Oh How Narratives Change! Who would’ve thought back in December that at this time former Bruins head coach Claude Julien would be preparing for his 1st game during his 2nd tenure as head coach of the Bruins biggest rival the Montreal Canadiens or that the Florida Panthers would be scoring more than 5 goals almost every night or that the New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres have become sudden playoff contenders.
Claude Julien to Montreal
On February 7th, the Boston Bruins fired head coach and the NHL’s longest tenured head coach with one team Claude Julien. After a decade in Beantown, Claude was only out of a job for a week (I’m hoping he spent those days here in Palm Beach getting warmed up after being stuck in frozen Boston for several years in that frozen area, he deserves a few days getting a nice suntan). If that was the case then he must’ve really missed the cold weather, as the Montreal Canadiens hired him on Tuesday after firing Julien’s predecessor before his 1st tenure in Montreal, Michel Therrien. Boston and Montreal are definitely the biggest rivals in the NHL. They are the Red Sox-Yankees; Redskins-Cowboys; Lakers-Celtics and Real Madrid-Barcelona of the NHL. There must have been tons of dysfunction within the Bruins organization. They are a pathetic bunch. Claude didn’t have many good players. They traded Tyler Seguin, Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic. They also only got Jimmy Hayes for Reilly Smith. Smith scored 25 goals for the Panthers last year, while Boston fans would prefer a bag of broken sticks over Hayes. This is not Claude Julien’s fault. They have made pathetic deals. I heard Cam Neely and Don Sweeney didn’t like Julien so they must’ve wanted to get him out by having firesales. Tuukka Rask who is a Top 5 pick for the Veznia with Price, Bobrovsky, Dubnyk and Crawford this year is the only reason they are still in it. The Habs are now a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.
The High Scoring Florida Panthers
With almost all of their top forwards out for the first half of the year, the Florida Panthers had to rely on the tandem of Roberto Luongo and James Reimer to pull them through. Now they are fully healthy. In only 4 games, Jonathan Huberdeau leads all players in the NHL with points per game averaging 1.75 points per game as he has 7 points and hasn’t had a game yet this year without a point. Sasha Barkov has scored several goals and Jaromir Jagr is getting going. Nick Bjugstad has really stood out this month since returning from a groin injury. In the past 5 games the Panthers have scored 6 goals in 2 games, 7 goals in 1 game, 3 goals in 1 game and 2 goals in 1 game. They have won 5 of their past 6. The Panthers are going to make a playoff push and I would definitely keep my eye on them for the remainder of the year. However, with the added offense their goalies have been resting too much. It might be the new pants but since the break, Luongo has allowed 17 goals in 4 games and Reimer 4 goals in 2 games. The goalies need to start playing more consistently. Also with a return to a normal schedule, hopefully guys like Huberdeau and Barkov don’t get worn out. The Panthers have only played 4 games since February 1st but I’ve been following this team all year so I’m confident.
Islanders and Sabres emerging as playoff contenders; Check out the Carter Hud blog.
Ever since their coaching change the New York Islanders have been on a tear. They have 61 points now which is 2 points out of a playoff spot instead of dead last in the east. The Buffalo Sabres have also quietly snuck into contention. Hearing everything, with the return of Jack Eichel, the Sabres have been doing well and the Isles have been getting production from everywhere in the lineup (Carter is this right?).
Speaking of the Isles, you should really check out the Carter Hud blog. It is run by Carter LaCorte a 5th grader. He is younger than me but his blogging skills are very advanced for his age. His favorite teams are the Islanders and Yankees. While he mainly covers the Isles, he also will put out daily posts with rundowns of every team normally around the league. Check him out at http://www.carterhud.com. Follow him on twitter at @CarterHudBlog. He has quality content.