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40 posts from November 2008

November 17, 2008

Monday Night Football ... Florida Panthers head to Tampa Bay ... Not Taking the Lighting lightly ... David Booth a Dolphin/NASCAR fan

BrownsOnly a few more hours until the Browns take on the Bills, only a few more hours until this team disappoints me once more.

Hey, at least I'm used to it.

As far as hockey goes, not much going on in Pantherland. Team should be leaving for Tampa any time now, taking on the Lightning tomorrow night.

Stephen Weiss and Gregory Campbell were back today, Kamil Kreps skated before practice and will be on the trip. Could play sometime in the next three games. Noah Welch back on defense, replaced on a forward line by Wade Belak. Pete DeBoer says it was just a practice thing, wanted eight D today.

-- On being complacent playing Tampa, a team the Panthers beat 4-0: "People in glass houses don't throw stones,'' DeBoer said. "Where we are right now, we can't take anyone lightly. That conversation hasn't come up. If we bring our A game, we have shown we can compete with anyone. We also know, if we don't show up, we bring games like we did in L.A. and Atlanta. We can't afford to take anyone lightly.''

-- Campbell doesn't have an infection in his hand, but a deep bone bruise/possible fracture. He's going to keep playing with it.

-- David Booth took full advantage of Sunday's full sports day, leaving practice for the Dolphins-Raiders, then going down to Homestead to catch the end of the NASCAR race.

November 16, 2008

Happy November 16

HomesteadGreetings from Homestead where I've come down to watch some NASCAR racing up close and personal.

OK, lying about that one. Sitting in Sunrise, watching the Dolphins.

Not much interest among the Panthers regarding today's Winston Cup finale, even gearhead Craig Anderson declining an invitation to see the boys trade some paint. Too far, too many folks seemed to be the rationale for most. Plus the team has an earlier practice tomorrow (10 a.m.) and a week long road trip coming up.

Anywho, not much going on at practice this morning. Stephen Weiss and Gregory Campbell sat out, although Campbell worked on the ice for about 45 minutes after the practice broke up. Didn't see Weiss anywhere, he was probably getting treatment back at the arena.

With three forwards out (told Kamil Kreps is out another week at the least), Noah Welch was put on a line with Wade Belak and Anthony Stewart. Pete DeBoer says that was just to have four even lines and they are not considering moving Welch to forward (although, why not. Worked for Montie).

Talked to Jay Bouwmeester a little bit about his offensive struggles, he has yet to score a goal this season. Reminds me of a couple years ago when it took him months to get his first. He says he hopes he doesn't have to go through with that again.

-- As far as that report out of Ottawa goes (basically said JM has been ordered by Alan Cohen to a) make the playoffs, b) sign Jay long-term and c) cut $3 mil off the books) probably has a touch of truth to it. But just a touch.

Mr. Cohen wants Jay to stay, and would like to save money and make the playoffs. No duh.

But I think this combination of things -- orders it has been reported -- don't make much sense. You can't dump salary and hope to keep Jay. He hates how things are run down here as it is. Dumping salary only to offer him more and tell him once more "things are looking up" is delusional.

To make the playoffs, you can't deal off your best parts, because, well, no one wants the Panthers' spares (who don't make the kind of money that would make that much of a difference any how).

November 15, 2008

Fun Saturday in SoFla

TailgateGood afternoon hockey fans, hope you are enjoying your Saturday.

The Panthers have today off, so with that in mind, I have some suggestions on things to do today.

Could be as lazy as watching college football all day. No problem with that. That may be all that's on my agenda today. There's also a NASCAR race down in Homestead, and I'm sure Craig Anderson will be down there for check it out. He's a gearhead. I get that.

OK, that's all I got.

-- In case you missed it, here's Mike Babcock on the Panthers after last night's game: “They’ve got a lot of pieces here. Bouwmeester skates just like Niedermayer, both goaltenders are solid, down the middle, Booth, Weiss, it’s a pretty nice setup there, the Campbell kid looks like he’s going to provide energy. I think Ballard is a real good player. I think the future here is going to be real good.”

So they've got that going for them, which is nice.

-- Leftovers from last night: The players weren't real happy with the way their game ended last night, saying if they would have played the third like they did the second, perhaps they would have skated out with a win.

Well, yeah. But the Panthers didn't commit any penalties in their fantastic second period, and that wasn't the case in the third. The Red Wings locked down, showed why they are still the team to beat in the league. Haven't seen the Wings in person very much, but goodness, they are impressive to watch. I catch a bunch of their games on television, and the tube does not do these guys justice. Parts of that game was like watching a hockey clinic. I enjoyed watching last night's game immensely.

-- So what's next for the Cats? Well, practice Sunday at Incredible Ice. Starts at 11. Open to the public.

After that, the Panthers go on the road for three; winnable games at Tampa Bay and New Jersey, Boston is playing well. But, the Panthers have won four straight at the new Garden, so that has to count for something. You have to think Florida has to get four of the next six. This is a tough stretch right now, but the Panthers need to get on their horse and start pulling down some points.

-- Would expect to see Tomas Vokoun in net the next two games, then Craig Anderson on Friday at Boston. He beat them there last year if you remember (it was 1-0, he made 40 saves).

-- Thought Richard Zednik had a terrific game last night. Dude was all over the place. Really liked what David Booth brought to the table as well.

-- I thought NBC was the Notre Dame network? This CBS telecast of the ND-Navy game is a complete schillfest for the Irish and they just had a softball-filled "interview" with the AD up in the box that was more infomercial than information. Awful television, but it's either that or Clemson-Duke....

November 14, 2008

Southernmost Hockeytown -- Or, Hockeytown FLA ... Florida Panthers vs. Detroit Red Wings

Stumpy Welcome to the center of hockey in the Southeast, the Bank in Sunrise where the Detroit Red Wings have come to town.

Was actually hard to tell the champs were here today.

First clue: The Red Wings jersey being raffled off by the Panthers this morning at the open-to-the-public morning skate. True story: The Panthers were giving away the jersey of their opponent.

Clue No. 2: The ADT Club was offering off all kinds of seafood, from jumbo skrimps to sushi to Octopii. OK, just kidding about the sushi.

Clue No. 3: The guy they got to do the ceremonial slap shot came onto the ice sporting his Red Wings jersey. Maybe he won the raffle. Stanley C. Panther tried to stop the shot, but dude put it home. Then Stanley stormed off the ice, leaving the Detroit guy standing there not knowing what to do next. Classic.

Clue No. 4: There's a good buzz here. Lot of folks in the building early. Lot of winged wheels on the jerseys. Again, the Panthers may just have been handing them out before the game. New promotion: Anyone coming to a Panthers game wearing the home colors is asked to remove their jersey and trade it in for one from the opposition.

Kidrock If I'm the Panthers, I bring in Kid Rock to sing the anthem. Then trot out Dontrelle Willis, Gary Sheffield, Miguel Cabrera and Jim Leyland -- in Wings' jerseys with Tigers' caps -- to drop the ceremonial puck. Only makes sense.

While we're at it, replace Denis Potvin in the TV booth with Gordie Howe.

-- The Panthers have replaced the Florida state flag with one brought down from Michigan...

-- The team took the Hyundai showroom on the lower level and replaced it with a variety of cars from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler for Friday's game....

-- Friday's game was also brought to you by Greektown Casino and Casino Windsor instead of Seminole Coconut Creek....

-- Big cluster of Detroit fans standing in Section 107, and it appears they are looking for a fight. And Matt Millen is nowhere to be found.

-- Back to hockey: Gregory Campbell is in, Noah Welch and Wade Belak are out.

-- Pregame video (not making this up): David vs. Goliath, with a picture of David Booth. Good stuff indeed. Let's get this party started.

Kid Rock, you're up!

Tampa Bay Circus Continues ... Lightning put Barry Melrose on Waivers

Melrose2The circus in Tampa continues.

Barry Melrose was fired as coach of the Lightning today. There had been talk the former ESPN analyst was on the hot seat, but few figured the impetuous management of the Lightning would pull the trigger this fast. These guys keep surprising us.

Enjoy the free money Barry.

One might remember the new Lightning ownership team jumped the gun on Melrose, word leaking that he was going to replace John Tortorella before the guys even owned the team. And before Torts was relieved of his duties.

You have to think Torts and Jay Feaster -- the GM new ownership tossed to the side of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway like a leaking cup from Burger King soon after the draft -- are pretty happy to be out of this mess.

You think the Panthers have problems? This Tampa Bay situation makes the Panthers look like the well-oiled machine that is the New England Patriots in comparison.

The Bolts' new coach: Rick Tocchet, lured off Wayne Gretzky's staff by Melrose during the summer. One might remember Tocchet was out of the game for a while himself, sitting out after pleading guilty to promoting gambling.

Says GM Brian Lawton: “This was a tough decision to make. Barry is a good man and we have a great deal of respect for him. We wish him nothing but success.  However, the results were unacceptable and the players have to understand that we need to be better. Hopefully this change helps push them.

“As for Rick Tocchet, we think this is a great opportunity for him and we believe he’s the type of coach who can take the team to the next level. Our players have a great deal of respect for him.”

I like Tocchet, think he's going to do a good job -- all things considered.

Tocchet has to deal with a lot of meddlers within his own front office, folks who make rash decisions and don't really think things through. Just look at that roster. They've made quick free agent signings, rash trades. They're a mess. I'm not saying Melrose wasn't part of the problem. He just might have been. This Tampa team didn't seem to concerned with playing the Panthers the other day, one day after Melrose gambled and tried to fire up his guys by skipping a practice so someone else's voice could be heard.

Mission accomplished. Someone else's voice will now be heard. Perhaps ESPN has room to bring back their old analyst. And now he can grow the mullet back.

Writes Gary Shelton of the St. Pete Times: From the beginning of training camp it has been like this. This team has been a run-on sentence with no time to pause and no place for punctuation. It has been a runaway train filled with rushed judgments, snap decisions and hasty exits.

The Panthers get to see the new-new-new-look Lightning on Tuesday in Tampa.

You won't get to see it, unless you make the drive across the 'gator. It's not being televised in either market thanks to the genius behind the Versus exclusive blackout (this is a whole different column).

-- Sad day for the boys and girls over at Barry Melrose Rocks. Check out their site, one now in mourning. What to do, what to do...

Florida Panthers Food Drive ... Gregory Campbell Stays ... Radek Dvorak Good to Go

SnoopyHello everyone, welcome back to the party that is Florida Panthers hockey.

The defending Stanley Cup champs are in town, fresh off a 4-3 win in Tampa last night. The Panthers have their hands full tonight, for sure.

Before we get to the hockey, let's talk turkey. Or at least stuffing. The Panthers are holding their annual food drive, with collections taking place tonight outside the arena. Collections will be taken tonight, and also before the game on Nov. 24. Those who forget to bring their canned goods can also make a cash donation.

Those who bring their non-perishables to the arena are also in for an extra treat -- as if doing something nice for the less fortunate in our community isn't enough incentive: There will be a nightly prize, with those making donations being entered. There's different prizes, like signed sticks, meet-and-greets and free tickets to the ADT Club.

Gregory Campbell has already donated a couple of cases of soup. He likes it because it tastes good.

-- Back to hockey talk: The Panthers will once more go with Craig Anderson, with Tomas Vokoun saying his back feels a lot better. Tyler Plante, brought up from the ECHL as a emergency, is already on his way back to Dayton, Ohio, starting tomorrow night. Plante practiced in Vokoun's place yesterday, but wasn't on the ice this morning.

-- Campbell is questionable tonight; Radek Dvorak is back in. Noah Welch is the healthy scratch, although if Campbell can go, someone else will have to sit.

-- The Wings are expected to start Ty Conklin in net; Conklin has been very good against the Cats in his career, going 5-0 in five starts. Conklin was 3-0 against the Cats last year while filling in for the Penguins.

-- Anderson has won three of his five starts this season, and since Jan. 3 of last season, has won 11 of 16 decisions.

November 12, 2008

Andy Controls the Net ... Craig Anderson in versus Detroit Red Wings ... Brian Burke a Free Agent ... Barry Melrose Walks Sunrise Boulevard

AndyrichterJust getting back from morning skate at the Bank, Pete DeBoer telling us that Craig Anderson is starting tonight, his second straight go in net.

Anderson, one might recall, stopped 44 shots and looked terrific Sunday night against the Ducks.

PDeB says "there is no doubt" Tomas Vokoun is the long-term guy here, but Andy got the win, and this team needs a lot more of those. Also, TVo left practice early with some sort of nagging injury. PDeB says the decision to go with Anderson had already been made. TVo left the building while we were talking with the coach so I didn't get a comment from him. Maybe tonight.

Also, Radek Dvorak is out with a hamstring injury, but Gregory Campbell's messed up hand (he says it's not infected but there is some sort of soft tissue injury) is not enough to keep him out of the lineup. "I''m definitely playing,'' he said, his hand wrapped in ice.

Cory Stillman is also in, says he feels good after suffering the first concussion of his career. The first one is always the worst, although the second one leads to a third; and they don't get any better from here.

Nick Boynton is back in the lineup tonight, leaving Noah Welch as the odd man out.

Melrose_2 -- Tampa Bay's Barry Melrose was back at practice today after taking Tuesday off. Well, he didn't take the day off really, saying "I was here until 12:30 last night.''

Melrose left the Bank before practice on Tuesday, walking back from the rink to the team hotel across the street from Sawgrass Mills. It's a nice walk, I do it every once in a while.

If Barry would have kept going down Sunrise Boulevard, he would have run right into our brand new Chik-fil-A -- which is now open. It's the pride of Sunrise. Which says something about Sunrise.

-- Those of you who enjoy Home Ice on XM204 can celebrate today: XM has brought over Sirrus' music channels, including Margaritaville, E Street Radio, Underground Garage and most importantly, the Elvis Channel. It was a good day of driving around the neighborhood today.

-- Expect things to go nutso in Toronto today as the Ducks have scheduled a press conference to announce future Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke is stepping down. Burkie has a Stanley Cup title to his credit, but his last game as GM will go down as a loss to the Panthers.

-- You can now vote at NHL.com for the All-Star Game. Panther fans can vote for TVo and Jay Bouwmeester, but you can also write in votes (or at least that's what I've been told. I can't get the site to load.) I say Vote for Booth. Why not. Kid is having a pretty strong year. Plus, if Jay gets voted in, he may not even be with the Panthers when the All-Star Game is held. In fact, I'll make the time-honored $1.50 bet that he isn't.

Like in Dade County, you can vote as much as you want. Make your voice heard! Or not...

-- Panthers say they are going to have some sort of tribute to this year's Hall of Fame inductees, probably in the first period. You might have heard that one of the players inducted -- Igor Larionov -- once played for the Panthers. Or you might not have. Whatever.

November 11, 2008

Tuesday Report

Took today off to take care of some things, but good ol' Pete Pelegrin was there at practice for me. Here's what we gots:

Cory Stillman should be back in the lineup tomorrow against the Bolts.

Gregory Campbell is out with what I've been told is a hand infection. Will get more about that injury tomorrow. Also, Kamil Kreps is still out because of his concussion.

Shhh..The Panthers have a Hall of Famer


In case you didn't notice, and I'm betting many didn't, the Panthers had their first player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame tonight.

Sure, Igor Larionov didn't spend much time in a Florida sweater, but he still PLAYED for the Panthers.

Wrap your arms around that: A Hall of Famer who actually played for the Panthers.

He must of really ticked off the Panthers because, as hard as this is to believe, the franchise really whiffed on this one.

Congratulations to Mr. Larionov and his family for his official induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday.

One of the top Soviet players of his day, Larionov won three Stanley Cups with the Red Wings, but during the 2000-01 season -- which happened to be one of the worst in Florida history -- he scored five goals with six assists in 26 games before those hapless Panthers traded him back to the Wings.

Sure, the Panthers signing the 40-year-old Larionov as a free agent in 2000 was a mistake. And there is no doubt a team like Detroit, Toronto or Montreal wouldn't make a stink about a guy being inducted into the Hall who only played in 26 games for them.

Yet, as bad as publicity has been for this Florida team, one would think Larionov being inducted into hockey's hallowed hall would be worthy of something. Anything.

One would be wrong.

Not a single word has come forth from the Panthers regarding one of their alums getting into the hall. Perhaps it's because of the short time Larionov wore the leaping cat on the front of his jersey. But an alum is an alum in my book, whether he played in one game or 1,000.

For a franchise supposedly trying to sell the game down here, and this guy ain't sure they are, this was a major league error.

The Panthers' Den of Honor is a joke, everyone knows this.

But Larionov's HHOF induction gives the Panthers a chance to show this franchise DOES have a little bit of history and isn't afraid to honor it.

The Panthers have a chance to make this thing right.

Instead of just showcasing John Vanbiesbrouck and Brian Skrudland, the Panthers need to start honoring  members of the Hall of Fame with serious ties to the organization -- even if they didn't earn those stripes playing for the Panthers.

I'm not saying start retiring numbers, but expand that Den!

Put in HOFer Denis Potvin (TV guy since Day 1), Bill Torrey too. I say the Panthers also honor Bobby Clarke and Roger Neilson.

And, if and when Dino Ciccarelli (1998-99) finally goes into the Hall, honor him as well.

Put in Pavel Bure now. When Olli Jokinen says goodbye to the game, he goes in too (not saying he's a Hall of Famer, but he added a lot to the franchise in his years here). That's a no-brainer. Joe Nieuwendyk? In. Roberto Luongo? Done.

Others like Paul Laus and Scott Mellanby need to be given some cred here as well.

This franchise needs to be more about hockey and less about putting ads on anything bolted down. More about honoring the game and less about inflatable cows, dancing girls and dancing bananas.

If the Panthers put hockey first, they might get more respect around the league, might turn on people in this market to their product.

If they don't start honoring THEIR game, they're always going to be the Panthers, a franchise on par with the Clippers (minus the occasional playoff appearance, of course) and the Pirates.

I'm glad Igor Larionov had the class to briefly thank the Panthers during his induction speech.

Perhaps one of these days the Panthers will get around to thanking the only Hall of Famer to ever don their sweater.

November 09, 2008

It Can Be Done

Dennis TEMPE, Ariz. -- Congratulations to coach Dennis Erickson and his Arizona State Sun Devils for snapping their six game losing streak on Saturday night.

When contacted by Jacques Martin, Erickson offered sage advice on how the Florida Panthers can end their own six-game skid.

"Get the Washington Huskies on your schedule,'' Erickson reportedly told Martin."And start running a spread offense, open things up a bit. That should be able to get you some more goals. Or at least a touchdown or two. You hear of any openings down there?''

Off to Orange County....

Disneyland -- That's the Ticket

DisneylandTEMPE, Ariz. -- Just got back from another edition of Panther Debacle, a night in which the Panthers had a lead but lost it in the second and never really did much to get it back in the third.

Hard to score when your guys are taking the freeway to the penalty box the whole time.

Anyway, things aren't good in Pantherland as I'm sure everyone knows by now. The team has lost six straight, and unless something drastic happens tomorrow, will head back to SoFla riding a seven game streak. This was supposed to be a manageable trip, no? Five games, with only one -- Anaheim -- probably out of reach.

After the team beat San Jose, you would have to figure this team could have come away with points in Nashville (which they did), Atlanta (goodness gracious), Los Angeles (who was in goal for LA?) and Phoenix (hey! it's Olli!).

This team, for lack of a better term, is a mess. You can see it in their faces when they come into the rink. They are a beaten bunch. You can't help but feel bad for their rookie coach, a guy who has to deal with this and try and figure a way out. This team almost has to play perfect hockey for 60 minutes -- and even then they may not win.

So, instead of moping around Southern California on Sunday, they should all go to Disneyland. Check out the rides, have some cotton candy. Relax. Get some sun, take some goofy photos. Make the rookie (Michael Frolik) walk around in a goofy hat. Take more photos of that.

Then come in and see what happens against a Ducks team that was handled on Friday by Dallas and probably isn't going to be in a real good mood.

Of course, none of the guys are going to do this. They're going to walk around the local mall, get some coffee, come to the rink and walk in like they did tonight. With their head down, wondering where all the goals are going to come from. Hoping, praying, to get off to a good start and some how win. That's what it's come down to. They are hoping to win, hoping something goes their way. If you could measure confidence, the Panthers are at minus-3 right now.

I like Pete DeBoer, and he looks more dejected by the day. These losses are starting to wear on him and his staff, the losing atmosphere dragging down this franchise like nothing I've ever seen before. Some have spoken about changing the culture of this team, but that is so easier said than done. What do you do? Trade everyone away? Start over? Maybe. Maybe that's what you do. I don't know.

But right now, this team is digging itself into another major league hole. They are falling so far behind they would be asked to repeat a grade if they were in elementary school.

It's ugly right now. Ugly. And look at the schedule. It only gets harder. This, friends, was supposed to be the 'easier' part of the schedule.

But hey, at least Rochester won a game tonight, Shawn Matthias, Kenndal McArdle and Stefan Meyer all scoring goals the Panthers could have desperately used tonight.

Pete said yesterday that he sees brighter days ahead for this team.

They must seem far, far away.

In Tomorrowland.

November 08, 2008

Hello from Homestead West


Good evening from Glendale, Arizona, where we may be closer to downtown Los Angeles than we are to downtown Phoenix.

Talk about being in the middle of nowhere. Think if the Panthers built their arena in Homestead, and you have a good idea of where Glendale is.

Of course, Homestead is growing and so is this part of Arizona. The new entertainment complex built here (it sits next to the arena and across the way from the new Cardinals' football stadium) is top notch and a great idea. If this is what Alan Cohen and the Panthers have in mind to surround the Bank, I'm all for it. This is a cool place. It just took forever to drive here.

Ollibig Spent the afternoon watching college football at the Fox Sports Zone right next to the arena with Steve X. and VanMurph. Good times, good wings. And a pretty mean gumbo as well.

Now, on to hockey.

Just spoke to Pete DeBoer who filled us in on his new-look lines. David Booth isn't playing with Stephen Weiss anymore; no, he's on the top line with Anthony Stewart and Nathan Horton.

The other lines: Brett McLean-Stephen Weiss-Michael Frolik; Rostislav Olesz-Gregory Campbell-Radek Dvorak; Ville Peltonen-Richard Zednik-Wade Belak.

Noah Welch the healthy scratch again tonight.

Ollihelmet I do believe Olli Jokinen is in the lineup for the Coyotes tonight. Not sure though.

-- PDeB said he doesn't know who is in net tomorrow in Anaheim. Will let everyone know as soon as I know.

-- NASCAR is in town, the second-to-last race of the Winston Cup coming tomorrow. Then, it's off to Homestead for the finale. Glad I'm not one of Millerlite those guys who has to make that drive. Say hello to Tallahassee for me.

-- Here's a classic of former Coyote Keith Ballard and the very popular Pierre. I love these commercials.

November 07, 2008

Olli Versus Florida, NEXT!

OllihawkTEMPE, Ariz. --

So, all those reports of Olli Jokinen and Jacques Martin not getting along last year were false, eh?

The frosty relationship we reported on and was told wasn't true? Come on. We all know better. 

These two did not like each other, did not get along. At all.

Today, Olli got in some barbs, although he didn't stop for emphasis or anything sinister like that.

One reason he likes playing in Phoenix? The front office and the management. Says it's important that GM Don Maloney "played the game" at the NHL level and he enjoys playing for a coach with the stature of Wayne Gretzky.

"This is such a good group of guys and it all starts with the management,'' he said. "Our whole coaching staff has playing experience. That's just amazing. It's a lot more fun. I come to work at the rink with a big ol' smile on my face every day. I haven't been able to do that the last couple of years in Florida. It was just too much.''

-- Olli doesn't know much about Pete DeBoer, but its obvious he's not a JM fan: "I always wish the best for the Panthers. I had a good seven years there. And I hear they finally have a good coach. That's good.''

-- On the rivalry between himself and the Panthers, Olli said "there's always five or six new guys there. I don't even know half the team.''

According to my rudimentary math skills, Olli played with 16 of the 20 guys on the ice tomorrow, a little better than 50 percent.

-- Olli doesn't like to see the Panthers lose: "I'd rather them come in here winning five in a row. But we can't be too focused on what they're doing or what they're going through.''

Guycharron2 -- Everyone knows Jokinen will pass Guy Charron to become the all-time leader in most games played without appearing in the playoffs this season.

Guess when?

Saturday night against the Panthers.

Olli's not on a playoff team now, not by a long shot. But he wasn't in Florida either. And no one is here blaming him for things that, well, now look silly. The Panthers are a mess right now, and Olli isn't here to take the blame. Something's wrong in FLA, but it isn't Olli Jokinen's problem anymore.

Or Guy's.

Dogs and Cats Living Together -- Mass Hysteria

Tempe_2 TEMPE, Ariz. -- Greetings from the Land of Erickson where Dennis' Sun Devils try to snap a six game losing streak when they visit Washington this weekend.

In a pure bit of coincidence, the Panthers are in Erickson's newest hometown and they, too, are trying to put an end to an ugly losing streak. At least the Panthers got a point out of Nashville. ASU didn't get anything for their close loss to Oregon State last week.

Florida lost its fifth straight Thursday night, an ugly, brutal affair in Los Angeles where the scoreboard was much kinder to the Cats than anyone who might happen upon that mess. OK, sure, Florida lost 3-2. Might as well have been 43-2. Just an ugly game.

I missed Florida practice today because the Cats and Dogs couldn't coexist and share what looked to be two pieces of ice at the Coyotes' practice facility today. So, I had to make a choice.

After last night, that was easy: I went to talk to Olli and the Great One.

Good stuff out of Olli, including that he has taken up golf. There has to be a joke in here somewhere, but he says he's serious and has joined a club here in the local area. Go ahead, make your "plenty of time for golf" playoff joke now. We'll wait.

Anywho, Olli was in a great mood, and probably knows his 11 points this season would lead the Panthers once again.

More on Olli in my next post. Hope you'll join us!

-- Spoke to Pete DeBoer courtesy of the OnStar Hotline (figured GM could use some free pub) this afternoon, and he still sounds a bit bummed about last night. Says he called a team meeting today to talk about last night, then they went out and did battle for the puck drills throughout their session. That was obviously lacking last night.

I can see if you aren't better than the other team, but don't let them outwork you like happened in L.A. And it wasn't just the first two periods, either. After making it 2-1, Florida didn't do much else and reverted right back to the crummy style of play the L.A. crowd didn't seem to enjoy as they all left real early.

Of course, there weren't that many of them to begin with.

-- PDeB wasn't all negative today, and he echoed comments made by Gregory Campbell (one of a handful who should be excused from last night's mess) by saying "brighter days are ahead. I know this. We're not that bad of a team.''

-- Kamil Kreps, as you might have noticed, didn't play in the third last night. I thought he got benched. Well, he might have had he not suffered a concussion in the second. Pete says Kreps is out for the weekend. Rostislav Olesz (shoulder) should be back Saturday.

-- Tomas Vokoun in net, with Wayne Gretzky telling us that Ilya Bryzgalov will be between the pipes for the Ducks, err, Coyotes. Florida can't beat anyone's backup, so maybe they'll do better against Phoenix's starter.

November 06, 2008

LIVE! From Hollywood, it's Late Night with the Cats

HollywoodLOS ANGELES -- Good evening night owls, welcome to another edition of LIVE! On Frozen Pond. Tonight the Panthers take on the homestanding Kings in front of what should be an electric crowd. Honestly, there may be 100 people in the building right now for the warm-up skate.

And the televisions outnumber the media members in the press box, which is good for G because I get to watch the Brownies take down (I hope) the Broncos.

Don't fumble!

Anyway, no new updates from the previous post. Rostislav Olesz is out with the shoulder, Noah Welch is out with the scratch.

Will be back in a little bit, hope to get Goldie up here to do a little play-by-blog.

Browns up 13. Got my fingers crossed.

-- As beat writer for the Panthers, I know a little something about bad crowds. This one has a chance to be one of the worst I have ever seen.


-- We've kicked this thing off here at the Forum, Browns' lead down to 3....

--Browns' D stinks...we have our first penalty, Frolov for tripping midway through the first...let's see if this FLA power play is any better than it's been...

-- Panthers get a big chance although Frolik didn't get anything on his shot...Kings almost get a short-handed goal but TVo made a nice save.,.


-- Panthers have a whopping three shots on goal with just over two minutes left...no shots since the power play...


--Welcome back Bryan McCabe; two minutes for tripping at 17:49....LAK on the PP....


-- Is it effort, or a complete lack of talent? This is pathetic hockey right here kids....

-- Panthers are going into the room with three shots....if you like watching guys skate around in circles, this game is for you....Looks like Soup Campbell trying to get something going in the corner...it's broken up...


After another uneventful period, Florida still trail 2-0...three more shots for the visitors from Florida!

This is brutal, brutal, brutal hockey.

I will check and see if anyone -- aside from Campbell, Ballard, Vokoun and Weiss -- have a pulse after this one.

If Florida plays like this in the third, changes have to be made. Tonight. JM needs to wake some of his peers up and see if he can do something. If not, dial up the waiver wire.



--I'm going back to work, been fun chatting it up. It's 3-1 Kings and I got a ton of work to do.

Will check in tomorrow from OlliWood -- otherwise known as Phoenix.

L.A. Confidential

RosebowlPASADENA -- Things have settled down here in the City of Brotherly Love, and there are no demonstrations or rallies scheduled for tonight.

So all eyes in SoCal can be aimed squarely at tonight's hockey game between one of the best teams in the east and one of the best in the west.

Or Florida versus Los Angeles.

Magicjohnson Panthers spent the first half of their practice at Staples Center in darkness, a power surge knocking out a good chunk of the power in the arena. It was kind of cool, though, and made the skate feel like a Saturday morning practice at a youth rink in Waterloo instead of at a major league facility.

Not a lot going on, Pete DeBoer saying Rostislav Olesz is doubtful to play because of his shoulder. Also, Noah Welch is tonight's healthy scratch. Team worked a lot on the power play today once the lights flickered back on, Jay Bo and Bryan McCabe running the point, Horton-Weiss-Booth the forwards.

Weiss says the PP boys want at least two tonight.

We'll see. If the lights are on, that is.

-- Special LIVE! edition of On Frozen Pond tonight, with Steve 'Goldie' Goldstein making a guest appearence since tonight's game is not on local television. Remember to stop on by for some good old fashioned fun!

Protest in Hollywood

LOS ANGELES -- Live in Southern California where all the news surrounds a large protest in Hollywood.

Apparently some here aren't happy the Florida Panthers are in town.

That, or folks are upset the Dodgers declined to pick up Brad Penny's option and they figure the Marlins are going to make a run at him.

Jacques Martin has no comment on the protest, although the Panthers have people in the middle of the action offering 'Prop 8' packages where you can get eight games, eight hot dogs and eight sodas for a discounted price.

But only if you voted against California's Prop 8, which is why these outraged citizens have taken to the streets in the first place. Apparently it passed yesterday (banning same-sex marriages) and some are really, really mad.

I love LA.

- On a serious note, I hear the Panthers are close to dropping the $25 fee for big games. Stay tuned.

- In other local news, the Lakers beat the Clippers. But that's not really news...

- Going to pay a visit to the Rose Bowl tomorrow. Larry Coker's favorite place.

November 04, 2008

Tuesday's Update ... Stillman Out ... Others, In

Vote Big news out of practice today was that Cory Stillman's facial injuries are more serious than expected as he has a concussion and is going to miss the three-game West Coast trip.

The good news is that Stephen Weiss, Bryan McCabe and Gregory Campbell were back out there participating fully. All three should be back on Thursday. That's good news for this team that, as you may have read somewhere else, needs at least four out of six points on this trip.

More bad news: Rostislav Olesz practiced almost the entire time, but left early because of a shoulder injury. Don't know how serious the injury is, but we'll be keeping an eye on it.

General Musings ... Random Thoughts ... Whatever


Things I have noticed as I took a few days off to recharge the old batteries. But now I'm back and here's what I have to say:

The Miami Heat have to be thankful they got to open the season with the Sacramento Kings. Just like the Panthers had to be quite pleased to play Atlanta in their home opener ... Think it's going to be another playoff-less spring for the South Florida hockey/hoop teams ...

Everyone should make a point of it to go out and vote today. It's a good thing to do. And no, I don't care who you vote for. Just get out there and vote ...

My favorite kind of cheese is Sharp Cheddar. Don't ask me why, but I like it. That Boar's Head Swiss is pretty good, too ...

Caddyshack II may be the worst of all the IIs ... Save for World War II ... And Major League II ... The Godfather II was pretty darned good, probably the best of the IIs ...

Best show on TV right now might be 30 Rock, with a big nod to The Office ... And I also enjoy Baseball's Golden Age on FSN ...

Um, and Family Guy ...

And I somehow really like Cold Case ...

The Panthers need more offense like my bank account needs more zeros ... I need more zeros than the Panthers need goals, but that says more about my finances then it does about their offense. We're both in trouble. ...

Olli Jokinen must feel like he's in Bizzaro Hockey World...the more things change, the more they stay the same. Pro hockey in Finland must seem pretty appealing ...

Breaking up is always hard to do. Sometimes it has to be done though. Still sucks ...

Folks in Rochester are not real happy with the direction of their franchise under the Panthers' stewardship. After the first couple of weeks, I can't blame them ...

Got to love the story about Tomas Vokoun trick-or-treating in his old neighborhood in Nashville. Heard the Panthers had their Halloween party there as well. Of course, that was at the Sommet Center on Saturday night. ...

Who doesn't love peanut butter with some jelly? ...

People allergic to peanuts, I guess ...

Was messed up, me defending American cars to Steve Y. the night the brand-new Chevy Malibu blew up in St. Louis. It was a nice car. Was ...

Going to Del Taco made up for that, though ...

My pick as the best team in college football today: Sorry Nicky Sabes, it's Florida. The Gators are for real. Too bad they can't play Ohio State again this January (unless it's in the Citrus Credit Card Bowl that is) ...

I would not have a problem with a Texas Tech-Penn State title game. Not in the least. JoePa versus Robert Montgomery Knight? Classic ...

And yes, it appears it is Always Sunny in Philadelphia ...

Back to hockey: The Panthers have six available points coming on their three-game West Coast swing. The way things are going, they need to grab four -- minimum.

And of the 600 In-n-Out drive-thrus I pass on this three-game trip, I will attempt to visit 463 of them ... And a stop to Del Taco is, unfortunately, on the list. Wienerschnitzel, too ...

Hello, Jenny Craig? Call me on Monday after I get back from this West Coast trip. I'm going to need the help. Or perhaps I could go on the Chris Berman diet ...

Go out and vote people ...

More hockey news later this afternoon ...


November 01, 2008

Music City, FLA

SUNRISE - Greetings from Music City South. Nashville may lay claim to the name, but everyone knows the Grand Old Opry originated in Sunrise, recently torn down to make way for our new Chik-fil-a (will they open up already?!?)

Anyway, Brian 'Frank' Costa is covering for me tonight so I can visit all the honkey tonks on Oakland Park Boulevard (the original Music Row) looking for a feed of the game. Of course, there is no feed, so I'll enjoy an evening with Randy 'Kamloops' Moller and Bill E. Lindsey on 790 The LeBatard.

Brian Costa says he's going to check in here the next two days to give you, the loyal readers of On Frozen Pond, the updates you crave so much.

As for me, I'm off to watch the Tamarac Titans.

See y'all later....check in early and often. And try to take it easy on that Tennessee sipin' whiskey made famous in Weston.

- Rocky Top will always be, Broward County to me....