The Florida Panthers are certainly exceeding expectations this season. While I predicted that they were going to be a breakout team this season, I didn’t foresee it happening at this clip. I also didn’t expect Jaromir Jagr to be having the kind of season he is having. My problem with Jagr, though, is that he is no spring chicken. The guy is 43 years old, yet has scored 14 goals and 16 assists. But at what point does he start to slow down? The NHL is a long, grueling season. At 43 I don’t know how long he is going to continue to play at a high level. The playoffs extend well into the spring, and without the Jagr line clicking, I’m sure you’re going to see the same team who has now won twelve straight games. They got to twelve straight by defeating the Edmonton Oilers last night by a final score of 2-1.
The Oilers are a much better team now, so it wasn’t like the win was a cakewalk like may have happened a year prior. The Panthers will go for a thirteenth win in a row tonight against the Vancouver Canucks. The Panthers went on another run earlier in the season, but it was of the different kind, as they lost five straight games. The twelve straight wins all but dwarfs what little bit of turbulence they felt early in the season. The Panthers head into Vancouver tonight with a record of 26-12-3. Florida and Washington spearhead the class of hottest teams in the NHL at the moment.
The other storyline, besides the Panthers going for their thirteenth win in a row, is the return of Roberto Luongo. Luongo comes back to Vancouver, a place where Luongo ultimately became a household name. There were good times in Vancouver for Luongo, but the divorce in Vancouver became a messy one. The Canucks opted to go with Eddie Lack instead of Luongo the majority of the time during his final stint with the team. Lack is a backup in Carolina now with a 2.96 GAA and 5-7 record while Luongo is on a 26 win team. Luongo can give the Panthers their thirteenth straight win with a victory over his former team tonight. Let’s get to the pick.
Florida Panthers vs Vancouver Canucks NHL Pick
The recipe to success for the Panthers during this winning streak has been the defense. It has been virtually impossible for offenses to find any kind of room for scoring chances against them. In the last ten games the Panthers have allowed only 1.3 goals per game. Meanwhile, the Canucks have scored only 1.9 goals during that same stretch. It looks like this game is setting up to be another win in favor of the Panthers. Here we have a team that has had major difficulties scoring, playing against another who is shutting everybody down on the offensive end.
The game against the Oilers last night finished past 12:00 eastern Florida time. This will be the Panthers fourth straight game on the road, a grueling stretch that brought them to Buffalo, Ottawa, Edmonton, and now Vancouver tonight, which makes it all the more impressive that the Panthers have won all three thus far on the road. Conversely, this will be the Canucks seventh game in a row at home. They went 3-3 in the previous six. Statistically the Panthers have the edge and momentum factor on their side, but this looks like a perfect scenario for their winning streak to come to an end. As I already noted, Jagr is 43 years old, I see some tired legs tonight. They are also playing on a back-to-back in a different time zone than Florida. Spot bet on the Canucks here, as they end the Panthers’ twelve game run.
PICK: CANUCKS TO WIN -102