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36 posts from March 2008

March 13, 2008

March Madness

JimmyvHad plans to check out your Fort Lauderdale Orioles today, and it is quite the waste to spend a day like today indoors.

But the ACC tournament is one and I have work to do. So here I am, blogging for you, the loyal On Frozen Pond reader.

Watching N.C. State take on the true Carolina Hurricanes, Miami off to a pretty good start against the reeling Wolfpack. According to Manny Navarro's story today, Pack haven't won since they upset Canes last month. Crazy game, this college basketball.

Anyway, this is a hockey site, and we're dedicated to hockey and only hockey. Nothing but serious hockey talk here. Speaking of talk, the boys on XM were chatting up the Panthers, some of them thinking FLA has a pretty good shot at the postseason.

And I quote: "So long as they keep winning.'' Well, yeah.

Cats have won five straight, looking to make that six against the red hot Rangers. The New Yorkers haven't lost in regulation in more than a month. Since losing to the Ducks (4-1) on Feb. 7, the Blueshirts haven't lost anywhere other than overtime. That's a 10-0-3 run, 23 points in the standings to you and me  Russ.

Can the Panthers break that streak tomorrow night? Talked to Olli and JM (separately, of course) today, both saying all the right things. They know how tough the Rangers are, know if they come out as flat as they did against the Islanders it might get ugly. I don't foresee that though. For once, I think the Panthers are going to rise to the occasion.

It's going to feel like a playoff game tomorrow, a packed house (less than 1000 tix left, standing room tickets likely going on sale soon) against a top-notch opponent. From New York, no less. "We're going to have to play a great road game,'' Olli joked.

-- Panthers record in March -- 2006: 14-7-3; 2007: 10-5-3; 2008: 5-0-0. Total: 29-12-6 (64 points).

-- Also: The Panthers longest winning streak in franchise history is seven, set twice, in Nov. 1995, and in March 2006.

-- No other news coming out of practice today. When you win, you don't change anything. So no Noah, no Stumpel, no Van Ryn for now.

March 12, 2008

Island Breeze

ThefishermanThe team that brought you one of the worst logos in professional sports (thereby it has become one of my all-time faves) returns to South Florida on Wednesday.

The Islanders have dropped all three games to the Panthers this season, Florida looking to sweep the series for the first time since going 5-0-0 against the Isles during its expansion season of 1993-94.

Prior to this season, Panthers hadn't won season series against Isles since 1999-2000. Of course, Olli Jokinen and Roberto Luongo were members of the Islanders way back then.

-- Speaking of Luongo, Rick DiPietro back in net for the Isles tonight. Ricky D got lit up last night, losing 8-4 to the Lightning over on the other side of the state. DiPietro got called out a bit by coach Ted Nolan after the game, but that isn't costing him a start. The Isles are clinging to playoff hope, their 71 points even worse than the Panthers.

-- Florida has won four straight, looking to win five straight for the first time since about this time last year when the Cats (also way out of playoff contention) won seven straight.

-- OK, can the Panthers make the playoffs? Sure, mathematically, they can. But to think Florida will make the postseason, one has to believe that "anything can happen," that the Panthers can win 10 of their final 11 while at the same time Carolina and Washington both implode. Can it happen? Sure. Will it? All I know is I plan on golfing April 7, returning to the arena on the 8th for the annual clean out the locker day.

Of course the team can't think this way, they have to look at every game left on the schedule as a playoff game. If they win tonight, they move on to Friday. If they win that, look toward Atlanta on Sunday. They can't look a game ahead, can't look back. They just have to win, win and win. If Carolina loses, good for them. But they can't be concerned with that, they can only do what they do. Those squandered six points last month sure would come in handy right now.

March 10, 2008

Yankee Doodle Hockey

BeckettThe last time I was at Yankee Stadium, the Marlins were celebrating on the field while 'New York, New York' rang out through the public address system.

Word on the street is, the last time I visit the old ballpark might just be for a hockey game.

According to a story in today's Daily News, there is talk that the Rangers will play  a Yankee Stadium Classic before the park is torn down. A potential hockey game would be the last sporting even played in the stadium, upsetting more than a few baseball purists. They must not remember how Yankee Stadium, the Polo Grounds, Tiger Stadium et al, were also home to professional football teams back in the day.

But yeah, I understand why people would want the Yankees to be the last ones to play something inside the stadium. After seeing how the Orange Bowl was treated, I really don't care. The Yanks are getting a brand new playground built right next door, one that is costing a bundle. They'll be fine. A little hockey game isn't going to hurt anyone.

How about Rangers-Panthers? I wouldn't put a ton of money on that one.

-- Read all about the Bronx Rangers here from our pal John Dellapina Don't get the hot dogs at Yankee Stadium...

-- Panthers are coming up with a pretty good gimmick, trying to get fans to name the Weiss-Horton-Booth line. It does need a nickname, that's for sure. Fans can submit their nickname, with the team posting the best ones online. Then fans can vote on it. One fan is going to walk away with autographed jerseys from all three guys. Pretty cool, I think. Check 'er out at floridapanthers.com

I like WHOOO line (WeissHortonBoooooth)....but that's just me...

Feel free to submit your ideas on the nickname below.

-- No new news on Chad Kilger, JM says he spoke to him a few times last week. Would have to think the Panthers aren't expecting to get him back this season, although JM wouldn't confirm that. With guys getting healthier, I would think the days of Kilger actually being needed around here are about over. He's just going to be another body.

March 08, 2008

Saturday Night Alive

StadiumMust be a lot going on in South Florida this fine Saturday night from the looks of the Big Bank in Sunrise.

Either that or all the hockey fans in town think the game starts at 7:30 and not 7. Or they set their watches back instead of forward and will be here later.

Either way, this place is empty. Depressingly so. Perhaps it will fill in as time goes on.


-- OK, things filled in here a bit, not a bad little crowd. Fans seem to be enjoying themselves, booing the refs, etc...

-- Nothing much coming out of practice today other than Tomas Vokoun starting tonight. But you already knew that, so, yeah.

-- Oh, Jozef Stumpel says he's aiming for a Wednesday return, although he says that's not concrete. He still wants to keep working on his shoulder. And who can blame him.

March 07, 2008

Fight Club

FightclubThere's Wade Belak giving some teammates -- including Gregory Campbell -- some fighting tips.

Belak's brawl with Georges Laraque last night really seemed to give a charge to the crowd, gave a boost to the Panthers. Six seconds after the fight, Rostislav Olesz scored.

Belak admitted it was fun, said it's been too long since he had been in a good throw down.

-- Big news coming out of practice today is that Tomas Vokoun will start Saturday against the Thrashers.

-- Tanner Glass has been sent back to Rochester (actually flew to San Antonio to join the team) with Jozef Stumpel and Noah Welch supposedly back next week. Branislav Mezei will apparently be the odd D-man out, he was part of the injured skate Mike Kitchen put the guys through after practice.

March 06, 2008

Record Book Time

MaheraldThanks to the Miami Herald's library system -- and some good fact collectin' over the years by one David J. Neal -- I was able to piece together the Panthers' top six shutout streaks in the franchise's short (but fun) history.

Here you are. Enjoy!

No. 1: Roberto Luongo 182:37 (Feb. 23-27, 2004)

No. 2: Luongo 160:05 (Feb. 18-21, 2004)
No. 3: Craig Anderson 154:05 (Feb. 23, March 2-6, 2008)
No. 4: John Vanbiesbrouck/Mark Fitzpatrick 151:29 (Feb. 25-March 2, 1995)
No. 5: Luongo 148:16 (Oct. 5-8, 2005)
No. 6: Luongo 144:51 (Jan. 15-20, 2003)

Steel City Thursday (Now with Updates!)

CleanglassMust be a big game, or just that time of year, because there were guys in the arena actually cleaning the Plexiglas around the ice this morning.

Don't know if they were using Windex or not.

Want to get that glass as clean as possible, what with the high-flying Penguins coming to town. Don't want fans to have to squint when Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and crew take to the ice.

-- The Pens will be facing Craig Anderson tonight, JM joking it doesn't take a very smart coach to make that call. Hey, dude has stopped 93 shots in the past two games -- both shutouts. Yeah, pretty easy decision.

-- JM says its a gametime decision whether Radek Dvorak plays, but that's not all together true. Tanner Glass is out, Dvorak is in. That's a done deal folks.

-- Bryan Allen is still questionable but practiced today and I would guess he's in.

Floridaeverblades2 -- Don't know if folks have read my story today regarding the Panthers' minor leagues, but there's a possibility the Panthers will be out of the AHL next season and instead put a bunch of their players with the ECHL Everblades across the 'glades in Estero. Story RIGHT HERE 

My take: I think what ends up happening is Steve Donner ends up selling the Rochester franchise to Buffalo, with the Panthers sharing the affiliation for another season and then taking up another team somewhere else. Names popping up include Glens Falls, N.Y., and Cornwall, Ontario. The Panthers don't seem to be real hip about putting an AHL team in Orlando despite how that could grow the sport in this state.

PS: Chad Kilger is a native of Cornwall.

-- Speaking of the Blades, according to Kevin Oklobzija of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Kenndal McArdle has agreed to join the Everblades so he can get five games in and be eligible for the playoffs. McArdle, drafted by the Panthers at the Ottawa Westin draft of 2005, agreed to the deal for the postseason experience.

"Any time I have a chance to play in the playoffs, I'm not going to pass up the opportunity, no matter what level that it's in," McArdle told the Democrat. Rest of story right here ESTERO IS MUCH WARMER THAN ROCH


-- The expected, Dvorak and Allen back in the lineup tonight; your scractches are Glass and Branislav Mezei. In net for the Pens, Marc-Andre Fleury (he shutout the Bolts on Tuesday)...

-- The unexpected: The Barry Manilow face lives to see another game!

-- Panthers have won a combined 21 games in the month of March heading into this one. Can they keep up that hot stretch? Gimme your thoughts below....

-- Wade Belak gets into his first fight as a member of the Panthers at 4:52 of the first period, March 6, 2008. Belak battles Pitt heavyweight Georges Laraque. Georgie Boy gets the win..

-- But the Panthers win the battle; six seconds after the brawl, Rostislav Olesz scores to give Florida -- and more importantly Craig "Andy" Anderson a 2-0 lead...

-- Andy's shutout streak comes to an end, Ryan Malone popping in a loose puck at 6:19 of first. The tally: Three games, 154 minutes 5 seconds, 108 straight shots.

Pretty good, but falls short of Roberto Luongo's franchise mark of 182:37...

Gary -- Gary Roberts is up here in the press box tonight, enjoying not only the view but the company of friend Joe Nieuwendyk.

GR says he's healing up, feeling good, chomping at the bit wanting to get out there. Very complimentary of his team, also singing the praises of one David Booth. Always figured Booth would be a Gary Roberts kinda guy. Roberts said he met up with Booth today, told him "that No. 10 never went so fast.''

And yes, Gary sends his best...

-- Cats outshoot Flightless Seabirds 19-9 in the opening period. Anderson's new scoreless streak is at 13:41 (scoop!)

Manilowbobble -- When Brian Y is away, the bobbleheads will play....

-- Still waiting for a return appearance by the Banana.

-- Boston Bruins on the verge of losing their third straight, getting hammered by the [edit] Maple Leaves right now. The Bs might be in a bit of a tailspin after winning six straight. How did that six game winning streak end? Washington dropping puck bombs from the get, winning 10-2. That'll stunt any team's growth....

March 05, 2008

Fun in the Sun

Gator The Panthers have officially suspended left wing Chad Kilger, the former Toronto Maple Leaf who apparently doesn't watch the Weather Channel.

Memo to Chad: It's currently 77 degrees here in Fort Lauderdale and the water's fine. The Panthers wish you were here!

Here's the deal to now: The Panthers make a deal right under the deadline, getting Kilger for a third round pick. Problem comes when Kilger decides he still has personal stuff he needs to work out. Kilger, you see, missed five games with the Maple Leafs earlier in February to sort out some things. The Panthers thought that was all worked out, he did play six more games after all.

Apparently the Panthers were under the guise that Kilger would join the team March 1, meet them in New York in time for the Panthers game with the Islanders.

He still hasn't reported, and Wednesday, the Panthers officially suspended him without pay.

Word is the suspension is retroactive to March 1. If that's the case, Kilger is giving up about $4,300 per day he misses. Say we count Thursday's game against the Pens: Kilger's tab is now at close to $26,000 -- without taxes.

Ac_2The suspension apparently ends when he reports, although I guess he would have to meet with JM and teammates before he would be welcomed back (although I think NHLPA rules would stipulate when he returns, the money is turned back on). All it'll take is one of those Air Canada non stops to Fort Lauderdale...

- Apparently wins mean days off. JM gave the boys another vacation day today.

Zednik3 - The Panthers are going to honor athletic trainer Dave Zenobi tomorrow before the game, giving him something called a Good Sport award. Don't care what it's called, it's definitely deserved. I would say Dave is a good dude even if he wasn't a big Cleveland fan. Dave, you might remember, was the first guy to attend to Richard Zednik up in Buffalo, putting serious pressure on his sliced neck.

Richard is scheduled to be there as well and is expected to present Dave with the award at center ice before kickoff.

- Notice how many records Craig Anderson has secured in the past few days? His 53 saves against the Islanders is an NHL record for most saves in a shutout, his 93 saves in the past two games a record for most saves without giving up a goal. Also, Panthers are first NHL team to ever win consecutive road games by a 1-0 score. So good for them!

- JM got a little upset with me when I asked if he was concerned about the Panthers' offense. I mean, two goals in two games isn't exactly setting the world on fire. But if two goals gets you four points, so it goes I guess.

March 04, 2008

Return of Sir Sidney

SidneyJust in time to sell some tickets in Sunrise, Sidney Crosby returns to the Penguins lineup tonight in Tampa Bay.

Crosby has missed the past 21 games with a high ankle sprain, the Penguins surviving OK. The Pens have gone 11-6-4 with Crosby watching from the press box. Wonder if he gets the Pitt guys popcorn? I seriously doubt it.

-- Speaking of Rostislav Olesz, he gives "Semi-Pro" two thumbs up, adding those Will Ferrell fans in the house will like the preview to his new flick.

-- Also on the Pitt front: Marian Hossa will not play against the Lightning nor the Panthers. He's about a week away from coming back from a knee injury suffered in his first game wearing the black-and-gold.

-- Panthers wearing their home blues on the road once again. Guessing Florida wears white on Thursday against the Penguins...

-- We're tied at zip (PS: Akron up six on Ohio right now in a key MAC game tonight) here in Beantown. Don't wanna jinx anything, but a Florida win ties franchise record for road wins. Trivia Time: What season did Panthers win 18 on road?

Andy's Back


BOSTON - Craig Anderson was the first off the ice today, gets the start for the second straight night. After making 53 saves to shutout the Isles, he deserves it.

JM says he spoke to both players about the decision, says it's as simple as Andy deserving the start. Says there's not much more to it than that, and OK, that's cool.

So, it's Craig Anderson taking on old pal Alex Auld tonight. Remember last year, Anderson was supposed to be Auld's backup, then the Panthers went out and signed Ed Belfour. Anderson was sent to Rochester after training camp, only to return and become Belfour's backup when Auld shut it down with a knee injury.

-- Lines stay pretty much the same tonight, Gregory Campbell centering the third line with Peltonen and Montador, Kamil Kreps centering No.4 alongside Glass and Belak. Radek Dvorak will not play tonight, practiced with the team then got a full workout courtesy of Guy Charron. Noah Welch also out, but should be back in the coming days.

-- According to Boston Globe's Kevin Paul Dupont,  d-man Aaron Ward is out tonight after coming to the skate on crutches. Also, coach Claude Julilen had the team fly back from Washington last night, only to have them stay in a Boston hotel. The Bs are 0-4-1 in home games following a road game. So they figured to mix things up.

To check up on all things Bruin, visit the Globe blog here Boston T-Party...

-- Julilen to the Globe on pulling Tim Thomas (after four goals in eight-plus minutes), then putting him back in only to bring Auld back in the third: ''I think you guys probably thought it was Mike Keenan after a while.''

-- JM continued to refuse comment on Chad Kilger, adding "there's lots of work being done. I can't divulge what's being done. He's at home with some personal issues. Once I have all the information, you'll be the first to know. It's no different than having a guy injured.''

March 03, 2008

Ovechkin Back on Track


Ovechkin BOSTON -- Watched that Capital disaster last night, Alex Ovechkin leading an onslaught against the Bruins. Ovechkin, who had one goal in his past eight games, registered a hat trick before the first period had even ended.

His first score gave him 50 for the season. Next stop, 60.

It appeared that Alex had four goals last night, he was originally credited with one in the third period. But that goal, which made it 9-2, was later given to Brooks Laich (spread the wealth, I always say).

So now the Panthers get a ticked off Boston club that was embarrassed 10-2 (only score: An Alex Auld safety). Will be very interesting to see how this Bruins club bounces back tonight.

-- Will update the site when I know who is in net. I have to think it's Auld, especially with the flip-flopping that went on last night.

-- Beautiful day in Boston, wish the Sox were in town. It's sunny, and it's 60. This is fantastic...

On the Train, Again

TrainSOMEWHERE IN CONNECTICUT, PERHAPS STAMFORD BUT POSSIBLY HARTFORD. REALLY DON'T KNOW -- Greetings from my comfortable seat on an Amtrak Acela train headed north to Boston. The Panthers have canceled practice for today, so it's going to be another one of those lazy days.

Don't have any news for you, other than to inform you that the Virgin Superstore in NYC is having a huge sale. Bought a ton of new music last night, burning it onto my laptop as we speak. Virgin store at Sunset Place down near UM is probably having the same sale. So get on down there. Worth the trip.

(*) Been informed that the Virgin store at Sunset Place closed a while ago. Yeah. Didn't know that, sorry. Haven't been down there in a bit. But it was a great store. If you are down in that area, stop by AllCanes and say hello to Harry. Tell him I said hello...

-- Was talking about his with Steve "Brand" X earlier today: What do you want to bet Alex Auld gets the call tomorrow for the Bs? If I'm Claude Julilen, I'm playing him. Think about it. In the past two starts, Tim Thomas has surrendered 10 goals to the Panthers and was yanked in the third period of the previous game down 4-2.

Auldie shut down the Panthers in the third allowing his teammates to get the two goals to force overtime, and then Alex beat his old teammates in a shutout.

Last time the Panthers played here in Boston, they lit up Thomas for six goals.

-- Hey! We're in Bridgeport!

-- Greetings from New Haven, Connecticut, former home of Dolphins coach Tony Sporano....

-- Did you know Rostislav Olesz is a restricted free agent this summer? That could get a little interesting....

March 02, 2008

Sunday on the Island

Islescup UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The Core of the Four is here, Jiggs McDonald serving as Masters of Cemerony on the Nassau Coliseum ice.

Denis Potvin got to carry the Stanley Cup from the nearby Marriott to the arena, then carried the Cup onto the ice for the ceremony. He seems pretty jacked, and why not?

Other guys with Florida ties who are here: Bill Torrey and Duane Sutter.

And the Panthers are here, too.

-- The current Islanders just skated out for warmups wearing the old jerseys complete with the numbers of their former players. Billy Guerin wearing Potvin's No. 5, Sean Burgenheim wearing Duane Sutter's No. 12.

Isleskate Panthers will be wearing their home blues today so the Isles can wear their old-school home whites.

-- It's the Battle of the Backups in net today, Tomas Vokoun getting the day off and Rick "Mike" DiPietro given a leave to attend his grandmother's funeral in Massachusetts. Craig Anderson, who got his first win of the season here on Nypd_2 Jan. 3, is in net for Florida, Wade Dubielewicz (5-4-0 this season) going for the Isles. Sipowicz is 1-0 all-time against the Panthers.

JM says he's playing Andy because he has played well and deserves it, adding that Tomas has been carrying too much of the workload and could use the time off.

-- Center Stephen Weiss is back today, back on his line with David "Boo" Booth and Nathan "Olli" Hortinen. Drew Larman the healthy scratch.

-- No new news on Chad Kilger.

Island Celebration

DenisringUNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Big party here at Nassau Coliseum today, the Islanders celebrating their four Stanley Cup championships with another shindig.

Should be a nice affair, I know Denis Potvin -- the captain of the four Cup championship teams -- is stoked for the fun. Hung out with him and Jiggs McDonald last night, got to hear some cool stories, they talked about all the fun they had during the team's glory years.

It's obvious this team has a special bond, these 17 players who make up the "Core of the Four" as they are calling this celebration. It's definitely a cool deal.

Joe Goodman, our man in Gainesville, was in town and attended Friday's Panthers game to do a featch on Denis and the Islanders party. If you haven't already, check out here: Potvin's Cups...

-- Don't have any updates on who is in today, who is out. Will update once I get to the rink. Strange 4 p.m. starting time, so no skate this morning. Have to wait until we get to the arena today...

March 01, 2008

Saturday Update

Gate C18 at Charlotte International Airport - Today's report comes courtesy of Pete 'Pete' Pelegrin, my man on the scene at Incredible Ice.

Stephen Weiss to play this week, perhaps as early as tomorrow...

Bryan Allen not making trip, so that's two more games out for him (sprained knee)...

JM says he doesn't have an update when Chad Kilger will join the team..

Boarding my plane....good day....

These Panthers Win...


Dillard On the verge of another playoff-less season for the Florida Panthers, and another tourny-less season for your FIU Golden Panthers, our congratulations go out to some feline champs tonight.

Yes, big-league props to the Dillard Panthers as well as the Pine Crest Panthers, two Broward schools that won Florida state high school basketball championships on Friday.

I assume coach Darryl Burrows took his guys bowling after tonight's title win up there in Lakeland. Congrats coach..well deserved championship....