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28 posts from April 2008

April 07, 2008

That's a Wrap! Now with Sound!

BaciceThere's no more ice in Sunrise, save for the stuff they mix up the drinks at Quarterdeck with.

As players cleaned out their lockers, signed various items and bundled up their sticks, workers carted out what was left of the BankAtlantic Center ice.

Yes, it's officially over.

Got a lot of work to do today, but do have a little bit of news some may find interesting.

-- JM spoke today, said a number of things including that he's going to analyze his dual roles with the team, leaving the door open, I guess, for a possible change one way or another. So we'll see what happens in the coming weeks.

Also, JM says there's no rift between him and Olli; Olli says while he and JM don't go to dinner or anything like that, but there is a mutual respect between the two. JM adds he won't ask players what they think of Olli as a leader or as captain because he doesn't want to put players in that kind of position.

-- Olli says his summer training starts Wednesday. He says he plans to play for Finland at the World Championships, and he's going to get the ice in Coral Springs sometime next week so guys who want to join him are more than welcome.

-- Richard Zednik spoke to everyone today, says he's started some bike work, but is out of shape and hasn't started skating (aside from his quick jaunt around the BAC last month). Says he hopes to start skating by August, is looking forward to next season.

-- Jay Bouwmeester says now is the time for he and the Panthers to start talking about a contract, but wouldn't go into much more detail. I asked him if he wanted to stay with the Panthers, and he basically said Florida is the only place he knows and he is comfortable here. Adds the Panthers gave him the opportunity to be a  big-time player, and he's appreciative of that. Jay adds he'll probably play at Worlds, although nothing is concrete. With the tournament in Canada, expect for a lot of NHLers to agree to play this summer.

-- Branislav Mezei was one of the last players to leave the locker room, just sitting at his stall taking things in. He hadn't talked to JM yet, but said he didn't have much hope of coming back. "I think I have to let this go,'' he said. Mez says he plans on playing at the Worlds too. He definitely needs a good showing. Perhaps a change of scenery will do him a world of good.

-- Forget about Kansas-Memphis, the big action tonight will be the draft lottery. According to the NHL, Tampa Bay has a 25 percent shot at getting the top pick and Steven Stamkos. The Kings follow at 18.8 percent, Atlanta at 14.2 percent. Nashville, with Florida's top pick in the upcoming draft, has only a 2.7 percent shot at the top pick.

But that's better than zero percent, no?

-- Say what you want about Versus, but when the playoffs kick off, this network shines. Look at their schedule the next two nights. Wednesday brings us Sens/Pens at 7, then Flames/Sharks at 10. Thursday, Preds/Wings (with old pal Dave Strader) and then Stars/Ducks.

Should be fun...

-- OK, here is the promised audio from this afternoon.

Download finaljacques.WMA

Download finalolli.WMA

Download finalzednik.WMA

-- May have more later...as always, check in one, two, three times a day! Could use the numbers....

April 05, 2008

Live! From the District

CapscrowdWASHINGTON, D.C. -- All kidding aside, this place is going bonkers right now. The streets surrounding Cingular Center are swelling with folks in Capitals garb (mostly Ovechkin jerseys, natch) as the line to get into the building at 5:15 was around the corner and into the subway vestibule.

These folks know a divisional title is at stake, and when the Panthers bus rolled up to the building, the few dozen fans standing around cheered for the Boyz from Parkland, thanking them for the Rendezvous in Raleigh AKA the Rumble at RBC.

This is going to be the sixth sold out crowd here at T-Mobile Arena since February. Before that? "you couldn't give away tickets,'' Randy Moller surmised. Well, he should know about that.

-- Just spoke to JM, says there is no change to the lineup so Panther fans, hope you got your fill of Branislav Mezei. He has probably played his final game in a Florida sweater. And Cory Murphy has been scratched four straight to end the season.

-- Craig Anderson gets the call and starts for Tomas Vokoun. Apparently Tomas' back is still hurting him and Tyler Plante has been called up from Rochester to serve as the backup.

Capssoccer -- BREAKING THE LAW: The Panthers broke some local ordinances here at the Nextel Forum, playing their nightly game of soccer directly in front of the sign asking -- no, demanding -- that there be NO BALL PLAYING OF ANY KIND. Rostislav Olesz explained to this reporter that the sign didn't apply to them.


-- Will be back for the start of the game, but if you need some more Capitals news, check out Corey Masisak's blog over at the Washington Times. Forgot to mention his work before. He took over the beat for the late, great Dave Fay, a guy we all still miss seeing around the Caps room and press box. Dave would have enjoyed this run. Anywho, here's the blog Washington Times hockey

-- This just in: JM did change up the lineup...Hey, hey, it's MEZEI! Jassen Cullimore is out, in what could be his final game as a Panther....

-- A big reason people were fighting and clawing their way into the arena tonight: It's Alex Ovechkin bobblehead night. I have one question: Who is Alex Ovechkin?

-- And yes, I'm working on getting my ink-stained hands on one of those bobbles..

-- JM sends his regards to North Carolina. "I'm sure we have a lot of fans in Raleigh tonight.''

-- Since tonight's game is for the Southeast Division title (it either goes to Washington or Carolina), thought we'd do some trivia: Name the only team in the Southeast to never win the Southeast.

OK, that's pretty easy. Here are your past Southeast Division champs.

CAROLINA: 1999 2002 2006

TAMPA BAY 2003 2004

WASHINGTON 2000 2001




-- This place is as full as I've ever seen it, but it isn't PLR (Packed Like Rats) or SRO (Standing Room Only) or even REO (Speedwagon) by any means. Very active, very hyped up bunch here in Washington though.

-- Tonight's game is also on HDNet for those of you who have what they call 'High Definition TV.' I still don't, a surprise to no one I'm sure...

-- First time out here at Metro PCS Garden, Panthers actually outshooting the Baltimore Bullets 5-3...

-- Someone in Raleigh just shouted at Mezei, because...


-- Three Panthers played in all 82 games this season: Olli, Bo and Nate.

-- I ended up covering 79 of the 82 regular season games. Throw in all seven preseason games, and that ain't too shabby....

-- In past two days, Panthers have been out-penalized (is that a word?) 14-0. Caps are on their second 5-on-3 of the night...

-- Ovechkin called for slashing, so the Panthers streak ends. They have forgotten what a power play feels like.


-- Replay finally gives something to the Panthers and Kamil Kreps...

-- PANTHERS GOAL...KAMIL KREPS WITH THE REPLAY GOAL MAKES IT 1-1 @ 7:02 of the second period..Panthers still on the power play...that cheer you heard was from Raleigh...

-- Washington retakes the lead...some guy named Sergei Federov from the left side with a blister @ 15:05 of the second...2-1 Caps...

-- End of two in DC...folks feeling it in Raleigh right now and I feel bad for my friends up there..they've been looking forward to the playoffs all season, and they get pulled away on the final weekend...at least I've had a few weeks to go to the driving range and get ready for Tuesday...

-- Anyways, as is my tradition here thanks to my traditional work, signing off for the night...see you on the first tee...Since this is the final game of the second season of On Frozen Blog, I leave you with some of my favorite pictures this season. Enjoy.

And remember to check in once, twice, three times a day during the summer. You never know when something new will be up...


Barrymanilow Banana Bert

Cleanglass_2 Milano1

Fun Times in Washington

Nixon WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Just got into town a couple of hours ago, and I must say deciding to drive in from Raleigh was a pretty solid move. Thanks to the programmers at XM Radio for today's entertainment. Good tunes all day. My throat is sore from all the singing.

That said, there's definitely some excitement around this town for the local hockey team. You should see all the tourists walking around the streets of D.C.! While I haven't seen anyone wearing a Caps jersey, there are a ton of people just walking around taking pictures of stuff (buildings and statues and such) just killing time until the hockey game starts.

Haven't seen anything like this since we visited New York City. There were tons of people walking around there too. One can only assume all these people are here for the hockey. Why else would they be walking around Washington D.C.? Is there anything here to see? Some have even formed into groups, and it would appear they are taking some sort of hockey-related tour.

Can't imagine what they are talking about, but would guess it goes something like this: "This is Pot Bellies sub shop. Alex Ovechkin is known to come in here for a ham sandwich and a Diet Dr. Pepper. And over there is the White House, that's where Bruce Boudreau hangs out on off nights. He watched the Panthers-Carolina game there you know, and was in Slap Shot! And that's the Washington Monument, built entirely out of Wisconsin Cheddar.''

I don't know where they're going to put all these people tonight. The arena only holds so many.

-- On a more serious note, yeah, folks are amped about this one. A lot of people just assumed the Panthers were going to lose in Carolina, and you know what they say about people who assume. I, of course, called a Florida victory yesterday and have never lost faith in the Sunrise Six. I know people have questioned this team's resolve, heart and character, but not this guy. Not this year.

-- Some good stuff from On Frozen Pond Pal Tarik El-Bashir who covered Caps practice this morning. One of the hardest working hockey guys in the league, think you're going to like reading his stuff if you don't already.

To keep up to date on the Caps, check out his updated blog right here Called Capitals Insider which isn't very original, but whatever..

You can also read his other Washington stories here Doesn't Dave Sheinin cover hockey?

-- Will update PanthersPlus (hey, do you like that name? I'm not thrilled about it. Give me your name ideas below) during the game tonight.

Party on....

April 04, 2008

Live! from Raleigh

AmatoRALEIGH, N.C. -- Welcome to the RBC Center, best known as being the Arena with the Most Meaningless Banners Ever.

Serious about this one. Not only are the outdated NHL team banners hanging up, but N.C. State apparently bought every gigantic red banner in the state and hung them in the rafters here to 'honor' their basketball team.

OK, we get it, N.C. State has been in the NCAA tournament a few times. But do you need 126 different player/announcer/coach banners up there as well? Garish is all.

OK, so that's off my chest. Since tonight's game against the Fakecanes isn't being broadcast on local TV in South Florida (if you have satellite, go to the high numbers because Center Ice is free this weekend! Soo-wee!), I'm going to do some live updates right here on PanthersPlus.

It's one-or-possibly done for this Carolina hockey team. If Florida somehow wins this game, Carolina may find itself out of the playoffs. If Carolina wins, the streets of Faber -- at least the Southeast Division -- is theirs.

-- Remember those cheeky Kendall Toyota ads from a few years back? How about the Kendall Toyota Show complete with sidekick and band? Well, Mark Jacobson -- the bearded host of those ads/infomercials -- has landed in Raleigh. He owns a Toyota dealership here (bet you can't figure out what he named it) and has kept up the goofy ads.

Instead of bringing Neil Rogers on, now he has a dog that he carries around as he shills Tundras and Camrys. Pure schmaltz. Diggin' it.

-- No real news out of the Panthers today. JM missed practice this morning as he was out of town scouting something or other, and the lineup stays the same (save for the starting goalie) as it has for the past couple of games. Vokoun goes tonight, Andy tomorrow in DC.

So, no Murphy, Mezei, Welch or Van Ryn.

-- Wonder how many fans in DC are taking in tonight's game? If Carolina wins, the Caps road gets a little bit rougher. OK, a lot rougher.

Confettibyg -- You can tell the guy (Pete Soto) who runs in house entertainment here at RBC used to live in South Florida. Pregame music tonight: In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins, Rock You Like a Hurricane by the Scorpions.

Kind of like being back in the Orange Bowl. Kind of.


-- Luke DeCock of the Raleigh News&Observer sends his best as always...hope he doesn't have to work too hard next week. I'll be working hard..digging my golf ball out of the rough!

-- It's Fan Appreciation Night here in Raleigh. Wonder if the Canes get booed like the Panthers did?

-- Shots so far: CAR 3-1 w/ 15:50 left

-- First penalty tonight: Radek Dvorak @ 5:04

-- Penalty kill now good for 27 straight

-- CAROLINA 1, MARLINS 0 -- Trevor Letowski shoots, has the shot blocked, goes back to the boards, grabs it and takes it to the hole, shooting through T-Vo's legs. Goal at 7:25 of the period....

-- Gifts given away here on Fan Appreciation Night include a Chevy Malibu (the new one) and a brand new house. Plus jerseys from players. Sure beats the stuff the Panthers gave out, no? A gift certificate to Publix? Come on....

-- Shots now 9-2 midway through...and it looks it...

PANTHERS GOAL -- Jay Bouwmeester from top of the slot, fires one through...now has two goals this month, one more than in all of March. FLA 1, CAR 1 @ 11:38 of the first...

-- Thanks Kroger..


-- OK, that's the end of the first...after a slow start, pretty good period of hockey...well paced, got a little rough with Bryan Allen dropping Tuomo Ruutu in front of the net...good stuff...If I'm the Capitals, I'm digging this....


-- Panthers killed off Jassen Cullimore penalty, now at 28 straight. Shots on goal: 19-7  w/ 16:33

-- For some reason, Anderson is in net right now....do not know why...

NATE HORTON SCORES, IT'S 3-1 PANTHERS @ 10:13 of the second period (we have seen this before)...

-- CAR on PP because of delay on Monty; Now 5-on-3 with Olesz in box....5/3 for 1:34

-- Panthers take a timeout to get a breather...Anderson looking pretty strong out there...



-- OK, gots to run...Enjoy the rest of the game...

-- Also, official word on Vokoun is back spasms.


April 03, 2008

Carolina Dreaming

DuluthATLANTA -- Sitting here in Terminal A at Atlanta's Jackson Hartfield Steve Bartowski Chipper Jones Hank Aaron Tom Glavine Ted Turner TBS TNT Pepsi-Cola WGN Steve 'Tricky' Smith Dominique Wilkins International Airport waiting for my flight to Raleigh.

Nothing really going on today. Team practiced at the Thrashers complex in Duluth today. Nice joint if it wasn't 30 miles away from downtown. Got to have some lunch at the second floor sports bar while watching practice. Good times. If you ever hit the Ice Forum in Duluth, go to the sports bar and order the Salmon and Crab Chowder. In fact, flights aren't that expensive to Atlanta these days. I would go tomorrow if I were you.

Remember tomorrow's game isn't on local television, but word is the Center Ice package is free this weekend, so take advantage. Tomorrow's game on Carolina's Fox South, with Saturday's game on Comcast (It's Comcastic! Not.)

Caroliner can clinch the Southeast Division tonight if Tarpon Bay beats the Bullets tonight. If Washington wins -- as everyone but perhaps Torts expects -- Carolina would have to beat the Panthers tomorrow to clinch. Would like to think the Panthers will give their all tomorrow, you know, play the role of spoiler to perfection like the Marlins did last summer when they were so far out it they needed a ladder just to see the hole they had dug.

We'll see. This could be getting interesting, only because:

If Washington beats Tarpon Bay tonight and the Panthers beat Carolina (in the Fakecanes season finale) in regulation tomorrow, the division is on the line Saturday in Washington. A Capitals win Sunday, in this scenario of course, would bring the SE title to the team that started the season 6-14-1 and fired their coach Thanksgiving morning.

And if all this comes through, Carolina could be out of the playoffs with 92 points.

April 02, 2008

Sweet Home, Atlanta

Atlanta96ATLANTA -- Still here in PepsiTown, making a rare three-night visit to a city during the regular season. Practicing tomorrow in a place called Duluth, then off to Raleigh for the final time this season.

The team had today off to see the sights, some taking in the aquarium, others the World of Diet Dr. Pepper. A few even went to Turner Field to see the Bravos play Pittsburgh.

Met up with JM at the team hotel this morning, talked about a number of things. Even got some newsy stuff that some will find interesting.

-- According to JM, Don Waddell invited Craig Anderson and David Booth to represent Team USA at the World Championships this summer. JM says both -- not a surprise here -- have accepted.

JM says he thinks Magnus Johansson (Sweden) and Rostislav Olesz (Czech) will also play in the tournament held next month in Canada. He adds he thinks Team Canada is interested in Jay Bouwmeester, but he wasn't sure what Jay thinks about it.

-- Cory Murphy back in the lineup tomorrow it appears. Martin hinted he might move Montador back to a forward line, so it'll be interesting to see who sits on Friday.

-- Tomas Vokoun gets the call in net Friday in Caroliner, with Anderson going Saturday in the District.

-- JM adds he has all the confidence that Michael Frolik will sign a professional contract with the Panthers once his junior season is over. When I asked him if I was worried about Frolik stonewalling the Panthers so he could re-enter the draft, JM scoffed at the notion.

He adds that Michael Caruso isn't signed yet, but he's not worried about him either. The Panthers have to sign both by June 1. JM adds he doesn't think Caruso is going to return for another year of juniors and will be in rookie camp in late August, early September and then be in Panther camp.

-- Braves lead Pitt 3-2 here in the eighth...

April 01, 2008

Garrison Signs, Olli Scores

GarrisonThe University of Minnesota-Duluth lost one of its top hockey players on Tuesday as Jason "Bob" Garrison signed a two-year deal with the Florida Panthers.

Don't think Garrison should spend too much money on sunblock, though, what with the winters in Rochester being what they are and all.

In all seriousness, Garrison sounds like a solid signing, a character guy who -- to coin a JM phrase -- should turn out to be a good pro. And, it seems like he has some grit, coming back from a broken leg to play in the postseason for UMD.

From what I was told, JM went to scout and talk to Andrew Sweetland last week after the Tampa Bay loss, with Joe Nieuwendyk handling the Garrison scouting/recruiting. Rumor was Penguins were also in the running for Garrison's services.

-- We're live in Blueland (ugh) for tonight's game. Lot of buzz about this one. These are the kind of games little kids grow up dreaming about. "You know dad, one day I want to play in a completely meaningless game in front of a bunch of empty seats in Atlanta.''

I remember telling my dad how I always wanted to blog about such games. He told me to quit aiming so high.

-- Speaking of that, congrats to Cheryl and Andre LaPalme, who are celebrating their 20th anniversary here in Atlanta tonight. They drove up from South Florida to see some hockey and to do some hiking and biking.

I would have stuck to the hiking and biking.

-- Cory Murphy scratched for a second time. According to the scoresheet, so too is Andrew Sweetland. So there goes that. Branislav Mezei has now been scratched for 10 of the past 11 games. Ironic, too, isn't it? Mezei is finally healthy at the end of a hockey season and still can't find the ice. Feel bad for the guy. Good dude.

-- According to this, save for Vokoun, JM is rolling out the same lineup that coughed up a 3-0 hairball to Washington on Saturday night.

-- General press box musings from Steve X. and Brian Y.: There were probably more people in Saskatoon for that exhibition game oh so long ago than will be here tonight. Probably right.

-- Very late arriving crowd here in Atlanta. Think people are scared of falling glass.

-- Olli Jokinen's first period not only gave the Panthers a lead (!), but also was Florida's first power play goal in 16 tries. Florida penalty kill comes into the night successful in its past 22 kills.

Walking on Broken Glass

AtlantaATLANTA -- Went on a walkabout here in Atlanta today, me, Goldie and Steve X just strolling through town.

Lot of activity as work continues to clean up the mess left behind by those tornadoes that whipped through downtown about two weeks ago.

That tall building to the left is the Westin, and you may be able to see all the dark holes (you're going to have to click on the picture to get the clearer version).

Those are pieces of wood covering up where glass used to be. Lot of windows missing around downtown, a lot of glass still on the streets. Good thing I wore shoes today. I usually don't. Don't take to 'em.

The arena seems fine, the Omni/CNN Center getting fixed up as we speak. Everything seems back to normal around here.

Except for all the glass on the sidewalks, in the street, in landscaping, in my coffee, on my ham sandwich, in Goldie's hair....

-- Not much happened at practice today, the Thrashers forgoing a skate all together (the Thrashers forgoing a skate!)

No Noah Welch tonight, for reasons I simply cannot understand. I guess JM is erring on the side of caution, not wanting Welch to get hurt and then have to spend his summer going through another rehab.

-- Those of you driving around or going to the ballgame tonight, the Panthers' radio call is going to be on 640-AM instead of 790 because of conflicts with the Marlins. The final three games of the season will all be on 640. Happy hunting!