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Swamps of Jersey

Pizzaland What a difference a win makes, eh? The Panthers were in a pretty darned good mood Thursday, with pretty much the entire team showing up for the optional practice. While some players didn't participate -- almost all did -- everyone was at least there. That's rare. Even JM was in a chipper mood, cracking jokes at the expense of your's truly about my mental skills -- or lack thereof. He had a mental skills coach (me and Minervini think the guy's a sports psychologist) talk to the team again today about their role on a team. Good stuff, although I'm apparently not smart enough to understand it all. So I'll skip it for now.

Good day in Jersey, had lunch at a local Italian joint off the side of the road. Some place called 'Olive Garden' or something like that. Great breadsticks. If you are ever in the Meadowlands area, I suggest you give the place a try! Nothing beats visiting a local place and getting in touch with the locals. They also have a big store here called 'Wal-Mart.' This place sells clothes as well as food! You have to see it to believe it.

On to the news:

-- Joe Nieuwendyk will not play in the final two games of the road trip and may be headed back to FLL tonight. JM says he will update us on that. Nieuwy hurt his back apparently reaching for a puck, straining his back.

-- No update on Todd Bertuzzi.

-- Alex Auld is your starter in net tonight.