The Florida Panthers announced today that they have placed forward Brad Boyes on waivers with the intention of buying out the final year of his contract, which is valued at $2.625 million. Boyes, who recorded 14 goals during the 2014-2015 season, will join a long list of players from around the league that will have their contracts bought out. Other players include Alex Semin (CAR), Cody Hodgson (BUF), and former Panthers center, Stephen Weiss (DET). This move opens up another roster spot for Florida entering the 2015-2016 campaign.
This week started with an all-important matchup against the 8th place Boston Bruins, and things looked good for roughly 55 minutes. You had to know it was going to take a complete 60 minute effort to defeat the Bruins though, and the Panthers came up short. Florida’s 2-1 lead slipped away after a deflection by Ryan Spooner with a little more than ten minutes left to play tied the game, and Milan Lucic’s drive to the net resulted in the game winning goal with just 1:09 left in regulation. While a bitter pill to swallow at the time, the loss didn’t initially seem to break the Panthers’ spirits; they responded just 48 hours later with a 6-1 drubbing of the Carolina Hurricanes. The energy would not last however, as Florida was officially eliminated from playoff contention the following game, coming out on the wrong end of a 4-0 blanking to cross-state rival Tampa Bay on Saturday night. The Panthers would not have to wait long for a chance at redemption as they faced off against the divisional powerhouse Canadiens the very next day. They wouldn’t fare much better. A visibly deflated Florida just couldn’t shake the “no post-season blues”, and wound up falling 4-1 to the tune of three unanswered Montreal goals.
Jaromir Jagr and Roberto Luongo were both poised for milestone achievements this week; Jagr started the week at 1,796 career points (two shy of former Penguin teammate, and 4th all-time scorer Ron Francis) and Luongo could practically taste win number 400. Though the playoffs may elude them this season, it was nice to see the two veterans get over the proverbial hump in last Thursday’s win over Carolina. With his goal and assist, Jagr moved into a tie with Francis, and with the win, Luongo secured career win number 400. Not too shabby.
The kids are alright
Florida Panthers’ general manager Dale Tallon made a few ripples in the free agency pool this past week; signing prospects Kyle Rau (pictured above: left) and Michael Matheson (pictured above: right) to entry level contracts. Rau, a versatile center, finished his senior year with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, serving as team captain and amassing 20 goals and 21 assists through 39 games. Matheson, a defenseman, also had a fine showing during his junior season at Boston College; netting 3 goals and 22 assists, all while wearing the “C” for the Eagles. Both players have been assigned to the AHL and made their debut with the San Antonio Rampage this past week.
The Road Ahead
While the Panthers have faded out of the playoff picture, the season is not yet over. Florida still has two games remaining in its season-ending home stand. The Panthers will play the second-to-last game of the season this Thursday at 7:30 against (who else?) the Boston Bruins, and will finish with game number 82 coming full circle at home against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday at 7:00.
The end of another Florida Panthers season is quickly approaching. While Florida will not be participating in the Stanley Cup playoffs they can be proud of the fact that they were in contention until game 80. This season was filled with many exciting moments on and off the ice, from Aaron Eklbad’s first NHL goal to the debut of the legend, Jaromir Jagr. From now until Saturday, leading right into the final game of the season, we will be listing our top five favorite moments from Florida’s 2014-2015 campaign. Let’s jump right into the countdown with moment #5.
#5 – #MulletNightInSunrise
Our number five moment should be fresh in the memory of Florida Panthers fans, considering it happened this past Thursday. In celebration of one Jaromir Jagr, the Panthers held mullet night in Sunrise during their game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Fans from all over South Florida and beyond came to the BB&T Center sporting their best mullet in honor of number 68, while trying to earn the right to join an elite group of fans, the traveling Jagrs. Truth be told, if it were not for the traveling Jagrs, mullet night in Sunrise would not have happened. That is how famous these globe trotting fans of the legendary number 68 are.
The traveling Jagrs did not make their way to South Florida just to see their favorite player, they had a job to do. Before the puck dropped on Thursday the men in mullets held open tryouts to find a representative for Jagr’s new team, the Florida Panthers. After putting numerous contestants through rigorous physical and mental challenges the traveling Jagrs found their man.
During a TV time out in the third period Jagr’s super fans took the stage to properly crown their newest member. The entire event was a huge success and everyone in attendance had fun with it. Having the traveling Jagrs in the crowd must have been a good luck charm because Florida defeated Carolina 6-1, and Jaromir Jagr recorded a goal and an assist in the victory.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for our number four favorite moment of the 2014-2015 Florida Panthers season.
The Florida Panthers, Ottawa Senators, and Boston Bruins are currently locked into the tightest playoff race in recent years. Only four points separate the three teams, with Boston holding onto the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. The Senators and Panthers are right behind the Bruins, with ten games remaining for the Cats, nine for the B’s, and eleven for the Sens. To makes things easier to follow here is a statistical breakdown for all three clubs.
As stated above, only four points separate The Bruins, Senators, and Panthers from the final wildcard spot. Florida’s win in the shootout against Boston, and Ottawa’s regulation victory over Toronto on March 21st gives BOS 84, OTT 83, and FLA 80 points. This means that the Senators are only one point away from passing the Bruins, with two games in hand. Meanwhile, Florida sits three points behind Ottawa and four behind Boston with one game remaining against the Sens and two versus the B’s.
The Last Ten
The record of a hockey team is a good indication of how well that club is playing, and the last ten shows just how hot, or cold, they are. With a record of 9-1 in their last ten games there is no team in the NHL hotter than the Ottawa Senators. A lot of their success is thanks to 27 year old rookie goaltender, Andrew Hammond. The Sens netminder has posted a record of 13-0-1 with a .947 save percentage and 1.65 goals against average. If Ottawa wants to make the playoffs they are going to need the hamburglar at his best for their final eleven games.
Boston is currently trending in the opposite direction, losing their last five games. They have struggled offensively and on their powerplay while posting a 5-3-2 record in ten games. The Bruins slump has allowed the Panthers and Senators to gain ground on that final wildcard position in the Eastern Conference. If Boston wants to stay ahead in the playoff race they will need to fix their special teams.
The Panthers just refuse to die, but have the toughest challenge ahead of them. Giving Boston a loser point in the shootout on Saturday night did not help their cause, but at least they gained an extra point in the wildcard race. Florida is 6-3-1 in their last ten and have ten games remaining. Included in those final contests are two meetings against Boston and one versus Ottawa. Members of the media state that the Panthers will have to go 8-2 in their final ten games to have a chance at making the postseason, and that includes picking up wins against The Bruins and Senators.
Ducks @ Bruins – 3/26
Rangers @ Bruins – 3/28
Bruins @ Hurricanes – 3/29
Panthers @ Bruins – 3/31
Bruins @ Red Wings – 4/2
Maple Leafs @ Bruins – 4/4
Bruins @ Capitals – 4/8
Bruins @ Panthers – 4/9
Bruins @ Lightning – 4/11
Panthers @ Lightning – 3/24
Panthers @ Maple Leafs – 3/26
Panthers @ Canadiens – 3/28
Panthers @ Senators – 3/29
Panthers @ Bruins – 3/31
Hurricanes @ Panthers – 4/2
Lightning @ Panthers – 4/4
Canadiens @ Panthers – 4/5
Bruins @ Panthers – 4/9
Devils @ Panthers – 4/11
Sharks @ Senators – 3/23
Rangers @ Senators – 3/26
Senators @ Maple Leafs – 3/28
Panthers @ Senators – 3/29
Senators @ Red Wings – 3/31
Lightning @ Senators – 4/2
Capitals @ Senators – 4/4
Senators @ Maple Leafs – 4/5
Penguins @ Senators – 4/7
Senators @ Rangers – 4/9
Senators @ Flyers – 4/11
It is that time of year again. The time when hockey fans make predictions that probably will not be correct, but we do it anyway because it’s fun. For the 2013 campaign I decided to bring in two hardcore hockey fans from different websites. One covers video games and entertainment while the other follows the greatest sport in the world. Please give a warm welcome to the predictions of Rudy Colon from Kona’s Korner and Rob McMahon, formally a writer for Sunshine State Hockey, who is now with Penalty Box Radio.
Two out of the three of us seem to agree on each category, and surprisingly we all share the same views on three divisions: the Northeast, Southeast, and Pacific. Since we cover the Florida Panthers here at Sunshine State Hockey it is important to focus on the Southeast division for a moment. The reason all three of us are in agreement on our prediction is because the Hurricanes just looks so good on paper. Carolina went out and acquired Jordan Staal to add scoring depth at the center position, not to mention the fact that he should have some decent chemistry with his brother Eric. Add them with the likes of Alex Semin, who is still a legit scoring threat, a maturing Jeff Skinner, an emerging number one defenseman in Justin Faulk, and Stanley Cup/Conn Smythe winning goaltender Cam Ward and it is clear why all three of us chose Carolina to win the Southeast.
Will our predictions hold true or are they doomed to fail? Only time will tell. Until then, let’s just enjoy the fact that we finally have NHL hockey back.