Roberto Luongo was back in the saddle for the Panthers against the Bruins and he put in an impressive showing. He sent back 33 shots of the Bruins, as the Panthers smacked Boston by a score of 5-0. Not a sharp effort by the Bruins, but kudos to the Panthers for showing up and helping Luongo in his return. We’ve already seen Luongo return between the pipes once already. We’ll see if he can avoid hitting the injury report for more than a few games the rest of the season.
It’d make it a third for Luongo, who is the centrepiece of a Panthers team that must reach the playoffs. Must in the sense that this season is going to be a failure if they don’t. Bob Boughner would be sitting on a hotplate next season if his team fails to get it done. A healthy Luongo is going to be necessary for him to avoid pressure. I don’t know if James Reimer can make it work as the fulltime starter, but he has played the role of starter in Toronto already in his career.
Not only was it good to see Luongo back in net, but he was performing at a solid level of play. His numbers were taking a hit before he took a seat on the shelf. Luongo had allowed 17 goals in four games, so the break may have been for the best. It allowed him to get a breather, and at 39 years old, some breaks here and there will help for later in the season.
Overworking him is not going to be a winning formula. Their opponents this evening, the Colorado Avalanche, are coming off a bad 6-3 loss to the Penguins in Pittsburgh. They end their four-game road trip with a stop in Tampa on Saturday. That’s going to be a really good game, but shouldn’t be as easy as their competition tonight in Sunrise. Head below for our free Avalanche vs. Panthers pick.
Colorado Avalanche vs. Florida Panthers Pick
The Avalanche have lost two of their previous three games after winning six straight games. They’re sitting nicely with a record of 16-7-4 in the Western Conference. The Avs are currently a couple points behind the Predators for 1st in the conference. Semyon Varlamov has been playing great hockey for the Avs in net, but had a rare off night against the Pens in Pittsburgh.
He allowed 6 goals on 32 shots to bring his GAA up to 2.43 and save percentage to 0.923 save percentage. Nothing too alarming for Varlamov, who I expect to bounce back with a strong outing against the Panthers this evening. He was stellar against the Red Wings in a shutout effort the game before. They are 9th in the NHL with 2.79 goals allowed per game.
The Avalanche offence has performed better on the road, with 3.82 goals per game. Florida are scoring an average of 3.54 goals per game at home in Sunrise. For a team dependent on Luongo, it’s surprising to find that they’re 26th in the league with 3.42 goals allowed per game. In their last ten outings, they’ve allowed 3.8 per game.
Luongo owns a 2.71 GAA and 0.914 save percentage, so a little off the pace of Varlamov between the pipes. The Panthers have been awful following up wins this season. Note that they’ve gone 0-4 in their last four games after a win. I like the Avalanche to respond positively after they failed to show up against the Penguins in their last effort on the ice. The price looks like good value on the Avalanche in this spot.