The Florida Panthers will look to pick up the pieces after getting pushed around by the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. The 1st period went swimmingly, as they took a 2-0 lead into the intermission. Then everything fell into the ground for Roberto Luongo who was previously playing lights out between the pipes. He hit a wall against the Blue Jackets, though, as they rattled off 7 goals in 2 periods. He allowed 6 goals in a 7-3 loss, the 7th goal coming by an empty netter.
Finishing with a 0.833 save percentage, it was his worst start of the year by far. He was probably due for a bad game, but Boughner better be careful about overworking Luongo. He is 39 years old and is likely going to need James Reiner to help out occasionally.
Luongo won’t have much in the tank come the end of the season when they need a playoff push if he doesn’t get a breather here and there. The Panthers need him to stay healthy at all costs, but at the same time Reimer is a drop off from Luongo, so it might be a damned if they do damned if they don’t situation.
The Panthers are currently on a lengthy road trip. They’ve been on the road for two games and don’t return home to play until Friday. After NYC, they go to Ottawa, Tampa, and then Raleigh. Not the most fun trip, but something every team has to do during the year.
The Panthers just have to be feeling fortunate that they started to play well before hitting the road. They won three straight games at home and then beat the Flyers, 2-1, in the road opener. Tough one for the Panthers, but they can get one back tonight. The Rangers are coming off a collapse defensively as well. They took a 7-5 loss to the Islanders, with Lundqvist allowing 5 goals on 17 shots. Head below for our free Panthers vs. Rangers pick.
Florida Panthers vs. N.Y. Rangers Pick
Luongo and Lundqvist have both been playing well this season. Lundqvist maybe not great or anything, but he has been the difference maker in some games this year. Despite hitting hit with a 0.706 save percentage in his last outing, Lundqvist still has a decent 2.76 GAA and 0.915 save percentage. Conversely, Luongo has been sharp with a 2.18 GAA and 0.93 save percentage, though that outing in Columbus skewed his numbers in the wrong direction.
With Luongo back in the lineup, he’s been bailing out his defence often. If there are any people who were elated to see his return it was the Florida blueline. The Panthers have allowed 3.19 goals per game despite Luongo’s 2.18 GAA. Offensively, they were on a nice stretch with at least 4 goals in four straight games before that came to a halt in Columbus. They scored 2 goals in the first and were shutdown from there.
While Luongo has a terrific history against the majority of teams in the NHL, he would like to get some starts back against the Rangers. In 27 starts, he’s posted a 2.97 GAA against the Rangers. Conversely, Henrik has played well with a 2.06 GAA against the Panthers. Prior to their loss against the Islanders, the Rangers had won six of their last seven games. The Panthers were playing quality hockey before their most recent loss as well, but -140 on the road in New York is a hefty price to pay on this team. Give me the home team catching plus odds on Saturday night.