As fans eagerly await the arrival of the next generation of talented skaters at the upcoming 2013 NHL Entry draft, General Managers and scouts from the bottom 3 teams of the 2013 season are working overtime evaluating this year’s projected top 3 picks - D Seth Jones, C Nathan MacKinnon, and C/RW Jonathan Drouin. After finishing the regular season with the worst overall record in the NHL, the Florida Panthers bad luck continued as the Colorado Avalanche (who finished with the 2nd worst record) leap frogged them in the newly revamped NHL Draft Lottery.
After the dust had settled at the draft lottery, the top 3 picks went to the Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, and Tampa Bay Lighting in that order. In other words, the collective destiny of both the Panthers and Lightning now rest in the hands of the Colorado Avalanche as their course of action with the first overall pick will surely shape how the rest of the first round plays out.
Luckily for both the Avalanche and the Panthers, the current players slated to go #1 and #2 in this year’s draft could both make an immediate impact on their respective clubs. Although, while each team could potentially grab a bona-fide NHL ready player, each team’s specific needs could play a huge role in their selections as both teams look to build a future Stanley Cup Contender.
FLORIDA PANTHERS: 14-27-6 (34 PTS.) vs. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: 18-25-4 (40 PTS.)
Back in October, knowing that there wouldn’t be a season due to a lockout, we were impatiently waiting for the season to begin, and the nonsense to end. The longer the stalemate dragged on, the further away the games seemed to be. Finally after months of waiting, on January 19th the season started, and faster than you can snap your fingers, it ends tonight. The final game of the “shortened” season is a meaningless one between state rivals, the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Other than pride and making a final statement for a few players, this game will have very little substance.
The good news for the Panthers is that their poor season has guaranteed them to have one of the top two picks in the upcoming NHL draft in June. Meaning that either Seth Jones, Jonathan Drouin or Nathan MacKinnon will be a Florida Panther come this summer. The draft lottery takes place on Monday, and the Panthers will learn their position then, and we’ll all begin speculating on which one of those three will be chosen. In the meantime, there hasn’t been much to get excited about this season other than the performance of Jonathan Huberdeau as he continues to make his claim for Rookie of the Year. If he does win the Calder Trophy, it would be the first time in Florida Panther history that a rookie did, and he stands the best chance of any rookie the club has ever had to do so.
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While you’re having Sunday Brunch catch up on all of last night’s amazing NHL action that you may have missed! Here are the top stories and videos from all of yesterday’s action around the NHL. And one breaking story that happened likely before you were eve awake today:
* In the above video of Coach’s Corner Don Cherry says the Bruins are good cause they’re Canadian, and they don’t dive. Ok, What about Lucic, Rask, Khudoban, Seidenberg?
* Guy Boucher has been relieved of his duties with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Is this letting the players off the hook? TSN
* The three stars from Saturday, Puck Daddy.
* Martin Brodeur gets win 666, making him a “true” Devil. NHL.com.
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TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: 10-14-1 (21 PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS: 7-13-6 (20 PTS.)
GAMEDAY SONG: It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City. (Look at the outfits!)
Tonight will be a battle for last place in the Eastern Conference as these two frustrated clubs will match up for the third of five games. The Tampa Bay Lightning have won both games played between the two cross state rivals so far this season, and looking to make it seven in a row overall against their divisional couterparts. Tampa is struggling however just as much as the Florida Panthers are as their 1-7-0 record over their past eight games indicates. Additionally Tampa is 4-13-1 since February 2nd. Hard to imagine those numbers from a team that posseses the offensive firepower they do with Steven Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, and rookie of the year candidate Cory Conacher, but then no one expected the Florida Panthers to be last in the league either.
I’m no mathematician but I’d be willing to be that the odds of scoring five goals in a National Hockey League and losing game are pretty slim. That said, I’d imagine the chances of it happening twice within five days are about the same as Wayne Gretzky showing up on my doorstep, asking me to teach him how to be awesome at hockey (Hey Great One, I have spare time if you ever need me). Yet, there were the Florida Panthers late Saturday afternoon, looking up at a scoreboard that read Tampa Bay 6 – Florida 5 in overtime.
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TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: 6-6-1 (13 PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS: 4-6-2 (12 PTS).
GAME DAY SONG: The Fuse by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
Two struggling Florida teams will face off this afternoon when the reeling Tampa Bay Lightning meet the Florida Panthers here in Sunrise, Florida. The Lightning who started out hot, are now 0-5-1 in their last six games and are 1-4-0 on the road for the season find themselves just two points ahead of the Panthers in the Eastern Conference standings. Tampa has beaten Florida the past five times they’ve met including January 29th by a score of 5-2. That was the game where BJ Crombeen hit Ed Jovanovski knee on knee and we haven’t seen Jovo since. Also of note during the Lightning’s latest winless streak is that their high powered offence hasn’t scored more than three goals in any of those six games. The last time Tampa won was the very next game they played after beating the Panthers when they manhandled Winnipeg 8-3.
Tampa’s struggles can also be attributed to their suddenly anemic power play during this losing streak, which is only 2 for it’s last 18, while being outshot 186 to 147. Tampa lost a close one to Washington on Thursday by a score of 4-3, but coach Guy Boucher is trying to remain optimistic throughout the streak:
“Either we just stay close and keep grinding and we come out of this, it’s still going to be a fight after we win one game,” said coach Guy Boucher, whose team went 0-6-1 from Jan. 3-15, 2012.
“It won’t change anything in terms of how we’re supposed to play, we’re just trying to be more consistent at it and get a bit of something positive out of it.”
After having their first two day break since the season started January 19th, one would’ve figured a hungry, desperate, somewhat rested Florida Panthers squad would’ve found their way to the state’s west coast for its game Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. And then at the end of the first period, that this game was headed the same way as the past four games: a lopsided loss, this time 5-2, characterized by an anemic offense and sloppy defensive play.
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FLORIDA PANTHERS: 1-4-0 (2 PTS.) vs. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: 4-1-0 (8 PTS.)
GAME DAY SONG: The Rising. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
The interstate rivals meet tonight for the first time this season with exact opposite records. The Florida Panthers are in the midst of a four game losing streak, while the Tampa Bay Lightning are on a three game winning streak and coming off a 5-1 spanking of the Philadelphia Flyers Sunday evening. In that game the high scoring Lightning saw veteran Martin St. Louis contribute four assists, while Steven Stamkos added a goal and an assist to give him 10 points on the year so far. The Lightning who have an abundance of scoring are tied for the league lead in goals for (24) with the St. Louis Blues, and are averaging 4.8 per game.
Stamkos however is not the team leader in points, as Martin St. Louis sits at the top with 11 (3G- 8A). Forwards Teddy Purcell, who had a goal and two assists against the Flyers, and rookie Cory Conacher add some additional scoring depth as well, presenting more than just top top guns to be careful of, and we haven’t even mentioned the ever dangerous Vincent Lecavalier. The Panthers who haven’t been very sharp of late, and have made numerous defensive mistakes, had better be on their game tonight, or it will be over quickly. This Tampa team can score in bunches and they can spread it around as well, making them one of the more offensively dangerous teams in the league, and they know it:
“When you get a little confidence going, as our offensive players have right now, you try to run with it,” Stamkos said. “We know, once we get on a roll, we’re a tough team to beat.”
A very important week is upon us with a deadline having been set to save a full season of games. The hope is that if an agreement to a new CBA can be reached this week, then all 82 games can be played, and for the Florida Panthers it would mean their season would start on November 2nd against the the Winnipeg Jets at home. That would be the game where the Panthers would raise their division championship banner to the rafters.
Including what would have been tonight’s game against the New York Islanders, five Panther games have been cancelled so far, and here’s a brief look at what you missed.
Saturday October 13th Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers:
Game one of the regular season. One of the issues in Florida in recent years has been not enough sellouts. This game, besides the fact that it would have been opening night, would certainly have been one. If for one reason only, it would have been an opportunity for the Florida Panther faithful to see the first ever division championship banner raised. Coming off their first playoff appearance in a decade, the Panthers would have played to a racous crowd that was surely going to be dressed in red. It would have been the first ever Panther Parkway “Tweet up”, and our first look at players like Peter Mueller, George Parros and Jonathan Huberdeau. It’s always fun to see Steven Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier, and Martin St. Louis of the Lightning as well.