Roberto Luongo

The Florida Panthers have a rather tough start to the month

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So let’s see here…

source:

That’s four road games against good teams* and four home games against good teams.

In fact, it’s unlikely that the Panthers will be favored in any of those eight games. Especially considering their record of late.

Saturday in Newark, the Panthers lost for the fifth time in six tries, falling 3-1 to the Devils despite limiting New Jersey to just 14 shots.

“We have to score some ugly ones,” said forward Brandon Pirri, per the Associated Press. “We’re an ugly team. Scoring one goal just is not good enough. It’s not going to get any easier from here.”

Florida hasn’t been all that great defensively either. And goalie Roberto Luongo, so outstanding earlier in the season, hasn’t been able to bail his teammates out, surrendering 20 goals in his last seven appearances and getting pulled twice.

The Panthers’ slide, combined with the resurgence of the Boston Bruins, has left them eight points out of a playoff spot. With such a tough schedule to start the month, that deficit could easily grow larger.

*Yes, we’re counting Dallas and Minnesota as “good teams.” The Stars are 13-6-2 in their last 21 games, and the Wild actually have goaltending now.

Video: Jagr rips shot top corner on Luongo

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Jaromir Jagr is up to goal No. 715 for his NHL career in the regular season.

The 42-year-old winger opened the scoring for the New Jersey Devils on Saturday, ripping a wrist shot from the slot over the left shoulder of Roberto Luongo to the top corner. That’s Jagr’s first goal and point since Jan. 3, when he recorded a hat trick — becoming the oldest NHL player to do so — against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Jagr had been battling a flu and the mumps, which caused him to miss a portion of the Devils’ schedule this month.

Goalie nods: Smith gets shot at revenge vs. Senators

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Smith seeks better showing against Ottawa

Arizona Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith surrendered five goals on 33 shots on Jan. 10 against the Senators, but he’ll be back between the pipes tonight in Ottawa. Smith has started in every game since Devan Dubnyk was traded to Minnesota.

Smith has struggled mightily this season, posting a 3.41 GAA and .890 save percentage in 33 contests, but he held Toronto to a single goal on Thursday, so this is an opportunity for him to string a couple good games together.

Ottawa will counter with Robin Lehner.

Elsewhere…

Islanders at Red Wings: Chad Johnson vs. Petr Mrazek

Kings at Bruins: Jonathan Quick is the probable goaltender against Tuukka Rask.

Panthers at Devils: Roberto Luongo vs. Keith Kinkaid

Canes at Rangers: Neither goaltender is confirmed, but it will probably be Cam Ward facing Henrik Lundqvist.

Leafs at Flyers: James Reimer vs. Steve Mason

Stars at Jets: It’s believed that Kari Lehtonen will play against Michael Hutchinson.

Blue Jackets at Lightning: Curtis McElhinney and Ben Bishop are both considered probable.

Oilers at Flames: No word on who Edmonton will go with, but Calgary will send out Jonas Hiller.

Hawks at Sharks: Chicago will start Antti Raanta. San Jose’s starter remains a mystery, although odds are it will end up being Antti Niemi.

Goalie nods: Dubnyk goes again for Wild in key game vs. Flames

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All the latest from the blue paint…

All Devan, all the time

Devan Dubnyk has been the goalie of record for Minnesota since coming over from Arizona two weeks ago, and that won’t change tonight when the Wild face the Flames in Calgary.

Dubnyk, who’s posted a .911 save percentage and 2.04 GAA in five games, is coming off a 2-1 win over Edmonton in which he stopped 23 of 24 shots. He’ll need a similar performance tonight if the 12th-place Wild want to stay within striking distance of the eighth-place Flames, who are currently seven points up in the standings:

For Calgary, Jonas Hiller starts in goal.

Elsewhere…

Bruins at Isles: Jaroslav Halak for New York, Tuukka Rask likely for Boston.

Habs at Rangers: Carey Price vs. Henrik Lundqvist

Jets at Flyers: Michael Hutchinson vs. Steve Mason

Jackets at Panthers: Curtis McElhinney vs. Roberto Luongo

Wings at Bolts: Petr Mrazek vs. Ben Bishop

Stars at Sens: Robin Lehner for Ottawa, Kari Lehtonen likely for Dallas.

Coyotes at Leafs: Mike Smith vs. Jonathan Bernier

Preds at Blues: Carter Hutton vs. Brian Elliott

Sabres at Oilers: Jhonas Enroth vs. Ben Scrivens

Ducks at Sharks: Ilya Bryzgalov likely for Anaheim, Antti Niemi likely for San Jose.

Poll: Where does Brodeur rank among all-time goalie greats?

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Martin Brodeur officially ended his illustrious career on Thursday, walking away with a laundry list of accolades that might never be duplicated:

— 691 wins, most in NHL history (and 301 more than the new active leader, Roberto Luongo.)

— 125 shutouts, most in NHL history. One of only two goalies to ever hit triple digits in clean sheets (the other, Terry Sawchuk, had 103.)

— 74, 438 minutes played, most in NHL history. (Next closest? Patrick Roy, at 60K.)

— Four Vezinas, three Stanley Cups, two Olympic gold medals and a Calder Trophy.

There’s no argument about Brodeur’s spot in the Hall of Fame — that’s a lock. The real debate is if he’s the greatest goalie ever.

Others in that conversation include…

Dominik Hasek: Six Vezina wins and the highest save percentage (.922) of all time. Biggest accolade, though, might be that he’s the only goalie in league history to win two Hart Trophies as league MVP.

Patrick Roy: Won four Cups, and his postseason excellence is unparalleled — he remains the only player to win the Conn Smythe three times.

Jacques Plante: A goaltending innovator (the first to wear a mask regularly.) No netminder has won more Stanley Cups (six) or Vezinas (seven).

Terry Sawchuk: In terms of longevity, he was Brodeur before Brodeur. Played for 21 seasons — winning four Cups and four Vezinas — and retired as the all-time shutouts leader (a record Brodeur broke in 2009).

Others: Ken Dryden, Tony Esposito, Glen Hall.

With that on the table, go ahead and vote: