Up until Thursday night, the Florida Panthers were the defending champion NHL Presidents’ Trophy winners.
Well, sort of.
Since there was no way they could catch the teams in front of them, at least they were the ‘reigning’ Presidents’ Trophy winners.
Semantics aside, neither are true today.
On Thursday night, the Boston Bruins officially clinched the most points in the NHL this season after beating the Blue Jackets in overtime.
Boston will have home ice throughout the playoffs.
The Bruins are in the midst of a historical season and can still hit the NHL record for most points in a single season (132, 1976-77 Canadiens) with seven games remaining.
Boston has 121 points, one fewer than Florida ended with last season.
The Panthers never seemed to give the Presidents’ Trophy much mind — although there were t-shirts made, a banner hung and team staffers got a commemorative copy of the trophy for their own.
Today, the Panthers are just worried about making the playoffs — and, a first-round date with the Bruins.
With the Pittsburgh Penguins beating the Predators 2-0 on Thursday night, the Panthers remain a point out of the final wild card spot.
The Panthers have six games left; Pittsburgh seven.
To Columbus we go…
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW
Matthew Tkachuk had himself quite a night — and quite a season — as he had a hat trick with four points in Florida’s 5-2 win in Montreal on Thursday.
Tkachuk becomes just the second 100-point scorer in franchise history (Jonathan Huberdeau did it last year, then got traded away in a move we don’t remember) and the fourth to have back-to-back 100-point seasons on two different teams.
Not too shabby.
Tkachuk certainly looks like an MVP candidate. While no one is taking that away from Connor McDavid, someone has to finish second.
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- Anton Lundell scored the other two goals in the win over the Canadiens as Alex Lyon got himself another win with Sergei Bobrovsky still out with an illness. We think he’ll be OK to go Saturday against this old pals in Cbus.
- Lyon was pressed into emergency duty on Wednesday night as Bobrovsky fell ill on Tuesday and was not able to go in Toronto.
- Lot of pressure on Lyon, sure, but he handled it better than anyone could have hoped as he stopped 38 shots and kept the Panthers in it until the end when Sam Reinhart and Brandon Montour helped Florida snap their four-game losing streak.Heck of a win for Lyon.
- Paul Maurice became an internet sensation on Wednesday night but it was not only because the Panthers rallied to win.
- It was his profanity-laced tirade on the bench toward his sluggish players. And, no, he did not say Fudge. The full video is on the story linked here.
- Keith Tkachuk went on a Toronto radio station Wednesday morning and let Matthew’s team have it, calling them “soft” and deserving of being outside the playoff race based on their play.
- Tkachuk’s words seemed to shove some life into the Panthers for a minute or two on Wednesday before Maurice went nuts on the bench. The Panthers certainly looked soft for a lot of that game — until they rallied to win it late.
- Casey Fitzgerald has not played much since the Panthers claimed him off waivers from Buffalo, but they are getting him in a little on the fourth line — despite him being a natural defenseman.
- Video from Maurice, Tkachuk, Lyon and Lundell following the win against the Canadiens is up on the FHN YouTube Channel.
- You can click the embedded videos below or click RIGHT HERE to see everything all in one place. If you hit subscribe (it’s free), you will know when new content comes up.
NATIONAL HOCKEY NOW
The Panthers are in Columbus on Saturday night and the Blue Jackets were certainly in a fighting mood Thursday night against the Boston Bruins.
It was a Fight Night at the Gahden.
- Regardless of how this thing ends, the Pittsburgh Penguins need to clean house this offseason.
- The Detroit Red Wings have now won consecutive games for the first time in a while.
- The Philadelphia Flyers lost to the Sens in OT.
- The Vegas Golden Knights are headed to the dance.
- With another college free agent signing — this one Minnesota State forward Ondrej Pavel — the Colorado Avalanche have been staying busy.
PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
- When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5 FM-2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Season Series (Tied 1-1): Blue Jackets 5, Panthers 3 (Nov. 20); Panthers 4, Blue Jackets 0 (Dec. 13)
- Last season: Florida won 2-1
- All-time regular season series: Columbus leads 26-16-4
- Up Next for the Panthers: Buffalo Sabres at Florida, Tuesday, 7 p.m.