Despite holding two separate 2 goal leads yesterday, the Anaheim Ducks fell to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a shootout, 4-3. The Ducks went up late in the 2nd period with around 10 seconds remaining, and then 5 seconds later they coughed it away and went to the intermission with a 2-1 lead. You can figure the rest out. And right there is a snapshot of why the Ducks continue to fail in the playoffs. There was no killer instinct in the Ducks, as they basically stopped playing after going ahead by 2. Shootouts can be a coin flip, like in the UFC, don’t let a game come down to a decision because it can go either way. The coin didn’t land in the Ducks’ favor and they threw a point away to the Blue Jackets. Frustrating is the only way to sum that disaster up. Tonight the Florida Panthers head home after two meetings on the road. They came out with a split, losing to the Red Wings, and then blowing the Sabres away for a 7-4 final.
The Panthers will get the weekend started against the St. Louis Blues. This will be the Blues first trip to the road in three games. They went 1-2 in their three game home stand. The Panthers are in a nice position with a record of 32-16-5 entering tonight. It looks as if Florida will be seeing the playoffs this season, but if you do recall, the Panthers collapsed late in the season and missed out. However, after that year under their belt where they had a turnaround season of sorts, the Panthers have seized the opportunity and put together a playoff worthy campaign.
Like the Canucks in the Roberto Luongo era, their success is going to come down to Luongo. Let’s face it, this Florida team is playing like the Canucks were when there were happier days in Vancouver. Difference being, there is not anywhere near the same kind of stress and pressure on Luongo that he had in Vancouver. If the Panthers play well in the playoffs this season, great, but if they don’t, no one in Florida is going to get too worked up over it. He doesn’t have to turn on the radio or television in Florida and listen to how washed up he is. Luongo should be taking the net against Brian Elliot of the Blues tonight. It should be a good goaltending matchup against these two.
St. Louis Blues vs. Florida Panthers NHL Pick
When it comes down to the playoffs, more times than not, it comes down to defense. The Panthers fit the criteria of a team with a good defense and goaltender. The only thing working against them is going to be a lack of experience. I should say, other than Jaromir Jagr and Luongo. Looking at it now, acquiring Jagr was a big move for the Panthers. He has been fairly productive on the ice, but come the playoffs he is going to play a big role in the locker room. This is of course barring a late collapse by the Panthers. Jagr has scored 17 goals and 21 assists on the season, with an impressive 14 +/- rating.
Brian Elliot takes the ice tonight for the Blues in net, he enters 3rd in the NHL in goals against and save percentage. He owns a 2.07 GAA and 0.93 save percentage. As a team the Blues are 5th in goals against per game. In their last ten games, they’ve allowed 1.80 goals per game and have scored 2 goals a game. The Panthers come in 3rd in goals against per game. The offense has been pretty hot as well, scoring 3.7 goals per game in their last ten. But after their 7-4 scoring barrage last game against the Sabres, I think the Panthers get back to basics at home. Luongo and Elliot should turn this one into a tight low scoring affair. Therefore, the UNDER looks enticing to get the weekend started.
PICK: UNDER 5 GOALS (-110)