The BankAtlantic Center will host a rather strange reunion tonight as the Panthers take on the Winnipeg Jets.
Florida assistant Craig Ramsay — who coached the Thrashers in their final season of existence — will face his former organization for the first time since being relieved of his duties.
“In all honesty, now, since I’ve bounced around from one team to another, I have a whole bunch of those teams where you have special meaning for the game and you have to try to set that aside,” Ramsay told NHL.com. “I’d like to say there’s no extra emotion, but there is… There is emotion there, but I really try not to let it affect the way I do my job and what I have to accomplish.”
Relieving Ramsay of his duties was a low point in Winnipeg’s otherwise blissful summer — lost amidst the good vibes and excitement was the fact that Ramsay had been blindsided by the move. In his lone year with Atlanta, he’d taken the team to its four-highest ever point total and had the Thrashers atop the Southeast Division halfway through the year. “I have to admit it was quite a bit of a shock when it started to transpire when I first heard that maybe we were going to be the team to go to Winnipeg,” he said. “My wife and daughter got on the Internet to check out rentals, assuming we’d be part of the package, and we’d be heading north.”
Instead, the Jets cleaned house and replaced both Ramsay and Thrashers GM Rick Dudley with Claude Noel and Kevin Cheveldayoff. By all accounts, it wasn’t the cleanest of executions — the South Florida Sun-Sentinel said Winnipeg left Ramsay “dangling for several weeks” before informing him he wouldn’t be retained.
Things have worked out for Ramsay to a certain degree. While he’s now an assistant rather than a head coach (serving under Kevin Dineen with the Panthers), Florida’s gotten off to a far better start than the Jets have under Ramsay’s replacement, Claude Noel. The Panthers are 6-4-0 heading into tonight’s action, just two points back of Southeast Division leaders Washington.
And perhaps of equal importance, five points up on last-place Winnipeg.
There was more than one controversial moment during Saturday’s game between the L.A. Kings and Ottawa Senators.
Sens defenseman Mark Borowiecki was given a major penalty for slamming Tyler Toffoli from behind into the boards, causing the Kings forward to undergo the league’s concussion protocol before he eventually returned to the game.
Later in the evening, there was a report from Darren Dreger of TSN that the Senators are protesting the Kings’ third goal of the game, which came with two seconds left in the second period. It was a pivotal moment in the game, as L.A. took a two-goal lead into the third period, before eventually winning 4-1.
Senators coach Guy Boucher didn’t place blame on a clock issue, but instead he put the onus on his team to not get scored on in that situation late in the period.
From LA Kings Insider:
“I’ll be honest with you, at that point for us we’ve just got to shut it down. We keep it at 1, it wasn’t about getting a goal there it was about getting off the ice. We had done the job in the second period, we had looked very good, we had the momentum, we needed to get into the third period with a one-goal lead. We’ve done it so many times this year coming back so I was confident we could come back, so no. I’m not looking at clocks, I’m not looking at penalties, I’m looking at ourselves just doing better.
The Kings now begin a stretch of nine games away from home. They play seven of those games before the holiday break, before resuming the trip on Dec. 28 versus the Canucks. The trip ends the following night in Edmonton.
Emotions were running high at times during the first period between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, in a rematch of the 2016 Eastern Conference Final.
Unlikely combatants Nikita Kucherov and Trevor Daley dropped the gloves for a spirited scrap early in the first period, after the two got tangled up in front of the Pittsburgh goal.
Welcome back, Gabriel Landeskog!
Congratulations on game No. 1,500, Jarome Iginla!
Those are sentiments you probably won’t be hearing from the Colorado Avalanche later on Saturday evening. Yes, they did get their captain back in the lineup from injury. Yes, Iginla was playing in the milestone 1,500th game of his NHL career — certainly an impressive feat in a day when the game is getting younger and getting quicker.
But then, the puck dropped and it all went down the drain for the Avalanche in the opening period. Actually, the opening 10 minutes. Facing the Montreal Canadiens, the Avs found themselves down 5-0 by the 8:41 mark. Of the first period.
Brian Flynn started the onslaught. Paul Byron got the Habs’ fifth goal.
Shots were at one point 13-2 for Montreal. Perhaps most concerning? This disastrous showing follows Matt Duchene calling out his team for a recent loss and, previous to that, coach Jared Bednar ripping the team for a lack of intensity.
Calvin Pickard got the start in net for Colorado, but he was pulled after giving up three goals on 10 shots. Semyon Varlamov entered the game and quickly allowed two goals on the first three shots he faced.
Hey, remember in November when the Habs lost 10-0 to the Columbus Blue Jackets? Well, Montreal was halfway to double digits on Saturday, and the first period wasn’t even at the halfway mark.
As of the completion of this post, Montreal was up 6-0. With 5:30 remaining in the first period.
Tyler Toffoli reportedly went through the concussion protocol for a portion of Saturday’s game against the Senators, after Ottawa defenseman Mark Borowiecki slammed the L.A. Kings forward from behind into the boards.
The incident occurred less than three minutes into the game.
Borowiecki was given a major penalty for boarding. He received another major, this time for fighting, later in the period after him and Matt Greene dropped the gloves. Now the question becomes: Will Borowiecki face supplemental discipline?
Toffoli missed the remainder of the first period, but returned for the second.
The Kings went on to win by a final score of 4-1.