FLORIDA SUN - TEAM REVIEW

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  1. JMR

    JMR Minor Leaguer

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    FLORIDA SUN
    Panthers GM Jean-Mathieu Royer issues team report prior to cross-conference games
    After 21 games so far this season, the Florida Panthers show a 15-6-0 record, which gives them 30 points so far this season. Just 3 points shy of the Southeast division leaders, the Tampa Bay Lightning, they are solidly in 4th position in the Eastern conference.

    The team has played well in the first part of the season, losing once to Columbus (5-4) and Montreal (2-1). The other four losses though were handled by the New York Rangers (3-0 / 5-1) and by the Tampa Bay Lightning (5-3 / 4-2) which is quite concerning for the team. Florida has won all of their past 60-minute games, all 3 in shootouts. Newly appointed captain Jonathan Huberdeau has been perfect in all attempts, scoring 3 times out of 3 against rival goaltenders. He leads the league in this chapter. The Panthers also registered two shutouts, against Carolina and Philadelphia, both to veteran starter Roberto Luongo's credit.

    Stats wise, the Florida Panthers stand 13th in the league in PP% with 14.9% and 18th in PK% with 84.2%, a definite upgrade in PK but downgrade in PP. They are 6th in the league in goals scored with 63 and 13th in goals against with 48, which gives them a goal differential of +15 for the 3rd place overall.

    The team has seen its fair share of changes during the offseason, with only a couple veterans still with the team. Jonathan Huberdeau now wears the C given Aaron Ekblad's departure for the Rangers; the vacant A was given to Jason Pominville. The other alternate-captain is Kristopher Letang, traded from Chicago in a 9-player deal including Calder finalist Zach Werenski.

    New forwards made their way to the team via UFA signings or trades, namely: Tanner Pearson, Marcus Foligno, Ales Hemsky, Tommy Wingels, Torrey Mitchell, Lance Bouma, Phil Di Giuseppe, Andreas Martinsen and Dennis Rasmussen. Veterans like Brandon Dubinsky and Antoine Roussel stayed with the team and Alex Chiasson resigned a UFA contract with the Panthers. The last move by GM Royer was trading Marcus Johansson (who was traded earlier for Claude Giroux and other players) to Buffalo in return of former 1st round pick Sean Couturier.

    Defensively, of last year's squad only stays Radko Gudas and Adam McQuaid, who resigned a contract with the team while Brandon Tanev, Matt Irwin, Mark Borowiecki and Patrick Wiercioch were either signed as UFAs, traded to or picked up off waivers by Florida.

    Roberto Luongo still has the nod most of the time to start in net, but he has had a plethora of backups. This includes UFA Darcy Kuemper, which was later picked off waivers by the Montreal Canadiens. Florida also resigned UFA Alex Stalock, but he too was picked off waivers by the Philadelphia Flyers in what can only be called FLORIDA'S GOALIEGATE. GM Royer, in anger, signed UFA Jeff Zatkoff and Antti Niemi to one year contracts, but Niemi refused the two-way deal. The GM then offered him a one-way contract and sent then NHL backup Al Montoya to the minors... but not before sending a picture of himself with a loaded shotgun to every other managers, reminding them that picking up Montoya was a bad idea. Niemi was later traded in the Johansson-Couturier deal for backup goaltender Michael Hutchinson. "Hutch" played great in his first appearances, allowing only one goal coming to Luongo's aid in the 5-1 loss vs. the Rangers and won the next start vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs, allowing only one goal and stopping all shootout attempts.

    This year for Florida, one player really stands out, and it's the captain Jonathan Huberdeau. 11-5-16 in 17 games is impressive to say the least; he leads the entire league with his +/- rating of +15. Brandon Dubinsky, Tanner Pearson and Marcus Foligno also show good stats with respectively 15, 14 and 13 points in 21 games for Florida. Forwards in a bit of a slump are Jason Pominville, Ales Hemsky and Antoine Roussel. Pominville only has 3 goals and 3 assists in 21 games but still sees time on the top lines so he should bounce back. Hemsky is 34 years of age and it shows, even though he has an acceptable 2 goals and 5 assists in 17 games. Antoine Roussel has dealt with injuries recently and has 1 goal and -3 rating in 15 games.

    The defensive squad shows good chemistry as the regular squad has a +30 rating, with its top pair comprised of Letang and Tanev totaling 7 goals and 16 assists for 23 points and +16. The only downside to this defense is the lack of a top tier left-handed defenseman, with only Irwin, Borowiecki and Wiercioch playing this position. Matt Tennyson has seen a short stint of action with the team prior to the acquisition of Borowiecki due to Adam McQuaid's prolongated injury but showed lack of skill and vision, recording only 2 assists in 14 games and with a -6 rating. Needless to say he will stay in the AHL for quite some time.

    The netminders show good but not incredible stats, with Luongo leading the pack with a 0.907 save percentage and a 2.20 GAA. He has 12 wins and 7 losses and 2 shutouts. Hutchinson has a save percentage of 0.938 and a 0.82 GAA but only played 73 minutes. Antti Niemi left its pairs with a 0.902 save percentage and a 2.71 GAA in 3 games, recording 2 wins to 1 loss.

    FLORIDA PANTHERS HEADED TO CALIFORNIA FOR THEIR CROSS-CONFERENCE GAMES
    The Panthers will face the Los Angeles Kings and then the Anaheim Ducks. LA has a very nice season so far with a 14-4-2 dossier in 20 games, second in the Pacific division under the league leading Coyotes. Anze Kopitar, Tyler Toffoli, Jeff Carter and Frans Nielsen all show a great start so far, totaling 68 points between the four. Jonathan Quick is still the superstar goalie he is known to be, scoring 10 wins (2 shutouts) and 4 losses, a 0.933 save percentage and a 1.81 GAA.

    Anaheim's early season is not as bright as they are only 9-9-1 in 19 games, good for the third spot in the Pacific division with 19 points resulting in the 13th place in the Western conference; only the Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks have worst stats. Rickard Rakell leads the team with 12 points (5 goals and 7 assists) as Nick Foligno, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg all have 10 points. John Gibson and Reto Berra have been average between the pipes, both with GAAs over 2.40 and save percentages under 0.900%.

    Stay tuned for more news as the season progresses

    John Smith
    Florida Sun
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2017
    Roi likes this.


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