Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Well, well, look who's just one little point behind a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference? That would be those pesky Florida Panthers, who erased a 2-0 deficit against the conference-leading Montreal Canadiens to take a 3-2 shootout decision Thursday night at the Bell Centre.
What seemed like an impossible task just two weeks ago is now the real deal: Florida just one point behind the Boston Bruins, who have stumbled through Western Canada. Both teams have played the same number of games. We didn't think we'd get a playoff race in the Eastern Conference, but we sure are having one now.
Florida has a mixture of youth and veterans on its roster blending together and playing its best hockey of the season right now. But it's the growth of the kids that's really the key here. I could watch Nick Bjugstad, in particular, play all night long. Bjugstad is really coming into his own as a dominating top forward.
read on for Burnside on the Jets, Custance on the Capitals and more....
Leo Komarov is not happy with Brian Campbell.
Note- A Couple f-words fly...
Patrick Burke with the explanation.
Missed the hit, watch it here.
from George Richards of On Frozen Pond,
Panthers coach Gerard Gallant stirred up a little controversy Friday when in explaining why Sean Bergenheim was scratched -- again -- he questioned the veteran winger's effort.
When asked if Bergenheim gave him 100 percent effort, Gallant stared straight ahead. Then he answered: "If he gave me 100 percent, he would be playing. That's fair. But there's a few guys who didn't give 100 percent last night. You just have to make a decision."
Gallant has been steadfast in defending the veteran players (Bergenheim, Tomas Kopecky, Scottie Upshall) he's had to put on the bench lately.
He did so again on Friday, saying he had nothing against Bergenheim. "I'm trying to win,'' Gallant said. "When I made my decision with my coaches, it was only who gives us the best chance to win.''
Bergenheim said Friday he requested a trade from the Panthers earlier this month when he was a healthy scratch in three straight games. He said Gallant never came to him with questions about his effort -- and he disagreed with that assessment.
Or does it?
Maybe Luongo was just toying with the Ducks, Florida won 6-2.
from Lisa Dillman of the LA Times,
The Kings have rarely looked so rattled in the Sutter Era.
Not only are they failing to protect third-period leads, the Kings are imploding with a series of mistakes at crucial junctures. They took a third-period lead with Gaborik's 17th goal of the season, coming on the power play at 2:19, but promptly lost the chance to make up ground in the playoff race.
"To be honest, the way we lost, it is what it is," Kings center Jarret Stoll said. "We lost two points. We had two. Then we had one. And then we got none. That's the bottom line."
You have to wonder whether the spectacular meltdown could have a lasting impact.
"We got zero points tonight," Stoll said. "Yeah, it's a tough loss. But we got zero points."
more on the 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers...
from George Richards of the Miami Herald,
Sure, the Panthers have 33 games remaining in this season, but Monday was all but a must-win if this team hopes to make a serious run at the playoffs.
Looking at Erik Gudbranson in the hushed visitors’ locker room at Madison Square Garden, slumped over in his stall in full dress, told the story of how this one didn’t go as planned.
No, the Panthers didn’t get a win they desperately needed Monday as the Rangers scored three in the third period for a 6-3 win.
Florida has lost seven of its past eight games as that postseason light continues to dim. The Rangers now lead the Panthers in the playoff race by 10 points....
“It doesn’t feel like the end of the year,” said Dave Bolland, who had a goal and an assist.
“It’s no fun losing, but it’s not the end of the year. There’s always another game. We have another one [Tuesday], and we’ll be ready to play.”
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The Florida Panthers, to me, anyway, began the post All-Star schedule as the only Eastern Conference team currently on the outside of the playoffs looking in with any chance of making it into the postseason. I still feel that way, but the Panthers wasted a chance right off the hop Tuesday night, rallying from a 5-2 deficit but still losing 5-4 to the visiting Detroit Red Wings despite outshooting them 41-27.
I say "wasted a chance" because the Washington Capitals dropped their fourth straight game (0-3-1), this time a 4-3 road decision to the injury-riddled Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Panthers still have two games in hand on the suddenly struggling Caps, but they have to make them count. They remain seven points back of the Caps for a wild-card spot, when they could have cut into that lead with a win Tuesday night. Yes, the Panthers have three games in hand on Boston as well -- the Bruins are also seven points up and holding the other wild-card spot -- but I think the Bruins are going to take off now and aren't a realistic target for Florida. I still think the Panthers have a shot, but they've got to get on a roll very soon.
continue for more NHL topics from the ESPN hockey writers....
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.
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