SUNRISE–It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that the First place Florida Panthers would qualify for the playoffs this season, their baggage probably felt lighter Sunday afternoon when they landed in Toronto and heard the news that the Boston Bruins lost 6-4 in Chicago Sunday afternoon at United Center.
The loss means that the Bruins cannot catch the Panthers and that the fans of BB&T Center will get to witness at least two games in the first round at their rink.
A strong finish and the Panthers can finish first in the Atlantic Division and host the number 7 seed in the East, the identity of which will be determined among the New York Rangers, New York Islanders , Philadelphia Flyers, Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins pending the final week of the regular season.
Tampa Bay trails Florida by two points with each team playing four games between now and Saturday. The Panthers must finish ahead of the Lighting to win the division as Tampa Bay holds the tie breaker. With a wobbly finish the Panthers would finish in second or third in the division and face the other team finishing second or third in the Atlantic.
The Lightning will have a tough week and a challenging playoff run. The reigning East Conference champions revealed Saturday night that All-Star left wing Steven Stamkos will be getting surgery Monday for a blood clot in his right arm. The original release says Stamkos will be out from one to three months.
Jaromir Jagr was asked by the Sun Sentinel about Jonahton Huberdeau who has is riding a five-game goal scoring streak after a snakebit start to his season.
Jagr and Huberdeau join forces with center Aleksander Barkov to form the Panthers top line and have collectively scored the Panthers last seven goals, putting to rest the suggestion that any other unit on the team is the top line. Jagr will try to hold onto his own record of being the oldest player to lead a team in scoring for the second time in three years. Jagr had 67 points in the 2013-14 season with New Jersey. Jagr currently has 62 points and a four-point cushion for the team lead over Jussi Jokinen.
The final games of the regular season hope a revival of some sort for the Panthers second line. The unit has been adjusting to life without center Vincent Trocheck whose speed and scoring touch have been a delight for a team historically strapped for scoring prowess. But Reilly Smith is stuck at 25 goals and 47 points for about a week now and Jokinen caught Jagr for the team lead in points for few games but he has also tailed off and has produced 58 points. Nick Bjugstad has been skating strong on that line of late. If Smith tallies three points in the final four games he will be the sixth Panther to reach 50 points this season.
From NHL.com, the Panthers qualify for the playoffs.
The updated Atlantic Division standings through Sunday’s games.
From the Florida Panthers website, the offcial team website with their Traveling Jagrs’ visit in review.
In case there was ever any doubt, the Traveling Jagrs are Jagr approved!
It may feel like you are seeing 11!
If you need more the most recent editions of JAGRometer.com have had Travelling Jagrs coverage for about a week. Revisit some great games through the video links provided and enjoy the pretty pictures.
There will be a playoff team in Canada for three games this week as the Panthers play in Toronto Monday, Montreal Tuesday and Ottawa on Wednesday. After that there won’t be any playoff teams in Canada as none of the Canadian teams made the playoffs this year for the first time in more than 40 years. Following their three-game road trip the Panthers close the regular season at home for a game with Carolina Saturday evening at BB&T Center. Tickets for that game and some of the early playoff games are available through panthers.nhl.com.