• Michael Leighton was traded to the Penguins earlier this week, but he’ll spend most of his team with their farm team in Wiles-Barre/Scranton. That’s not a problem for him because he seems pretty comfortable there already. (citizensvoice.com)
• The Bruins are starting to look like one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. (WEEI.com)
• Canadiens forward Daniel Carr is skating on his team’s fourth line, but he isn’t playing like it. (Montreal Gazette)
The Anaheim Ducks would probably qualify as unlucky so far in 2017-18 even beyond an extremely unfortunate bounce of a puck fracturing Ryan Getzlaf‘s cheekbone.
That loss was especially severe with Ryan Kesler already recovering, as Getzlaf missed 19 games, last appearing in a contest on that painful night of Oct. 29. The Ducks get quite the treat, then, as both Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg are slated to return as they host the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Ducks are still without Kesler, and Patrick Eaves is fighting a serious physical battle that puts hockey on the backburner, so there’s still some mystery to how the Ducks might look if they can get anywhere near full-strength this season.
As is, they look a whole lot better going into Monday’s game, something the Florida Panthers could relate to.
While Anaheim’s dealt with bad luck, you could chalk up Florida’s troubles to a mix of unforced errors (jettisoning depth, particularly to Vegas) and tough breaks of their own (Roberto Luongo‘s injury issues). Either way, management will look infinitely smarter when Aleksander Barkov is in the lineup than when he’s not, so the Panthers must be happy to welcome him back tonight.
That would be quite the top-heavy approach for Florida, even if Malgin can mesh well with Vincent Trocheck.
While the Panthers have floundered at times, the Ducks seemed like they were finally starting to crater under the pressure of all those injury losses, as Anaheim only boasts two wins (2-4-4) in its last 10 games.
It’s true that the return of Barkov and Getzlaf would be important in just about any context for their teams, but each team likely feels especially relieved on Monday, as they can use all the help they can get.
In a span of 6:46, Faksa scored all three of the Stars’ goals in a 3-0 win, slowing down the Vegas Golden Knights for at least one night. (That face he’s making in the post’s main image is actually a reaction to all of the gambling/”Facts of Life” puns that thankfully didn’t make it into headlines.)
This is the first hat trick of Faksa’s career. He now has eight goals this season, putting him in a position to crush last season’s career-high of 12 goals.
Troll of the Night: Glen Gulutzan
There’s believing in your team and then there’s challenging an empty-netter with less than a second remaining.
Someone should break down the environmental impact of the NHL actually having to go through the motions of doing a blog post and everything else they would normally do on this tally.
The Rangers admirably fought back from a three-goal deficit to tie things up against the Panthers, with Chris Kreider (two goals, one assist) and Pavel Buchnevich (1G, 2A) leading the way. For those who question Kreider’s efforts, consider this goal:
Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon is thankful that his vision guides the franchise once again, but the results for his renovation have often been pretty unappealing so far in 2017-18.
That said, the Panthers’ top line of Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, and Evgenii Dadonov has been electric, with Dadonov’s return to the NHL being a smash success. Even with some slow production for Dadonov in his past few games, he’s been outstanding by metrics both fancy and simple, including generating 18 points in 22 games. Dadonov’s addition/return sure seems to be the no-brainer highlight of an otherwise polarizing (if not just flat-out poor) summer.
Unfortunately, a shoulder injury really spoils the fun for “Dad,” however, as he’s expected to miss four-to-six weeks. That news comes from a variety of reports, including Panthers play-by-play announcer Steve Goldstein.
#FlaPanthers Evgenii Dadanov out 4-6 weeks after taking hit Saturday night. Big loss on the wing for the Cats.
Early on, it looks like the dynamic duo of Barkov and Huberdeau will see Denis Malgin as their new winger. Malgin, 20, was recently recalled from the AHL; he scored 10 points in 47 games last season and was unable to generate a goal or an assist in five regular-season contests in 2017-18, though he was receiving less than 10 minutes of ice time per night.
Dadonov, Barkov, and Huberdeau were essentially attached at the hip at even-strength so far this season, so if there’s a drop-off with Malgin/assorted other forwards, it will be that much easier to see how much of a difference Dadonov makes.
The Panthers are taking on the Devils in New Jersey tonight. Florida’s currently ranked second-to-last in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference with 18 points (8-12-2). On paper, losing Dadonov will only exacerbate this team’s issues, and it must sting to see Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith stand as such strong contributors for the Vegas Golden Knights.
(Marchessault was named the NHL’s first star of the week. Ouch.)
The Florida Panthers are looking toward a bit of a youth movement this season after saying goodbye to veterans Jaromir Jagr and Jussi Jokinen this offseason. They have no shortage of options heading into the 2017-18 season, and one player that figures to get an expanded look is second-year forward Denis Malgin.
A fourth-round pick by the Panthers in 2015, Malgin was able to get a limited look with the team a year ago and was up-and-down a bit in 15 games, scoring three goals to go with nine assists.
Coming back for year two with a better understanding of what is going on around him — thanks to a better grasp of the language, as he explained to Alain Poupart of NHL.com recently — he should get a more consistent look in the Panthers’ bottom-six.
An early run of injuries forced him into the lineup probably earlier than the Panthers would have liked, but he showed flashes of skill that make him an intriguing prospect heading into this season.
“He’s a highly skilled individual,” Panthers director of player personnel Bryan McCabe said of Malgin. “He maybe played a little faster than we would have liked, but that was out of necessity, not necessarily because we wanted him here. We had a ton of injuries and he’s a really skilled player, so he was kind of thrust in the limelight.
“He maybe needed some more seasoning … that’s why [he attended development] camp. We’re trying to build him back up a little. He had an up-and-down year; we want to make sure his confidence is high when he comes into camp this year.”
Including Malgin the Panthers already have at least six players under the age of 24 on the roster for this upcoming season, while prospects like Owen Tippett and Jayce Hawryluk figure to have a chance to make the team and make an impact. The Panthers have a really strong young core built around Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck, and Aaron Ekblad, but injuries and some regression across the board this past season resulted in a bitterly disappointing 2016-17 season. They are looking to rebound this season.