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Rats Roundup - Top 10 on ESPN, More Jagr History

ESPN ranks the Panthers seventh among North American Sports Franchises

by Kyle Morrison / FloridaPanthers.com

The Cats fell last night to last season's President's Trophy winners, the Washington Capitals, by a score of 4-2. But the game wasn't without its positive notes, starting with some more history for Jaromir Jagr.

JAGR MAKES HISTORY

Video: WSH@FLA: Jagr nets PPG for 750th of career

Jagr took a pass in the slot and fired it past Braden Holtby for his 750th career goal - and the first powerplay goal for the Panthers this season - during the second period of last night's game.

Sure, 750 is a nice (and astronomically large) round number, but the real significance is in just who in the league has reached that mark. Aside from Jagr, the only other two are Gordie Howe (801) and The Great One, Wayne Gretzky (894).

So, congratulations are in order for Jagr.

TOP TEN

Many pundits pegged the Panthers as a top-10 team in the NHL this season, but the Cats climbed up in another ranking today.

ESPN's Ultimate Standings dropped today - an annual ranking of all 122 North American sports franchises across the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL - and for the first time in franchise history, the Panthers cracked the top ten.

That's right - after checking in at 48th last season (and 102 in 2014), the Cats checked in at seventh on the list.

The team scored exemplary marks in categories like affordability (sixth), bang for the buck (third), fan relations (ninth) and ownership (25th), while showing growth in categories like coaching (74th last year, 36th this year) and title track (94th to 52nd).

The Panthers also jumped up to third among NHL teams, checking in one spot behind the Nashville Predators (sixth overall) and their cross-state rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning, who took the list's top spot among all teams.

Click here to see the full list, or here to see ESPN's writeup on their Florida Panthers ranking.

MARCH(ESSAULT) TO A DIFFERENT BEAT

Video: NJD@FLA: Marchessault puts home goal on deflection

With an assist on Jagr's historic goal last night, Jonathan Marchessault continued his torrid pace to begin his career in Sunrise. His 2-3-5 line has him tied with his center, Aleksander Barkov, for the team lead in all three categories.

People across the league are taking notice of the 25-year-old winger's hot start.

ESPN's Pierre LeBrun wrote a piece on Marchessault this week, talking about his journey, praise from his former coach and where he fits in going forward.

"When I talked to Florida management, they told me they saw me in a bigger role and able to play in all the games and on a good line," 

So far, so good for Marchessault. Filling in for the injured Jonathan Huberdeau on the top line with Barkov and Jagr, he's held his own.

LeBrun's piece wasn't the only coverage Marchessault got this week, either. Our own Jameson Olive caught up with the winger at the Florida Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs this week, in another must-read piece.

CAP MAC MAKES SI

Video: Derek MacKenzie named captain

The Cats came into this year after an offseason of growth, but beyond the new players and new uniforms, one of the most salient storylines was their new captain.

Derek MacKenzie - a 13-year NHL veteran - was the choice after wearing one of the A's last season. The center is well-known among Panthers fans for his tenacity and leadership, but four games into his captaincy, those across the country are getting acquainted.

Sports Illustrated's Daniel Friedman wrote a lengthy feature on what made MacKenzie such a great fit for the captaincy, and the stamps of approval that he sought out before accepting the role.

Two of the first guys he talked to before accepting the role? Jaromir Jagr and Roberto Luongo.

As told to SI:

"Jaromir Jagr's gonna be a Hall-of-Famer, and [Roberto Luongo] will be right behind him," he says. "They were both super supportive and felt like it should be me. Obviously, I had my doubts, but when you have a couple of guys like that in the room backing you up, you certainly feel like you can do the job."

The feature also talks about his captaincies at two previous stops (Chicago in the AHL and Sudbury in the OHL) and the expectations on MacKenzie to mentor the youth on this roster. You can read the full feature here.

MIKE MATHESON: HUMAN HIGHLIGHT

Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson, a verified World Champion™, has had one heck of a start to the season. He showed off some superhuman strength as he took the puck back from New Jersey's Damon Severson on opening night, right before his crisp pass set up Aleksander Barkov's game-winner. But there was still something he hadn't quite knocked off of his checklist - scoring an NHL goal.

Well, he wasted no time in taking care of that.

Video: FLA@TBL: Matheson nets first NHL goal for late lead

And in an interesting development, Matheson decided that he really likes this "goal scoring" thing. Because his next time out, he put another one in the back of the net, past Vezina winner Braden Holtby.

Video: WSH@FLA: Matheson beats Holtby from side boards

Don't be surprised if career goal number three comes soon.

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