The Anaheim Ducks make the trek from sunny California to sunny Florida for a matchup with the Panthers this evening. While the weather may be the same, the trip across time zones won’t make it feel that way. The Ducks also wish they were coming to Florida with a better record than what they hold right now. It isn’t a pretty, as the Ducks enter the contest tonight with a record of 6-9-3-1. We’re not accustomed to seeing Anaheim with such a poor record in the regular season, but here we are, almost into December, and the Ducks are below .500. However, they could certainly chip away at that record and be back on top of .500 by Christmas time. A lot of time left to do that. But from the games I have watched from the Ducks this season, they just look plain lazy. Like they don’t even care. Careless turnovers really drive home that sentiment. There is too much talent on the Ducks to be 6-9-3-1 so one of the conclusions I have to come to is that their record is a result of playing lazy uninspired hockey. I am really interested in seeing what happens with the Ducks moving forward into December.
I’m also pretty interested in the Florida Panthers as well. I want to see what comes of this team and if they make the playoffs this season. They almost did it a year ago but fizzled out near the end and came up short. Despite the criticism Roberto Luongo received in Vancouver for the inability to win them a Stanley Cup, if it wasn’t for him they wouldn’t have gotten to the finals against the Bruins. With the current goalie situation in Vancouver looking dire, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. I’m sure the Canucks would welcome him back with open arms. Of course that will not happen, as the disdain for Vancouver runs deep for after the way they handled Luongo.
The Canucks opted for Eddie Lack during that time, and where is he now? In Carolina. So, Luongo went back to where it all started in Florida. Not a bad deal for Luongo. He’s getting paid handsomely, good weather in Florida, and doesn’t have as much pressure on him like in Vancouver with the Canucks. Deep into his career, Luongo is still managing to play good hockey, posting a 2.35 GAA thus far. His last game he was terrific, stopping all 39 shuts put on him by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Panthers were able to complete a home-and-home sweep of the Lightning, winning in Tampa and then back home two nights later. They look to continue the winnings ways tonight as they host the Ducks of Anaheim.
Anaheim Ducks vs. Florida Panthers NHL Pick
Seeing the Panthers ahead of the Ducks in the standings isn’t the most normal thing to see. The Ducks have had a very strong team for the greater part of the last ten years, winning a Stanley Cup even. The Panthers just came onto the scene last season with a pretty nice campaign that seen them going 38-29-15. Not enough to make the playoffs, the Panthers are looking to improve on that this season. They have been good scoring and defensively. Not great, but good. On defense they are 11th in the NHL with 2.44 goals allowed per game. On offense they are scoring 2.67 goals a game.
Even if they make the playoffs do I think the Panthers are going to amount to anything? Nah, if Luongo doesn’t get really hot I do not see it. They face a Ducks team tonight who are dead last in scoring in the league. This season the Ducks are scoring only 1.79 goals per game for 31st in the NHL. We haven’t seen the dominant defense either here, as they are 15th in the league in goals allowed. The Ducks are only 2-6 on the road this season, where they feel much more comfortable at home. If the Ducks keep this up and we’re in December, I’m going to have to come to the conclusion that they just aren’t good. It happens frequently, where people are waiting for a team to turn the season around and they never do it. We’ll see if the Ducks fall into that category. As far as tonight is concerned, my money is going to me in the Florida Panthers category.
PICK: PANTHERS TO WIN -114