drew MacIntyre in the Leafs’ crease. Tonight marks the first NHL start of the 30-year-old journeyman’s career. It’s a smart move by head coach Randy Carlyle to get MacIntyre into a game with basically no pressure in South Florida, so hopefully he’s rewarded with a win.
But even a win against these toothless Kitty Cats could be difficult for the Leafs. Both teams are 2-8 in their last 10 games. The Panthers have won two of three games against the Leafs this season, and employ a very solid veteran goaltender in Roberto Luongo. Add in the fact the Leafs have historically struggled against members of the now-defunct Southeast Division, and this game is no gimme by any means.
There were some rumours before the game that Petter Granberg might make his NHL debut, but apparently the Leafs didn’t call him up from the Marlies because of a salary cap issue. Dave Bolland is expected to miss another game tonight. For more on the lineups and everything else you need to know, give Daniel G’s preview a read.
Follow along with the Twitter machine for the latest:
Will the Leafs win a meaningless game against one of the worst teams in the league in South Florida? Does anybody care? SOUND OFF IN THE COMMENTS! GO LEAFS GOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!