Five Takeaways from Panthers 2-1 win over Canucks

After a 6-0 thrashing of the Edmonton Oilers, Florida was back on the ice one day later in Vancouver to take on the Canucks. 

A depleted Canucks team held their own against the star studded Panthers squad and saw a great performance in goal from their new goalie Spencer Martin.

The game ended in a shootout, where the Panthers won 2-1.

Here are tonight’s five takeaways. 

Spencer Martin stole the show 

Before tonight 26-year-old goaltender Spencer Martin hadn’t appeared in an NHL game since the 2016-2017 season when he was with the Colorado Avalanche. 

He was previously in the AHL with the Abbotsford Canucks, where he had five wins in his seven starts. 

All game the Panthers were firing at Martin but they only got past him once in regulation from a power play opportunity.

In his debut with the Canucks, Martin had 33 saves. He looked like he belonged in the NHL tonight and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets more games this season.

Spencer Knight stood tall

Apart from the first goal allowed on the power play, Knight gave his team a fighting chance against Vancouver. 

The 20-year-old Panthers net minder had to make a multitude of saves from high scoring areas. He also had to kill four penalties tonight. 

He didn’t have goal support from his team until the third period but his performance tonight allowed the Panthers to hold on until they could tie the game in the third and win it in the shootout.

The team looked slower than usual 

Florida has played three games in the last four days, including a back to back. Between the travel, time change and games, it looked like it hit them tonight. 

The team who is usually electric off the rush and in transition looked lethargic for most of the game. They didn’t have the same jump in their step that you would see when they are putting five plus goals past their opponent. 

There weren’t too many odd-man rushes nor breakaway chances for Florida, when they usually get a couple each game. 

They had a few spurts where they looked alive but other than that, it wasn’t the same energy you usually see from this team. 

Florida couldn’t stay out of the box 

Some of the penalties tonight were definitely questionable, but nonetheless Florida was penalized four times against Vancouver.

It didn’t help that Vancouver scored on their first PP or that the Canucks had some great chances with the man advantage.

They’ll need to clean that up before their next game against Seattle.  

The power play looked smooth

After going 3-for-5 last night on the power play, Florida brought their power play momentum to Vancouver. 

Florida didn’t get too many looks on the man advantage tonight but they looked pretty comfortable when they had the opportunity. 

The puck movement was quick, decisive and it led to good scoring chances.  Florida got their first and only goal of the game on their second power play opportunity from Vancouver native Sam Reinhart. 

The Panthers power play hasn’t been all that impressive for a large part of this season, but it has looked good as of late.

Five Takeaways From Panthers Win Over Oilers

Two nights following Florida’s 5-1 loss to Calgary, they were back in Alberta to face the Edmonton Oilers. 

Despite a slow start to the game, Florida opened the scoring and didn’t let the Oilers back in the game, defeating them 6-0.

Here’s tonight’s takeaways. 

Sergei Bobrovsky kept them in the game

The first period play by the Panthers doesn’t correlate with the final score of the game. Edmonton looked miles better than Florida in this period and they had numerous chances to take the lead. 

The one man standing in their way was Sergei Bobrovsky. Edmonton had 17 shots in the first period, including a few really good chances on the power play. Bobrovsky shut the door, stopping Connor McDavid and the Oilers in their tracks. 

Bob ended the night with 40 saves.

Florida found their game late but timely 

It took Florida nearly a game and a half into their Canadian road trip to find themselves, but it didn’t affect them tonight in Edmonton. 

Since Bob was able to keep the game scoreless heading into the second, Edmonton missed their chance to put the Panthers on their heels. 

One power play opportunity in the second period saw Sam Reinhart feed Sasha Barkov a beautiful saucer pass and the captain put it away. 

Florida grabbed another goal after that when Carter Verhaeghe rifled a shot bardown past Edmonton goalie Mikko Koskinen. 

Up 2-0, Florida continued to increase the pressure and looked more like the team we see in Sunrise, not the one we saw Tuesday night in Calgary. 

Florida was able to convert three times tonight on the power play as well. It played a large part in their blow out win tonight.

The defense held back McDavid and Draisaitl

It’s never an easy night when you have to play against two of the league’s top scorers in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl entered the night second in league scoring while McDavid was tied with Huberdeau for third. 

The dynamic duo was extremely visible tonight with the puck. but the Panthers were able to swarm them and keep them off the scoreboard.

Huberdeau was also able to jump both of them in the points race with his two assists.

Sam Reinhart continues to get apples 

Another great playmaking game tonight from Sam Reinhart. He picked up two assists, pushing his season assist total to 22. 

Both of his assists were heads up plays. One was a nice saucer to Barkov from the side of the net on the power play, the other was a behind the net pass where he found Carter Verhaeghe wide open in the slot. 

Fitting he did some work in “Gretzky’s office” (behind the net) in Edmonton. 

Once they started they couldn’t stop

Well a slow start didn’t hurt tonight. Florida put six goals past Edmonton, four of those coming in the third period of play.

Barkov had two, Duke, Verhaeghe and Bennett all had one. Oh ya, and Owen Tippett capped off his great night with a goal as well.

Another five plus goal night for the Ice Cats.

BONUS TAKEAWAY: Barkov is good 

Five Takeaways from Panthers Win over Blue Jackets

Well the Panthers didn’t let last night’s 7-1 win against Dallas slow them down tonight against Columbus. 

Florida opened the scoring under a minute into the game and they didn’t look back, defeating the Blue Jackets 9-2 to end the home stand. 

Here’s tonight’s five takeaways. 

Transition game 

There’s a reason why Florida has the number one scoring offense off the rush in the NHL this season. 

The team doesn’t slow down. If they lose the puck they immediately track it down with their forecheck or back check and they take it away. 

Tonight against Columbus they did just that. All four forward lines and the defensemen were looking to head-man the puck, catch the Blue Jackets in transition and fire the puck towards goal. 

Not even talking about the multiple goals scored off the rush, every few seconds Florida had an odd-man rush or a dangerous transition opportunity tonight. 

NHL All-Star Jonathan Huberdeau 

Yes, that’s the takeaway, Jonathan Huberdeau. Another multi-point night for Huberdeau extended his point streak to eight games. It also moved him to the top of the NHL’s scoring list, he’s tied with a few players at NO.1. 


Goals, Goals, Goals and More Goals

It’s simple, score lots of goals and you’ll probably win games. Tonight’s nine goal performance by Florida was undeniably dominating. 

Columbus ruined Sergei Bobrovsky’s chance of a shutout with a power play goal, so what did Sam Bennett do? He scored immediately after. 

Fans at FLA Live Arena were chanting “We want 10”, after the ninth goal you could really hear the arena erupt after every opportunity that could have led to the tenth goal.

This team can score and they aren’t afraid to show it. In the last two games, Florida has 16 goals. 

Columbus couldn’t hang with the Cats 

Last time the Blue Jackets took the ice they thrashed Carolina 6-0. The Hurricanes are one of the top teams in the league; Columbus was not a team that should’ve been overlooked in tonight’s matchup. 

Unfortunately for Columbus, they were no match for the Panthers tonight. Florida started their scoring barrage just 46 seconds into the game when Carter Verhaeghe put the puck past Elvis Merzlikins. Anthony Duclair joined him, getting his team high 16th goal of the season 2:07 into the period. 

Florida put four past Merzlikins before he was pulled. Florida also chased Dallas’ Jake Oettinger last night. 

Joonas Korpisalo came in for relief, but it wasn’t really relieving has he gave up five goals himself after he went into the net.

The Blue Jackets got a few goals past Bobrovsky but it was more of a consolation prize at that point.

The Puck Movement was Beautiful 

Watching the Panthers enter the zone and make four to five passes almost instantaneously is beautiful. Tonight was like many nights with the teamwork by the ice cats. 

Florida had so much sustained offensive-zone time, due in large part to the fast but simple puck movement. This went hand-in-hand with the transition play. The defenseman took the puck away, they immediately moved it to the breaking forwards and the Panthers were in the opposing zone within seconds. 

This team is unselfish and it’s working, they are scoring five plus goals every night, or in tonight’s case, nine. 

The Continuing Rise in Hockey Popularity Worldwide

As a winter sport, ice hockey has defied all odds to become one of the most popular and richest among the professional sports leagues around the world.

Despite a relatively limited fanbase because of the seasonal nature of its playing field, ice hockey is in the elite company of Major League Baseball (MLB), National Football League (NFL), and the National Basketball Association (NBA) in terms of unimpeded growth, commercial viability, and future. 

A study conducted by the Stanford Graduate School of Business has revealed that National Hockey League (NHL) fans in North America are the most educated and affluent among all the four major leagues in the United States and Canada, outpacing even the rich crowd following the PGATour. 

Ice hockey is the top sport in Canada, the birthplace of organized hockey competitions, where it outranks MLB, NFL, and NBA in popularity and fan support.  This attraction translates into higher gate receipts, more advertising revenues, and more lucrative merchandising and commercial rights for NHL, at least in the Great White North.    

NHL’s largest demographic fan base consists of males aged 18 to 34, so organizers have shifted to digital technology to reach this computer-savvy market and promote game-related activities. including sports betting. Seen on, for example, is a good illustration to how real-time online insights are used to promote the sport and sports betting on the side.

The NHL was launched in Montreal on November 26, 1917, to take over the operations of the National Hockey Association (NHA), its predecessor, which had been organized in Ontario in 1909.  It assumed NHA’s place as one of the leagues that competed for the Stanley Cup.  

After a series of disbandment and league mergers, the NHL was left as the only remaining league competing for the Stanley Cup in 1926. 

As NHL, the league had only four Canadian teams until 1924, when US-based Boston Bruins joined the league.  From 1942 to 1967, the league operated with only six teams, which were collectively called the “Original Six” – Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs


More teams have been added since then, with the league expanding its membership to 18 teams by 1974, and five more added five years later.   Today, the NHL plays with 32 teams.

On the international scene, ice hockey is played in many countries across the northern and western hemispheres with icy cold winter seasons, including Finland, Russia, Germany, Czech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia, and Latvia.  

Ice hockey became an Olympic event during the 1920 Summer Olympics hosted by Belgium before it permanently moved to the Winter Olympics in 1924, where it has become a regular event to this day. 

But of course, just like in any other event in the Olympics, ice hockey playing nations have to undergo a qualifying process to get into the Winter Games.  Thus, only a select number of countries see action in the Olympics, with many players competing in the NHL and playing for their respective countries in the prestigious quadrennial games. 

While the popularity of ice hockey in Canada, the United States, and many countries in Europe is continually on the rise, it hasn’t gained ground in Asia and many tropical countries across the globe. So far, only wintry countries from North America and Europe have won Olympic medals in ice hockey.

In the Philippines, for example, the sport is played on artificial ice rinks in giant malls, where costs are prohibitive and thus adoption rate is low.    

Other tropical countries in Asia, such as Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand, are facing similar challenges. Thus they are unable to develop a stronger core to develop young players and prepare them for high-level competitions. 

On a positive note, three Asian countries with winter seasons are slowly developing a credible ice hockey program by collaborating with each other to form a league known as the Asia League Ice Hockey.  They have also invited teams from Russia and allowed the use of imports, including those with playing experience from the NHL, to increase the league’s competitive level. 

As former hosts of three Winter Olympic editions, Japan and unified Korea have helped raise higher public awareness and appreciation for the game and increase adoption rate.  The Chinese are certainly on the same page when it won the bid to the Winter Games next year. 

The NHL is not without its share of players with Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Filipino ancestries.  Among them are Nick Suzuki (Japanese), Kailer Yamamoto (Japanese),  Jason Richardson (Filipino), Mathew Dumba (Filipino),  Jett Woo (Chinese), Austin Wong (Chinese), and Richard Park (Korean).


Just like football and basketball, the sport of ice hockey is slowly, but surely, finding its place in the hearts of many people around the world.  


Five Takeaways from Panthers Win Over Canadiens

The Florida Panthers started off the new year on a strong note, defeating the Montreal Canadiens 5-2. The Panthers have won three straight games in the last four days.

Here are the five takeaways from this afternoon’s game.

# 1 Montreal came to play

Every team across the league has been affected by COVID protocols over the last few weeks, including the Panthers before they were shut down for 2 weeks. Montreal came into today’s game with 11 forwards, 5 defenseman and a third string goalie. A large chunk of the Canadiens players spent time in the AHL this season and one of their rookies who made his NHL debut today played in the ECHL this season, which is two tiers below the NHL. 

The Canadiens went toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the league. When Florida scored on their first shot, Montreal countered and did the same. They took a brief lead over the Panthers off a goal by Nick Suzuki before Florida scored four unanswered. Montreal iced an AHL caliber team against Florida and they held their own.  


# 2 Quick puck movement

Florida’s first three goals happened because of great puck movement. The team was moving the puck quickly and effectively which led to the scoring chances. Over passing could be a problem but it didn’t affect Florida’s scoring chances, they had plenty today. 


# 3 Sam Reinhart can dish the puck

Reinhart must have enjoyed his holidays because he came into 2022 looking to dish out gifts to his Panthers teammates. He had two primary assists today, the first one coming on Barkov’s tying goal, the second coming on Vatrano’s 3-2 go ahead score. Reinhart had to make perfect passes in tight areas on both chances and he delivered. 


# 4 Sam Bennett returns and wasted no time… literally

After missing the 9-3 barrage against Tampa, Sam Bennett was back in the lineup today and he immediately made his presence known. Just 32 seconds into the game Bennett opened the scoring on Florida’s first shot of the game. 

He wasn’t done with the early scoring. To start the third Bennett cut his goal time in half, putting one past Montreal’s Sam Montembeault just 15 seconds into the period. Bennett finished the game with two goals. 


# 5 Jonathan Huberdeau continues to rack up points

When the calendar year concluded yesterday, only two players had more points than Jonathan Huberdeau; it was Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers. Huberdeau finished tied with Auston Matthews for third most points in 2021 with 99. 


After a five point outing against Tampa on Dec. 30, Huberdeau continued his 2021 dominance in 2022, grabbing three points against his childhood team. Huberdeau has eight points in the last two games.

Panthers and Aleksander Barkov agree to eight-year, $80M extension

The Florida Panthers and Aleksander Barkov have reportedly agreed to a maximum length extension to keep the captain in Sunrise for another eight years.

The contract is 8x$10M AAV, which was first reported by Sportsnet Insider Elliotte Friedman. Pierre LeBrun of TSN reports that over $70M of the contract is in signing bonuses. 

Barkov has spent his entire eight year career with the Panthers after being drafted second overall by the organization in the 2013 draft. The 26-year-old just came off of a 58 point season in 50 games and won his first career Selke trophy.

In 529 NHL games, Barkov has scored 465 points and solidified himself as one of the best two-way forwards in the league.

This deal is a massive bump from his previous contract, which was six-years, $5.9M AAV.

Barkov has one year left on his current deal before the new extension kicks in at the beginning of next season.

Panthers re-sign Sam Bennett to a four-year, $17.6M contract

Sam Bennett is staying in Sunrise and he will be here for the foreseeable future.

Bill Zito and the Panthers announced today that Bennett re-signed with the team on a four-year deal.

TSN Hockey insider Pierre LeBrun reported that the deal had an AAV of $4.4 million.

Bennett was acquired from the Calgary Flames at last season’s NHL trade deadline and immediately slotted into the Cats’ top-six.  

The 25-year-old had 15 points in 10 regular season games and 5 points in five playoff games with the Panthers last season. 

During his career, Bennett has accumulated 155 points in 412 games. He also has scored 24 points in 35 career playoff games with the Flames and Panthers.

Bennett is the third RFA signing by the Panthers today. Earlier the team announced that they had re-signed Noah Juulsen and Lucas Carlsson to one-year, two-way contracts.

The Panthers still have to sign newly acquired Sam Reinhart. Reinhart is a pending RFA and is coming off of a one-year, $5.2 Million deal in Buffalo.

NHL free agency begins on Wednesday and eligible players will be able to sign extensions. Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe who are entering the last year of their deals will both be eligible for extensions on the 28th.

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Florida Panthers acquire Sam Reinhart from Buffalo

Day one of the 2021 NHL Draft saw the Florida Panthers make a big splash for a former second overall pick. 

After drafting Mackie Samoskevich 24th overall in the first round, Florida had one more big play up their sleeve before the night was over.

Just before midnight on Friday, Sportsnet hockey insider Elliotte Friedman announced that Sam Reinhart was being traded to Florida from the Buffalo Sabres. The trade was finalized Saturday afternoon. 

The official trade package was Sam Reinhart to Florida in exchange for goalie prospect Devon Levi and Florida’s 2022 first-round pick.

Reinhart, 25, was the second overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft. This is the same draft where the Panthers selected Aaron Ekblad first overall. Current Panther Sam Bennett was taken fourth overall by Calgary the same year. 

Last season Reinhart tied his career high in goals with 25 in just 54 games with the Sabres. In 454 career NHL games, he had 134 goals and 161 assists for 295 points. During the 2020-2021 season, Reinhart spent the majority of the year playing without Buffalo’s star player Jack Eichel beside him. With Eichel only dressing in 21 games due to injury, Reinhart had to carry the load in Buffalo. He finished the season as the team’s leading scorer with 40 points.

With Reinhart coming south, Devon Levi is going back the other way to Buffalo. Levi was a seventh round pick in the 2020 Draft by the Panthers. The 19-year-old goalie prospect plays his college hockey for Northeastern University in the ECAC. Despite not playing a game for Northeastern last year, Levi backstopped Canada to a Silver Medal at the 2021 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, just coming up short in the Gold Medal game to current Panthers goalie Spencer Knight and Team USA. 

As for where Reinhart slots into the Panthers lineup, he is a top-6 forward who can play on the wing and down the middle. I can see him adjusting nicely on one of Florida’s top-two lines. Reinhart is a consistent 20 goal scorer, hitting that mark five times in his six NHL seasons. Whether he is next to Barkov or Huberdeau, Reinhart will be a scoring threat for the Cats.

Similar to Bennett last season, a fresh start is what was needed for Reinhart. In his six seasons with Buffalo, the Sabres never made the playoffs. After finishing dead last in the standings last season, Buffalo had the first overall pick in this year’s draft, selecting Owen Power from the University of Michigan.

Florida now has three of the top four picks from the 2014 NHL Draft on their roster (Ekblad/1, Reinhart/2, Bennett/4). Reinhart is currently a Restricted Free Agent.


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Panthers buy out remainder of defenseman Keith Yandle’s contract

On Thursday morning, The Florida Panthers announced that they have bought out defenseman Keith Yandle.

The 34-year-old didn’t miss a single game in his five seasons with the Panthers dating back to 2016. Yandle had 30 goals, 201 assists and 231 points in 371 regular season games with the team.

With this buyout, the Panthers were able to get the remaining two-years of Yandle’s $6.35 M AAV contract off the books.

The news comes just two days before all NHL teams (except Vegas) submit their expansion draft protection lists for the upcoming 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.

Panther’s GM released a statement following the buyout of Yandle’s contract:

“We would like to extend a sincere thank you to Keith for all that he’s contributed to the Florida Panthers organization and to the South Florida community over the past five seasons,” said Zito. “While a decision of this kind is never an easy one to make, we believe that this shift is necessary as we look towards the 2021-22 season and our club’s future.”

In his final season with the Panthers, Yandle had 27 points in 56 games, with an average time on ice of 17:15 a game.

Alongside the Yandle buy out, the Panthers also reached a three-year $7.98 M extension with Gustav Forsling. The deal carries a $2.66 M AAV, according to TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun.

Yandle’s contract had a full NMC (No Movement Clause), meaning the Panther’s would have been forced to use one of their protection spots on him in the expansion draft, unless he waived the clause. 

With the expansion draft protection list deadline on the 17th, the Panthers can now protect another defenseman, like Forsling.

The cap hit savings for Yandle’s buyout are as follows, per CapFriendly

2021-22: $4M

2022-23: $0.958M

2023-24: -$1.242M

2024-25: -$1.242M

Yandle is now a free agent and can sign with any team when free agency opens on July 28.


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Aleksander Barkov wins his first Selke Trophy

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov won his first Selke Trophy after his eighth NHL season on Friday evening. 

The Frank J. Selke Trophy is awarded annually “to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game”. 

Barkov had 26 goals, 32 assists and 58 points in 50 games during the 2020-2021 NHL season. He lead the Panthers to their first playoff appearance since the 2015-2016* season.

The Selke Trophy is voted on by the 100 members of the PWHA. Barkov lead the way with 780 total points and 62 first-place votes. He was listed on 92 of the 100 ballots. 10-time Selke finalist and four-time winner Patrice Bergeron was the runner-up with 15 first-place votes and 522 total points. Mark Stone came in third with 463 points. 

Once again, Barkov showed his excellence in playing a 200-foot game this season with the Panthers. As one of the league’s top two-way players, he averaged over a point-per-game while still dominating defensively in all areas of the ice.

Barkov’s Selke win also puts him into an exclusive NHL group. The 25-year-old is only the fifth player in NHL history to win both the Selke and the Lady Byng. He joins Pavel Datsyuk, Anze Kopitar, Ryan O’Reilly and first ballot Hall of Famer Ron Franics.

This was the first time Barkov was named a finalist for the Selke. 

* The Panthers made the Qualifying Round for the 2019-2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs before losing to the New York Islanders in 4 games.

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