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2016-17 NHL Season Preview : Florida Panthers

2016-17 NHL Season Preview : Florida Panthers

It still feels like the season just ended, but with the draft and free agency already behind us, it's time to look forward to the 2016-17 season. We will preview every team in the NHL throughout August and take a look at what the new season may hold.

Team: Florida Panthers

How they did last season: 47-26-9 (103 points); 1st in the Atlantic Division; 3rd in the Eastern Conference.

Notable acquisitions: D Keith Yandle; D Jason Demers; D Mark Pysyk; G James Reimer; C Jared McCann; C Colton Sceviour and C Jonathan Marchessault.  

Notable departures: D Erik Gudbranson; D Dmitry Kulikov; D Brian Campbell and D Willie Mitchell.

When they will play the Caps: At Florida on Oct. 20; In Washington on Nov. 5.

Analysis: The Panthers captured the Atlantic Division and racked up a franchise record 103 points last season. But a stellar regular season was followed by first-round flameout, a disappointment that prompted ownership to really get after it this offseason.

The Panthers revamped their logo and uniforms. They shook up the front office, hiring a new general manager—Tom Rowe—and promoting Dale Tallon to president of hockey operations, among other moves. They also retooled the roster, focusing primarily on a backend that the organization felt let them down last spring.

Enter Yandle, Demers and Pysyk. Rowe says he wants his defensemen to lead a quick transition game and help create offense, much like the blue lines in Tampa Bay and San Jose that helped carry their respective clubs to the finals the past couple of seasons.

Yandle, who inked a seven-year, $44.5 million contract, is the centerpiece of the additions. He figures to skate alongside Aaron Ekblad on the top pairing while also providing a much-needed punch to a power play that ranked 23rd last season. Since 2009, Yandle has racked up 325 points, a total surpassed by only Erik Karlsson and Duncan Keith during that span.

With the Panthers’ top seven forwards all returning—including 44-year-old! Jaromir Jagr—Rowe addressed the bottom six, signing Sceviour and Marchessault and acquiring McCann via trade.

Rowe also bolstered the goaltending, signing Reimer to a five-year, $17 million contract. Roberto Luongo, who is coming off hip surgery, is still the starter, but Reimer will likely be counted upon to spell the 37-year-old more often this season. It’s also possible Reimer will play early on if Luongo isn’t quite ready.

So, yeah, the Panthers were kind of busy the past few months.

Season prediction: There’s a lot to like here.

The Yandle and Ekblad-led blue line appears to be significantly improved. A talented top-6 forward led by Jagr, Jussi Jokinen, Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau returns and, assuming there’s no drop off in Jagr’s game, it appears as dangerous as the one that helped the Panthers rank eighth in goals (2.83 per game) last season.

Luongo’s age and hip are a bit of a concern. But that’s why Rowe signed Reimer.    

I’ve looked. And I’ve looked again. And I don’t see any significant holes in the Panthers’ lineup. On paper, they sure look like a team that’s ready to do some damage.

Will all the moves result in a long run next spring? It’s impossible to know, obviously. But you can be certain of this much: no one can accuse Panthers’ ownership of not going for it.


Pacific Division
— Anaheim Ducks
— Arizona Coyotes
— Calgary Flames
— Edmonton Oilers
— Los Angeles Kings
— San Jose Sharks
— Vancouver Canucks

Central Division
— Chicago Blackhawks
— Colorado Avalanche
— Dallas Stars
— Minnesota Wild
— Nashville Predators
— St. Louis Blues
— Winnipeg Jets

Atlantic Division
— Boston Bruins
— Buffalo Sabres
Detroit Red Wings
— Montreal Canadiens (coming Aug. 19)
— Ottawa Senators (coming Aug. 20)
— Tampa Bay Lightning (coming Aug. 21)
— Toronto Maple Leafs (coming Aug. 22)

Metropolitan Division
— Carolina Hurricanes (coming Aug. 23)
— Columbus Blue Jackets (coming Aug. 24)
— New Jersey Devils (coming Aug. 25)
— New York Islanders (coming Aug. 26)
— New York Rangers (coming Aug. 27)
— Philadelphia Flyers (coming Aug. 28)
— Pittsburgh Penguins (coming Aug. 29)
— Washington Capitals (coming soon)

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3 stars of the game: A lethargic loss in Philadelphia


3 stars of the game: A lethargic loss in Philadelphia

Playing three games in four days takes a toll on even the fittest athletes, and it was their sluggish start that doomed the Capitals in a 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. 

After being noncomittal about his starting goalie all weekend, Coach Barry Trotz put Philipp Grubauer in net. Grubauer ended up making 29 saves on 34 shots. Offensively, the Caps got goals from Alex Ovechkin, Chandler Stephenson, and John Carlson. Carlson's third period goal cut the Flyers' lead to two with a little over three minutes to go, but a Jakub Voracek empty-netter a few moments later was the nail in the coffin. 

Here are your three stars from the game: 

1. Travis Boyd had the play of the game for the Capitals. Boyd carried the puck into the Flyer's zone, cut through multiple defenders and fired a slick shot to a streaking Ovechkin, who burried the puck in the back of the net. Check it out: 

Not only was the play nice on its own, but it was Boyd's first NHL point. Not a bad way to get it. 

2. Shayne Gostisbehere​ got the Flyers going with his goal in the first period. The defenseman had one goal on five shots along with being an intimidating force in the defensive zone. After going six weeks without scoring, today's goal was Gostisbehere's second goal in three games. 

3. Wayne Simmonds was the best offensive player on the ice on Sunday, scoring twice - both in the final period. It was the 22nd and 23rd goals of the season for the 29-year-old winger. It was also the first multi-goal game for Simmonds since Opening Night, when he had two against San Jose. 

The Caps hit the ice next on Tuesday, when they welcome the Dallas Stars to the Capital One Center. 

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Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pa.

When: 5:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Flyers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Flyers game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.


The Capitals (41-23-7) take on the Flyers (36-25-11) Sunday, March 18 at 5:00 p.m. ET in Philadelphia.


The Capitals-Flyers game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

4:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
4:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
5:00 p.m. — Capitals at Flyers
7:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
8:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
9:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


The Capitals-Flyers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.