There are few fanbases and organizations rooting that the Florida Panthers fail in their playoff push harder than in Montreal.
And it has nothing to do with the Jeffery Loria, the Marlins or the Expos.
It does have everything to do with Ben Chiarot.
Montreal certainly does.
The Panthers acquired Chiarot at the NHL Trade Deadline last year, sending prospect Ty Smilanic — a third-round selection in 2020 — as well as their 2023 first round pick and a fourth-round selection in 2022 as part of the deal.
The big piece, especially this year, is that 2023 first-round draft pick.
It is not lottery protected as so many other first-round picks in this draft which were traded are.
If the Panthers do not make the playoffs, then the Canadiens get themselves a lottery pick from Florida.
Only thing is, the Panthers would really have to fall to give Montreal a shot at franchise-changer Connor Bedard with their selection.
Under the new lottery rules, a team can only move up 10 spots — meaning the Canadiens can win the top overall pick with their own pick, but Florida will not be anywhere close to the bottom 10.
So, while many Canadiens fans are hoping their team loses most nights, they will still be rooting hard for the Habs tonight.
One more loss for the Panthers puts them closer to the golf course — and puts the Canadiens closer to another high draft pick.
Happy Opening Day!
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW
Alex Lyon was pressed into emergency duty on Wednesday night as Sergei 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 — who may be in net tonight as well.
- Paul Maurice was 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. He was not wrong.
- 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.
- The latest edition of the Panther Pourri podcast (presented by Florida Hockey Now) featuring Alex, Jacob, and TJ as well as myself as we all discuss the last week of the Panthers — which saw their losing streak hit four.
- Video from Maurice, Sasha Barkov, Lyon and Montour is up following the big win against the Maple Leafs.
- 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
I know we have asked ourselves this down here quite a bit this past week, but why are the Pittsburgh Penguins so darned self destructive?
The Pens have lost six of eight going into tonight’s home game against Nashville with Florida now a point back — with one more game played. Pittsburgh is still in control of its own destiny, if it wants to be, that is.
- Remember what we said about the Montreal Canadiens up above? There is a Tank Tracker and everything.
- Philadelphia Flyers coach John Tortorella likes using the ‘toilet seat’ line as in a player is ‘up and down.’ He used it on Morgan Frost earlier this season and on Matt Calvert during the 2018 playoffs. Calvert did not take it as well as Frost has. Funny how you remember things like that…
- Jacob Markstrom steals one for the Calgary Flames and keeps their playoff hopes alive.
- Detroit Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde expects a stern talking to from the NHL for his outburst and ejection. He probably gets the 25K Maurice did as well.
PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT MONTREAL CANADIENS
- When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Bell Center, Montreal
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Sun and BSF (joining after Marlins Opening Day), ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Last season: Florida won 3-1
- This season (Florida leads 3-0): Panthers 7, Canadiens 2 (Dec. 29); Panthers 6, Canadiens 2 (Jan. 19); Panthers 9, Canadiens 5 (March 16)
- All-time regular season series: Florida leads 54-38-11, 6 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Florida at Columbus Blue Jackets, Saturday, 7 p.m.