It’s time to ask uncomfortable questions about Jaromir Jagr’s future

Jaromir Jagr (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

When the dust settles and the disappointment fades a little more, it’s pretty much a given that Jaromir Jagr will want to play in the NHL again next season. And it’s also pretty much a given that the Florida Panthers will happily take him back.

But watching one of the greatest players in the history of the game labor through the Panthers’ first-round playoff loss to the New York Islanders, some very, very uncomfortable questions have to be asked. Because, folks, this is not a one-off. Jagr has struggled to keep up to the pace of the playoffs for a couple of years now. He has gone 37 playoff games without putting a single puck in the back of the net and when the Boston Bruins made their run to the Stanley Cup final in 2013, he had no goals in 22 games and by Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final, he had been demoted to the fourth line and played just 6:27, the second-lowest total on either roster. If you include his hometown Kladno team he joined during the 2011-12 lockout, Jagr has played for five teams since he last scored a playoff goal.

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Tavares turns in heroic Game 6 performance to send Islanders to second round

John Tavares (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

It’s been 22 years in the making, but the New York Islanders are heading to the second-round of the post-season for the first time since 1993 and they have captain John Tavares to thank.

When the series began, it seemed inevitable the Islanders’ hopes would hinge on the play of Tavares, but few could have expected just how much. He had almost singlehandedly carried New York through the final months of the season with 14 goals, 29 points and an average ice time of 20 minutes over the final 29 games of the Islanders’ season. When things started to look bleak for the Islanders as they fell into the wild-card race, it was Tavares who pulled the Islanders up. It makes sense, then, that it was he who scored when New York needed it most in the post-season.

On a late third period rush started by Nick Leddy, Tavares drove right to the net, collected a loose puck that laid to the side of netminder Roberto Luongo and drove it home for the tying goal. Tavares’ marker, which came with 54 seconds left in the game, sent the Barclays Center crowd into a frenzy. It may have been what the hometown crowd has come to expect from their captain, but he outdid himself in overtime.

The Panthers had controlled much of the second overtime frame, but Tavares needed only rush to end the game. Coming down the middle of the ice, Tavares collected a short pass from Kyle Okposo in the Panthers’ zone, curled the puck in and fired a low shot on Luongo that gave a rebound. Tavares hopped on the loose puck, curled around the goal and snuck it in the far side. Read more

Greiss stops OT penalty shot, Quine scores the winner to put Islanders one win from advancing

Alan Quine (Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’ll be hard to come by two players who are feeling as different Friday night as the Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov and Islanders’ Alan Quine.

In the first overtime period of a back-and-forth battle between the Islanders and Panthers, the Florida pivot had the game on his stick. The Panthers were awarded a penalty shot seven minutes into the first extra frame when New York blueliner Calvin de Haan palmed the puck and tossed it out of the Islanders’ crease. The Panthers chose Barkov to take the shot, and rightfully so. He missed just once in six shootout attempts during the regular season, and there’s no other player the Panthers would have wanted to take the breakaway attempt. But Barkov, who faked forehand before attempting to hoist a backhand, couldn’t seal the game.

Barkov’s opportunity was the best chance the Panthers would have in the two overtime periods, and New York netminder Thomas Greiss, who turned aside the penalty shot attempt, stopped all but one of the 47 shots he faced. And when the Islanders got a chance to end the game on a power play in the second overtime, they made no mistake. Defenseman Marek Zidlicky faked a shot, slid the puck to Quine and the 23-year-old let go a one-timer that found the back of the net. In his sixth career NHL game, Quine scored his first career playoff goal and it was a double overtime-winner. Read more

Islanders fans dump beer on…Islanders legend Denis Potvin?

Denis Potvin.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

Denis Potvin was, is and will always be among the Nassau Coliseum’s favorite sons. He’s a legend, a Hall of Famer, one of the best defensemen ever to play the game and, of course, New York Islanders royalty. He was instrumental in their four straight Stanley Cup victories from 1980 to 1983.

But that resume apparently wasn’t enough to save him from peril at Barclays Center, the Islanders’ new home building, after Game 4 of their Atlantic Division semifinal matchup versus the Florida Panthers. The Cats won to even the series 2-2 and, you see, Potvin is now the Panthers’ regular color commentator on FOX Sports. After the game, he and play-by-play man Steve Goldstein got beer or soda or some kind of liquid dumped on them by some Isles fans.

Video (well, audio by way of video) evidence of the incident, as confirmed by a Twitter user named Kevin Bustillo:

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Panthers getting the job done thanks to their lesser lights

Nick Bjugstad (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Jaromir Jagr hasn’t scored a goal in 35 playoff games. Man, that was four years and four teams ago. You remember him playing for the Philadelphia Flyers, don’t you? It’s actually five teams if you include Kladno, his hometown team in the Czech League for which he played during the last lockout.

The scoring drought will not keep the 44-year-old out of the Hockey Hall of Fame, but the Florida Panthers are going to need him to make an offensive contribution at some point in these playoffs. Perhaps the speed and chaos of the post-season doesn’t suit him very well, but you’d have to think one of the greatest players in the history of the game has a couple more big goals left in him.

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A coach’s challenge might have changed history for Flyers and Pat Quinn

Pat Quinn  (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Sadly, we cannot ask Pat Quinn what he thinks of the NHL’s implementation of a coach’s challenge for offside calls. As it was with almost any subject from World War II strategy to the neutral zone trap, it would have been very interesting to hear the former coaching great’s perspective on it.

Your trusty correspondent has been covering this game for almost 30 years and they have never seen a coach who had a deeper disdain for officials than Quinn did. And the roots of that go back to May 24, 1980. And if you want to talk about how one of these overturned calls can change a game or a series, consider the fact that not one, but two were not overturned that day had an enormous impact on a series, a career and a legacy.

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Hickey nets OT winner as Islanders take 2-1 series lead over Panthers

Thomas Hickey celebrates his game winning goal in overtime. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

The New York Islanders scored three unanswered to erase a 3-1 deficit and edge the Florida Panthers 4-3 on Sunday night.

Thomas Hickey scored the overtime winner at 12:31 of the extra period. With the win, the Islanders take a 2-1 series lead.

Hickey one-timed a Brock Nelson feed past Roberto Luongo for his first of the series.

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Smith stays hot as Panthers even series with Islanders

(Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Reilly Smith continued his hot start to the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs scoring a goal and adding an assist as the Florida Panthers evened their series against the New York Islanders with a 3-1 win on Friday night.

According to Elias Sports, Friday marked the first time in NHL history two Florida-based teams each won a playoff game on the same day.

Smith, who had a goal and two assists in the Panthers Game 1 loss on Thursday night, opened the scoring at 4:32 of the first period. The 25-year-old then set up Nick Bjugstad’s first career playoff goal, the eventual game winner, at 6:17 of the second period.

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