Which NHL Playoff Team Should You Root For?

Panther Parkway Playoff Preview

We’re hours away from puck drop for the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs and it donned on me (and on all around good guy Jameson Cooper) that there may be thousands and possibly millions of you readers out there who don’t have a vetted interest in a team this year. Your team may have not made it to the post-season, you could be a new fan or you could have amnesia…if that’s the case, thanks for reading and consult a physician immediately after reading this post. Whatever the reason may be, if you need to latch on to a team for the post-season then do I have a piece for you! There are 16 teams in this year’s post season, some are good, some are really good, some are really really really good and some are just OK. Let’s take a look at which team may be a good fit for you.

Anaheim Ducks

Do you like Disney movies about a scrappy gang of youths melded together by the bonds of teamwork, being poor, and national pride? If so then the Ducks could be the team you’re looking for. Don’t be confused by their captain’s lack of hair – he’s amazing at hockey and will not let you down if you’re looking for a deep playoff run. The kicker is 92 year Teemu Selanne, who is retiring at the end of these playoffs, so if you’re into nostalgia and crying then you’re on the right path.

Boston Bruins

Nobody in their right mind should cheer for the Bruins so if you’re not in your right mind you can cheer for them I guess. Also I hate you.

Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks have been the toast of the NHL for a while now. If you’re that person who wants instant gratification then hitch your horse to the wagon and hang on for dear life. If you’re the person who has never seen a Rocky movie, watches Rocky 4 ,and then tells everyone that you love every Rocky movie then cheer for the Blackhawks.

Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche is made up from a group of young players with an excessive amount of high-end dynamic talent. Players like Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene (injured, but still), Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O’Reilly and Paul Stastny, will surely make your eyes pop out of your head. They’re also coached by a crazy person. Their playoff hashtag is #whynotus so if you’re into innovative playoff hashtags you might want to look elsewhere for a team to support.

Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets have made the playoffs for the 2nd time in their history. Good for them right? If you like an underdog and or jokes about fellatio then you should fit right in with this fanbase. The Blue Jackets are this year’s working class blue-collar team so if you get a kick out of those Ford F-150 commercials where the announcer is pretty much reading everything on the screen, then go ahead and cheer for the Jackets.

Dallas Stars

Jamie Benn, best player by far, has led his Stars to the last playoff spot in the West. I’m sure all of Texas is behind them but if you feel like hootin’ and hollerin’ and ho-downin’ and other Texas slangs then hop right on this chuck wagon!

Detroit Red Wings

Detroit has made the playoffs 23 years in a row. They have won only 4 Stanley Cups in that span, so if you like high winning percentages, then don’t root for the Red Wings. If you like Sweden, rookies, cool breakaway moves and great coaching then they may be right up your alley.

Los Angeles Kings

All of LA’s top C list celebrities are totally into the Kings so if you want to head to Staples Center and snap a selfie with Matthew Perry then you’re in the right ballpark. The Kings are a team that Wayne Gretzky used to play for so if you want to impress your friends with that bit of trivia when explaining your fandom then wear that silver and black.

Minnesota Wild

Minnesota is the self-proclaimed “State of Hockey” which would be accurate if Michigan, New York, New Jersey, California, Missouri, Florida, Arizona, Ohio, Illinois, Tennessee, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Colorado, Texas and Pennsylvania all didn’t have hockey teams too. Liars.

Montreal Canadiens

Montreal has won the most Stanley Cups out of any NHL franchise with 24. They haven’t won one since 1993 so if you’re looking to get on board with a group of self-entitled history-clutching crazies, who are desperately waiting to see a cup win in their lifetime then mon ami/e you are knocking at the right door. Poutine is fantastic too, that should be good enough.

New York Rangers

The Rangers are one of three teams in New York (keep thinking of that third one). They’re like the Yankees if the Yankees have only won 4 World Series ever and haven’t won one since 1994 and the one before that was in 1940. If you like not having lofty expectations met then go put on a blue shirt.

Philadelphia Flyers

They sing America the Beautiful instead of the Star Spangled Banner so if you like alternate forms of patriotism then cheer for the Flyers. They’re also historically violent, made the Red Army team refuse to play against them because of it and their fans have the reputation of being a-holes. If this made you mad then you’re probably a Flyers fan already.

Pittsburgh Penguins

If you like cheering for the best at anything then step right up and feast your eyes on Sidney Crosby. Supporting the best hockey player in the world is reason enough to cheer for the Penguins and fans have been doing just that since 2005. I’d like to point out that former arguably best player in the world Mario Lemieux partly owns the team and will be shown frequently on TV throughout these playoffs so if you like passing torches from generation to generation then grab a Pens jersey and get ready to be disappointed by Marc Andre Fleury.

San Jose Sharks

The Sharks have never won a Stanley Cup and have the unfortunate reputation of being “playoff chokers.” If you like great teams with great players then cheer for the Sharks. If you like teal then cheer for the Sharks. If you like the Jaws theme song then cheer for the Sharks. If you want to get offended every time someone mentions the word “choke” then sheer for the Sharks. If you want to be part of their first cup win then don’t cheer for the Sharks because they’re kind of chokers.

St. Louis Blues

Another team without a Cup win ever. A lot of people don’t like the Blues so if you’re a fan of being the outcast who sticks up for their team no matter what horrible thing they do that makes everyone else angry then cheer for the Blues. American almost hero Ryan Miller is their starting goalie. You probably heard of him a few years ago.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Led by elite sniper Steven Stamkos for now, the Lightning are one of those cool teams that doesn’t end in an S. If you like the Oklahoma City Thunder then DEFINITELY cheer for the Lightning because then you can make your twitter handle @ThunderandLightning and you’ll be really cool.

By now you should have a team that suits you perfectly. If you’re still undecided, then refresh this page and read the post again. Go Hockey Go, enjoy the playoffs folks.

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Panthers Close Homestand With A Whimper

The only solace the Florida Panthers can take from Friday night’s 4-0 loss to the St Louis Blues is that they don’t have to face them again this season. In the two meetings, the Blues have put in on the Cats to the tune of a 11-0 combined score.
[Read more…]

Game Day Preview: Blues vs. Panthers. Come A Little Closer

ST. LOUIS BLUES: 7-1-2 (15 PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS: 3-7-2 (8 PTS.)

TSN Game Day

GAME DAY SONG:  COME A LITTLE CLOSER, CAGE THE ELEPHANT

The St. Louis Blues make a rare visit to the BB & T Center tonight for their first game of a three game road trip.  The Florida Panthers will be playing the final game of a six game home stand which hasn’t gone exactly as planned.  With only four points to show for their efforts, the Panthers hope to leave town on a positive note.  The Cats have been off since their disappointing shootout loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday, and have used this week to relax, bond, and work on their struggles.

The St. Louis Blues have played the least amount of games so far at 10, and likely haven’t hit their stride yet.  Although based on the previous meeting of these two teams, the Panthers would beg to differ after being trounced 7-0  back on October 5th.  Seven different Blues players scored, as the Panthers were thoroughly outplayed in their second game of the season.  The game also featured a penalty shot for the Blues, which was converted by Alexander Steen.  Since we’re talking about him, Steen is off to the best start of his professional career with 11 goals and 5 assists for 16 points in 10 games.  Translate that to a full NHL schedule and Steen will end up with 90 goals and 41 assists for 131 points.  An impossible pace to keep up, but nonetheless, you can’t ignore his early success.  In 40 games last season, Steen scored 8 times, and in 2009-2010 he scored 24 goals for his best season yet.  A number that he’ll surely break this season.

With Steen being the primary goal scorer for the Blues, you still need to pay attention to players like David Backes, Vladimir Terasenko, and Derek Roy.  This is a team that has the ability to create offence, and can force you into mistakes, which leads to more opportunities for them.  Coach Ken Hitchcock has them playing “Hitch Hockey”, which is an uptemp offensive style, while paying close attention to defence.  Another part of their game is physical as most of the Blues are more than able as well as willing to use the body, and can deliver some punishing hits.  Backes, T.J. Oshie and Ryan Reeves are just three of the tougher customers.

The Blues defence which features old friend jay Bouwmeester, is one of the best in the Western Conference, and maybe in the NHL.  Six players that are extremely complimentary of each other, and are willing to play the game anyway they deem necessary.  Physical, finesse, or a combination of the two, the Blues defencemen make you work for every point, and at the end of the game, you usually feel as though you did.  In goal, Jaroslav Halak is off to a terrific start with a 7-1-1 record.  He has an 8-1-0 record against the Panthers which includes a four game winning streak and a very stingy 0.75 GAA in those four games.

The Panthers have struggled with consistency, and with scoring this season.  The details of their flat start has been well documented and analyzed to infinity.  The inability to put together a 60 minute effort in each game is the prime result for why they have the record they do.  They’ve lost six of seven, and another weakness in their game is the inability to score with the man advantage.  The Panthers have converted only 4 of 41 chances so far, and is 1 for their last 16.  Adding to the woes is the fact that Tomas Kopecky one of last season’s best players for the Panthers has yet to register a single point.

The Panthers can do themselves a huge favor by coming out of the gate tonight with speed and energy.  The last thing that they need to do however is match the Blues’ physicality.  If they attempt to go hit for hit, they’ll end up on the wrong side of the score again.  If they can figure out a away to keep the puck away from the Blues, and make their defencemen skate, they may have a chance to keep this game close.  In addition, they’ll need to create better scoring chances than they have been, and they can accomplish this by driving the net, and be in place for rebounds.  Brad Boyes, the leading goal scorer for the Panthers with five, will face his old team.  Boyes had the best years of his career when he was with the Blues, and hopefully will use that as motivation.

This is one of the better teams in the NHL, and if there was ever a game to help boost a teams’ confidence, this is one of them.  Much like they kept the game against the Blackhawks close, this game could use a similar formula.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.

Panther Parkway Radio: Team Struggles, Goalie Situation, Bright Spots, Blues Preview, & More

Tune in to tonight’s show while we discuss the recent struggles of the Florida Panthers, goalie situation, the bright spots of the team, and more!

Host: Paige Lewis

Guests: Frank Rekas, Dave Lasseter, and Jameson Cooper

Topics

  • Panthers Struggles
  • Do the Panthers miss Tim Thomas?
  • Jesse Winchester has been a bright spot
  • How important is Brad Boyes?
  • Tomas Kopecky
  • Should the Panthers call-up Vincent Trocheck?
  • Preview of the St. Louis Blues game

Click the link below for today’s podcast!

http://www.spreaker.com/user/pantherparkwayradio/pp_radio_team_struggles_goalies_rookies

We welcome and encourage comments and feedback!

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.

Panther Parkway Radio: Game 1&2 Discussions, Flyers, Goalies & More

The Florida Panthers have kicked off their 20th anniversary season this week playing two games already, notching a terrific win against the Dallas Stars and then losing miserably to the St. Louis Blues just two days later.  Still very early on in the season, but we have a ton of information to talk about on tonight’s episode! For tonight’s podcast, we will be discussing everything that has been going on this past week, including both games the Panthers have played in, the Philadelphia Flyers disastrous team, goal-tender situations around the NHL and more!

Host: Paige Lewis

Guests: Dave Lasseter and Jameson Cooper

Topics

  • Dissecting the Panthers 7-0 loss agains the St. Louis Blues
  • Panthers 4-2 games against the Dallas Stars. Who stood out?
  • Philadelphia Flyers are just silly
  • Goalie Situation around the NHL

Click the link below for today’s podcast!

http://www.spreaker.com/user/pantherparkwayradio/pp_radio_games_1_2_flyers_nhl_goalies

We welcome and encourage comments and feedback!

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.

Observations Of The Florida Panthers After Two Games

The Florida Panthers took the day off Sunday following Saturday night’s thrashing at the hands of the St. Louis Blues by a score of 7-0.  Seven different Blues players scored, and the game ended in an ugly fashion with 15 different penalties assessed to the two teams, that included eight various misconducts, two fighting majors, and a penalty for an illegal check to the head that was given to Tomas Fleischmann.

The play of the Panthers compared to their victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday was a total 180, as Florida looked overmatched from beginning to end.  If you read my preview, you knew that the Blues would be physical, and use their muscle to not only set the tone, but dictate the pace.  They were obviously successful.  It didn’t hurt either that the Blues penalty killing unit squashed numerous chances for the Panthers as well.  Goaltender Jaroslav Halak now sports a 8-1-0 career record against the Panthers, who must not let that get into their heads.

[Read more…]

Panthers Hit Sour Note In St Louis

In a season-opening win Thursday night over the Dallas Stars, the Florida Panthers showed much of the resolve they showed while shocking the hockey world and winning the now-extinct Southeast Division two season ago. For Panthers fans, it was a welcome sight after last year’s 30th place finish. Unfortunately, Florida fans received a stark reminder of last season Saturday night as the Panthers were beaten soundly by the St Louis Blues 7-0.

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Meet Me In St. Louis. Game Day Preview: Panthers vs. Blues

FLORIDA PANTHERS: 1-0-0 (2 PTS) vs. St. Louis Blues: 1-0-0 (2 PTS)

TSN GAMEDAY

Tonight the Florida Panthers will faceoff against the folded arms of coach Ken Hitchcock and the St. Louis Blues, as the Cats look for their first 2-0-0 start in eight seasons.  The Panthers fresh off a 4-2 opening night win against the Dallas Stars were led by the solid and acrobatic goaltending of veteran Tim Thomas, a strong penalty kill, and team resiliency.  The Panthers effort in Dallas was impressive especially during the opening 10 minutes when the Stars seemed to have the ice tilted in their favor, and at one point were outshooting the Panthers 7-2.  Florida found a way to reverse the play in their favor after surrendering a 1-0 lead, and fought back with three goals in the third period, two of them by Marcel Goc.  Sandwiched between the goals by Goc was the first NHL goal by rookie center Aleksander Barkov.

The unique thing about the Barkov goal is that after winning the faceoff, he went directly to the net.  Dallas tried to outmuscle the 18 year old, but to no avail,  his poise and concentration allowed him to get the game tying goal.  Panther fans can look forward to more goals like that from Barkov.  The Panthers need some strong net presence which has been sorely missing over the past few seasons.  Barkov looks as though he can supply that.  There were other good moments in the opening game for the Panthers, but lets get one thing straight right now.  St. Louis will be an even tougher test for Florida.

[Read more…]

Ex Panther Jay Bouwmeester Must Have A Great Agent

When I read this tweet from fellow writer Dave Lasseter Thursday night, I wondered what the heck he was talking about:

Then I did some reading.  Then I hit my head with my my fist.  I recovered, and chose to put my thoughts together, and here’s what I’ve come up with.

It’s been four full seasons since Jay Bouwmeester left the Florida Panthers organEYEzation for what he thought would be greener pastures.  He did himself no favors on his way out of South Florida as he made it very clear for at least two seasons he had no intention of signing a long term deal with the franchise.  It was Jay’s feeling that there wasn’t enough passion, committment, and determination to building a winning culture.  Based on the legend in his own mind (and his father’s), Jay was traded to the Calgary Flames for the rights to Jordan Leopold and a third round pick in 2009.  That pick has turned out to be Josh Birkholz, and Leopold who played in 61 games for the Panthers was later traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a second round pick in 2010,  That pick turned out to be Connor Brickley.  The Panthers at the NHL level have had very little to show for a return on Jay.  However they have saved a humungous amount of salary.

[Read more…]

Former Panther Watch: Jay Bouwmeester

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Not all NHL records receive admiration and praise, and holding the streak for most games played without a postseason berth is certainly among those. Former Panther Jay Bouwmeester has long been branded as the league’s iron man, not having missed a game since the 2003-04 season, but that commendable endurance has never translated into anything past April.

A former All Star blue-liner for the Cats, Bouwmeester was recently sent from Calgary to play under esteemed head coach Ken Hitchcock and the St. Louis Blues. Historically known as a defense-oriented team, the Blues gave up a first round pick in the upcoming draft, D Mark Cundari and G Reto Barra in return. On paper, the deal seems to favor St. Louis as they sit in sixth place in the West and fight to remain in the playoff position up only four points on Phoenix in ninth.

It was much to the enjoyment of Panthers fans last season as the Cats finally tasted some form of playoff success after a long 12 year wait, while the Flames tanked and the dark streak continued on another year for Bouwmeester. He was among the top defensemen to ever suit up for the Panthers, and the perception by which Calgary acquired him is likely what made another failed attempt at the playoffs a bit more gratifying. [Read more…]

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