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Florida Panthers

Puck Luck Plays a Big Role in Winning NHL Games

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Panthers bruins tkachuk
Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark drops to the ice as Matthew Tkachuk skates past and scores the game-winning goal in overtime in Game 5 on April 26. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

OK, so Nick Cousins scored a gimme goal Saturday night when the puck took a weird bounce off the boards and caught Seattle goalie Joey Daccord totally out of position.

In hockey, puck luck plays almost as much of a role in winning as does skill.

The margin of victory in the NHL is so thin that a post, a deflection or skate save can be the difference between winning and losing.

On the other hand, good teams create their own breaks.

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“Luck is the residue of design,” was a widely quoted prophecy of immortal baseball manager Branch Rickey — who famously signed Jackie Robinson with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Luck often plays a part in critical outcomes.

After Saturday’s game coach Paul Maurice said, “All of our good chances didn’t go, so we got a break. I think we kind of earned it.”

Cousins, who had numerous good chances since Day 1 here, was happy to get off the goal schneid, even if it wasn’t highlight-reel worthy.

“It makes all the chances you miss early on in the game not sting as much tonight,” he said.

Way back in my early days of following hockey I recall seeing my hometown New York Rangers being eliminated from an NHL playoff birth in 1959 when a bouncing puck eluded goalie Gump Worsley in the waning moments of a game against Toronto.

On the subject of catching a recent break, who can forget the errant pass by Boston goalie Linus Ullmark which resulted in Matthew Tkachuk’s overtime winner in Game 5 of the opening playoff round last season?

That certainly turned the series around.

Florida’s 7-0 overtime record in overtime during last year’s playoff run required an incredible amount of skill and grit but it took puck luck too.

A legendary performance by Sergei Bobrovsky certainly helped.

As a native New Yorker, it was in my upbringing to hate everything Boston when it came to sports.

Every time I view the replay of Carter Verhaeghe’s OT series clincher or Brandon Montour’s tying goal in the last minute of that game I focus on the stands and the stunned and silent faces.

The Panthers play the Bruins again on Monday.

Against a good team like that you need more than luck.

Maurice thinks his team is ready. Per Maurice, the current Boston team, despite personnel losses, plays the style that took a 3-1 playoff lead.

“The style of game that they play hasn’t changed a whole lot,’’ Maurice said. “The style that we play hasn’t changed.Personnel has changed. That might make it look a little bit different…It’s all about trying to get to your own game. Especially this early.”

Memories don’t fade very fast in hockey.

Tonight should be very interesting.

PANTHERS ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS @ BOSTON BRUINS

  • When: Monday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Boston Garden 
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida/ESPN+
  • Radio: WAXY 790-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932; NHL App
  • Last Season — Regular Season: Tied 2-2; Playoffs: Florida won 4-3 (first-round)
  • This season: @Boston Monday, April 6; @Florida Nov. 22, March 26
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Boston leads 60-37-7, 6 ties
  • All-time Postseason Series: Florida leads 2-0 (1996, 2023)
  • Up Next for the Panthers: @Detroit; Thursday, 7 p.m.

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