Florida Panthers vs Vancouver Canucks

Reports: Panthers, Blackhawks lead latest Roberto Luongo trade rumors

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The Vancouver Canucks didn’t trade Roberto Luongo during the draft weekend, but reports indicate that there was at least some discussion. From two separate reports, it appears that the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers were among the most interested parties.

(Admit it, you have “Chelsea Dagger” in your head now, too.)

Let’s start with the bizarre spectacle that would be Luongo suiting up for a city that tormented him as much as any has* in the last few years. Aaron Portzline provided this fascinating (if murky) Tweet about Luongo being traded to Chicago:

“Don’t know where this stands now, but over #NHLdraft weekend I heard G Roberto Luongo to Chicago, if the #Blackhawks could make $$$ work.”

CapGeek’s chart reveals that Chicago would have $8.23 million in cap space if the ceiling is $70.3 million next season. They also have two goalies under contract – Corey Crawford ($2.67 million cap hit) and Ray Emery ($1.15 million) – who could theoretically be part of such a move. Luongo’s $5.33 million cap hit could be pretty manageable since the Blackhawks don’t have significant players to re-sign, but obviously they might want to target a free agent or two and they’d certainly need to make sure such a lengthy commitment would be worth it.

Panthers reunion?

The other major bit of rumbling revolves around a potential reunion between the Florida Panthers and Luongo. As you may recall, Luongo toiled in Florida for years before being traded to Vancouver. He still has family out there, so it makes sense that Harvey Fialkov and others are reporting that there’s some interest from both sides.

Panthers GM Tallon has kicked the tires with Canucks about Luongo but reports of deal are, “pure speculation.”

A deal would make sense – at least in the short-term. Jose Theodore only has a year left on his deal while Scott Clemmensen is a free agent, so there would be an immediate opening for Luongo. (Theodore isn’t that far removed from backup duty, either.)

On the other hand, Jacob Markstrom waits in the wings as perhaps the best goalie not currently in the NHL. If the Panthers nabbed Luongo, it’s not crazy to imagine Markstrom becoming “the next” Cory Schneider down the line.

***

Still, both situations make enough sense that they could happen. So far, though, it seems like they only “almost” happened.

* Aside from his own fans in Vancouver, perhaps.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.

Islanders believe Boyle should be suspended for hit before OT goal

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Thomas Hickey is involved in a controversial hit, yet the greater debate may revolve around the one he received rather than the one he delivered.

In the second period, the New York Islanders defenseman connected for a thunderous hit on Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin, which sidelined Drouin for a chunk of Game 3.

Many believe that hit was legal:

The Islanders are upset about the Brian Boyle hit on Hickey in overtime, which came moments before Boyle scored the game-winning goal. You can see the full sequence here, with the hit happening around the 50-second mark:

Islanders head coach Jack Capuano believes that it was a suspension-worthy hit.

You’re not going to believe this, but the Lightning disagree.

Boyle clearly didn’t receive a penalty on that sequence, yet one would imagine that the league will at least take a look at that hit.

Lightning take dramatic OT win vs. Islanders, go up 2-1 in series

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Brian Boyle was part of the fight before Game 3 even started … and then he ended it in overtime.

In a Tampa Bay Lightning win in which they just kept rolling with the New York Islanders’ punches, it only seems fitting that Boyle battled to land a big hit and then score the clinching goal for a 5-4 overtime victory.

This gives the Lightning a 2-1 series lead heading into Game 4.

Also fitting? Boyle landed a big hit on Thomas Hickey, the guy who sidelined Jonathan Drouin for a chunk of this contest.

That sequence prompted a brief goal review, but it ultimately stood:

(Was that Boyle hit on Hickey dirty, by the way?)

Drama was in the air from the beginning, yet Drouin really stole the show when he came back from what some believe was a concussion to assist on Nikita Kucherov‘s last-minute goal, which sent the game to overtime.

In some ways, this win feels like a microcosm of the Lightning’s season. They keep getting hit in the mouth with injuries and near-injuries, yet they just won’t stay down.

The Islanders saw three leads disappear in this contest, but one would think that they won’t roll over, either.