Kukla's Korner Hockey
“They are the only ones in the Eastern Conference not in a playoff spot that have a chance. Toronto is toast, Ottawa isn’t getting back into it. Florida has the best shot, although I don’t think they should be aiming for Boston.
“The Bruins will be top three in the division soon I think. But maybe Detroit or Washington starts to slip. That would help the Panthers.’’
-Pierre LeBrun of ESPN/TSN on the Florida Panthers chances of making the playoffs. More on the Panthers from George Richards of the Miami Herald.
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
Dale Tallon cannot tell a lie. He knew Aaron Ekblad was good, just not this good.
The 18-year-old Ekblad, youngest player in the NHL, might be Drew Doughty good, although with a bigger chassis at 225 pounds. Not Doughty good today, of course, but let’s see in a year or two. Tallon, once a junior defenceman like Ekblad, who went second overall in 1970 to centre Gil Perreault, walks around with a perma-smile in Florida. The No. 1 pick last June could be the NHL’s best rookie because he plays the toughest position, plus he’s the baby of the Calder litter, but Filip Forsberg, the Nashville right-winger, who may get 65 points, is more visible on stats sheets.
That said, Ekblad is something else, and, to this day, Tallon, the Panthers’ GM, is very grateful he resisted the urge to fill several holes on his club to move back a few spots with a big draft-day trade last June.
“He’s been phenomenal,” said Tallon.
First up is the tribute video for Roberto Luongo by the Vancouver Canucks...
Luongo was also name the first star of the game and the Vancouver fans react accordingly...
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
“I think it’s going to be emotional,” Luongo said on Wednesday shortly after the Florida Panthers practice. “I’m flattered they’d do that. I told (the organization) it wasn’t necessary but I’m happy there’s some sort of recognition. I think it’s good for both sides.”
Especially if it’s shorter than Ben Hur.
As Luongo suggests, the Canucks-Panthers encounter will be emotionally charged for all parties involved, and it’s fitting the organization has chosen to recognize his importance to the franchise and this province. But, really, how do you sum up Luongo’s Canucks career with one short video? How do you capture all the twists and turns, the high drama and low comedy, that took place here? Obviously, whoever put the tribute together will have to paint with some very broad strokes or the fans will be in their seats until 1 a.m.
But whatever they come up with, you know it won’t tell the whole story of Luongo’s career with the Canucks because, well, we’re just not sure if that’s possible.
It’s been 10 months since the former face of the franchise was dealt to the Panthers, and this week he returned, bringing with him all those delicious storylines for one final review.
NEW YORK (Jan. 7, 2015) – Florida Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck has been fined $2,000 as supplementary discipline under NHL Rule 64 (Diving/Embellishment), the National Hockey League announced today.
Why not us?
from George Richards of the Miami Herald,
Following Florida’s 4-3 loss to the host Capitals on Sunday afternoon, Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo faced a media contingent he could count on one hand.
He won’t have such a quaint gathering Tuesday in Vancouver.
Luongo is expected to get the royal treatment when the Panthers practice at Rogers Arena – the arena the Florida goalie called home for eight years.
“We’ll probably do a press conference,” Luongo said with a grin. “Do it up big.”
via Craig Davis of the Sun-Sentinel,
Gallant felt that Ovechkin was a bit too physical when he slammed into Luongo as both converged on a loose puck in the Panthers' zone.
"Definitely thought so. I don't think he meant to hit Roberto, but … [Luongo] played the puck first and a second later he gets hit. I mean, they always say you've got to avoid the goaltender at all costs," Gallant said. "I said it's not intentional, but I think it's got to be a penalty."
Luongo said: "It was close. We kind of got there almost at the same time. I'm sure it was tough for him to get out of the way there. Maybe I hesitated a little bit coming out of the net at first, and that's why I got there at the last second."
Luongo was pulled later in the game as an upper-body precaution, here is the collision...
from the Florida Panthers,
Florida Panthers Executive Vice-President and General Manager Dale Tallon announced today that the club has agreed to terms on a six-year contract with F Nick Bjugstad.
“We are very pleased to have agreed to a long-term contract with Nick,” said Tallon. “He is a big, strong and skilled forward who will play an important role on our club for the next several seasons. Nick, along with Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad, Erik Gudbranson and Johnathan Huberdeau are all part of our club’s growing nucleus of young and talented players that will lead our team to future success.”
Bjugstad, 22, currently leads the Panthers in goals (13), points (21), shots (94) and game-winning goals (3). He has recorded four multiple-point games this season, including a career best four points (2-2—4) on Nov. 16 at Anaheim. He has posted two four-game point scoring streaks this season and netted Florida’s game-winning goal in a NHL record 20-round shootout on Dec. 16.
from Travis Yost of TSN,
I think there’s a reasonable argument to be made that Gerard Gallant’s Florida Panthers are the ultimate X-Factor as it pertains to the Eastern Conference playoff race, primarily due to the fact that most prognosticators had this team suffering through another tough year as their young team develops.
The fact that Florida has suddenly developed into a quality playoff hockey team has to be particularly disheartening to the couple of Eastern Conference teams who are hanging on for dear life right now. In particular, Toronto. One of the biggest – and really, only – endorsements one can give Randy Carlyle’s team right now is that there isn’t a whole lot of competition outside of the top eight with the ability to throw them from a potential playoff berth. Beyond that, the Maple Leafs once again stand on shaky ground.
What makes Florida particularly fascinating as a contender is that it seems as though everything’s come together at the right time. Obviously, competition isn’t ripe right now in the East. But, they’ve benefited greatly from a combination of faster-than-expected player development and the venerable Roberto Luongo in net, who is able to bail the team out of trouble when things get dicey.
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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