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“There are a lot of good

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“There are a lot of good

Post autor: elaine95 » pt sie 10, 2018 9:28 pm

The Florida Panthers were one of the best teams in the NHL after the All-Star break Cheap Troy Niklas Jersey , not that it counted for much at the end of the regular season.

Despite winning five games over the final seven days and tying for first in the NHL with 25 victories over their final 35 games, the Panthers failed to make the playoffs for the fifth time in six years and the 15th time in 17 seasons.

”It’s disappointing,” said center Vincent Trocheck, who finished the season with a team-high 31 goals. ”Everybody here had one goal, and that was to make the playoffs and then go on a push. We were really hoping we’d get a little help from some other teams and maybe get in. I think there’s a lot of teams that didn’t want to play us if we got in.”

The Panthers finished with a 44-30-8 record for 96 points, matching the 2014-15 Boston Bruins for most points for a team missing the playoffs. The Panthers were 25-8-2 after the All-Star break, tying the Winnipeg Jets for most victories over the final 35 games.

But Florida couldn’t overcome a slow start. The Panthers was 4-8-2 in its first 14 games and played catch-up the whole season. They held a playoff position for one day (after the games of Oct. 12) the entire season.

”We’re extremely proud of this group,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. ”The effort they put forth, especially in the second half of the season … 96 points is not easy to do in this league. It’s a shame that we’re not in with that kind of a total. Maybe that’s something that’s going to even drive us harder next year.”

Some things to know about the Panthers’ disappointing 2017-18 season, and a look to `18-19:

OFFSEASON PRIORITY: The Panthers don’t seem to need much after their post-All-Star break performance http://www.redskinsauthorizedshops.com/ ... pke-jersey , particularly since every key member of the team is signed through next season or beyond. The top seven scorers, as well as goalies Roberto Luongo and James Reimer, are signed through the 2019-20 season. If anything, the Panthers could use another scorer and maybe a defenseman, but the team has a solid foundation in place.

YOUTH IS SERVED: Perhaps the biggest reason for optimism for the Panthers looking ahead has to do with a core that’s been around for a few years but is still very young. The team’s top three scorers – Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck and Jonathan Huberdeau – and top-four defensemen Aaron Ekblad and Mike Matheson all are 24 or younger.

HOME COOKING: The Panthers’ season-ending five-game winning streak including a sweep of a four-game homestand that featured games against two of the top four teams in the NHL, the Nashville Predators and the Boston Bruins. A 4-3 victory against the Buffalo Sabres in the home finale helped the Panthers set a franchise record with 27 home victories, breaking the mark of 26 set in 1999-2000.

STILL GOING: Defenseman Keith Yandle completed a ninth consecutive season without missing a game, extending the longest active streak in the NHL to 715 consecutive games. Yandle ended the season with 56 points, one shy of the franchise record for defensemen set by Robert Svehla in 1995-96. His blueline partner Aaron Ekblad tied the franchise mark for defensemen with 16 goals Tracy Walker Color Rush Jersey , first set by Jason Garrison in 2011-12.

HOW LONG CAN LUONGO GO? Goalie Roberto Luongo started three games in four nights last week as the Panthers made their final push to the playoffs, and he joined Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy as the only goalies to play 1,000 games when he defeated Boston on Thursday. But he did turn 39 on April 4 and missed 32 games this season because of injuries. The Panthers will have to decide whether they want to come back next season with Luongo and James Reimer as their goaltending duo.

More NHL hockey:

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Trail Blazers must try to slow down Anthony Davis. The New Orleans Pelicans must do what they can to control Damian Lillard.

The seemingly impossible task becomes the ultimate challenge as each player leads his team into a first-round playoff series that opens Saturday night at Moda Center.

Portland (49-33) is the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference and New Orleans (48-34) the No. 6 seed. Only one game separated the teams through a wild, competitive regular season, with spots going down to the final day.

The 6-foot-11 Davis and the 6-foot, 3-inch Lillard play different positions, but they’re both likely first-team All-NBA selections this season. Davis is in the conversation for the Most Valuable Player Award, too.

Davis finished second in the NBA in scoring at 28.1 points per game, was fifth in rebounds (11.1) and led the league in efficiency rating at 33.0. After fellow “Twin Tower” DeMarcus Cousins was lost for the season in late January with an Achilles tendon injury Cheap Josh Jackson Jersey , Davis carried the load for a New Orleans team that went 20-8 since Feb. 10, winning its last five games.

“Losing a player like DeMarcus changes your team, but they still have Anthony Davis out there,” Lillard said. “That’s a good problem to have. He’s one of the very best players in our league. Anybody guarding him is going to have a tough time. He can handle the ball, shoots the 3, hit pull-ups and floaters and go coast to coast.”

Portland coach Terry Stotts is expected to use both 7-foot center Jusuf Nurkic and 6-foot-9 Al-Farouq “Chief” Aminu to defend Davis, who had 36-point games in the two full contests he played against the Blazers this season. Davis and Aminu played two seasons together in New Orleans in 2012-13 and 2013-14.

“Chief has the height and length to do a good job on (Davis),” Lillard said. “Plus he has the understanding how to guard guys, and he played with him, so he’s familiar with his tendencies. But it’s going to take a team effort. We’re going to have to be ready to play physical with him.”

“There are a lot of good players in this league Youth Jason McCourty Jersey ,” Nurkic said. “He’s one of them. I’m not worried about Anthony Davis. He’s going to make his shots. He’s probably going to get his points. We need to worry about the rest of the team. Some of the other guys, like (Nikila) Mirotic, can have an impact. I’m more worried about one of those guys getting hot, because they have a lot of shooters.”

Lillard tied for fourth in the NBA in scoring at 26.9 points a game, was 10th in assists (6.6) and 11th in efficiency rating at 25.0. He combines with CJ McCollum (21.4-point average, 19th in the NBA) to form one of the most potent backcourt combinations in the league.

“You have to work as hard as you can defensively and hope they are not having one of those great nights they’re capable of having,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said. “Dame is one of the best clutch players in the league. I feel like he’s been an All-Star the last five, six years. He has a way about him, a confidence about him, that he feels like when his team needs a basket the most Calvin Ridley Color Rush Jersey , he can go get it.”

Davis said he holds great respect for the Blazers but isn’t just happy to be in the playoffs.

“It starts with their guards,” he said. “They are a handful. They can score at will. They’re a good defensive team. We have to make sure we don’t turn the ball over, take care of the defensive boards and play defense.

“Our goal is to not just get in the playoffs, but to make some noise. We want to try to get one, maybe both, of the games (in Portland), then go back home and take care of business.”


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