NHL Week in Review (December 11-17)

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The Florida Panthers have been in the spotlight this week as the team has been a bit of a mystery throughout the year and it only got stranger this week.

Last year the Panthers were one of the biggest surprises of the year as they marched towards the playoffs and made a real impact.

It was expected that they might be able to do the same this year with a good young corps and some veterans mixed in.

Without any massive changes to the team, it looked like they could become a true contender year after year and fight for a playoff spot every year for the near future.

There was a lot of promise for the seasons to come but then the 2016 season began and all of that progress from a year ago was gone.

They sunk to the bottom of the standings and could make their way back to contention on a consistent basis.

It led to the first firing of the season as Gerard Gallant was fired as their head coach bringing Tom Rowe to the bench.

That decision in itself is always an interesting one as Rowe was serving as the GM for the Panthers until he fired the head coach and took over.

When general managers take over for head coaches it is the ultimate in executives meddling in their own team.

It never seems to capture the same controversy in the NHL as it does in other leagues and it tends to happen often.

GMs get frustrated with the use of the talent that they have put on the team and when performance slips they step in to take over.

Instead of finding another coach from the outside or hiring someone from within the Panthers system the person making the decision essentially called his own number.

Inconsistency remains one of their biggest issues as they can look like their 2015-16 team in one game and look like an entirely different team the next time around.

That was the situation heading into this week as the Panthers had their GM behind the bench looking to fix things before it was too late.

Then a report surfaced that team President, Dave Tallon, was going to begin to take over the hockey operations of the team.

Essentially he was to take over the GM duties while Rowe remained behind the bench.

It seemed to make sense as Tallon was the GM only last year and Rowe had an entirely new job to do.hockey-sidebar

Tallon taking over some of the responsibilities to lessen the load although both Tallon and Rowe would likely be involved in any player movement.

The report came from TSN’s Darren Dreger but according to Rowe the report was false and Tallon was remaining at his position.

He wasn’t going to be losing any of his own roles while he took over coaching the team.

Analysts at TSN fired back as Bob McKenzie stated that they do not make-up reports about league news.

The Panthers have yet to confirm whether or not the Tallon has taken over some of the roles of the GM.

It might never be known as the Panthers seem steadfast in their refusal to admit that Rowe taking over as the head coach has changed everything, especially after the Panther surprisingly moved Tallon from GM to President.

It is a strange time in Florida where not a whole lot is going right for a team that had so much promise a year ago.

Things seem like they are falling off of the rails for the Panthers as they have continued to struggle under Rowe.

Not much has helped them out in their pursuit of trying to get better as their decision to change coaches has done nothing.

They remain one of the most mysterious teams in the league with plenty of talent but very little results.

If this season doesn’t improve anything the indecision in the front office could be the reason and it is sure to mean some changes for the team.

Overtime
(More on this week in hockey)

BMO Getting Ready
The trucks and equipment have arrived for one of the biggest outdoor games in NHL history as the Toronto Maple Leafs will celebrate their 100th anniversary with the Centennial Classic and the first outdoor game in Toronto

Price Unhappy
Carey Price has been the reason for the success of the Canadiens but he rarely gets that much support so when he was pulled after allowing four goals he was not very happy about staring down his coach as he left the ice

Ottawa’s Outdoor Game
As the NHL prepares for their outdoor game season they have announced that one of the special games will be hosted in Ottawa for 2017 as the Senators will host the Canadiens at TD Place

standings-w10-fw

Key Scores:
Colorado Avalanche 3-1 Toronto Maple Leafs
– The Leafs remain a team with some inconsistencies although this may not have been a game where that showed as Semyon Varlamov played great saving 51 shots to give the Avs a rare win this season

Boston Bruins 2-1 Montreal Canadiens (OT)
– It is one of the oldest rivalries in the league and once again it produced a close game as the Bruins pulled out the overtime win against Montreal to try to close in on the division lead held by the Canadiens

Arizona Coyotes 3-2 Toronto Maple Leafs (SO)
– For Auston Matthews, this was a special game as he was set to play his childhood team for the first time ever and he did a good job getting one goal in the game but it wasn’t enough to beat the Coyotes

Chicago Blackhawks 6-4 St. Louis Blues
– It was another legendary rivalry and one that is again going to determine the Central division with the Blackhawks increasing their lead in the division with a win over the Blues who couldn’t make up some ground

Next Week:
San Jose Sharks vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Sunday, December 18th; 7:00 pm ET)
– Two of the best teams in the West will face-off as the Blackhawks look to increase their commanding lead in the Central while the Sharks look to stay ahead in the always competitive Pacific

New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (Tuesday, December 20th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The fight for the Metropolitan division is getting tough and this game between the top teams in the division could make a difference down the road as the whole division could come down to only a few games

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Colorado Avalanche (Thursday, December 22nd; 9:00 pm ET)
– When these two teams faced off last week Semyon Varlamov saved 51 of 52 shots leading the Avs to a much-needed win and this time around the Leafs will hope that they can finish more and get that loss back

Edmonton Oilers vs. San Jose Sharks (Friday, December 23rd; 10:30 pm ET)
– For the first time in a long time, the Oilers are actually in the fight as the Christmas break approaches and they hope to continue that into 2017 as they take on another top team in the Sharks trying to gain an advantage in the competitive Pacific division

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