Panthers-Maple Leafs Preview
TORONTO - James Reimer said he will have good memories of his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Maple Leafs would like to play a game worth remembering Thursday night when they host the Florida Panthers.
Reimer will not start for the Panthers but this will be his first appearance in Toronto as a visiting player. He was traded to the San Jose Sharks after appearing in 207 games with the Maple Leafs in parts of six seasons.
"Just some memories flooding back about coming back after games and what not," Reimer said of returning to Toronto. "Just a whole wash of different emotions, I guess, just remembering the good times. It was good. It's fun. It's cool."
Not cool for the Leafs have been some of their recent performances, including Tuesday's 7-3 home loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Toronto has lost four straight (0-2-2) and allowed 20 goals in those games.
"When you play right and you do good things in life, good things happen," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. "There's no sense going home and feeling sorry for yourself, that's a waste of time. (The fans) paid good money to watch our team play and we didn't do a good enough job."
An area where Toronto has not done a good enough job has been in the nets.
Frederik Andersen, signed in the offseason to a five-year, $25 million contract, has struggled early. The 27-year-old is amongst the league's worst in major statistical areas with a .851 save percentage and a 4.29 goals-against average in five starts
"Everyone's had tough times, you just got to keep working at it," Andersen told reporters on Wednesday following practice. "All that matters is what you do next and gotta work hard towards stopping the next puck and playing well the next game."
One of the lone bright spots for Toronto (1-2-3) six games into the season has been the play of its young star. Auston Matthews, the 2016 first overall pick has six goals and 10 points.
"It's frustrating for sure, but it's a long season," Matthews said. "You've got to take it day-by-day, stay positive in this room. Guys in this room have gone through this before. There's no doubt in our minds we're going to get out of it."
He will look to increase those totals against Roberto Luongo, who is 3-1 with a .922 save percentage, and a 1.99 GAA.
Florida (3-2-1) limps into Toronto with one win in its last four games. The Panthers followed up a 5-2 win against Colorado with Tuesday's 3-2 loss in Pittburgh during Sidney Crosby's season debut.
"They had odd-man rushes, and when you have good players and you give them opportunities, and they're bound to score," Florida defenseman Keith Yandle said.
Jonathan Marchessault, signed as a free agent in the offseason, leads the Panthers in scoring with three goals and eight points in six games.
The Panthers have won four straight in Toronto and nine of their last 12 meetings with the Maple Leafs.
"This is a different Toronto Maple Leafs team," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant told the Miami Herald. "They're a much different team and we know this is going to be a big challenge."