These final few games of the NHL’s regular season are nervous times for teams for many reasons. For one thing, teams are still jockeying for playoff position; but there’s always a free-floating fear among teams that one of their key players will suffer a serious injury that cripples their odds of post-season success. And you know that’s what was going through the minds of Montreal Canadiens management, players and fans Sunday after the Habs lost leading scorer Max Pacioretty to a head injury.
Pacioretty, who has more goals (37) and points (67) than any other Montreal player this year, was knocked out of the Canadiens’ road game against Florida early in the first period after a check from Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov sent him toward the end boards, where the left winger struck his head: Read more
By turning aside 34 of the 35 shots he faced Thursday night, Roberto Luongo picked up his 400th career win in the Florida Panthers 6-1 romping of the Carolina Hurricanes.
With win 400, Luongo became just the 11th goalie in NHL history to reach the milestone and sits a single victory behind Chris Osgood to move into a tie for 10th all-time. With the Panthers having four games left on their schedule, it’s not entirely inconceivable that Luongo could pass or tie Grant Fuhr, who has 403 victories to his name and sits in ninth place all-time.
With such a career milestone comes the opportunity to look back on how exactly Luongo got here. While he has the Olympic Gold medal and William M. Jennings Trophy to his name, Luongo doesn’t have a Vezina Trophy, nor does he have a Stanley Cup. Regardless of what hardware he does or doesn’t have, it’s hard to argue that Luongo is one of the greatest goaltenders of his generation.
Here are Roberto Luongo’s 10 greatest saves: Read more
Is there any player in the NHL on more of a tear than Florida Panthers winger Brandon Pirri?
Thursday night, Pirri scored his 22nd goal of the season on a spinning, no-look wristshot that slid along the ice and found its way past Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Anton Khudobin. The goal, which came five minutes into the second period of Florida’s home outing against the Canes, was Pirri’s 13th goal in 17 games since returning from injury and goes to prove that sometimes when things are going well, they’re going really well. Take a look at the unthinkable goal: Read more
When Jaromir Jagr was traded from the New Jersey Devils to the Florida Panthers, the biggest question wasn’t who he would line up alongside or if he had any intention of re-signing in Florida. Rather, people wondered how long it would take for a new Travelling Jagr to pop up.
For those unfamiliar with the Travelling Jagrs, they’re a group of huge Jagr fans that have shown up on a number of occasions dressed as their hero through the years. From a mulleted version of youthful Jagr as a member of the Penguins to a lookalike of Jagr during his short stint in Dallas, there’s a Travelling Jagr for each of his stops. There isn’t, however, one for Florida – at least not yet. Read more
When the Florida Panthers take the ice tonight to face off against the Boston Bruins, they have the chance to control their fate. A victory coupled with a win in the second matchup between the two teams on April 9 and the Panthers could be post-season bound. Two losses, however, and it could be another hockeyless summer for Florida.
Surely, the Panthers will need help outside of their two games against the Bruins. It will likely take Florida getting points in each of their six remaining games and both Boston and Ottawa sliding to end the season. Unlike seasons prior, though, win or lose, playoffs or not, the Panthers can hold their heads high and know that 2014-15 was a sign of things to come from the current roster. Read more
On a Panthers team where more than half the roster is under the age of 30, it could be considered surprising that the only 40-plus skater on the roster would come up clutch in one of the biggest games of Florida’s season. It’s not really as surprising when that 43-year-old hero is Jaromir Jagr, though.
Jagr opened the scoring for the Panthers, giving them a 1-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the second period while on the power play. But the highlight-reel goal – and the game-winning tally – came later.
With little more than six minutes remaining, Jagr came rocketing down the left wing and absolutely froze Ottawa’s Craig Anderson with a fake slapshot. With Anderson down and out, Jagr swung around the net and buried Florida’s third goal of the night: Read more
Before any Pittsburgh fans go and get their jerseys in a jumble, just pause for a second, take a deep breath and think about it: if the Penguins fail to get back to the Stanley Cup final for the sixth straight season, what else is left for the franchise to do but blow up the core?
After an off-season of upheaval in which Pittsburgh brought in a new coach, a new GM and a new supporting cast for Sidney Crosby, there would be few options left but to raze the roster to the ground and begin anew. Sure, the Penguins could use Marc-Andre Fleury as a scapegoat and try using the same roster again next season with a different goalie, but that would only be putting off the inevitable. (Just ask the San Jose Sharks, who are years behind on the rebuilding schedule after sticking with their core despite perennial playoff failures, including their first-round faceplant last year.)
The best thing for the Penguins to do would be to try to trade Crosby for the next Crosby.
To what standard does Jaromir Jagr, future first-ballot Hall of Famer, hold himself and his peers? Consider what he had to say after his Florida Panthers’ road game versus the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday night:
“I don’t think we had the legs. I don’t think our line played very well. It’s our job to score goals for this team. Coach gave us the opportunity to play together. Our line didn’t do a good job the first period, but we got the legs back. We had a few good shifts, and it helped.”
“It was a tough loss in Tampa Bay. I feel like we outplayed them. We just made some tough mistakes that cost us the game. And just, emotionally, I could tell I was tired. We were on such a high note, we played all the games good and just made bad mistakes.”
“I’ve been here 12 games and, in my opinion, we could’ve won all 12.”
Hmm. Not quite the typical response from someone whose team just won 4-1. Especially when his line scored two goals in 30 seconds, including the game winner. But that never-satisfied mentality has made Jagr the legend he is today. Tuesday’s crushing loss stays with him more than Thursday’s win. A poor first period overshadows a dominant second period. And the hunger to be better inspires those trademark late-night workouts of his.