Tight standings show Panthers closer to bottom than top
SUNRISE, FL–Toronto is the first of three post-Christmas opponents to close out the 2016 calendar year, as the Panthers host the Maple Leafs tonight and Montreal Thursday before a New Year’s Eve game at Dallas.
Some optimists like to point out the Panther (15-14-6-36) are only four points behind Boston for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference, but the Panthers are also only three points ahead of Detroit for last in the Atlantic Division. The Maple Leafs are one point behind Florida and a win by the visitors would vault them into a tie with Tampa Bay if the Lightning lose in regulation to Montreal tonight. To Toronto’s advantage, they have played two fewer games than Florida and Tampa Bay. The stakes are high and three could 37 points after tonight’s games.
Jagr, Barkov providing most of highlights recently
Distracting from the misery that is the standings for last season’s Atlantic division winning Panthers is the revival of Aleksander Barkov (9 goals-18 assists-27 points) and Jaromir Jagr (6-15-21). They are the Panthers leading scorers and the two have combined for much of the Panthers offense over the last month with Jagr gaining 15 of his season’s output of points in the last 18 games.
1888 points down and 1135 assists and 1900 points to go for Jagr
The week leading up to Christmas was one of significance for Jagr as collected five assists in three games and became the NHL’s #2 all-time leading scorer when he recorded his 1888th career point vs. Boston to pass Mark Messier…Another point in the Detroit game was his 1889th point, leaving him needing 11 to reach 1,900…That final assist was also his 1134th career helper. He trails former Pittsburgh teammate and mentor Paul Coffey by one for fifth all-time among the NHL’s top set-up men. Jagrometer.com will be present for both games to see if Jagr can catch and pass Coffey. All of the excitement of last week can be relived on our Christmas edition of Jagrometer.com which can be accessed from the index page.
All this history hasn’t gone unnoticed by Sun Sentinel beat writer Harvey Fialkov, who discusses what we’ve known–it will be a long time before anyone surpasses Jagr, who will retire as the second all-time leading point producer in NHL history and should wear the crown for a long time.
Anyone entertaining such a notion would need his own talent AND a strong supporting cast of future Hall of Famers combined with a free-wheeling coach who would trust his players to simply outskate the competition. The coaches salaries are too good for NHL bench bosses to risk trusting their players to come through so a free-wheeling coach isn’t sending out the lines for any NHL team these days. The salary cap and free agency make it impossible to assemble a team producing at an All-Star level for more than a few seasons.
Charts and graphs
Visit again soon as….The Legend Continues
Produced by Ray Haluska. Contact him at ROKINRAY@aol.com or on Twitter @CruisingRay