In the mixed-feelings filled world of pro sports tanking, the Florida Panthers were the big “winners” on Thursday.
With a 4-0 loss to a Toronto Maple Leafs team that was on the wrong end of a back-to-back, it’s official that no other team can out-lose the Panthers for the best odds to win the 2013 draft lottery. As was discussed earlier, the Panthers have a 25 percent chance to land the No. 1 pick.
Want a look at how the NHL’s bottom 10 fared on Thursday? Of course you do:
Phoenix: 48 points (idle)
Philadelphia: 47 points (defeated NY Islanders 2-1)
Buffalo: 46 points (idle)
Calgary: 42 points (lost to St. Louis 4-2)
Carolina: 42 points (lost to the NY Rangers 4-3, but received an uncharitable point via getting to OT*)
Edmonton: 41 points (idle)
Tampa Bay: 40 points (lost to Boston 2-0)
Nashville: 41 points (lost to Detroit 5-2)
Colorado: 37 points (idle)
Florida: 34 points (lost to Toronto 4-0)
A few notes: The New Jersey Devils also had an opportunity to tank a slight bit, but they need to give up a first-rounder soon, so it makes sense that they soldiered on to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 on Thursday. The Flames were stubborn about it, but it looks like they’re embracing reality a little late in the game (sounds like the trade deadline). While the Panthers and Oilers (and maybe Avalanche) show that they’re true veterans of the tanking game, one has to “commend” the Predators for being quick learners with a 1-8-1 mark in their last 10.
One other fun fact: All of the teams currently in the bottom seven are on some kind of losing streak.
* – Might as well call it uncharitable in this context, right?
The Boston Bruins keep flipping the script.
In Wednesday’s case, it swerved to a “Cinderella” story, as little-known forward Frank Vatrano scored two of Boston’s three goals – including the overtime clincher – as the B’s beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 (OT).
Here’s his first goal of the night:
While this is his overtime game-winner:
It wasn’t a perfect night for the 21-year-old, yet it may have been a convincing one.
The Bruins continue to begin a month on a sour note before ending up with impressive sprees.
October: 0-3-0 start, finished month with four straight wins and victories in six of seven contests.
November: 0-3-0 start, losses in four of five; currently on a four-game winning strek with victories in five of six.
Boston faces a challenge in closing this month out against the Rangers on Friday, and it’s possible that this trend may continue, as they begin December with a three-game road trip through Western Canada.
More than anything else, the safest bet with the Bruins is for ups and downs.
Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.
Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:
… While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.
(You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)
Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.
You know, at least for a little while. Maybe.
Claude Giroux isn’t the nastiest, most physical captain the Philadelphia Flyers have employed. Even so, he can be feisty at times.
Wednesday showed that, as he clearly wasn’t happy with an earlier Nick Leddy hit, and eventually got the New York Islanders defenseman to drop his gloves.
You can see the fight and the check that inspired that scrap in the video above.
It’s the fourth fight Giroux has been a part of, with his most recent adversary being may his most bitter rival.
Not a heavyweight bout between Giroux and Leddy, mind you, but sometimes it’s amusing to soak in such a rare sight.
Update: The fight may have inspired the Islanders more than the Flyers, as they bested Philly 3-1 on Wednesday.
Carter Hutton is getting something that might make fellow Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne jealous: goal support.
Still, there was at least one moment where Rinne was likely happy to be on the bench, as Hutton was left flipping during this collision with Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno:
Remarkably, Hutton remained in the game.
If you’re the type who loves adding to your “hockey players are tough” files, put this under the goalies section.
Check out this incredible shot of that moment:
Update: The Predators held off the Buffalo Sabres to win 3-2.