Tag Archive for: hockey

Edmonton Oilers’ Whimsical NHL Season Run: Now in the 2024 Stanley Cup Finals

The Edmonton Oilers have advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Florida Panthers, and Game 1 will be played on Saturday in Sunrise, FL.

You know a lot about the Panthers, but what about the Oilers, including their star Connor McDavid?

Consider this: the last time a Canadian team hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup was in 1992-93. That’s right, it’s been more than 30 years since a Canadian team won the Cup. Canadians are loyal sports fans, especially when it comes to hockey, which is their national sport. For the best bonuses and offers on the games, check sports betting Canada because while it’s beneficial for the NHL to grow in American markets, at some point, a Canadian team has to win the Cup again. 

Edmonton Oilers: Canada’s Best Shot at The Stanley Cup 2024

Since 1992-93, six Canadian teams have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, but none have won. It hasn’t just been Montreal and Toronto; other teams like Ottawa, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary have had opportunities too. This year, four out of the 16 playoff teams were Canadian: Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Edmonton. Unfortunately, Toronto was eliminated again in game seven in the first round by Boston, and Winnipeg also bowed out in the first round, leaving just two. 


Edmonton recently defeated Vancouver in a seven-game series in round two and that leaves Canada’s best chances of winning the Stanley Cup with only Edmonton Oilers. Edmonton just hung on by the seat of their pants, facing elimination twice and ultimately securing a 3-2 final score in Game 7.

Dallas Stars Vs. Edmonton Oilers: Western Conference final

Reaching the Western final has not been an easy feat for Dallas. They needed to defeat the Golden Knights, the Stanley Cup winners from the previous season. In two separate series, they had to defeat the Colorado Avalanche, the Cup champion from the previous season, in seven and six games, respectively. The Dallas Star’s performance this season is overwhelming, they are currently up against the Edmonton Oilers, and it merely serves to highlight how difficult Edmonton’s situation is right now.


The Oilers took care of the Kings and, obviously, just now the Canucks, and they are in a conference final now as Canada’s best shot. Brilliant performances from McDavid, Draisaitl, and the majority of their squad were based on having four first-round choices in five years throughout the second half of the 2010s. The Edmonton Oilers dominated the first overall pick. Even when they didn’t choose first, they had a third and seventh pick. They always had terrible teams that produced high draft picks.

Oiler’s Brilliant Run Through 2023-24 Season

Edmonton is a highly inconsistent group to watch this season as well. Let’s analyze their monthly point percentages. 


Their season started 2-5-1 in October, with a.313 average. It wasn’t very nice. After that, they played .500 hockey, and in December, .750 hockey. They saw peaks and troughs, going from a.500 team to a much better team to a perfect team, and then back down to around a.500 club. They were unbeaten in January, going 11-0 in that month. Their slugging percentage was .542,.733. They had a.500 record going into the last month of April. This is the second time in the last three years that they’ve reached this third round of playoff hockey.


They are the first team in the NHL with three 20-plus point players through two rounds.  There are more than 20 points for McDavid and Draisaitl, but Evan Bouchard just joined Connor and Leon, getting that 20-point mark in Game 7 against Vancouver.


The Oilers have a chance to win the Cup if they can defeat Dallas in this Western Final as they have the best players. Not just McDavid and Draisaitl, but Evander Kane, RNH, and Hyman have all been performing well. Their blue line is thick, competent, and full of stars. We believe Edmonton will win the cup if they perform to the best of their abilities and continue as they have. However, they must get past this Western Final.

What does the McDonagh move mean for the Predators’ future plans?

The recent return of Ryan McDonagh to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a trade with the Nashville Predators has caused quite a stir in the Predators’ fanbase. 

McDonagh’s departure frees up a significant chunk of cap space ($6.75 million) for the Predators. This newfound financial freedom opens up a world of possibilities for the Predators this offseason.

With the cash, they could bolster their defense, which took a hit with McDonagh’s departure. Or, they could add depth scoring to complement their already potent offense. However, the juicier possibility lies in a potential blockbuster trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The rumor centers on two key players: Nashville’s star goaltender Juuse Saros and Toronto’s high-scoring forward Mitch Marner. Saros has emerged as a top goalie in the league, but the Predators may be looking to shake things up after another playoff disappointment. 

The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, have long coveted a proven goaltender to push them over the playoff hump. Marner, a talented offensive player, could be a centerpiece offered in a package deal to land Saros.

However, any potential trade would be complex. 

Marner’s hefty contract (close to $11 million) would require the Predators to take on additional salary, likely involving other Maple Leafs’ players or prospects. Additionally, the fit for Marner in Nashville’s system would need careful consideration.

If a Saros-Marner trade does come through it will potentially be the biggest trade of the summer. It could even rival some of the biggest Maple Leafs’ deals in history, like the Wendel Clark for Mats Sundin trade in 1994, which reshaped the franchise for years to come.

In saying this, the Maple Leafs haven’t escaped the spotlight since their playoff exit. 

After years of scrutiny on William Nylander, the focus has shifted to Mitch Marner.  His hefty salary cap hit combined with his recent struggles in crucial moments have left fans restless. 

Is Marner, once a cornerstone of the team’s future, now seen as expendable? The narrative in Toronto seems to be changing, with Leafs Nation looking to free up cap space by potentially moving him.

Marner used to be one of the favorite candidates in the NHL highest scorers betting market. We are talking about a forward who set the franchise scoring record for the Toronto outfit only a year and a half ago. Regularly, he’d lead player goal scoring markets ahead of each match. 

Those who keep their finger on the pulse of online sports betting in Ontario will know that the Canada international has seen his odds plummet recently.. A change of scenery could see him recapture his prolific form. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ goaltending woes are no secret either. Juuse Saros has been a leading target for many teams who are seeking more stability in front of the goal. For the Leafs, Saros could be the missing piece they desperately need. 

The Finnish goaltender could be instrumental in improving the Leafs’ defensive record. It may well be a change that pushes them toward championship contention.

It’s no secret that the Toronto goal-tending situation has been far from stable lately. The club have tried Frederik Andersen, Jack Campbell, and Ilya Samsonov between the pipes. Saros could be an instant upgrade in the position. 

With Joseph Woll as backup, the Maple Leafs’ goal-tending could be sorted for years.  

How does this trade benefit the Predators? The Nashville franchise has been seeking more offensive firepower, and Marner could provide just that. 

Marner would also fill the void of a genuine star in the lineup. Alongside Ryan O’Reilly and Fillip Forsberg, Marner could wreak havoc in the opposition defense. On paper, it would be one of the most dynamic attacks in the division. 

While a Saros-Marner trade seems feasible, several hurdles need to be cleared first. 

Salary cap constraints are a major factor. The Predators’ upcoming Matt Duchene buyout penalty ($5.5 million rising in subsequent seasons) also adds another layer of complexity. Both teams will need creative solutions to navigate these financial obstacles before this deal can materialize. 

Is Ryan McDonagh’s trade the first domino to fall for the Nashville Predators? Trading away his hefty contract could be a strategic move to free up significant cap space. It would allow them to reallocate this fund to pursue a high-priced player, addressing a pressing need in the roster.

But there’s one problem. Marner is owed a large signing bonus on July 1st, 2024. This could delay any potential deal with the Maple Leafs until after free agency opens.

How the Vancouver Canucks’ playoff heroics was a big win for the city

Emotions are running high in Vancouver. While fans grapple with the bittersweet end to the Canucks’ playoff run, the Western Canadian city still has reasons for celebration. Local businesses enjoyed a significant economic boost, and the police are reflecting on a successful operation in managing large crowds.

The Edmonton Oilers held off a desperate comeback bid by the Vancouver Canucks in a thrilling Game 7, squeaking by with a 3-2 victory to advance in the playoffs.

The Canucks’ defeat can be attributed to several factors. 

A sluggish first half put them on the back foot early. Add in their inability to capitalize on late-game power plays, and this was always going to be an uphill battle. The absence of Brock Boeser, their leading scorer, loomed large as well. His offensive contribution was missed, not to mention the emotional impact of losing such a key member of the team.

The Canucks’ defensive prowess and consistent goal-tending were undeniable strengths throughout the playoffs. However, their lack of offensive punch ultimately led to their downfall against the Oilers. There was heart in their performance, but it wasn’t enough to compensate for the deficiencies above. 

While the Canucks’ season comes to a heartbreaking close, they can hold their heads high after clinching the Pacific Division top spot and hosting their first playoff games since 2015.

Just months ago, the Canucks were in dire need of a turnaround. At one stage, team president Jim Rutherford called for “major surgery.” However, coach Rick Tocchet’s leadership and cultural overhaul revitalized the team. 

They defied expectations, pushing all the way to one win shy of the Western Conference Finals. Off the back of this, the Vancouver Canucks emerged as the ultimate NHL 2024 dream team for sports bettors searching for high odds to bet on.

The team’s unexpected run resulted in handsome rewards for their backers. Almost every one of the available betting sites in Canada offered long odds for the ‘Nucks at the start of the season. As a result, those who bet in favor of the Canucks early received lucrative returns when they made a deep run. 

Thankfully, the concerns about unruly behavior from Vancouver fans during the playoffs didn’t materialize. While there were reports of a few dozen liquor-related infractions on game days, these were seemingly minor incidents.

This stood in stark contrast to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final loss, which was marred by riots and vandalism. Fans displayed a much more controlled form of excitement this time around.

Vancouver’s incredible playoff run makes for an interesting economics case study as well. 

Their success showed how a winning sports team can boost a city’s economic success. Bars, restaurants, and hotels saw a surge in business as fans, both local and from out of town, flocked to watch the games on big screens. 

The energy grew with each victory, with establishments experiencing a rise in customers as the team progressed through their thrilling 13-game postseason journey. This influx of fans translated into increased revenue for businesses.

Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservice Association, revealed that game nights added an estimated $2 million to the bottom line of restaurants across the province. Interestingly, weekdays saw the greatest increase, suggesting fans were more likely to dine out during non-work hours to experience the playoff atmosphere.

Is it possible to come up with a specific dollar figure to pinpoint the extent of positive impact the Canucks’ playoff run has had on the economy? According to Micael Narine, a Brock University academic, that is quite a complex challenge. 

While calculating the exact impact is tricky, the sports management associate professor estimates the Canucks’ run to the second-round Game 7 generated economic activity in the “mid-to-low single-digit millions.” This boom was likely fueled by fans traveling between Vancouver and Edmonton to support their teams, creating a spending ripple effect across both cities.

According to the expert, businesses closest to Rogers Arena, like hotels, bars, and restaurants, saw the most significant impact from the playoff run. However, the positive effects extended beyond that, with a noticeable increase in sales of food, accommodation, and merchandise across a wider area.

Unsurprisingly, the Vancouver Canucks themselves enjoyed great financial returns for their unexpected playoff campaign. They got to play more than a dozen extra games, which brought in significant revenue. On top of that, the playoffs salary structure resulted in lower payouts for players compared to the regular season.

The Canucks’ elimination from the playoffs will undoubtedly cool things down in Vancouver. However, the city’s celebratory mood may not completely vanish. Despite the heated rivalry with Edmonton, the marketability of superstar Connor McDavid and the Oilers’ position as the last remaining Canadian team could still entice fans to spend money.

Why Panthers Are Poised to Learn from Last Year’s Stanley Cup Loss

Just the New York Rangers and either the Oilers or the Stars are all that separate the Florida Panthers from their first-ever Stanley Cup title. The Panthers were in a similar situation last year, sweeping the Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals, only to lose the Stanley Cup Finals in five games to the upstart Golden Knights. While disappointing, that loss could be considered a learning experience for the Panthers, giving them hope that this year will be different. Let’s look at some of the reasons why the Panthers will succeed in 2024 where they faltered in 2023.

Team Effort

Florida’s postseason success last year was largely a result of Matthew Tkachuk carrying the Panthers in crunch time and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky going above and beyond what was expected of him. Granted, there’s nothing wrong with relying on your biggest star and your goalie to carry the load. It allowed the Panthers to reach the Stanley Cup Finals as the no. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. However, relying on two key players isn’t always sustainable, which the Panthers found out in the Stanley Cup Finals.


Luckily, that hasn’t been the case for Florida this year. The Panthers have played more of a team game during the first two rounds of the playoffs. Rather than eking out tight games thanks to Tkachuk coming through in the clutch, half of Florida’s postseason wins in the first two rounds came by multiple goals. The entire roster is contributing to the team’s success, which is why the Panthers finished the regular season as the top seed, meaning this year’s postseason run has been expected rather than being a fluke.


Along those lines, the Panthers have had great balance, no longer relying on Tkachuk too much or asking him to carry them on his shoulders. A year ago, he led the Panthers in goals and assists during the postseason. But through the first two rounds of the playoffs this year, Aleksander Barkov, Sam Reinhart, and Carter Verhaeghe all scored more goals than Tkachuk. 


To be fair, Tkachuk holds the team lead in points, as his assists have been a catalyst for Florida’s attack. But the Panthers are far from a one-man show, as 11 players already have multiple goals in 11 playoff games whereas 13 players had multiple goals in 21 postseason games last year. Not having to rely so much on Tkachuk to jumpstart the offense figures to be a key differentiator this season now that the Panthers are deep in the playoffs.

Full Strength at the Right Time

Naturally, being healthy at the right time of year is critical to playoff success. The Panthers were undoubtedly hindered by injuries during last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. But there is little question that the Panthers are as close to full health right now as they can get. Most notably, defensemen Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour missed significant chunks of time during the regular season, playing 51 and 66 games, respectively. 


However, both have been healthy during the playoffs, each ranking among the top three Panthers in ice time through the first two rounds of the playoffs. That will help to ensure that the Panthers are at their best on the defensive end of the ice, providing adequate support for Bobrovsky to shine without having to carry the team on his back the way he did during large stretches of last year’s playoffs.

Been There, Done That

In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, never discount the importance of experience. Just reaching the Stanley Cup Finals last year was a big step for a franchise that hadn’t been there since 1996. The Panthers brought back 15 players from last season, giving them a core of experienced players, which wasn’t the case a year ago. Florida doubled down by bringing in veterans like Vladimir Tarasenko and Nikko Mikkola who each won the Stanley Cup earlier in their career.


With that experience, the Panthers have one less obstacle than they had a year ago. They aren’t going to fold in pressure-filled moments or be intimidated by the big stage. That alone could be enough to put them over the top in 2024. There have been eight instances in NHL history of a team losing the Stanley Cup Finals only to lift the cup the next year, but not since the Penguins did it in 2009. Perhaps the Panthers can be the next.


With plenty of games left in the NHL playoffs this year, there is a great selection of NHL betting sites for fans to use. Most of them offer competitive odds, lucrative welcome offers, and user-friendly platforms for both experienced and novice bettors to enjoy.

How to Bet On the NHL – Getting Started

As the legal sports gambling landscape continues to expand, so does NHL betting. The competition is quickly becoming one of the most popular sports for wagering on in Pennsylvania sports betting, especially considering it’s one of the major sports in the US and is usually on when other sports, such as the NFL, are off-season. NHL betting on itself is also quite fun as it provides many intrigues, and there are lots of betting options.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to get started in NHL betting.

Understanding NHL Betting Markets & Odds

If you are new to sports betting, the various terms used for the betting options and the odds can be a bit confusing. The first thing you need to do is make sure you understand the main ones, as failure to do so can lead to uninformed decisions.

Below is a breakdown to help you get started with the most popular betting markets.

  • Moneyline Betting: This type of bet simply involves choosing who you think will win the match. The odds are usually expressed as a negative for the favorite and a positive for the underdog. For example, in one game, you can have odds of -110 for the Pittsburgh Penguins and + 130 for the San Jose Sharks. This means that you need to wager $110 to win $100 if you’ve gone with the Penguins and $100 to win $130 if you choose the Sharks and they win.
  • Puck Line Betting: Puck line betting involves giving the favorite team a negative handicap of 1.5 goals and the underdog a similar positive advantage. This means that if you’ve bet on the favorite, they will need to win by 2 more goals for you to win your bet. In the case of the underdog, they can win or lose by 1 goal for you to win the bet.
  • Over/Under Betting (Total Goals): This is the other most common type of bet, and it involves betting on the total number of goals you think the game will produce (both teams). The bookie will give you a line, such as 6.5 goals, which you can then bet Under or Over.

These are the basic starting points, and you’ll be good to go once you understand them. However, you’ll also come across prop bets, period bets, and futures. 

Choosing a Reputable Sportsbook

One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make when it comes to sports betting is the sportsbook you use. This is because the sportsbook will generally influence your experience, from how easy it is to bet to the odds you get and the speed of payouts. While you may see lots of adverts with joining bonuses, ensure that you analyze the sportsbook carefully using factors such as licensing and regulation, reputation, betting markets, competitive odds, and user interface.

This is crucial as there are many betting sites, some licensed locally and others internationally. To be on the safe side, consider the ones licensed locally first. Different states permit and regulate sports gambling, and locally licensed sportsbooks adhere to the highest standards. They also offer many NHL betting markets as they focus on the local market.

Doing Your Research

When you are up to speed with the sportsbook and odds, the most important part of betting shifts to the research you do. This is the bedrock of success in sports and NHL betting, and you should ensure that you do thorough research before every game. Start by analyzing the team and players by looking at recent performances, the season records so far, performance in home and away games, injuries, and the lineup.

From there, you can consider things such as the head-to-head match-up history and the tactical changes that will be made based on the opposition. You can look at advanced stats such as Corsi, Fenwick, PDO, and expected goals (xG) for even better insights. Lastly, ensure you stay updated with the latest team news as this can give you a competitive edge.


Barkov Ties Franchise Assists Record, Panthers Defeat Rangers 4-3

SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers continued their winning ways against one of the league’s bests, defeating the New York Rangers 4-3 off of Carter Verhaeghe’s game winner.


Florida has won their last three games, improving their record to 21-12-2.


Sergei Bobrovsky had 31 saves  in his 17th win of the season. 


Here’s three takeaways from the game.


Barkov ties another franchise record

Aleksander Barkov entered Friday’s contest with 412 career assists — second most in  Panthers’ franchise history.


Only Jonathan Huberdeau had more with 415.


Barkov, 28, got three primary assists in the first two periods on Friday night — equaling Huberdeau’s 415 Panthers’ assists. 


“I’m sure that’s going to be another record broken very soon,” Matthew Tkachuk said of Barkov. “He’s just been incredible all year… From the start of camp, he just drives everything for us.”


Barkov will take sole possession of the record with his next assist — adding his name to yet another milestone in Panthers’ history. 


Florida’s captain is second on the team in scoring with 38 points in 32 games.


Rodrigues, Reinhart, Barkov… again

When Florida needs offense, it’s probably going to come from the first line of Barkov, Reinhart and Rodrigues. 


That would be the case again with the Rangers in town. 


Rodrigues would get his seventh goal of the season with 1:15 remaining in the first to open the scoring. 


In the second, Reinhart would double the Panthers lead with his team-high 22nd goal of the  year.


After trailing 2-0 in the second, the Rangers would claw back to tie the game, with goals from Artemi Panarin and Will Cuylle.  


Florida didn’t let their blown two-goal lead deter them. In need of a goal, Reinhart and Barkov would connect again to put the Panthers up 3-2. 


Reinhart scored his second of the game and 23rd goal of the season less than three minutes after the Rangers tied it to retake the lead for Florida.


The trio combined for six points in the game. They linked up for six points just two nights before in Tampa. 


Another great night on the penalty kill

Even when the goals weren’t coming, or as the power play struggled, Florida’s penalty kill was their strong point.


The Panthers were 100 percent on the kill again on Friday, going 2/2 against the league’s best power play team (Rangers 31.1 percent).


“Our penalty kill has been pretty darn solid now for about a month and a half,” head coach  Paul Maurice said. “I think we feel confident in it.”


Since Nov. 20, the Panthers have had the best penalty kill in the league — conceding just  four times on 56 chances over that stretch (92.9 percent). 


Panthers Notes

Florida plays the second half of their home back-to-back on Dec. 30 against the Montreal Canadiens.


The Panthers are currently second in the Atlantic, third in the East with 44 points.

Top Strategies for Combining NHL History with Social Studies Curriculum

The National Hockey League (NHL) is a professional ice hockey league in North America. Founded in 1917, it is widely considered the world’s premier professional ice hockey league. Integrating NHL (National Hockey League) history into a social studies curriculum can make the learning experience engaging and relatable for students. Here are some top strategies for combining NHL history with the social studies curriculum.

Historical Case Studies

Select significant events or periods in NHL history and explore those times’ social, economic, and cultural contexts. Compare the NHL’s growth and changes to concurrent social and political events. Students in college can learn a lot by doing their final case studies or essay writing assignments on NHL players with the assistance of PhD thesis writers. For example, study how NHL expansion in the 1960s mirrored societal changes during that era.

Biographical Studies

The NHL has a passionate fan base worldwide, with fans in North America, Europe, and beyond, contributing to its status as a global sports league. Study the lives of prominent NHL players, coaches, or team owners, emphasizing their contributions beyond the ice. Investigate how players like Willie O’Ree and Grant Fuhr broke racial barriers or explore the philanthropic efforts of players in their communities. Discuss the social impact of their actions.

Economic Impact Analysis

Hockey, and, by extension, the NHL, has become deeply ingrained in the cultural fabric of regions where it’s played, particularly in Canada, the United States, and Nordic countries. Examine the economic impact of NHL teams on their cities and regions. Study the economic benefits of having an NHL team, including job creation, tourism, and local businesses. Discuss the financial implications of building arenas and hosting major events like the Stanley Cup.

Social Issues in Hockey

The league has focused on player safety, introducing measures to reduce concussions and enhance overall player well-being. It also continues to promote diversity and inclusivity in the sport. Analyze social issues such as gender equality, diversity, and inclusion within the context of the NHL. Discuss the growth of women’s hockey, LGBTQ+ inclusion initiatives, and the challenges faced by minority players. Explore how these issues reflect broader social movements.

Geography and Team Locations

Integrate geography by studying the locations of NHL teams and their significance. Explore the geography of team locations, discussing how climate, culture, and regional traditions influence hockey culture. Compare NHL teams’ home cities, examining the similarities and differences in their social landscapes.

Historical Timeline Projects

The NHL has been home to legendary players like Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe, and many other highest-paid players, each leaving an indelible mark on the sport. Create a timeline of significant events in NHL history, aligning them with major social and political events. Have students research and place events like expansions, strikes, or championship wins on a timeline alongside historical events. Analyze the connections between these occurrences.

Media Literacy and Sports Journalism

The NHL has seen historic events such as the Summit Series (1972) between Canada and the Soviet Union, the “Miracle on Ice” during the 1980 Winter Olympics, and outdoor games like the Winter Classic, which became popular in the 2000s. Explore how media coverage and narratives shape public perception of NHL events and players. Study sports journalism ethics, biases, and the impact of media on public opinion. Analyze how media portrays social issues in hockey, including race, gender, and player conduct.

Debates and Discussions

The NHL saw an influx of international players, particularly from European countries, in the 1980s and 1990s, adding diversity to the league. Organize debates or panel discussions on controversial topics related to NHL history and its societal impact. Engage students in debates about issues like fighting in hockey, salary caps, or the impact of concussions. Encourage critical thinking and research to support arguments.

Civic Engagement and Team Communities

Investigate how NHL teams contribute to their communities and promote civic engagement. Research team-sponsored charitable activities, community outreach programs, and environmental initiatives. Discuss the importance of sports teams in fostering community pride and engagement. Collaborate with other subjects like math, art, or language arts to create well-rounded projects related to NHL history.


Final Thoughts

The NHL’s rich history is a testament to the enduring appeal of ice hockey and the league’s ability to evolve, adapt, and capture the imagination of fans across generations. By combining NHL history with social studies curriculum using these strategies, educators can create a dynamic, engaging, and interdisciplinary learning experience that helps students understand the evolution of hockey and its profound impact on society.

Three Panthers rookies set to get their first taste of the NHL

Another year of Florida Panthers hockey means new opportunities and new faces in Sunrise. 


Three of those new faces are of players who are about to experience their first taste of the National Hockey League with the Panthers opening the season later tonight in Saint Paul against the Minnesota Wild.


Mackie Samoskevich, Uvis Balinskis, and Justin Sourdif all battled through, and impressed in Paul Maurice’s rigorous training camp to crack the Panthers opening day roster — this being the first NHL job for all of them. 


Samoskevich, 20, will have a great chance right away to make his mark and stick around in Sunrise. He’ll most likely be making his NHL debut tonight in the top-9, playing alongside Anton Lundell and Sam Reinhart against the Wild. Florida’s 2021 first-round pick expressed his excitement about getting to play in his first NHL game.


“It’s a long time coming, something I’ve set out for for a little bit now,” Samoskevich told reporters on Monday.


And for his upcoming rookie lap, he got a few pointers from his NHL friends. “I got some buddies that had their first already, so just don’t fall and make sure you do your hair before.”


Samoskevich said that he found out last weekend that he’d be sticking around in Sunrise for the start of the season.

“Paul [Maurice] called me in on Saturday before the game, told me I was resting and that I’d probably be in on Thursday (against Minnesota),” Samoskevich said. “[I was] a little pumped about that.”


On the blueline, 27-year-old Uvis Balinskis is still a rookie, but an experienced one at that. The Latvian native comes to South Florida this season after spending the last three seasons in the Czech Extraliga. He also has a few years in the KHL under his belt from his time with Latvian side Dinamo Riga.


In what is to be his first season in North America, Balinskis beat out multiple players with NHL experience to grab the seventh and final defensemen spot out of camp. His impressive finish to the preseason was enough for the Panthers to keep Balinskis in Sunrise. 


“He’s built through his camp,” Maurice said about Balinskis. “I don’t know if surprised is the right word because the pro scouts worked hard to find a player like this, but [we’re] excited about the potential of it.”


Balinskis fits in quite well with the way the Panthers play — active defenseman who looks to headman the puck and push forward the play. 


“We like the way he moves the puck but more like the way he plays the game without any fear,” Maurice added. “He’s trying to make plays, he’s trying to get involved… you can’t feel any nervousness from him.”


The starting six defenseman are set at the moment so Balinskis won’t be getting into his first game just yet. However, as the seventh defenseman,  he may get his moment — whether it’s as an injury replacement or a performance swap — sooner than later.


While Samoskevich is already penciled in the lineup and Balinskis the next man up on the blueline, 21-year-old Justin Sourdif may not get into a game immediately, but the young forward 100 percent earned the right to be on the team out of camp. 


“I’m really happy to be up here with the guys,” Sourdif said on Tuesday after making the team. “While I’m up here I’m just going to try and learn as much as possible and enjoy the experience.”


Florida currently has 14 forwards on their active roster — one of whom is the injured Sam Bennett (day-to-day) that won’t be playing Thursday night in Minnesota, and possibly not at all on this three-game road trip. 


With Bennett temporarily out of the lineup, Sourdif will most likely start the season in Florida as the 13th forward. The youngster from British Columbia entered camp on the outside looking in, but he showed the coaching staff why he deserved to be on the opening day roster.


“Speed first, he’s got a willingness to get into the heavy areas quickly,” Maurice said on Sourdif. “We liked his energy.”


Maurice spoke highly of Sourdif and Samoskevich alike, and alluded to them both getting into their first NHL games eventually. 


“We think there were two good young prospects there who are probably, sooner rather than later, going to make their NHL debuts, he was very good.”


Samoskevich, Balinskis, and Sourdif are waiver eligible, so if the Panthers want to see them get more ice time in the AHL — like they did with Spencer Knight — sending them down to Charlotte will always be in the cards. 


As for now, there’s some great stories to be made for these three rookies.

The Florida Panthers punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final

SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers are on their way to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in franchise history after defeating the Carolina Hurricanes in four games. 


The Panthers took Game 4 by a final score of 4-3 off of Matthew Tkachuk’s game winner with four seconds left in regulation. 


It was a wild night at FLA Live for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes.   


Holding a 3-0 lead, the Panthers had a chance to close out the series at home Wednesday night — which would have booked their ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals.  


Like all the games in this series, tonight’s went down to the wire. 


It didn’t take the Panthers long to crack open this game and get the crowd off their feet.


Less than a minute into the game, Frederik Andersen made a big first save on an Anthony Duclair one-timer, however Andersen lost track of the puck after the save. Duclair picked up his own rebound and put it past Andersen, putting the Panthers up 1-0 just 41 seconds into the game. 


A little over halfway through the first, the Panthers would take a two-goal.


As the Panthers second power play of the game dwindled down, a broken up shot Aaron Ekblad shot found its way to Matthew Tkachuk in front of the net.


Tkachuk quickly fed the puck through Andersen’s five-hole, putting the Panthers up 2-0, 10:23 into the game. 


The desperate Hurricanes didn’t let Florida’s multi-goal lead last long. Just a few minutes after Tkachuk’s goal, Carolina got one back.  

A shot from near the corner landed in the blue pain behind a sprawling Sergei Bobrovsky. Paul Stasny beat Bobrovsky to the loose puck, cutting the Panthers lead in half with just under seven minutes to go in the period.


The three goal first period tonight was a completely different script from the 1-0 Game 3 we saw on Monday night. 


After an eventful opening 20 minutes, the Panthers took a 2-1 lead to the dressing room. 


As the teams took the ice for the second Carolina was able to get this game even just three minutes into the period.  


Similar to Tkachuk’s goal in the first, a Carolina shot from up high got broken up in front of goal before landing on the stick of Teuvo Teravainen. Teravainen shot the puck over an out of position Bobrovsky, tying the game at 2-2.


Just like that, Florida’s two-goal lead was gone.


With Carolina’s two unanswered goals, the building wasn’t quiet, but it definitely didn’t have the same energy as it did in the first. 


That was a problem that fan favorite Ryan Lomberg was able to solve. 9:49 into the second period, the Panthers fourth line executed one of the  nicest passing plays you’ll see all postseason. 

Lomberg started the play by dishing the puck to Eric Staal down low, who quickly spun it around his body to a wide-open Colin White in front of the Canes net. Rather than forcing a handcuffed shot, White calmly slid the puck over to Lomberg — who tapped in the go ahead goal. Florida went up 3-2, and FLA Live Arena went crazy as you’d expect. 


Lomberg’s goal would be the final one of the period, due in large part to some big saves by Sergei Bobrovsky. As the period came to an end, ‘BOB-BY’ chants echoed through the sold out arena from the Panthers faithful. 


Their team went into the break with a one-goal lead — and 20 minutes away from the Stanley Cup Finals. 


Florida held on to their lead for most of the third, but with 3:22 left, Carolina kept their season alive. 


Jesper Fast put away the game tying goal, and  overtime looked to be on the horizon in Sunrise. 


But the hockey gods seemed to not want extra hockey. 


With just 57 seconds left in regulation, Carolina captain Jordan Staal was sent to the box — giving Florida a last minute power play. 


A goal would mean a trip to the Stanley Cup Final, the other option would be another OT game… Matthew Tkachuk said ‘bus in 10’. 


The Panthers star forward came around the net, held out Andersen and put this series to bed. 


With 4.9 seconds remaining, the Florida Panthers took the lead — and the series. 


Florida will have to await the winner of the Vegas-Dallas series to see who their final opponent of the season will be. Vegas currently leads Dallas 3-0.

Five Takeaways from Panthers’ dominating win over Canadiens

SUNRISE: The Florida Panthers put a close to their 2022 at home tonight with a dominant 7-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens.

The Panthers will play Friday night in Carolina before starting the new year at home against the New York Rangers.


Here’s tonight’s takeaways: 


Barkov returns with a career-night

The Panthers were without captain Aleksaner Barkov for three games after he was injured Dec. 17 in New Jersey.


In his first game back since the injury, Barkov did not wait long to put his stamp on the game. 2:37 into the first, Barkov took a point-shot from Gustav Forsling off the leg, and into the Habs net. 


Later in the period, with the Panthers on the power play, Barkov let a shot fly from the circle and buried it past Montreal goalie Sam Montembeault. 


Still in the first period, with Barkov now on hat trick watch, No. 16 put away his third goal of the period, and the hats rained from the rafters of FLA Live Arena.


Barkov finished his night back with 5 points, tying his career-high.


The boys are back in town – Gudas, Barkov, Ekblad

A few weeks ago it seemed like every night there was another player coming out of the Panthers lineup, while AHL call ups were coming in.


After a few additional days without a game following the holiday break, the Panthers got some of their big boys back; Barkov, Ekblad and Gudas.


Barkov had five points tonight, while Ekblad and Gudas shaped what has often been a depleted blue line this season. 


“The guy had no points but Radko Gudas has a huge impact on that game tonight in terms of the minutes we have to play the other defenseman,” head coach Paul Maurice said. “Having those guys come back, it felt a little bit like the first game of the season in some ways, so there’s an excitement going out.”


Let the power play bells ring

With Florida having what was as close to a full lineup as possible tonight, they had all their top guns out there on power play unit 1. 


The top unit delivered tonight, scoring on three of their attempts of the game, on goals from Barkov and Matthew Tkachuk (x2). 

With Montreal also having luck tonight on the power play, these goals were important for Florida. 


Matthew Tkachuk increases his team lead in points

It was a quiet few days for Matthew Tkachuk as the Panthers forward was going through his worst scoring drought of the season… three games. 


Tkachuk made up for lost time tonight with four points, including two goals on the power play, right in front of the net.


“I think he was raised right to be at the net,” Aleksander Barkov said. “He knows where to be and what to do there, so it’s great to have that type of guy on the team.”


The 25-year-old now has team-high 44 points in just 33 games this season.


Tonight’s game felt a lot more like last year’s Panthers team

The 2021-2022 Panthers scored more goals than any team in the 2000’s. This year’s team however hasn’t been able to run away with games like they did last year.


Florida had a jump in their step from puck-drop and it looked like they were hungrier on the puck than Montreal. 


Led by Barkov’s first period hat trick and an early second period goal by Matthew Tkachuk, Florida was in the driver’s seat.


The icing on the cake was an extremely dominating third period by the Cats, where they scored three goals while preventing Montreal from generating anything around Bobrovsky even-strength.  


The night ended with a mid third period Pepas appearance, a seven goal performance and a “we want 10” chant from the Sunrise crowd.