THE LOWDOWN is a gameday preview produced by “Hockey Pat” McGrath, a lifelong Cats fan who previously wrote for the Florida Panthers themed blog “TheRatTrick”. The contents of THE LOWDOWN and all opinions expressed therein are solely those of Hockey Pat and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Florida Panthers or Sunrise Sports & Entertainment LLC. Having said that, if you find yourself laughing or smiling as you read the LOWDOWN, feel free to thank us. We accept thank you notes, tweets and ticket purchases.
Florida Panthers vs. Buffalo Sabres
|Panthers ||Sabres |
|Record ||23-32-7 ||18-35-8 |
|Points ||53 ||44 |
|Place ||7th in Atlantic ||8th in Atlantic |
Unless you have been living under a rock these past few days, I am sure you have probably heard that the Florida Panthers have brought back goaltender Roberto Luongo. Wait what!!??!!! Yeah, I know right? Pretty exciting stuff!
The deal was part of a wild NHL trade deadline that featured more moves than a night at Hot Traxx. The Panthers were active players up until Wednesday’s 3 p.m. deadline as were tonight’s opponent, the Buffalo Sabres who got things underway last Friday when they sent franchise netminder, Ryan Miller, to the St. Louis Blues. We will get to all of that and more in tonight’s Lowdown, and hey, we might even touch on tonight’s game in the process…
The Deep Breath Before the Plunge
The Panthers last game was Tuesday night in Boston, so if you can manage the math, that means the team had two days with no games leading up to tonight’s clash against the Sabres. That may not seem like a lot until you realize that for the rest of March, the team plays every other day, with one back-to-back thrown in for good measure. I hope everyone enjoyed those two days off because in the remaining 25 days of March, the Cats will be squeezing in 14 games…. And yes this was really all just an excuse to thrown in a Lord of the Rings clip.
Buffalo Players To Watch
At this point, let’s just move on…
Wheelin’ and Dealin’ Buffalo
In chemical reactions, we have a term for the products that are formed mid-reaction but gone by the reaction’s completion, intermediate products. The Buffalo Sabres dealt with a lot of intermediate products of their own this season acquiring players like Matt Moulson and Jaroslav Halak just to flip them later for different final products. Let’s take a look at some of the net results from Buffalo’s wheelin’ and dealin’ ways:
Thomas Vanek Net Results:
F Thomas Vanek, and F Cody McCormick netted F Torrey Mitchell, a 2014 1st round pick (or 2015 as it’s left to the Islanders to decide what year), and 2nd round picks in 2014, 2015, 2016
Intermediate product: Matt Moulson (now with Wild)
Ryan Miller Net Results:
G Ryan Miller, F Steve Ott, and a 2015 3rd round pick netted, G Michal Neuvirth, D Rotislav Klesla, F Chris Stewart, F William Carrier, 2015 1st round pick, 2016 cond. 3rd round pick
Intermediate product: Jaroslav Halak (now with Caps)
In the wake of the Luongo deal, the goaltender’s career credentials were brandished everywhere around the internet. Three-time all-star, three-time Vezina finalist, Panthers goaltending leader in career games played (317), single season games played (75), career wins (108), single season wins (35), and career shutouts (26). One stat that I have not seen brought up when discussing Luongo’s return is goalie point shares.
Goalie point share (or GPS if you’re cool) is a simple stat that is not so simple to calculate. Essentially GPS is the number of points in the standings a goalie is worth over a full season, and what it tells us is that Roberto Luongo is an insanely valuable goaltender. In the three seasons from 2002-2006 (2004-05 was lost to the lockout) Luongo ranked number 1 in GPS, peaking in 03-04 when he was worth 20.9 points in the standings.
Luongo has ranked in the top ten in goalie point shares seven times in his career and he is the 7th most valuable goalie of all time generating 169.73 points in the standings for his teams throughout his career.
Pirri-ing Into The Future
The Luongo trade somewhat overshadowed the debut of another recent Panthers acquisition, 22-year-old Brandon Pirri. Acquired from the Blackhawks on Sunday evening, Pirri played his first game in a Panther uniform on Tuesday against the Bruins centering a line with Jonathan Huberdeau and, former Rockford IceHogs running mate, Jimmy Hayes.
I don’t know what I am more excited about; the immense scoring potential Pirri brings to the table or the endless bad puns I will be able to make with his last name.
Young Gun Lead Pipe Lock of the Night
The Pick: Vincent Trocheck
The Reason: After the fray of the trade deadline subsided, the Panthers made a few roster moves, one of which was the call up of 20-year-old top-prospect Vincent Trocheck. The young center has led the San Antonio Rampage in scoring this season (16-25-41) in his first year of professional hockey. The success at the AHL level comes one year after a superlative filled season in the OHL during which he led the league in scoring (50-59-109) and was awarded the Red Tilson Trophy as the league’s MVP.
After much anticipation, Trocheck will finally be making his NHL debut, and I have a feeling it will be a strong one.
That’s all for now, enjoy Luongo’s Panthers re-debut tonight. Personally, I could not be more excited. It’s been a long time coming and I was not sure if the return would ever become a reality, but as Rust Cohle would say, “time is nothing more than a flat circle,” so I guess Luongo’s return was inevitable.
There, I squeezed in the requisite True Detective reference….my work is done, enjoy the game!