FLORIDA PANTHERSThe officially playoff-bound Panthers enter the last full week of the regular season on a three-game win streak, which matches the number of games they have remaining. First place in the Central Division remains up for grabs, though Carolina is in the driver’s seat with a two-point lead and two games in hand relative to the Panthers. All of the Panthers’ remaining games are potential first-round previews – Dallas (tonight) is a possible match-up if Florida finishes first, while Tampa Bay (Saturday and Monday) could be the opponent in a 2/3 series.
Seemingly everything the Panthers touch turns to gold this season. New additions like Sam Bennett and even Spencer Knight are making key contributions, and offseason gambles on players that have something to prove (Carter Verhaeghe, Anthony Duclair) are paying off up and down the lineup. Former Checker Gustav Forsling is a prime example of that, as the preseason waiver pickup that spent all of last season in the AHL remains a top-pairing fixture on a contender. Plays like this in his two-assist performance on Saturday have prompted his Panthers teammates to give him the nickname “Bobby Orrsling.”
Barky gets the goal but let's also talk about Gustav Forsling here ? pic.twitter.com/vgoEICvYXx— x - Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) May 2, 2021
SYRACUSE CRUNCHThe Crunch’s five-game win streak ended with a pair of losses to start the week, one of which was in overtime. They did however bounce back on Sunday with a 5-2 victory over Utica that pushed them to 16-9-2 on the season.
After missing approximately two months due to injury, former Checker Chase Priskie has four points (2g, 2a) in five games, including the below goal from Sunday’s victory. Also of note is the AHL season debut of Panthers prospect Ryan Bednard, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits’ standout goaltender, who went 1-1-0 with a 2.61 goals-against average and .915 save percentage in two games over the weekend.
GREENVILLE SWAMP RABBITSThe Swamp Rabbits’ four-game series with Jacksonville clearly started off on the wrong foot with an 8-1 loss on Friday, but they were able to bounce back with points in their next two games via an overtime loss and a win. Greenville is now second in the North Division and eight points clear of the playoff cuttoff line, though all of the teams chasing them, including Jacksonville, have as many as four games in hand. The ECHL regular season is a relative marathon compared to the other leagues, starting the earliest and stretching another month.
Panthers prospect Alec Rauhauser, a rookie defenseman from Bowling Green State University, had the eventual game-winner in Sunday’s 3-2 victory.
? GOAL! ? Rauhauser with the Sunday snipe! YES SIR, lead stands at 3-0. pic.twitter.com/LxSG47Bgis— Greenville Swamp Rabbits (@SwampRabbits) May 2, 2021
IN OTHER NEWS
- Did you hear? We three-peated!*
Celebrate all three* of our championship victories by pre-ordering these special shirts and decals. We’ll even throw in a regular championship shirt for 50 percent off if you don’t have one of those yet.
- Amid a season of consistent success, Alex Nedeljkovic had his best week yet. There’s the two wins, in which he allowed just two total goals and boosted his goals-against average to 1.89 and save percentage to .934 – both of which lead all NHL goaltenders that have played more than 20 games.
On top of that, he got engaged…
…and set up the overtime winner on Saturday for his first NHL point.
He does it all folks!— Charlotte Checkers (@CheckersHockey) May 2, 2021
You know that goal is coming someday btw https://t.co/wa5tXqNNFu
Not bad at all.
- Three former Checkers combined on the same NHL goal for what we believe is the first time ever as Max McCormick finished a nice setup from Morgan Geekie and Steven Lorentz on Tuesday. It was McCormick’s second straight game with a goal.
Maxed Out pic.twitter.com/YGsLlmusoL— x - Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) April 28, 2021
- Geekie also made news for some interesting commentary at a pregame availability.
Words of wisdom from Morgan Geekie pic.twitter.com/CWsG42J4ax— Michael Smith (@MSmithCanes) April 29, 2021
- Haydn Fleury picked up his first points with the Anaheim Ducks last week. His first was an assist on a goal by Trevor Carrick’s brother Sam, and his second was this blast from the point.
- Janne Kuokkanen extended his point streak to three games with this nice finish in New Jerseys’ win on Saturday.
Kid line at it again— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) May 2, 2021
?: Sharangovich pic.twitter.com/VUpfOJMUcd
- Their time in Charlotte didn’t overlap, but former Checkers Sergey Tolchinsky and Oliwer Kaski combined on some big goals in Avangard’s run to the KHL’s Gagarin Cup, including the only goal in the clinching game. Tolchinsky was named playoff MVP.
? Sergei Tolchinsky— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) Apil 28, 2021
? KHL pic.twitter.com/I5nTJi6nmS
- Aleksi Saarela’s Lukko team is up 2-1 in the Finnish semifinals. He had three points in their most recent game, including this trademark snipe.
- Former Checkers Andrew Poturalski and Ryan Murphy continue their month-long reign as the AHL’s top scoring forward and defenseman, respectively. Murphy has four points in his last two games. Those two would be favorites if the league does indeed hand out awards this season.
- Panthers prospect Max Gildon, a rookie who led the University of New Hampshire in scoring for three straight years as a defenseman, had a four-assist game for the Bakersfield Condors on Wednesday.