FLORIDA PANTHERSIt was a week of alternating wins and losses for the Panthers, who defeated Chicago and split a two-game series with Nashville heading into a showdown with the first-place Lightning in Tampa on Sunday. In that final game, the Panthers, who had an opportunity to tie Tampa for the top spot in the Central Division with a victory, were tied 3-3 in the third period until the defending champions got the winner with approximately nine minutes left.
The Panthers now rank third in the division in terms of points percentage in what is still a tight three-team race with Tampa and Carolina. They stay on the road to face Chicago and Dallas twice each this week.
Former Checker Gustav Forsling, who we highlighted in this space last week, scored his first two goals of the season for the Panthers last week and continues to average close to 20 minutes of ice time each game.
All even ? pic.twitter.com/yOl3eIoYkm— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) March 21, 2021
SYRACUSE CRUNCHThe Crunch were again affected by schedule shuffling related to COVID protocols, as their two scheduled games against Rochester and Utica turned into just one game against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday. That game, a 5-2 victory, saw Panthers prospects Serron Noel and Scott Wilson pick up assists before Brady Keeper put it away with an empty netter.
Syracuse, now 5-5-1 on the season, is set for a busy week that would see them play a Wednesday rematch with the Penguins before moving on to play a back-to-back against Rochester and Utica starting Friday.
GREENVILLE SWAMP RABBITSThe Swamp Rabbits had every possible outcome in their three-in-three set against the Florida Everblades, as their 1-1-1 showing ended with a 5-1 defeat on Sunday. Previously, they had won the opener by a 5-3 score and dropped Saturday’s contest in overtime.
Panthers prospect Ryan Bednard picked up his 15th victory of the season in that series, tying him for the league lead. Greenville enters this weekend’s three-in-three against Jacksonville in playoff position as the East Division’s fourth-place team. They'll have forward Greg Meireles, a Checkers signee from the offseason, back from an AHL stint with Syracuse.
❗️NEWS❗️— Greenville Swamp Rabbits (@SwampRabbits) March 22, 2021
Greg Meireles is BACK! January's ECHL Rookie of the Month returns to Greenville after earning his AHL debut with the Syracuse Crunch earlier this month!
MORE➡️ https://t.co/MAlzAQAlGj pic.twitter.com/v87oTqZdXh
IN OTHER NEWS
- Panthers prospect Spencer Knight is a Top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker award as college hockey’s top player. The standout goaltender, a first-round pick and gold medal winner with Team USA at the most recent World Junior tournament, is set to lead No. 2 seed Boston College in the NCAA tournament that starts this weekend. He is one of four Panthers prospects in the tournament along with Wisconsin’s Owen Lindmark and Tyler Inamoto and Quinnipiac’s Ty Smilanic.
- The Panthers’ reassigned forward Grigori Denisenko to AHL Syracuse last week. The 2018 first-round pick played his first two NHL games earlier this month.
- Anton Forsberg has had one of the craziest seasons of any hockey player, as he joined his fourth team, the Ottawa Senators, all before playing a single game. The former Checkers goaltender signed with Edmonton before the season, joined Carolina on waivers, joined Winnipeg on waivers and has now joined Ottawa on waivers. Playing his first game in over a year, he stopped 33 of 34 shots in his debut with AHL Belleville – a successful conditioning stint that could lead to his first NHL appearance of the season as soon as tonight. Forsberg was a guest on Sportsnet's 31 Thoughts podcast today.
- In Ottawa, Forsberg is reunited with forward Clark Bishop, who has two assists in four games.
- Calder Cup winning Checkers goaltender Dustin Tokarski is on the Buffalo Sabres’ active roster, having previously spent time on the taxi squad and with AHL Rochester. He is expected to at least back up tonight.
- Julien Gauthier scored a highlight-reel goal for the New York Rangers on Monday that looked pretty familiar to us.
Seen this before! ??♂️??♂️ https://t.co/fpK3GZ7I1A— Charlotte Checkers (@CheckersHockey) March 16, 2021
- The New Jersey Devils highlighted Janne Kuokkanen in this prospect watch feature. He’s up to 13 points (5g, 8a) in 24 games.
- Patrick Brown is back with Vegas. Brown, who has eight points (3g, 5a) in nine games as the captain of AHL Henderson this season, has played two games on the fourth line for the high-flying Golden Knights.
- The Hurricanes called former Checker Joey Keane up to their practice squad last week. The offensive-minded defenseman had eight points, all assists, in 13 games with the Chicago Wolves to start the season.
- Andrew Poturalski has 15 points in his last 13 games with AHL San Diego, pushing him up to fourth in league scoring.
- Aleksi Saarela, a former Checker and current Panthers prospect playing in his native Finland this season, had a hat trick for Lukko on Friday. He ranks third in league goal scoring with 21 in 39 games. Recognize this shot?
- Dan Renouf and equipment manager Donny White cameo in this Colorado Avalanche mic'd up feature. Renouf had two assists for his first career multi-point game last week.