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I think there’s a reasonable argument to be made that Gerard Gallant’s Florida Panth
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I think there’s a reasonable argument to be made that Gerard Gallant’s Florida Panthers are the ultimate X-Factor as it pertains to the Eastern Conference playoff race, primarily due to the fact that most prognosticators had this team suffering through another tough year as their young team develops. Adidas Nmd For Sale Ireland . The fact that Florida has suddenly developed into a quality playoff hockey team has to be particularly disheartening to the couple of Eastern Conference teams who are hanging on for dear life right now. In particular, Toronto. One of the biggest – and really, only – endorsements one can give Randy Carlyle’s team right now is that there isn’t a whole lot of competition outside of the top eight with the ability to throw them from a potential playoff berth. Beyond that, the Maple Leafs once again stand on shaky ground. What makes Florida particularly fascinating as a contender is that it seems as though everything’s come together at the right time. Obviously, competition isn’t ripe right now in the East. But, they’ve benefited greatly from a combination of faster-than-expected player development and the venerable Roberto Luongo in net, who is able to bail the team out of trouble when things get dicey. As to this Panthers team as a whole – let’s first look at the team historically. It’s important to remember that this isn’t a team that’s really ever been ‘above average’ for a lengthy period of time, especially in the analytics era (2007-Present). The red vertical dotted line signifies the beginning of the 2014-2015 season. Notice two things – one, Florida has been able to control possession this season consistently above break-even, and two, it’s verging towards becoming the highest point of success for this team in the last eight years. The laundry list of young talent keying this run is something to behold: Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck, and Aaron Ekblad are something of a ‘big five’, all at or under the age of 22. The amazing thing? Every one of these players is in the black as it pertains to Corsi%. In a league where being successful at an extremely young age is quite difficult, the Panthers are making it look relatively easy. The play of these youngsters is one of the big reasons why they’ve picked up 40 points in 33 games, and the team’s collective underlying numbers continue to spike. To illustrate that climb, let’s look at the Eastern Conference by Score-Adjusted Corsi% over the last twenty games, to see how the Panthers stack up recently against other playoff hopefuls. Over the last twenty games, only three Eastern Conference teams – Tampa Bay, Detroit, and the New York Islanders, all of whom feel like playoff locks – control play better at 5-on-5 than Florida. And, perhaps more importantly, they sit significantly ahead of other teams fighting for those final playoff berths. But, as we know all too well, simply controlling play at 5-on-5 does not guarantee victory. Goaltending is a crucial part of hockey, and even quality possession teams – like, say, this year’s Minnesota Wild! – have extreme difficulty winning with ugly save percentages. Here’s where the acquisition of Roberto Luongo comes into play. We know, based on years and years of performance, that Roberto Luongo is a great goaltender. So, whereas a .927 EVSV% for one team may be a bit suspicious, it’s not for Florida – a team with a goaltender as established as any in the National Hockey League. Luongo, over the past few years, is just about as good as it gets in the crease. A quick comparison of his performance against other regular goaltenders in the Eastern Conference highlights just how awesome he has been. (Note: bubble size indicates ice-time; the larger the bubble, the more the goalie has played). Henrik Lundqvist is universally accepted as one of the league’s three best goaltenders. His performance since 2010 is virtually indiscernible from that of Roberto Luongo. So, here’s what we have in Florida: a team that generally out-shoots the competition, backstopped by one of the league’s better goaltenders. In a league where sixteen of thirty teams reach the post-season, and barring something drastically changing, that’s generally going to be enough to get beyond game eighty-two. Oh, and one more thing. The Cats currently have over $10-million in cap space, which makes them a team to watch both on and off of the ice over the next few months. Cheap Yeezy Powerphase Ireland . -- Jose Bautista never worries about hitting homers during the regular season. Cheap Adidas Nmd Shoes . The three Calgary natives will compete after the sport was skipped by the Vancouver Games in 2010 but later included on the program for Sochi, Russia. The fight to include womens ski jumping prior to Vancouver went to the courts only to have the Supreme Court of Canada rule against the athletes appeal in 2009. http://www.cheapnmdsneakersireland.com/y...eland.html . During the furious first few hours of free agency Tuesday, the team agreed to terms with strong safety Donte Whitner, a Cleveland native who cant wait to play in his hometown.ARLINGTON, Texas -- Colby Lewis had to be reminded about his last victory for the Texas Rangers. It had been a while. Lewis allowed one run over 5 1-3 innings for his first win in nearly two years, after elbow surgery and a unique hip procedure, and the Rangers beat the Chicago White Sox 6-3 on Saturday night for their fifth consecutive victory. "Its pretty sentimental," Lewis said. "Its one of those victories that Im just excited about." The 34-year-old right-hander won for the first time since June 17, 2012, a month before his last game prior to surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow. He was still rehabbing from that last August when he had right hip resurfacing surgery, and is the first known major league pitcher to return from that operation to remove bone spurs without a full hip replacement. "It was awesome," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "Were really glad for him." Joakim Soria, the fifth Texas reliever, worked a perfect ninth for his third save in four chances. He then gave the game ball to Lewis (1-1). Before his season debut Monday night, a home loss to Seattle when he also went 5 1-3 innings, Lewis hadnt made a major league start since July 18, 2012. "Im still kind of disappointed that i didnt go deeper in the ball game," Lewis said. "But I felt like the 85 (pitches) were a lot better than the 88 that I threw the other day. I felt like I was more relaxed. I was more myself." Manager Ron Washington said that kind of improvement is what the Rangers wanted to see from Lewis. "He came out and kept the ball down for the most part and used his pitches well, kept his stamina going for the time that he was out there," Washington said. Texas went ahead to stay on Prince Fielders high-arching blast to right leading off the fourth for a 2-1 lead. It was only his second homer in his 18 games with Texas. Shin-Soo Choo and Alex Rios each had three hits for the Rangers and Kevin Kouzmanoff homered leading off the eighth, giving him a 10-game hitting streak to start his Rangers career. Jose Quintana (1-1) allowed five runs and nine hits over five innings, and the White Sox lost their fourth straight. "He was pretty good. It wasnt his best stuff, but they are going to get hits, just because of the way the ballpark plays," manager Robin Ventura said. Adidas Nmd Shoes Near Me. "But once they start falling in, those are the ones that hurt you." Dayan Viciedos two-run single in the eighth got the White Sox within 5-3 before Alexei Ramirez, who entered the game with a AL-leading .379 batting average, grounded into an inning-ending double play. Ramirez finished 0 for 4 to snap his 21-game hitting streak, the longest hitting streak by a White Sox player since Carlos Lees franchise-record 28 in a row 10 years ago, and drop his average to .357. After Fielders homer, Josh Wilson had a two-run single in the fourth before Choos RBI-double made it 5-1. "The situation in the fourth inning changed the game for me," Quintana said. "One pitch. But now Im thinking about the next start." Chicago opened the second inning with three consecutive singles -- equaling its season-low hit total from the night before in a span of five pitches. Ramirez then grounded into a double play to send home a run that tied the game at 1. Texas had three consecutive hits in the first, though No. 2 Elvis Andrus got tagged out in a rundown between first and second base after his single. Rios had an RBI double for a 1-0 lead and to stretch his hitting streak to six games. After Andrus was tagged out diving back into first, Texas manager Ron Washington took one step out of the dugout like he might challenge the play. He instead returned to his seat, and TV replays showed that Andrus was indeed out. Notes: Chicago leadoff hitter Adam Eaton left with a mild strain in his left hamstring after batting in the fifth. Eaton and manager Robin Ventura said the injury wasnt related to a collision with 1B Fielder the previous pitch on a foul-ball roller up the first-base line. ... Viciedos hit off Alexi Ogando ended a scoreless streak of 16 2-3 innings by Rangers relievers, who had allowed only one earned run the previous 23 1-2 innings. ... Texas LHP Matt Harrison threw eighth scoreless innings in a rehab start for Double-A Frisco on Saturday night. He could make his Rangers season debut as early as next weekend. ... The Rangers are a majors-best 9-3 at home this season. ' ' '
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