Through the first three games of their playoff series against New Jersey, the Florida Panthers’ power play enjoyed great success scoring against the league’s top-rated penalty kill.
Then Jason Garrison got hurt, and everything went south.
Okay, so that might be too simplistic an explanation — the Devils deserve some credit for going a perfect 6-for-6 on the PK — but the loss of Garrison was crucial. Just ask Panthers forward Stephen Weiss.
“We not only missed Jason on the power-play … we missed him, period,” he told NHL.com. “Not just on the power-play, but five-on-five and on the penalty kill, as well. He’s a big part of our team.”
Prior to Game 4, the Panthers PP was clicking an at absurd 60 percent clip thanks in large to Garrison, nicknamed “Boom Boom” because of his gigantic point shot. He finished second among all defensemen in power play goals (nine) this year — only Nashville’s Shea Weber had more — and was a big reason why Florida finished the regular season with the NHL’s seventh-best PP.
Losing Garrison also exposed Florida’s lack of depth on the blueline. Keaton Ellerby replaced him in the lineup, playing his first game since Mar. 15, and took a high-sticking penalty that led to New Jersey’s opening — and eventually game-winning — goal.
Ellerby then left the game midway through the second period after taking a hit from Devils forward Stephen Gionta, appearing to hurt his left leg on the play. The Panthers finished with just five defensemen with Brian Campbell playing over 27 minutes.
Ken Appleby never got drafted, but his efforts during the New Jersey Devils’ training camp have earned him an entry-level contract, per the Bergen Record.
Although no team saw it fit to take him before the preseason, the 20-year-old is coming off of a very strong season. He had a 2.08 GAA and .924 save percentage in 50 games with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. He went on to lead them to a Memorial Cup championship and earned the the Hap Emms Memorial Trophy as the tournament’s top goalie.
Appleby is the fifth goaltender the Devils have under contract after Cory Schneider, Keith Kinkaid, Scott Wedgewood, and Yann Danis. He’ll likely begin the season in the ECHL.
Alexandre Goulet and Jacob Sweeney also participated in the Devils’ training camp on an amateur tryout basis, but both of them have been released.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Some of the NHL’s top players discuss Connor McDavid‘s potential and the hype surrounding him. (Toronto Sun)
While we’re on the subject, Wayne Gretzky recalls what it was like for him going into the NHL and what’s in store for McDavid. (Edmonton Sun)
Sam Gagner is about to start a key season in his career. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
It’s time for the Washington Capitals to make some tough calls, particularly when it comes to Derek Roy. (CSN Mid-Atlantic)
With Raffi Torres hearing scheduled for today, here’s a look back at his suspension history. (San Jose Mercury News)
The Chicago Blackhawks have gotten their championship rings. (NHL.com)