Florida Panthers

Goalie nods: Panthers return ‘our MVP’ Luongo for key tilt versus Wings

9 Comments

All the latest from the blue paint…

Luongo back for Florida

Roberto Luongo will play for the first time since Mar. 3 when the Panthers host the Red Wings in Sunrise this evening.

Luongo, who’s missed the past six games with a shoulder injury, draws back in looking to keep Florida’s playoff hopes alive. The Panthers went an impressive 3-2-1 during his absence with journeyman Dan Ellis in goal, but know their chances of making the postseason are increased greatly with Bobby Loo in net.

“[Luongo] has been our MVP all year long,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said, per NHL.com. “He’s been a great player for us and a great leader and a great character. He’s going to come in tonight and try to do his best.

“He’ll work hard and compete hard and I’m sure the guys will be excited to see him.”

Florida heads into tonight’s action seven points back of Boston (the Bruins take on the Sens in Ottawa tonight), but still has three head-to-head matchups remaining against the B’s.

For Detroit, Petr Mrazek gets the call in net tonight.

Elsewhere…

Sharks at Leafs: Antti Niemi vs. Jonathan Bernier

Canes at Habs: Anton Khudobin vs. Carey Price

Bruins at Senators: Tuukka Rask (probable) vs. Andrew Hammond

Blues at Jets: Brian Elliott vs. Ondrej Pavelec

Caps at Wild: Braden Holtby vs. Devan Dubnyk

Pens at Stars: Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Kari Lehtonen (probable)

Flyers at Flames: Steve Mason vs. Karri Ramo

Jackets at Canucks: (No Columbus starter yet) vs. Eddie Lack

Avs at Coyotes: Semyon Varlamov vs. Louis Domingue

Brandon Pirri’s ‘shoot everything’ strategy is working pretty well

3 Comments

From frustrated healthy scratch to one of the NHL’s hottest scorers, it’s been quite the season for Panthers forward Brandon Pirri.

Tuesday against Montreal, Pirri scored his 13th goal in his last 18 games, and the seventh goal in the nine games he’s played since returning from a shoulder injury. 

Oh, and in case you assumed he’s just on one of those unsustainable hot streaks where every shot goes in, think again. The 23-year-old finished the Montreal game with 10 shots, and he has a whopping 41 shots in his last nine games combined. That’s almost five shots per game. 

“The coaches have put me in a position to produce,” Pirri said, per NHL.com. “I’ve got to prove them right by doing that, and also if I’m not producing I’m not going to be doing my part for the team to make the playoffs. It’s just a matter that my teammates are setting me up well lately, and for me it’s just trying to shoot everything.”

Pirri, a former Blackhawks prospect who was traded to the Panthers a year ago, was one of the AHL’s top scorers when he was in the Chicago organization. But with all the offensive talent already on the ‘Hawks, he never could crack the roster on a regular basis. In Florida, he’s been given that chance.

“He’s around the puck and he’s a goal-scorer,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. “You can’t teach that stuff. That’s the way he’s played his whole career. When he gets opportunities, he makes the most of them. The goal the other night (against the New York Rangers) was just a quick shot, quick release. That’s what it’s all about: Put pucks at the net, and he likes to shoot the puck.”

Report: More AHL affiliation changes coming

4 Comments

It appears there are more changes coming for the 2015-16 American Hockey League season.

The Florida Panthers, who are currently affiliated with the San Antonio Rampage, are expected to partner with the Portland Pirates next season. The Pirates are currently affiliated with the Arizona Coyotes.

According to Texas Stars beat reporter Sean Shapiro, San Antonio could be the new affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes beginning next season. The Rampage and Coyotes were affiliated from 2005 to 2011.

Fox Sports reported last month that the Coyotes would ultimately like to have their affiliate in Arizona, but that would require the team to purchase a franchise and relocate it.

The Portland Press Herald reports the Washington Capitals and Hershey Bears are currently in negotiations and are expected to announce a new affiliation agreement as early as this week.

The Coyotes and Panthers’ affiliation swap is just the latest in what has been a busy few months for the American Hockey League.

Last week the Montreal Canadiens announced they would relocate from Hamilton to St. John’s next season with the Winnipeg Jets moving its AHL affiliate to Winnipeg.

In January the AHL announced a new Pacific Division for the 2015-16 season, which will feature five teams playing in California.

The Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, L.A. Kings and San Jose Sharks will all have their top development club playing in the new division.

Habs’ Mitchell (arm) expected to miss two weeks

Montreal Canadiens’ forward Torrey Mitchell is expected to miss two weeks with a right arm injury according to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.

Mitchell suffered the injury during the first period of Saturday night’s 3-1 win over the New York Islanders.

The 30-year-old will miss his second game tonight when the Canadiens visit the Florida Panthers.

Since his trade from the Buffalo Sabres, Mitchell has a minus-2 rating and two penalty minutes while averaging 9:23 in ice time in six games.

Goalie nods: With Halak hurt, Neuvirth looks to snap Isles’ skid

5 Comments

All the latest from the blue paint…

Neuvirth faces ‘Hawks

The New York Islanders are looking to avoid their longest losing streak of the season tonight, but will have to do it without the services of their No. 1 netminder.

Jaroslav Halak will miss this evening’s tilt in Chicago with a lower-body injury, meaning Michal Neuvirth will try to keep the Isles’ skid from extending to four games.

Neuvirth, acquired at the trade deadline from Buffalo in exchange for Chad Johnson, has started three games for the Isles, going 1-1-1 with a .889 save percentage and 2.57 GAA. In his last outing, a 3-1 loss to Montreal on Saturday, Neuvirth allowed just two goals on 29 shots and finished with a .931 save percentage, his best outing as an Islander to date.

For the ‘Blackhawks, Corey Crawford will get the start in goal.

Elsewhere…

Pens at Devils: Thomas Greiss (probable) vs. Cory Schneider

Sens at ‘Canes: Andrew Hammond vs. Anton Khudobin

Sabres at Bruins: (No Buffalo starter yet) vs. Niklas Svedberg

Habs at Panthers: Dustin Tokarski (probable) vs. Dan Ellis

Wild at Preds: Devan Dubnyk vs. Pekka Rinne (probable)

Sharks at Jets: Antti Niemi vs. Ondrej Pavelec

Blues at Flames: Brian Elliott vs. Jonas Hiller

Flyers at Canucks: No starters yet for either team.