Boston Bruins Victory Parade

Thomas is a smart gamble for Panthers


If the Florida Panthers do as they’re expected and sign goalie Tim Thomas to a professional tryout, they’ll be adding a two-time Vezina Trophy recipient with a .921 career NHL save percentage who’s only a couple of years removed from leading the Boston Bruins to a Stanley Cup championship and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy.

The question, of course, is if he’s still that same goalie at 39 years old and after taking a year off. Which is why the Panthers were loathe to give him a guaranteed contract.

But for the sake of argument, let’s say he’s still a pretty good goalie. (If he’s not, he just won’t play.) If he’s still a pretty good goalie, Panthers fans should be extremely excited at this news — particularly after the goaltending they saw from their team last season.

In 2013, Florida ranked dead last in the NHL in save percentage, with Jacob Markstrom, Jose Theodore, and Scott Clemmensen combining for an .887 mark in that category. In contrast, the Ottawa Senators finished with a league-high .933 save percentage.

Goaltending matters. A lot. Proof: of the 10 teams with the highest save percentages in 2013, only Columbus and Edmonton missed the playoffs. And of the 10 teams with the lowest save percentages, only the Islanders made the playoffs.

Still not convinced? When the Panthers made the playoffs in 2011-12 (after missing them for 10 straight seasons), their team save percentage was .914, tied for ninth in the NHL.

Again, this isn’t to say Thomas is still the goalie he used to be. We’ll just have to wait and see about that. For the Panthers, though, it’s definitely worth a gamble to find out.

Crosby roars, Malkin scores in OT for Penguins win

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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.

Fight video: Claude Giroux vs. Nick Leddy

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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.

Carter Hutton gets flipped, stays in game

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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.

Habs win big against Rangers, may have lost big with Price hurt

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Tonight was supposed to be about a clash of two Eastern Conference titans who sport arguably the two best goalies in the NHL. That mattered to Montreal Canadiens fans for about half the game against the New York Rangers, give or take a few minutes.

Priorities are now shifting to calling upon higher powers/etc. in hopes that Carey Price is OK.

Mike Condon replaced Price in the third period and … well, people are concerned.

Again, people are pretty worried right now.

Price being replaced isn’t the greatest sign, yet it’s early, so stay tuned for updates. Maybe it will merely be a matter of playing it safe?

Update: The good news is that Montreal won by a significant 5-1 margin.

Yes, that probably isn’t much solace for Habs fans. Agreed.

It sounds like Price re-aggravated his previous injury.