Last season Florida won the Atlantic Division and was the third seed in the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup playoffs. This season, Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant is fired. How should bettors react?
Gallant was a Coach of Year finalist just last spring, yet for whatever reason, many NHL front offices do not value coaches as extremely important and fire them regularly, which changes dynamics for making NHL picks.
Florida has a young nucleus of players, but many have been injured. 23-year old center Jonathan Huberdeau has not played yet this season and isn't expected back for several more weeks and Nick Bjugstad (24 years old ) and veteran left-winger Jussi Jokinen have missed significant amounts of time. Plus, 24-year old defensemen Alex Petrovic is expected to miss up to two months with an ankle injury.
Florida has been built with speed, but not a lot of offensive scoring power, as noted by 44-year Jaromir Jagr was the team's leading scorer a year ago. How can you place the blame on the coach when the front office is depending on a player of this age to carry the scoring load, no matter how effective he's been.
Looking ahead, the NHL odds seemed stacked against Florida, in the midst of six-game road trip, with games still at Chicago, Detroit, Ottawa, Boston and Philadelphia, before returning home on Dec. 8th to face Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh.
Make sure to check out A+ rated 5Dimes for Florida's latest odds, because the Panthers could very well be play against material for the short term, as the players on this club really like Gallant.