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 Arizona Coyotes have parted ways with some personnel.
Assistant coach Newell Brown has been fired, along with Doug Soetaert, who was the general manager of their AHL affiliate in Tuscon.
Pro scouts David MacLean and Jim Roque won’t be back either. Their contracts will not be renewed.
“I’d like to thank Newell, Doug, David and Jim for their contributions to the club,” said GM John Chayka. “They are all good people but we believe these changes are necessary in order to improve our organization. We wish them the best in the future.”
A longtime NHL assistant coach, Brown is perhaps the most prominent of the four men. He joined the Coyotes in the summer of 2013 and received high praise for his work with their power play.
But Arizona’s power play slipped to 26th this past season, converting at a rate of just 16.2 percent.
As for Soetaert, he was only named GM of the Roadrunners last summer. The former NHL goalie had previously been a scout.
The Ottawa Senators say they’re still expecting a full house, but Ticketmaster’s website shows plenty of available seats for tonight’s second-round opener with the New York Rangers.
From the Ottawa Citizen:
Many of the available tickets for Thursday’s game were in the corners of the upper bowl, seats that carry a $96 price tag.
The Senators sold out all three games in the opening round of the playoffs against Boston. Game 1 drew a crowd of 18,702, while 18,629 showed up for Game 2 and 19,209 were in the seats for Game 5.
Attendance has been an issue in Ottawa — or, more specifically, suburban Kanata — all season, to the point owner Eugene Melnyk expressed great frustration with the lack of sellouts at Canadian Tire Centre.
Poor attendance also led to friction behind the scenes. At least, it sure sounded that way in the lawsuit that was filed against the team by its former chief marketing officer.
Poor attendance is why the Sens are trying to get a new downtown arena built. They believe that a more central location is the key to bigger crowds.
But regardless of the arena’s location, it won’t be a good look if there are empty seats tonight. This is the playoffs, and the Senators are one of eight remaining teams in the hunt for the Stanley Cup. The building should be full.
Related: Melnyk thinks Sens can make deep playoff run
There’s no way any lede I write will do this Review-Journal anecdote justice, so yeah, just read it:
[Vegas GM George] McPhee still has his superstitions like any former athlete. But don’t expect him to be rubbing a rabbit’s foot or holding a bunch of 4-leaf clovers in his pocket.
And he decided to leave Stanley the Rooster home rather than try and explain to Canadian Customs officials why the gift given to the team by the Mandarin Oriental back in February during Chinese New Year should be allowed into the country as a good luck prop.
The draft lottery goes Saturday in Toronto, at 7:30 p.m. ET. Vegas won’t drop any lower than sixth and has a 10.3 percent shot at the No. 1 overall pick, behind Colorado (18 percent) and Vancouver (12.1 percent). Arizona also has a 10.3 percent chance at getting top spot.
It’s been nearly six weeks since Carl Hagelin last suited up for the Penguins.
His return sounds like it’s on the horizon.
Hagelin, out since Mar. 10 with a lower-body injury, was deemed “close” to coming back by Pens head coach Mike Sullivan, just ahead of tonight’s Game 1 against Washington.
“[Hagelin] is a day-to-day decision at this point,” Sullivan said. “He took limited contact this morning. The next step, obviously, will be the full contact approach.
“He is certainly making significant steps in the right direction here.”
The speedy Swede missed the final 16 games of the regular season with his ailment, and all five games in Pittsburgh’s opening-round win against the Blue Jackets. The end result was just six goals and 22 points in 61 games played, down from the impressive stretch he had last season after being acquired from Anaheim.
Pittsburgh is hopeful the 28-year-old can rejoin the team, and provide similar production as last year’s playoff run. Hagelin had six goals and 16 points in 24 games en route to hoisting the Stanley Cup.
Hagelin isn’t the only veteran forward that could make his return this season. Earlier this week, the Pens announced winger Chris Kunitz had been cleared for contact, and is available for the Washington series.