Roberto Luongo

Senators, Panthers gain on Bruins in tense Wild Card race


The Boston Bruins can’t afford to have many more nights like this. They certainly held their own against the Ottawa Senators and had more success opposing goaltender Andrew Hammond than any of his previous adversaries, but the Bruins still suffered a 6-4 loss tonight. While that was happening Boston’s only other serious rival in the battle for the second Wild Card seed, the Florida Panthers, earned a 3-1 victory against Detroit.

The Bruins still hold their Wild Card spot, but the Senators are now just two points behind despite having played in one less game. Florida is five points shy of the Bruins.

An obvious case can be made that Ottawa is the bigger threat to the Bruins at this point. Not only are the Senators closer in the standings, but they’ve been unreal lately with a 13-1-1 record beginning with Hammond’s first start of the 2014-15 campaign. The Senators have a great opportunity to continue that hot streak on Saturday against the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs, which they will play an additional two times after that contest.

By contrast, Florida has been largely treading water lately, but the Panthers got starting goaltender Roberto Luongo back tonight from a shoulder injury. He turned aside 25 of 26 shots in his return. Luongo’s return should help the Panthers cause, but more importantly, Florida has a golden opportunity to do direct damage to Boston as its scheduled to play against the Bruins three times in its final 11 games. The first of those meetings will occur on Saturday.

Meanwhile the Bruins have now lost three straight games in what has proven to be a roller-coaster season. They’ve come back from some serious cold streaks already in 2014-15, but they likely can’t afford to endure another with the Wild Card race this tight.

Lack: ‘So much is different this year, it’s hard to compare’


Eddie Lack isn’t worried about a repeat of last year, when the Vancouver Canucks goalie was forced to start 19 straight games down the stretch — in a span of 41 days, no less — after Roberto Luongo was traded to Florida in early March.

This time around, with starter Ryan Miller reportedly out until at least the playoffs, Lack doesn’t believe his game will suffer with the increased workload, as it did last year.

“My body and mentally, I am feeling way better, but I am getting a lot more rest in between starts too,” Lack said ahead of his 13th straight appearance tonight versus Columbus, per

“So much is different this year, it’s hard to compare. I’m feeling good.”

Lack credits a new offseason workout regiment for making him stronger and more durable.

From a travel perspective, the schedule has been less arduous, too. Last year, from March 4-27, the Canucks had eight away games. This year, they’ll only have four during that same frame, with none of them outside their time zone.

To be sure, Lack is unlikely to start the remainder of the schedule. Jacob Markstrom may get the nod this weekend, either Saturday in Los Angeles or Sunday in Arizona. The Canucks also have a tough four-games-in-six-nights trip through St. Louis, Nashville, Chicago, and Winnipeg starting March 30.

Obviously, coach Willie Desjardins will want to keep Lack fresh as possible. Because there’s another thing that’s unlike last year at this time — the Canucks are in a playoff spot.

Related: After ‘nightmare’ start for Markstrom, Canucks face goaltending conundrum

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


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 “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.


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

GM meetings kick off with goalie interference, diving talk


The latest round of GM meetings kicked off on Monday, and while spicier topics such as 3-on-3 overtime will wait for a day or two, reports that goalie interference and embellishment topics were at the forefront.

Specifically, general managers are trying to determine if goal reviews should expand to determine if goalie interference took place (right now that’s up to on-ice officials).

“These things seem anal until you get into Game 6 and 7 in the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs; they’re not anal anymore, they’re important,” NHL exec Colin Campbell said. “It’s relevant that we take care of these things that might sound minor right now, but they’re major elements come the playoffs.”

As far as diving and embellishment goes, the league may provide a list of offenders, as has been done in the past (adding to the current movement to hand out fine for infractions).

Considering the chaos that fell at the Florida Panthers’ feet when Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya were injured during the same game, emergency goalie standards were also discussed, according to

Check out video from the meetings below.

Could Dan Ellis be the next out-of-nowhere sensation?


If there’s a building goaltending narrative in 2014-15, it’s been about netminders unexpectedly redeeming themselves or almost appearing out of the blue.

Devan Dubnyk went from a wayward soul last season to a possible Vezina nominee for the Minnesota Wild. The New York Rangers somehow didn’t miss a beat when Cam Talbot took over for Henrik Lundqvist. The question in Ottawa went from “Who is Andrew Hammond?” to “How do we beat him?”

It’s pretty early to add the man who was the Florida Panthers’ third goalie to the mix, but Dan Ellis certainly made a case that he should be in the argument with another strong performance Saturday.

Ellis stopped all 27 Carolina Hurricanes shots to grab a 2-0 win for Florida. He’s now currently on a three-game winning streak (and is 3-0-1 since taking over) after spending most of his year in the AHL.

Ellis, 34, comes into this situation in a fittingly weird way, as Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya were injured in the same odd game.

He doesn’t fit into the story of many others who were virtually unproven – Ellis now has 208 regular season games under his belt – yet the league soured enough on him that he wasn’t offered one of 60 NHL goaltending jobs to start 2014-15.

The Panthers still face a very, very long shot to get into the postseason, especially as Tuukka Rask really builds back into “totally worth $7 million” form.

If nothing else, it’s a cool story that follows an interesting pattern, though.