Panther’s Playoff Push Goes Off Script Against Sabres !
Panther’s first year GM Dylan Jacob-Smith is trying to have a storybook finish to the regular season for the Florida Panthers as they make a push for the finally playoff spot. They recently took on the league’s front runners for the President’s trophy Buffalo Sabres and according to GM DJS “it’s not necessarily story they intended to tell”.
"It wasn't a script we would have written," Panthers coach Mike Babcock said after their 7-1 drubbing by the hands of the Sabres. The Sabres GM’s Tyler Wilson/Andrew Hallman have their in playoff form with a record of 47-5-3 with a total of 97 points to lead the league . This victory was in front of 18,000 fans at First Niagara Center in which the Sabres continue to put the puck behind the net at an alarming rate for goalies. Just ask the Panther’s when Sabres as a team put 5 in the back of the net against their former teammate Karel Vejmelka. Some quotes from the fans of the Sabres that commented on the game said “It was crazy. It was awesome. We have the best GM’s in the league!”
The Sabres took an early 2-0 lead in the 1st period when Ovechkin scored on the power play 1:48 into the game. William Nylander and Cale Makar both assisted on Ovechkin power play goal which they took a 2-0 lead into the 1st intermission. The 3rd period is when the wheels fell off for the Panthers as the Sabres put 5 pucks in the back of the net as the cruise 7-1 win. Once the clock struck zero the Sabres Alex Ovechkin scored a hat trick and got the W.
"There were a couple of [calls] where we didn't necessarily agree," Panthers Captain Aaron Ekbald said. "One kind of felt like a late call, whatever it is, and the ref make up his mind. You got to go out there and get the job done."
In the end according to the Sabres GM Tyler Wilson "You still get two points for a win. But at the same time, you want to enjoy this win. And there's no better way to finish this off than with a win like that."
Sabres Still Leage Best: Depth & Goaltending Proving to be Too Much to Handle
The reigning Stanley Cup champions have continued to dominate the NHL entering the new year with a league best 64 points thanks to a 31-5-2 record. The Sabres boast an NHL best +90 goal differential and have been an absolute nightmare to play at home showcased by their 16-1-1 record at the First Niagara Center. The Sabres rank 3rd in the NHL in Goals For with 162 just 4 fewer than the league leading Vegas Golden Knights. Even with their strong play the Sabres have just 2 players in the Top 20 in points, team depth and strong defense would seem to be the core to the Sabres dominance.
William Nylander and Alex Ovechkin sit at 17th and 18th respectively in NHL scoring and have proven to be the offensive stars that drive the front end of the Sabres attack. Ovechkin, who is in his first season in Buffalo and is sure fitting in well, leads the team with 27 goals and is tied for 9th leage-wide. He sits 9 goals back of the league lead and with a strong second half it would surprise no one to see Ovie right in the mix for a Rocket Richard.
Beyond those two the Sabres have another 5 players all in the Top 100 in points - Joel Eriksson-Ek (12-29-41) - Proving to be an elite two-way center JEE sits atop the Sabres lineup, he leads all special teams units and is a cornerstone of the franchise. He has proven to have strong chemistry with Nylander and has had no issue with his new top linemate in Ovechkin. Jack Eichel (15-24-39) - On most other teams Mr. Eichel would be the elite #1 center but being in Buffalo has afforded him the opportunity to work back from injury with a lessened load. Still performing admirably Jack finds himself leading the second units behind the afformentioned JEE. Who's to say, with a full season under his belt we may see Jack really pushing for a return to the top dog spot on this star studded squad. Travis Konecny (18-21-39) - A trend we'll begin to see now is that much like Eichel, Konecny absolutely has the skills to be a top line option. However, in Buffalo he is supplemental scoring and does a terrific job of it. While playing 2nd line and on the 2nd PP unit Travis is 3rd in goals on the team and is always a threat to score. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (15-23-38) - This in RNH's first season in Buffalo and while it certainly has not been a disappointment, he has fallen short of his own expectations. Most say he is just as talented as the top 2-3 players on the team but he has not yet displayed the offensive acumen expected when brought in. Still, playing on the 2nd line with Eichel and Konecny while also playing the point on the top PP unit there are certainly ample opportunites for RNH to display a greater level of scoring. That being said he remains a top threat and is playing at a ppg pace. Expectations remain high and a strong second half could propel RNH into Buffalo stardom.
Last of the 7 - and certainly not least - Is Cale Makar (10-22-32). The dynamo and true leader of the Buffalo Sabres, is actually having a somewhat down offensive season. We saw Makar lead all defesemen in points last season with 107 on his way to winning the Norris. So far this year he finds himself 3rd behind NYR's Josh Morrissey and MTL's Kris Letang. With 15 points seperating there is quite a hill to climb but certainly no insurmountable feat for a player viewed as easily a Top 5 player in the league. With that Makars defensive game remains elite. He is the only defenseman in the league who is +40 or better and one of only 8 players to hit that mark. He is a major minute eater on the backend and has formed arguably the best pairing with himself and Colton Parayko.
Now most importantly of all is the absolute clinic being put on at the goaltending position by Connor Hellebuyck. I know he would thank some new additions on the defensive end in Alec Martinez, Alex Edler and Jaycob Megna to his beyond stellar numbers but nothing can take away from how remarkable his play has been this season. Hellebuyck leads the league in wins (tied for 1st), He is 1st in SV% with a .951 and is 1st in GAA with a 1.44. Hard to do better than that. If this level of play continues the sky is the limit for this team and we should see some individual awards coming their way as well.
HSHL Red Wings Soar to Victory: Top Players Lead the Team to Success Despite Tough 2023
Hold on to your seats because the HSHL Red Wings are storming the ice! Despite a tough December, the team and their dedicated fans have fought hard and emerged victorious. With 38 goals and 58 assists in 15 games, the Red Wings have been on fire, thanks to the outstanding performances of Alex Wennberg, Marcus Johansson, Brendan Gallagher, and Danton Heinen. And let's not forget the rookies, Elmer Soderblom and Mason Shaw, who have contributed to the team's success.
The excitement doesn't stop there. Juraj Slafkovsky and Jet Greaves debuted, and the latter remained the backup to Joonas Korpisalo. The team's resilience and determination are beyond inspiring, and they deserve all the accolades. Let's give a shout-out to the top guys who have gone above and beyond to make the Red Wings the best team in Detroit.
First up is Alex Wennberg, the 1st Line Center, who has been an absolute powerhouse on the ice. Wennberg leads the team in points with 32 and has put forth an incredible 18 points in December alone. He's not just a scorer; he's also a team player, as evidenced by his 25 assists and 28 blocked shots. Wennberg's dedication to the game is second to none, and the team is lucky to have him.
Next on the list is Marcus Johansson, the owner of the lead in goals for the Red Wings. With 13 goals and 18 assists, Johansson has been a game-changer for the team. He's been instrumental in boosting the confidence of his teammates, allowing them to take shots and score. His 131 shots at net and 9.92% shot percentage are a testament to his incredible skills.
But wait, there's more! Brandon Gallagher has been a driving force on the team, with a 13-point December and 25-point overall production. He's been a crucial player, helping his teammates find their footing on the ice. And let's not forget Danton Heinen, who has been on fire lately, with 12 points in December and 22 overall. Heinen's efficiency with shooting and points per 20 minutes is impressive, and he's quickly become a fan favorite.
Last but not least, the rookies have been killing it on the ice. Elmer Soderblom has been a force to be reckoned with, leading the team with three powerplay goals and providing 16 points overall. Mason Shaw may have a quieter presence, but he's been a valuable player nonetheless, with 7 points to his name. And let's not forget Jet Greaves, who has been phenomenal as Korpisalo's backup. In just three games, he's shown what he's made of, with a 3.00 GAA and a .917 save percentage.
The Red Wings are on their way to greatness, and with Korpisalo and the defensive core playing at their best and the first-line players dominating the game, there's no limit to what they can achieve. The team has the support of their fans, who will be cheering them on every step of the way. So let's keep up the hard work, Detroit, and make 2024 a year to remember!