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.
Alumni rosters announced for Bruins-Habs at Gillette Stadium
The Winter Classic Alumni Game is back this year, scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Gillette Stadium between former members of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.
Today, the NHL announced the rosters and coaching staffs.
Famous ex-Habs that will take to the outdoor ice include Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, and Mats Naslund. Behind the bench will be Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Demers and Guy Lafleur, among others.
The home side will counter with Bruins legends Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, and “Nifty” Rick Middleton, while Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, and Derek Sanderson will be among the coaches. (Quite a trio of personalities right there.)
The hope was that the Columbus Blue Jackets would be jolted into a great, long winning streak, and their season would be saved.
The reality of John Tortorella’s first month behind the bench has been, well, reality. The Jackets are 8-7-0 since Todd Richards was fired. Better than 0-7-0, sure, but at 8-14-0 overall, they remain last in the Eastern Conference.
Fifteen games in, Tortorella is still trying to get his message across.
“A big reason why we bring them in (to practice yesterday and today) is because we don’t have a full understanding of the standard we need to be at in all areas of the game,” he told The Columbus Dispatch. “Some things you can’t control in our game, but it’s how hard you play, how hard you are with your bite as a team, and the pace you play with – you can control that.”
The Jackets play Wednesday in New Jersey, where they’ll look to shake off Sunday’s disappointing home loss to San Jose. Columbus held a 3-1 third-period lead in that one. The Sharks scored four straight to win 5-3.
The San Jose Sharks have signed forward Dainius Zubrus to a one-year, two way contract, the club announced today.
Zubrus was given a tryout with the Sharks last week.
The 37-year-old played 74 games with the Devils last season, scoring just four goals with six assists. His contract was then bought out.
According to a Mercury News source, the decision to sign Zubrus lay “mainly” with his former coach in New Jersey, now San Jose’s bench boss, Pete DeBoer.
“He looks good,” DeBoer said of Zubrus last week, per CSN Bay Area. “He looks close. It’s tough to find six-foot-four, 215-pound guys who can play. … He’s an easy guy to play because he’s defensively reliable. He plays a big possession, heavy game. There’s a lot to like there.”
In a related move, the Sharks have reassigned forward Nikolay Goldobin to the AHL.