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The Lowdown: Panthers vs Sabres

The Cats and Sabres battle in Sunrise at BB&T Center.

Friday, 03.7.2014 / 9:15 AM ET / Preview
By "Hockey Pat" McGrath  - FloridaPanthers.com
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The Lowdown: Panthers vs Sabres
The Cats and Sabres battle in Sunrise at BB&T Center.

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)

Pre-game playlist:

Stat Corner

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.

LOLOLOLZZZZ !!!

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!

Go Panthers!!!

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 79 15 39 10 54
J. Jokinen 81 8 36 -2 44
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
A. Ekblad 81 12 27 12 39
B. Boyes 78 14 24 11 38
A. Barkov 71 16 20 -4 36
J. Hayes 72 19 16 -4 35
B. Campbell 82 3 24 4 27
B. Pirri 49 22 2 6 24
D. Bolland 53 6 17 4 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 28 19 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 6 7 2 .892 3.01
 
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