Maple Leafs Game Preview: Florida vs Toronto

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Jan 31, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel (81) against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs are back in action tonight against the Florida Panthers as the South Florida team looks to push for the post-season.

Yesterday morning a reporter from the Sun-Sentinel dropped a Phil Kessel rumor on everyone and had the Leafs forward trending on Twitter.

Tonight, Kessel and the Leafs take the ice against the rumored team with interest.

Florida comes into town with a 4-4-2 record in their last ten while the Maple Leafs have a 1-7-1 record for their previous ten games.

Both teams are deserving of their place in the standings, with the Panthers surprising everyone this season with where they stand – and the play that’s gotten them there.

Tonight will be the first game without Mike Santorelli and Cody Franson. The loss of Franson, combined with the injury to Phaneuf, puts the Leafs in a tough spot on defence.

Here’s how the new pairings are going to look, via Paul Hendrick:

There’s nothing pretty about those pairs. Rielly has been carrying Polak since they became a pair and Gardiner is likely to struggle with Holzer – and that’s your top four D.

Jonathan Bernier is expected to start in goal for Toronto and Joffrey Lupul is expected to remain out of the lineup.

Let’s take a look at the tale of the tape and the analytics report for the game.

Next: Tale of the Tape