Kukla's Korner Hockey
from George Richards of the Miami Herald,
After skipping through life for a month without much of a care, it’s now time for the Panthers to start worrying.
Although flaws in their game were buried under a 12-game winning streak, Florida wasn’t able to hide its weaknesses in Monday night’s 4-2 loss to the visiting Oilers — its fourth consecutive defeat.
“When we had the streak we felt like we were scoring on every chance,” said Sasha Barkov, whose team scored two quick goals to open the third period to give itself hope.
“We weren’t playing great, but we were scoring when we needed. Now we’re not. You have confidence when you’re winning. Everything works. It’s not going that way right now. We’ll work harder and start playing 60-minute games.”
Last season, Florida lost six consecutive games after its long road trip to western Canada and won’t get a chance to end this slide until Friday, when the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks come to town.
Watch the game highlights below...
We want that emotion; we want some of that savagery that makes pro hockey pro hockey — don't you kids try this at home — but when it crosses a line, as it occasionally does when the engines get revving really high, we fall all over ourselves tut-tutting the behaviour of this guy or that guy or debating the law of the jungle.
It was the same thing with the end of the Florida-Vancouver game and the Thornton-Sedin stuff. On one hand, we want there to be some limits on player decorum, what they can or can't say to each other while trash talking, but the pure entertainment value of the end of that game — Daniel's goal, his fly by, the wild melee, Potvin's comments and the Sedin's post-game remarks — all made for a game that was talked about far and wide that night and the next day, too.
Those two games were a welcome departure from so many of the technically excellent games I've seen this season. Many of us who feel that way can't wait for the next time those teams play each other again, which tells you something right there.
-Bob McKenzie of TSN where you can read much more on this topic.
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
Let’s play pretend for a minute. Let’s say, Jonathan Toews or Steven Stamkos or Sidney Crosby were disparaged by an opponent as a game was going into overtime.
Now let’s say Toews or Stamkos or Crosby snapped the game-winner under the crossbar, then skated over to the dimwit who called them out before OT and said, essentially, ‘How do you like me now?’
Can you imagine the reaction? The Royal Canadian Mint would issue a special coin commemorating the event. The Tragically Hip would write a song about it. Don Cherry would weep openly on Coach’s Corner.
But Daniel Sedin does it and he’s a “low life.”
OK, that was the take from the Florida Panthers’ broadcast crew after Monday night’s hey-rube and they weren’t speaking for the entire hockey world. But enough of that attitude still exists among a collection of morons that it merits a response.
If you missed the action on Monday night, watch below, both broadcasts are included....
from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun,
Mad Mike Milbury, if he gets the daily clips, will regard this column as more evidence of the “pansification” of hockey. Many veteran hockey writers will deplore a lack of support for the law-of-the-jungle ethos that informs their points of view.
Old Time Hockey clingers-on will advise me to go cover figure skating or ringette if I can’t see the team-building value of retribution for a hit on a star player.
But here’s the thing: how is hockey ever going to evolve past the point of being a concussion factory when coaches tacitly approve and teammates applaud a ruthless hit like the one the Edmonton Oilers’ Matt Hendricks laid on Florida Panthers’ great young defenceman Aaron Ekblad on Sunday night?
Never mind that the National Hockey League has suspended Hendricks for three games, as it should have. Never mind that Ekblad returned to the game even though the hit that drove him face first into the glass left him in a heap on the ice, then on Bambi-legs as he tried to get back to his feet — one more in the endless string of incidents that make reasonable people roll their eyes at the NHL’s “strict” concussion protocol.
“I did a lot of growing up in Van. Unfortunately, when I figured it out it was a little too late for me there,. I just look at things differently now. I keep it in mind that I’m playing the game that I love, and I’m going to enjoy these moments. I don’t think about the stuff surrounding me that sometimes can become distractions.”
-Roberto Luongo of the Florida Panthers. More on Luongo from Mark Spector of Sportsnet.
from David Staples of the Edmonton Journal,
In the third period of the Edmonton Oilers-Florida Panthers game, Matt Hendricks caught Panthers d-man Aaron Ekblad with a hellacious hit behind the Florida net.
Should Hendricks be suspended?
My take? Dangerous hit from behind into the boards, but no direct contact with head. I see him getting 1 or 2 games.
Ekblad did sit out for about ten minutes, then returned.
from Chris Stevenson at NHL.com,
Luongo was given the player of the game award by his teammates, a blue hoodie with a picture of actor Kevin Spacey's head floating in space.
"Guys work hard every game because everybody wants this bad boy," Luongo said of the hoodie. "Once you've worn it, you don't want to let it go."
The Panthers have given up eight goals in their past seven games and 14 during their winning streak, which is the longest in the NHL this season, and the longest since the Boston Bruins won 12 games in a row during the 2013-14 season (March 2-22).
The Panthers tied their record for consecutive road wins with five.
"It was pretty tough," Florida forward Jaromir Jagr said. "They had a lot more chances, a lot more shots. [Roberto] was excellent. That's why he's an all-star, man. [He] saved our game today. I want to say thanks to [Roberto] for this one. We didn't play our best, but we found a way to win."
Below, watch the highlights from Florida's 302 win over Ottawa....
from Damien Cox of Sportsnet,
The Florida Panthers can’t lay claim to being from The Happiest Place on Earth.
A little amusement park to the north of them owns that nickname.
But right now, being a Panther may be being part of The Happiest Hockey Team on Earth. Yes, winning always makes the smiles emerge like a six-year-old going on the “It’s a Small World” ride for the first time, but there’s more to it than stringing a bunch of victories together.
The Florida franchise is 23 years old and, oddly, it feels at the moment rather like all the players were born back in the same year Wayne Huizenga founded the team and are now growing up together as the organization finally, and really, gets its act together.
“The last six weeks have been awesome,” said head coach Gerard Gallant.
The team hasn’t lost since Dec. 12th and won its 10th straight on Tuesday night, 5-1 over the swooning Buffalo Sabres, to solidify its hold on first place in the Atlantic Division. The fans, inspired by what they’re seeing, are coming out in bigger numbers after years of awful attendance figures.
Watch the game highlights below...
from George Richards of On Frozen Pond,
The Panthers didn't have much going Sunday evening, yet they had Jaromir Jagr and Al Montoya.
That was enough.
With Jagr scoring twice and Montoya offering up another terrific start, the Panthers kept their winning ways going with a 2-1 win over Minnesota at BB&T Center.
Florida pulled off Sunday's win despite being outshot 39-28 and losing 62 percent of its faceoffs. Florida also went 0-for-5 on the power play.
"We didn't have our legs and didn't feel good about our game, but we had a good goaltender and that always helps,'' Jagr said.
The Panthers, who went 6-0 on this now-completed homestand, extended their franchise-record winning streak to nine as they've won 15 of 18 since Thanksgiving....
On Saturday, Jagr was voted as captain of the Atlantic Division team and he said Sunday he will likely travel to Nashville for it.
"I asked the fans not to vote for me and they didn't listen,'' Jagr said with a grin. "I think they didn't like me much; they want to see me dead. I'll probably have to go, I don't know what the rules are.
"I need to get into shape. Everyone else gets to rest, I have to play 3-on-3. Great. I'd rather be in Florida.''
Watch the game highlights below...
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org