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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

HOCKEY UPDATE -- HOCKEY UPDATE -- HOCKEY UPDATE -- HOCKEY UPDATE

-- 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....

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Funny how this year all "game-time decisions" have been made about 6 hours before the game.

I posted a synopsis on GR's previous blog, but I'll put a quick on here...

If Allen is back tonight, I'd say we now have Johansson as a scratch... Could be Mezei but I'll lean towards Magnus. I don't see him dressing seven defenseman as Montador could always go back there. Glass is pretty much done if you ask me... With the addition of Belak (not that he's scored or anything) Glass becomes expendable. With Stumpel headed back as well, we'll probably see Monty go back to defense as well...

Let's say everyone gets healthy in the next 7 days...

D1 - Bouwmeester - Allen
D2 - Skrastins - Van Ryn/Montador
D3 - Murphy - Van Ryn/Welch

JM may be hesitant though of breaking up a winning combo of Bouwmeester-Skrastins. But I would assume you'll see those six defenseman..

Forwards would be:
Jokinen, McLean, Olesz
Booth, Weiss, Horton
Peltonen, Stumpel, Dvorak
Belak, Kreps, Campbell

this is a 7th or 8th place 90 pt team if coached appropriately...damn shame

JH,

I totally believe that coaching has done them in... I am a firm believer in the use of a timeout at certain points of the game... Many games this year JM has not used the timeout in an appropriate fashion... When you see the lead slipping or game tied up, use the TO! The game in Carolina is a prime example... What a mess and a timeout wasn't used until 6.3 seconds left. A joke...

Also, shootouts... The selection of shooters has been horrendous... Montador against Boston at home... JM loves Peltonen for some reason... I just do not understand his logic...

More than likely, we won't have to try to understand it next season.

George, I seem to recall telling you that the Panthers didn't seem to want to put an AHL franchise in Florida because they liked the fact that a team in the NE doesn't have to travel too much. And you kept insisting that wasn't the case, and they'd be looking to land one to grow hockey in Florida. Now you admit the opposite;)

You ever pass on that sales pitch I made for a team in Vermont? :D

Glens Falls wouldn't be too bad - I might be willing to drive down there once or twice a season once my son's older and can enjoy games. It's only, what...4 hours each way? *sigh*

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