What do you need to know about last night’s big stories? Joe McDonald gives us his take on the biggest and best. This is where we say, “Morning, Joe.”
Give us more Florida: If the hockey gods have a sense of drama, they will make sure the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers finally play each other in the Stanley Cup playoffs this season. Fans would go crazy to see two Florida teams play and the players would dig into that rivalry as well. On Monday, the Panthers defeated the Lightning 3 1. Reilly Smith scored the winner in the waning minutes of regulation and goaltender Roberto Luongo finished with 34 saves to snap a personal four game losing skid. These two teams will battle for Atlantic Division supremacy all season. The win by the Panthers (6 6 1) over the Lightning (7 5 1) should be exactly what they needed to push them in the right direction. The Panthers have been getting contributions from forward Vincent Trocheck, who has six goals and two assists for eight points in 13 games. Adding Jonathan Marchessault during the offseason was huge: the former Lightning forward is leading the Panthers with seven goals and six assists for 13 points in 13 games. But Florida needs more contributions throughout the lineup to set up this playoff matchup. Make it happen, hockey gods.
Rask and roll: There’s no way anyone would have predicted Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask would be 7 1 0 with a 1.74 goals against average and a .941 save percentage, along with two shutouts, to start the season. Monday night, he made 32 saves to help the Bruins to a 4 0 win against the Buffalo Sabres. Rask will have to be Boston’s best player if the Bruins want to erase two seasons of misery and return to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Rask won the Vezina Trophy for the 2013 14 season; he’s at his best when he’s getting help from the defense in front of him, which hasn’t been the case in the previous two seasons. And when you watch Rask this season, it almost appears as if he doesn’t care in that he’s just so calm and fundamentally sound that he makes it look easy. But burnout is a concern; he shouldn’t play more than 60 games this season. That’s a problem for the Bruins, as backup Anton Khudobin is sidelined with an upper body injury and the goaltending depth hasn’t been sound behind Rask. He has been outstanding so far and he will need to continue to be consistent if the Bruins are to return to the postseason.
Trouba trade coming: The Jacob Trouba standoff with the Winnipeg Jets has been resolved for now. At 6 foot 3, 202 pounds, Trouba is a big, tough, mobile and skilled defenseman. He has a huge shot and a nasty streak, a cornerstone as a right handed blueliner. But staying away from the team will affect his cheap authentic jerseys
standing in the dressing room with his teammates. Ryan O’Reilly and the Colorado Avalanche went through the same thing before he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres. Trouba, 22, signed a two year contract with the Jets worth $2.5 million this season and $3.5 million next season. If he hadn’t signed by Dec. 1, he would have been ineligible to play this season. While the ink dries on his new contract, let’s say this: He will be traded this season. Sure, his talents fit well on Winnipeg’s blue line, but the damage has been done. He asked for a trade in September and now that he has a bridge deal, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will get the most out of Trouba before the next contract.