OK, it was only an exhibition game, but the Panthers finally looked like the kind of team a lot of people hope they're going to be on Wednesday night. Florida came out sharp and fired the puck all over Kari Lehtonen of Atlanta; dude made some sweet saves to stone the Panthers in the first. I like the new defensive pairings, and think we may see Jay Bouwmeester just go off the charts now that he's lined up with Bryan Allen. Bo doesn't have to worry about everything on the ice like he's prone to do. Seeing him crash the net Wednesday (which accounted for one of Florida's two goals) was something I would like to see more of. And I do expect to see more of the same.
Must say it was wierd to see the dasher boards almost devoid of advertising signs. But don't fret there Mr./Ms. Capatalist. This is a franchise that prides itself on how much stuff it can come up with to be sponsored (the back of my laptop is now being offered for bid). The ads are coming back. In fact, the NHL's board of governors agreed that teams could boost up the total of board signage from 40 to 44. So, actually you can expect more ads on the ice in the near future.
If any of you ever get to go to Atlanta for a game, check it out. The Thrashers do a very nice job of doing in-house entertainment while taking care of their many sponsors at the same time. Timeouts in Atlanta are actually quite fun because they come up with some great bits.