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Next Stop: Hotlanta

AtlantaThe Florida Panthers roadshow continues on after a brief respite at home, with the Cats en route to Atlanta for their preseason finale against the Thrashers on Friday night.

I'm currently sitting at the Delta gate in Fort Lauderdale, and decided I'm bored. So here's a post chock full o' nothin. Actually, there could be some good nuggets of info packed in here, but that decision is yours and yours alone.

-- Cats made two cuts today, sending D Martin Lojek and C Stefan Meyer to Rochester of the AHL.

-- Report out of practice today is that Rostislav Olesz's hand injury may be a little more serious than first thought. Word is he won't play in Atlanta, although he did make the trip and did practice.

-- Fans in Atlanta apparently don't think the Thrashers are going to be too dreadful, and truthfully, the southeast is wide open. The ATLs could be in the hunt, although I don't think they will. Too many question marks, not enough depth. Anywho, according to old pal John Manasso, the Thrash have exceeded last year's season ticket numbers. Manasso, former Thrash beat writer for the AJC, is now with the Atlanta Business Journal. His take:

With the season's start more than two weeks away, the Thrashers already have exceeded their 2006-07 season-ticket sales and, according to Lou DePaoli, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Atlanta Spirit LLC (which owns the Thrashers), the weeks during training camp and before the season's Oct. 5 start are the best time of year for ticket sales.

Atlanta Spirit CEO Bernie Mullin said the organization has sold 2,000 new full-season ticket equivalents -- a 64 percent increase over where the Thrashers were at the same point last year. (An example of a full-season equivalent would be two half-season plans that the team counts as one full-season package.)

"That's huge," Mullin said. " ... We'll have substantive growth. We're slowly but surely building to the levels where we'd like it to be."

Read the rest of the story here ATLANTA IS HOT BABY!

-- Blackhawks TV voice Eddie Olczyk picks Carolina to represent the East in the Stanley Cup Finals this year, adding he thinks Colorado is a final four team if its goaltending comes through. Eddie's Cup champ? The Ducks.

-- EA Sports played out the entire season through its NHL08 video game and came to the conclusion that San Jose would win the Cup, beating out Pittsburgh for the honors. The Florida Panthers? According to the video game, JM and the boys need not even show up this season. The video game has the Cats finishing 14th in the East, earning 83 points. The good news? Florida wins 17 road games this year. That's up from the 13 the Cats have won in each of the past two seasons.

Rangers, Ottawa and Carolina the divisional winners according to the gamers, Pitt, Bolts, Jersey, Toronto and Buffalo the other playoff teams in the east. In the west, divisional champs include Anaheim, Colorado and Detroit. Other playoff teams: San Jose, the Luongos, the Keenans, the Oil and Nashville. Computer says Edmonton goes from a miserable 2006-07 season to the west finals, where it loses to SJ. The Rangers lose to Pitt in the east.

Whatever.

-- So, G, what are your picks? Those will be reveled in our very special section that comes out Sunday. Hint: I like the Ducks and the Blueshirts.

-- "I don't care how long the flight is. This is a great game we play, and we want to show it to people here in England." -- Ducks GM Brian Burke on Anaheim's two-game set with the Kings (of Los Angeles) across the pond in London. Game 1 on Saturday, Game 2 Sunday. Both at noon, Sunday's game on Versus.

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George, don't tell me you're falling prey to the old "the Rags look good on paper" story? The Rangers have always - ALWAYS - failed to do anything when they've gone out and bought a big name team. They should win the Cup hands down...but they won't. They always seem to fail in the area of chemistry - players just can't come together. Plus their defense has been suspect for a few years.

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