While snowbirds are heading to Florida for the winter, the Panthers are going up north to Buffalo for a business meeting with the Sabres. Roberto Luongo will take his position in net, as he hopes to help the Panthers snap a five-game losing streak. Bob Boughner hasn’t gotten off to a great start, in his first year as a head coach in the NHL. He was head coach of the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL, and then took a job with the Sharks as an assistant. He had success in both jobs, winning Memorial Cups, and helping getting the Sharks to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Panthers thought it’d be the right move at giving him another pay hike.
As you probably know, the Panthers fired head coach Gerard Gallant in the middle of the season a year ago, on the road in Carolina. You don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, but it didn’t look like the right move then, and it still doesn’t look like they made the right move. He’s a talented coach, look at what he’s doing with the Golden Knights, but those things don’t matter if you don’t get along with management.
Gallant was set in his ways, and management didn’t care for it. Enter Bob Boughner and a record of 4-8-2 in Florida. Joining Gallant from Florida was Reilly Smith. It was a loss for the Panthers, and certainly a gain for Vegas in that regard. Smith is one of those under the radar players who always gives his all on the ice. First and foremost, though, the Panthers must do something to address their defence. Head below for our free Panthers vs. Sabres pick on Friday night.
Florida Panthers vs. Buffalo Sabres Pick
Roberto Luongo is wrapping up his career in the same place he started it. Maybe the Panthers trade him, but I don’t think he cares to go to a team where all of the pressure is on him. Luongo had enough stress and pressure on him as a Canuck to do him a lifetime. I don’t know who would want to trade for him at this stage in the game, either. He sat out a few games with an injury, and hasn’t looked like Team Canada Luongo by any means, but would get a lift on a team with a better defence. Luongo enters tonight with a GAA of 3.53, with only 1 win to his name thus far. However, it isn’t entirely his fault.
The Panthers have allowed at least 40 shots to the opposition in their last three games. The Canes hit the net 48 times in their last outing. In their last ten games, they’ve given up at least 40 shots five times, with an average of 40.7 shot allowed per game. So, no, Luongo isn’t playing like Team Canada Luongo, but nobody is helping him out in Florida. Overall, the Panthers are last in the NHL, allowing 4.14 goals per game.
For their sake, they have to be feeling fortunate they’re getting production on offence, with 3.43 goals per game. If not, they’d be right there with the Coyotes as the worst team in the league. The Sabres are averaging over 30 shots per game, so expect the Panthers to play in their own end of the ice often tonight. In their own right, Buffalo are surrendering 3.53 goals per game. I thought we’d see a total of 6 with these two teams matching up. There could be some value with a play on the OVER at 5.5.
PICK: OVER 5.5 (-110)