The Florida Panthers have large aspirations this season. After years of being a laughing stock, they are now a true playoff contender. The Atlantic Division is going to be up for grabs when it comes to available playoff spots. The Panthers need to be careful all season long so they can stay in this race.
So far this season, Jaromir Jagr has been one of their best players. The 43-year-old winger leads the team in goals and points. He is currently dealing with a hamstring injury that flared up against the Colorado Avalanche. The Panthers said he could have returned in the game, but he ended up sitting out the next game.
Florida needs to play it safe with Jagr this season. They need to make sure he is healthy all season, and pushing him too hard could ruin that.
The Panthers have talent. They are winning without getting a goal from Willie Mitchell or Jonathan Huberdeau. Those two will get it going soon enough. Nick Bjugstad, Reilly Smith and Vincent Trocheck all have four goals a piece. The team is only allowing 2.1 goals per game, good for sixth in the NHL. Roberto Luongo has been stellar despite his record. Even backup goalie Al Montoya has been good when called upon.
The Panthers can survive a game or two without Jagr. They have the talent to make it even a week without their elderly statesman. If he aggravates an injury and misses a month, that is something the Panthers cannot survive. It sounds silly for a team to rely on a player well past his prime, but Jagr is not like other players. He could have a 70-point season, and that is not something you want to mess with. Let Jagr come back on his own terms.