« November 2008 | Main | January 2009 »

37 posts from December 2008

December 31, 2008

Turbulance in the Air? ... Trouble in Paradise? ... Definitely a Frosty New Year for Tomas Vokoun and Pete DeBoer

Vokoun3NEW YORK -- Greetings and Happy New Year from a virtually empty Laguardia Airport, where it's a bunch of USAir employees and your tired Florida Panthers beat writer wandering the abandoned terminal.

Hopefully there's a flight to Pittsburgh leaving here tonight. Time will tell.

Postgame today brought one big thing to light, and that is Pete DeBoer and Tomas Vokoun have a difference of opinion. PDeB says he's tired of pulling his goalies from games (he's done it in three of the past four) but says he'll keep doing so "until we get 60 minutes from one of them.''

Vokoun says he's sick and tired of the short leash as well, not calling the coach out by name but adding ''this is the first time this has ever happened to me in my career.''

Truth of it is, Vokoun has not looked like anything close to an All-Star since he shut down his former mates last week. That win over Nashville was Florida's last -- the Panthers have gone 0-3-1 since Christmas. Forget about that franchise-record eight wins in December; this latest losing streak kept the Cats at seven.

But Vokoun is having trouble getting comfortable knowing the hook is waiting on the bench. Didn't talk to Craig Anderson today, but Vokoun says Andy "can't like this either.'' Vokoun says it's tough to know you have to play mistake-free hockey to stay in the game, saying his struggles now are ''mental.'' Truth is, goalies have to work their way through rough patches. Vokoun and Anderson aren't getting that chance.

This reminds me of the Alex Auld/Eddie Belfour situation from two years ago. Auld would play well, then have a bad outing and open the door for Belfour. After that, Auld felt Belfour looking over his shoulder and knew one bad game would bring the quick hook from JM. That's what happened, and Auld struggled for much of the year.

PDeB basically said after the game that the goalie position is open, and he's waiting for someone to take it and make it their own.

There's definitely some friction here.

PDeB is a no-nonsense guy, and that's cool by me. But he didn't give his goalie any support today by speaking the truth. Why take out Vokoun? ''He gave up four goals on 21 shots,'' the coach said, alluding to an Islanders goal in the first that was overturned by the refs with Jon Sim getting a goalie interference call. PDeB basically said the Panthers got away with one there.

And they did. It was a bad call.

Says Tomas:

''It's hard mentally when you get scored on and get pulled. You start playing, not scared, but you have to do everything right. That's the worst thing that can happen to a goalie. Obviously there were goals that could have been stopped. It's a mental thing now.

''[Being pulled] has never happened to me in my career and I'm sure Andy doesn't like it either. I'm not blaming my mistakes on anyone but me, but when you get pulled in two of three games, it's going to shake your confidence. If you tell a player if he makes one mistake he's pulled, that's extremely tough.''

Should be an interesting few days. Word is, the Panthers were going to take New Year's Day off, but they have ice booked and will now likely practice in Pittsburgh.

And Anderson goes against the Pens on Saturday.

Newyearorange Have a great, safe and Happy New Year folks. Will see you on the PA side of life.

And like I've said before, please drive carefully tonight.

Oh, and enjoy the Winter Classic from Wrigley Field tomorrow. And the FedEx Orange Bowl. Who's in that one again? Cincinnati? Really?

LIVE! Old School, Old Problems in Nassau County ... Florida Panthers 2 @New York Islanders 4 (FINAL) ... Tomas Vokoun starts, replaced; Craig Anderson in NOW ... Dave Strader gets Winter Classic call from NBC ... Islander Ice Girls and Much, Much More

RayromanoUNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Ray Barone may be the most famous Long Island sports writer around, but I've yet to see him come out to Nassau Coliseum and hopes that changes today. Have also had trouble finding his stuff on the Newsday website, although I hear it's very good.

The Panthers are in town today, visiting the struggling Islanders with a 2 p.m. kickoff. The frozen rain has now turned to snow, so this should be a nice walk later on today.

Just kicking this thing off, reminding you to come on back around lunchtime where I should have the starting goaltender for the Panthers (since Tomas Vokoun shut them out earlier this season, I would think it's him, although...) and other pertinent information.

Merry New Year everyone. Hope you have better New Year's Eve plans than I do. Pittsburgh airport, here I come!

Nassau -- Greetings from atop Nassau Coliseum, where thankfully it's a lot warmer inside than out. Freezing out there. But at least there's snow. That's nice.

Word on the street is that Tomas Vokoun is in net today, with Richard Zednik the healthy scratch with Shawn Matthias getting his own line.

Pete DeBoer to Randy Moller about Vokoun: ''You have to go with your money guy.''

On Shawn Matthias: ''We brought him in here to push guys for jobs. Hopefully he'll bring a shot of energy.''

Also, mixing up the lines. This much I know: Gregory Campbell takes over the pivot of the Weissislanders Sawgrass/Sunrise/Sunshine Express line, with David Booth and Nathan Horton on the wings. Stephen Weiss -- who is part of the press elevator mural here now -- is centering Cory Stillman and Michael Frolik. Will give you the rest of the lines later. Think it's going to be mix and match.

''We've gotten away from our work ethic,'' PDeB said. ''We're shaking up the deck a little bit.''

-- Surprise, surprise: Rick DiPietro is not playing for the Isles today. Joey 'I'm Lovin' It' MacDonald is in net for the Potvins.

-- One thing the Isles are doing well: shorthanded goals. The Isles have eight this year. Florida gave up two (well, one came into an empty net) on Monday against the Habs.

-- For those of you listening to the Florida radio feed, you better hope for a lot of Florida goals. Randy Moller has some 'Old School' calls awaiting. Going to be classic.

More pregame from PDeB:

''We all saw prior to Christmas that we have guys in the organization capable of pushing people for jobs,'' DeBoer said. ''I haven't liked the way we've competed the last three games. Zednik's a casualty tonight, but it could have been any number of guys. I hope the message is received. Play hard or someone else will come in and do that.''

''Playing hard may not be the right wording,'' DeBoer said, ''but we need more from Richard Zednik. We need more from a lot of different guys. Nathan Horton, Cory Stillman. A lot of people. It's a small picture, only three games. A lot of people would say don't panic, but we don't have that luxury here. We can't let three losses turn into six or seven. We have to fix it right away.''

''We need a win, this is a very important two points,'' DeBoer said. ''The decision was to go with the veteran, the money guy. We pay Tomas a lot of money to win games like this.''

ALSO: General manager Jacques Martin has been to each of Florida's road games this season, but missed Wednesday's game to scout the World Junior tournament in Ottawa. Martin is scheduled to join the team when it gets to Canada.

-- For you Islanders fans out there, the Isles called up Trevor Smith from AHL Bridgeport and the 23-year-old whom the Isles signed as an undrafted free agent last year will make his NHL debut. Smith is up because Mike Sillinger is on the IR with a hip injury.

Also, Mitch Fritz put on waivers, goalie Yann Danis recalled on an emergency basis.

Will be live momentarily....

Davedenis -- Also, big news from NBC: Former Florida television voice Dave Strader has been summoned from the bullpen to work tomorrow's Winter Classic from Comisky, err, Wrigley Field. Doc Emrick has laryngitis. Congrats Strades. Looking forward to the game -- and the call.

-- Big news from the Coliseum: The Marvel super heroes are here, from Spider-Man to Captain America to Iron Man. Hope nothing happens crime-wise today with these fellas watching hockey and all.

Icegirl --The famous Islanders ice girls have the flag out...making me feel more patriotic than ever...



-- Matthias centering what's left of the CPR line with Campbell up with Booth and Horton; McLean with Tarnasky and Stewart...

-- Panthers about to go on the power play...delayed penalty, getting some chances...anyway, power play with old pal Jonny Sim heading to the box at 2:55..

-- Isles kill off penalty, but Panthers are looking good...three huge scoring chances here in the first six minutes..first, Horton gets pass in fIcegirl2 ront and fires high; next, Booth's backhander is stopped with a great glove save by MacD; and at 6:30, Frolik finds Campbell but MacD makes another strong save. Horton just got robbed with another great save by MacD...

Shots: FLA 8-2.. Scoring chances like 6-0

Icegirl3 --Taking another timeout here, Isles finally start putting some pressure on Vokoun...still scoreless...

--Old pal Jiggs McDonald is here tonight as well, working for the Isles tonight...

--Panthers on the kill...Campbell into the box for slashing, which I think is a pretty serious crime...shots: 11-7 or, Slurpee time @ 7-11...

--Richard Park appears to give the Isles a 1-0 lead, but goal is called off and Sim goes back into the box for goalie interference...not so sure about that one...anyway, Florida back on the power play at 15:48...

--Islanders kill off the penalty...we have 2:08 left in the opening period...shots, Florida 11-8...pretty bad job on that last power play...



-- Back to action here in the second period...FLA outshot Isles 13-11 in the opener...FLA 0-2 on power play, Isles 0-1...50 percent on faceoffs, both sides winning 12...Weiss leads Cats with three shots, Guerin and Comrie three each for the Isles...

-- Panthers back on the power play...

Icegirl4 -- Taking a Ice Girls timeout, Panthers still leading in shots, but now its 13-12...haven't been able to get anything going offensively here in the first six minutes save for a few chances...


-- Taking another Ice Girl timeout here with 6:13 left in the second...Panthers have one shot this period, but have been putting on some pressure of late....shots: NY 19-14

-- McLean heads to the box with 5:55 left in the second...Isles' second power play of the night...they are 0-for-1

Icegirl6 -- And the Ice Girls are back on the ice...good for us...




--Goalie change: Say hello to Craig Anderson...close the book on Vokoun, 22 shots, three goals...third time in four games the Panthers have gone to the bullpen...

-- OK, this one is just about done..It's 4-1 now, and I'm saying good day to this unless something else happens. Check back later for a special post-game On Frozen Pond entry with plenty of quotes, notes and general venom.

Icegirl7 This has been brutal.

And embarrassing. No excuses today.

At least the Ice Girls were here.

December 30, 2008

Shawn Matthias back with Florida Panthers

MatthiasUNIONDALE, N.Y. -- There's a new Panther in town, and his name is Shawn Matthias.

The Panthers are light at center, and Matthias is on the way to help out. He's been recalled from Rochester and should be with the team in Long Island tonight and probably in the lineup tomorrow.

Matthias has three goals with an assist for the Americans in 34 games. Matthias has played in 10 games with the Panthers this season, recording an assist.

-- Panthers are trying to win their franchise record eighth December game. They've been stuck on seven since beating Nashville prior to the Christmas break. Islanders, on the other hand, have won once this month.

They beat Toronto on Friday, folks here started talking about them turning around their season but they've lost two more since then. And Rick DiPietro had another setback. Not a fun season on the island.

Limping to Long Island ... Merry New Year: Florida Panthers @ New York Islanders ... No News on Goalies ... Cory Murphy to Rochester

TradingplacesUNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Good afternoon from a windy and raw Long Island afternoon.

Wasn't at practice today but Pete 'Pete' Pelegrin filled in quite nicely. Here's what we know. First, we don't know who is in goal tomorrow against the Islanders. Could be Tomas Vokoun (who was 2-0 against these guys last year) or it could be Craig Anderson (who was 2-0 against these guys last year). Pete DeBoer says he'll tell me who's going when I get there in the morning.

Don't know if I can wait that long.

Also, Cory Murphy is headed to New York, only not this side of the state. He'll be off to Rochester on a two-week conditioning stint. I think Cory's been ready to go for a few weeks, but the Panthers don't really have anywhere to put him right now. Two weeks in Rochester and that might be a different deal. Sure Murph is excited to get a chance to play -- and he may help out the Amerks in the process. They could use it.

Will be LIVE! from the Coliseum tomorrow afternoon. Come on back and visit. See you in Hempstead...

December 29, 2008

Welcome to Centre Bell South ... Montreal Canadiens at Florida Panthers ... It's a GameNight in Sunrise, Quebec ... Jassen Cullimore Plays ... Welcome Back the Goldie Report

QuebecSUNRISE, Quebec -- Our little town on the outskirts of Miami and on the fringes of the Everglades has been overtaken by visitors from the north as the Montreal Canadiens and their legions of blue-wihite-and-red (Le Bleu-Blanc-et-Rouge) clad fans have filled the Big Billboard to its rafters.

Traffic getting into the arena is a mess right now, and it wasn't a Sunday drive through the country when I came in around 6. Almost got into three accidents inside arena property, with two drivers apparently thinking we drive on the left side of the road here in Broward County.

Yo, folks, you ain't supposed to cross that yellow line.

Anyway, Jassen Cullimore is in tonight, making his return from a hand injury. Which means Noah Welch is out.

Plan to be checking in tonight, including the world-famous (and On Frozen Pond exclusive) Goldie Report during the intermissions.

Enjoy Jacques 'Martin' Lemaire. And Kerry Fraser's Hair. Great band, bad helmet.

Frankforte -- Frank Forte is up here in the press box. Frank, your take on tonight's game?

''It feels like a road game, doesn't it?''

Poutine Yes indeed.

''But at least there's a great atmosphere here.''

Right on both points.

-- The chant of the night: Go Habssscats Go...Go Habssscats Go...

-- Great shot by Michael Frolik, although his goal should have been stopped I'm thinking. Have to guess Carey Price figured Frolik was going to pass off to Brett McLean. Only he didn't. 1-0 Floride.

-- Panthers are getting a lot of 5-on-3 practice. Two on Saturday, one (at least) tonight....

-- And we're tied...Alex Kovalev scores with 19 seconds left on the Anthony Stewart/too many men on the ice penalty...

-- Packed house, about to go on the power play...how do they try and get everyone fired up? A car commercial, followed by a swim with the dolphins ad...typical...then, the worst kiss cam in the NHL...I see hot couples walking around this arena all the time. How come the camera folks here never find them?

Didn't mean you and the missus Van Murph...

-- You can tell there's a lot of Montreal fans here. David Booth just had the puck and the crowd booed him. Didn't think that was very nice...


-- And now, the Goldie Report with Steve Goldstein:

Goldie_2 ''I thought there was a real nice recovery after a sluggish start. After the first four minutes, the Panthers clearly had the advantage and kept the puck in the Montreal zone. Michael Frolik, again tonight, proves he is the most skilled Panther. And, he's their best goal scorer. That fake -- and then the shot -- was a thing of beauty.

''But, the Panthers gave the goal back with a couple of lax penalties. Including a bench minor when Anthony Stewart jumped on the ice too quickly. Anderson was strong but couldn't stop them on a 5-on-3. Panthers have been impressive in the faceoff circle, going 17 for 28 without Kreps in there. That's huge. The key is to keep playing hard to keep all these Montreal fans quiet.''

-- Not only does Panthers power play look awful, they can't stop a short-handed Montreal team. Tomas Plekanec picks off the puck, rushes Anderson and scores top-shelf...Montreal up 2-1...

-- Heck of a power play chance...don't get a shot, give up a goal and then take a penalty...

--Booth picks off a pass and scores....then Stewart loses his fight to Steve Begin....Panthers tie 'er up @ 2...

-- Miami Hurricanes fire offensive coordinator Patrick Nix tonight. Wonder if Rob Chudzinski wants to come home?


And now, Round 2 of the Goldie Report:

''Some mental breakdowns really cost the Panthers in the second. Poor coverage in their zone on the go-ahead goal and allowing a shorthanded goal while not scoring on a 5-on-3. Panthers need to play with more desperation in the third and not allow Montreal to come through the neutral zone with speed. That's happened way too much tonight.

Goldie2 ''I also hope to see more of Michael Frolik in the third third period, perhaps with Stephen Weiss and David Booth. The team needs a goal in the third, and Frolik has a goal. Frolik and Booth together can put the most pressure on a goalie, so why not try it? What else can you say about Booth? He has 15 goals, by far leading the team. He always plays a hard game and is one guy you never have to worry about.

''Big props to Weiss and Gregory Campbell. They are cleaning up in the faceoff circle tonight. Doing a great job man.''

Peelstreet -- From FSN's Mitch Rubenstein: ''This crowd is so Montreal, I'm ready to hit the Peel Street Pub after the game.''

-- Anderson just gives up goal number 4 (after Nick Boynton gives up the puck) and Tomas Vokoun is now in...

--OK, show's over. No Goldie, no win. Time to go home.

Next time we chat, I'll be in New York -- the Windy City.

Drive carefully everyone!

A French Connection ... Montreal Canadiens at Florida Panthers ... Game 'Completely' Sold Out ... Rostislav Olesz Skates

MrfrenchThe Canadiens are in town, and so are their fans.

Tonight's game at the Big Billboard in Sunrise is said to be completely sold out, and that includes standing room only in the press box (which sees more and more jersey-clad fans by the game.)

FSN isn't showing tonight's game because of the idiotic Versus exclusive. Poor FSN; instead of hockey, they get Virginia Tech-Charleston Southern basketball. I know I can't wait to watch that.

So if you don't have a ticket and are going to watch tonight's game on Center Ice, hope your French is up to snuff. The only network covering tonight's game is Canada's RDS -- and they don't broadcast in Spanish.

See you on the radio.

-- Rostislav Olesz skated today for the first time since injuring his groin about three weeks ago. Spoke to him briefly as he was leaving the arena and he said it didn't feel perfect, but it was good enough. He's never had a groin injury before, he says, and wouldn't commit to a one-week time line for a return. He's going to take it slow and see how things go.

-- Kamil Kreps' shoulder injury sounds pretty severe, although nothing is broken or anything like that. Don't expect him back until the middle of January.

-- Word out of New York is the Isles are shopping Doug Weight and looking for a few draft picks in return. Wonder if the Panthers are looking that way...

December 27, 2008

UPDATED, EH: GameDay in Tampa Bay ... Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning ... Tomas Vokoun, Nick Tarnasky IN ... Jassen Cullimore, Anthony Stewart OUT ... Goodbye Arena Football League

Lightninggirls TAMPA -- Finally picked up some Internet here at Billboard Arena North and am ready to fill everyone in on what's happening with the Florida Panthers.

First off, Tomas Vokoun gets the start again today, Pete DeBoer saying he deserves it after the performances he's been giving the Panthers of late. Also, says he wants to be fair to his two guys. ''I would have done the same for Andy.''

Second, Jassen Cullimore is still out. PDeB says its a bone bruise in his hand, and it's on a pressure point. ''It's right where he holds his stick. It's painful,'' PDeB said.

Third, Nick Tarnasky gets another shot at Evgeny Artyukhin if he so wishes. He's in, Anthony Stewart is out.

Expecting to see Mike Smith get a second straight start against the Panthers.


-- Tampa Bay is 0-for-12 on the power play against the Panthers this season.

-- Bryan McCabe has four goals in three games against the Bolts this season.

-- Mike Smith got his first career win against the Cats last night.

-- Bolts in shootout this season: 2-6; Florida 2-3

-- Tampa is 2-6-2 on Saturdays; Panthers are 2-3-1

-- Tampa is 1-4-0 on the second game of a back-to-back; Panthers are 3-3

-- Panthers' leading scorer is Jay Bouwmeester with 19 points, lowest team leader in NHL by far. Second: Montreal with three players at 26 points each.


Bucs_2 TAMPA -- Greetings from the place 'they' call Hockey Bay USA, home of the Lightning, Bucs, Rays and formerly the Arena Football League's Storm.

Don't know if you've heard, but Arena football has gone away, perhaps forever. It was a fun league, and I had plenty of fun when we had a team way back when, both the Miami Hooters and Florida Bobcats.

Arena football was big up here, some Tampa fans trying to claim their AFL titles as legitimate professional sports championships. No one else was Tbaystorm buying it. Of course, congrats go out to the Philadelphia Soul, the defending AFL champ perhaps in perpetuity.

Yes, I know this is a hockey blog. But I just got into town and have very little news. I will later. Meeting with players and Pete DeBoer at Lakeland Ledger Arena in the coming hours and hopefully will have gobs upon gobs of news for you to ponder over as you get ready for Hockey Night in Florida.

I expect to see Craig Anderson between the pipes tonight, although Pete may just go with Tomas so he can get those three goals out of his system from last night. I wouldn't bet on it. I would bet on Andy going tonight.

Will be interesting to see how much of last night's hostilities work their way into tonight's tilt. Will also be interesting to see if Nasty Nick Tarnasky is back in the lineup. He's been flipping time with Anthony Stewart, but his willingness to throw last night could keep him in there one more night just in case more fisticuffs are needed.

Will be back later. Enjoy the Tangerine Bowl.

-- Staying at the same hotel as the Outback Bowl's South Carolina Gamecocks. Will tell the ol' ball coach everyone says hello when I see him.

December 26, 2008

Happy Boxing Day ... Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers ... Jassen Cullimore Questionable ... Nick Tarnasky In, Anthony Stewart Out ...

RockyComing to you from scenic One Herald Plaza in beautiful Miami, Florida, where the breezes are warm and the traffic ain't too bad.

Today, anyway.

The Panthers are back in action Friday, kicking off a home-and-home series with the cross-state rival Lightning. Tampa Bay has only won two games this month, but it beat the struggling Penguins on Tuesday with a rare shutout. Don't want to get too far ahead of things, but the Bolts are playing better. They still can't score (who would have thought at the beginning of the season that Tampa's problems would be offensive and not on the defensive end? Not this guy.)

News out of practice today is that Jassen Cullimore worked out in the morning skate, although Pete DeBoer says it's a gametime decision whether or not he plays. Says Cullimore is going to take the afternoon to find out if the wrist/hand will settle down a bit. If he doesn't go, Noah Welch is in for a second straight game and third in the past four.

The flip-flop at forward continues, tonight Nick Tarnasky goes against his former mates with Anthony Stewart sitting this one out.

Will have more later from the Big Billboard in Sunrise...

Enjoy the World Juniors, kids....

December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays Hockey Fans!

ClarkHave a rare day off here in Sunrise, and wanted to take the time to thank everyone for visiting us here at our little corner of the hockey world the past couple of years.

I enjoy doing this as some of may have surmised, and really appreciate the feedback -- be it negative or positive. We've had some good discussions here in cyberspace and I think it's grand so many people take an interest in our Hanukkahharry great game that's played on a frozen pond.

We're 33 games into this season, so there's a lot of real estate in front of the Panthers.

They're playing well, but can't get comfy. They're only on the seventh hole. Lots of time to make some great shots, but also plenty of time to screw up so bad they'll want to throw their 3-wood into the lake. Trust me, I've been there.

Saveology2 Anyway, will probably take tomorrow off but will be back bright and early Friday morning from the Billboard Bank. Friday's morning skate is open Ralphie_2 to the public, so come on over. Make sure you come over and say hello.

Enjoy the holidays folks....

December 23, 2008

Festivus Tuesday in Sunrise ... Nashville Predators at Florida Panthers ... Jassen Cullimore Out, Noah Welch In

FestivusHappy Festivus to everyone out there, hope you enjoyed your day -- and didn't get hurt during the Feats of Strength.

The Panthers will play this holiday evening, playing host to the Nashville Predators at the Bank -- although once you see the garish new billboard 'gracing' the front of the building, we can start calling it something else.

I don't know how much this certain company is giving the Panthers, but I hope it's a bundle for all the exposure they're getting inside and out the arena.

Anyway, back to hockey.

Pete DeBoer says Jassen Cullimore's MRI came back negative, although they're giving him the night off hoping the Christmas break will be enough time for the hand injury to feel better. Noah Welch slides in to play in his place.

Nick Tarnasky will not get a chance to play his old teammates, Anthony Stewart playing instead.

Talked a bit to Wade Belak after the Nashville skate. He says he still digs South Florida -- in fact, he's sticking around after the game to spend Christmas here with his family before flying out to rejoin his team -- but is enjoying his new team. He says it's nice to be in a place where he's wanted.

December 21, 2008

Sunday GameDay from Sunrise ... Florida Panthers vs. Colorado Avs ...

BobblesHello from sunny Sunrise, where it seems like a month since we've been atop The Bank.

It really has been like three weeks or something.

But, we're home for a bit, not leaving the Sunshine State until next week when we head back into the frozen tundra and a date on Long Island.

Really got no news for anyone. Just wanted to say hello.

-- Good weekend for football down here in SoFla, no?

The St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders wrap up a state title and a national championship by putting a beatdown on Lakeland, then the Dolphins win in frigid Kansas City to set up a divisional championship game next weekend in New Jersey. If Northwestern could have held on last night against Seminole, really would have been a good one.

Congrats to coach George Smith and his boys at Aquinas for their big win. Two straight at states. That's impressive.

-- OK, do have some news. Anthony Stewart is tonight's healthy scratch with Nasty Nick back in the lineup. Noah Welch also scratched, Jassen Cullimore back from his illness.

Old pal Ruslan Salei -- a healthy scratch last week in Philly -- is in the lineup tonight.

December 19, 2008

Back in Florida ... Tomas Vokoun to Start Sunday vs. Colorado ... Randy Moller Makes The Herald ... Denis Potvin Opens Facility

Vokoun2It's good to be home and the Panthers will be home for a little bit now. Much deserved. After playing five straight road games, the Panthers will now play their next five within the friendly confines of the Sunshine State, with four of those games -- including the next three -- in Sunrise (where the sun meets the ice).

Pete 'Pete' Pelegrin covered today for me so I could let the good folks at Jet Blue get me home. Pete DeBoer says he's going back to Tomas Vokoun after he played well in Carolina last night. So that's two straight starts and three of four for Vokoun.

PDeB says Rostislav Olesz still hasn't started practicing and is going to have an MRI to see what's up with his injury. Doesn't sound good. Will see if I can get an update of some sort tomorrow at IncredibleIce (10:30, open to the public).

-- Don't know if you saw this, but Barry Jackson writes about Randy Moller and his association with the Dan LeBatard Show. Pretty good stuff. Was listening to Dan today (had to go to Miami after the airport. Stopped at the Orange Bowl. Still sad.) and was cracking up at all the Moller calls. I had only heard the 'make me a bicycle clown!' line during the San Jose game.

Check out the story here...

I know the folks in Canada who listen to games on XM get a kick out of the different lines he uses after goals. Like Barry, I think the calls are all in good fun and may even be helping their ratings. Good for them. And Randy.

-- Speaking of Florida announcers, Denis Potvin and some of his buddies are holding the grand opening of their new hockey training facility on Saturday morning in Deerfield Beach.

Denis The facility is called Total Hockey of Florida, and is geared to up-and-coming hockey players. They have a lot of good off-ice stuff, and is one of the few places down here to cater to the hockey player. Some of the stuff they have here would be benifical to athletes in all sports, I would think.

Anyway, check out their site here. A few players will be there tomorrow for the grand opening. And I assume Denis will be there too. You can ask him about his playing days and all those years with the New York Rangers.

Save the emails. That was a joke.

December 18, 2008

Hurricane Watch: Florida Panthers @ Carolina Hurricanes ... Stephen Weiss In, Jassen Cullimore Maybe

HurricaneprintlinkRALEIGH -- Just an FYI, but Stephen Weiss was at practice today and says he's playing.

Jassen Cullimore missed the morning skate, Pete DeBoer saying he's fighting the flu. Will be a game-time decision. If Cullimore can't go, Noah Welch is back in the lineup fresh off his two-week tour in Rochester.

Anthony Stewart or Nick Tarnasky going to be scratched tonight. Pete wouldn't tell us who...

December 17, 2008

Hello Carolina ... Stephen Weiss On Trip ... Rostislav Olesz Still Not Skating ...

JordanRALEIGH -- The Panthers are en route to North Carolina for their third meeting with the Hurricanes this season. Series is 1-1, both teams winning at home.

Few quick notes from practice courtesy of Captain FIU -- Pete 'Pete' Pelegrin.

Stephen Weiss didn't practice today, but Pete DeBoer says he's coming north with the team and is 50-50 for tomorrow. Rostislav Olesz still hasn't skated since injuring his groin, PDeB saying it's more serious an injury that first thought and he may be out for a little while.

Keith Ballard was back at practice after missing Tuesday's session because of a family issue.

More tomorrow from the RBC Center...

December 16, 2008

Florida Panthers Back to Work ... Stephen Weiss Could Return Thursday ... Tomas Vokoun vs. Hurricanes ... Save for Rostislav Olesz, Everyone Else is Back

Dirtyjobs First, the good news. Stephen Weiss wasn't at practice today but Pete DeBoer says he may be back tomorrow and in the lineup Thursday. If not, Nathan Horton is back at center with David Booth and Cory Stillman.

DeBoer says Weiss has an upper back/lower neck thing going on, he hopes it loosens up enough over the next day to allow him to get back out there.

Keith Ballard wasn't here because of a family situation and Rostislav Olesz is still out with his groin injury.

Tomas Vokoun back in net against Carolina.

Richard Zednik working on a line with Kamil Kreps and Michael Frolik; CPR Line is back; Brett McLean centered the other line with Nick Tarnasky and Anthony Stewart.

If Weiss returns, he'll be with Booth and Horton. We'll see what happens tomorrow.

December 15, 2008

Back With Cat

LAS VEGAS - Panthers made some roster moves today. Michal Repik and Shawn Matthias are back to Rochester.

Noah Welch, Nate Horton, Richard Zednik and David Boooooth all activated.

No Weiss update yet.

Almost home. OK, not really.

Stephen Weiss Heading Home ... X-Rays Negative

VANCOUVER -- The Panthers charter bus stopped at a local hospital here to pick up a passenger, grabbing Stephen Weiss and getting him to the airport to come home.

Weiss, injured in the first period of Sunday's 5-3 loss to the Canucks, got hurt when he was checked into the boards. According to Justin Copertino, the X-Rays were negative, so nothing's broken.

Still don't know what the severity of the injury is (or if it's a shoulder, upper arm, etc.) although the Panthers have been good about giving us this stuff in the past and I hope they continue it.

Updates when I get them.

December 14, 2008

LIVE! Florida Panthers @ Vancouver Canucks ... Kickoff at 10 p.m. MT ... No Local TV, just Center Ice, Randy/Billy and G ... Keith Ballard OK ... Stephen Weiss out of game with undisclosed injury


VANCOUVER – A hearty good evening from Canada's West Coast where this NFL Sunday is in its final stages but we haven't even started our hockey Sunday.

It's all good. Hope you have some coffee brewing if you plan on staying up for this one tonight. Going to go late I have a feeling.

Coming at you from high atop GM Buyout Place where instead of getting free tickets with a test drive, they give you a car if you buy tickets. Good deal for those who need a ride. I just picked up a new Chevy Impala when I showed my press credential at the door. Silver, nice rims. I'm stoked.

Going LIVE! tonight for those of you who like to follow along while watching on Centre Ice or listening along (or stealing the game off the Internet. Which, in my opinion is flat-out wrong, immoral and possibly illegal. That said, you folks out there can leave the links in our message center if you wish.)

Schnieder Cory Schneider will be in the net for the Canucks tonight, the second-year pro (he's a Boston College guy) having a very good year in the AHL but struggling a bit since being called up to the show when Roberto 'Pizza Time' Luongo got hurt last month in Pittsburgh.

Canucks are coming off a 3-0 loss in Edmonton last night, and are 3-1-0 in the second game of a back-to-back.

Panthers, as you know, are trying for the Canadian sweep, trying to win all four of their games on this Canadian roadie with victories already secured in Ottawa, Edmonton and Calgary. Panthers are also trying to extend franchise record for consecutive road wins. Cats set the record at five with the win in Calgary.

Come on back, we'll be up and operational sometime before 10 MT (Miami Time).

-- Song playing during warmups: The 'specialty' bar classic 'Girls, Girls, Girls.' Good stuff. I can hear little Johnny asking dad 'can we go to the Dollhouse when we visit Fort Lauderdale?'

No Johnny, you can't.

-- For those of you watching on radio, Panthers in their road whites, Canucks in blue with the hockey stick logo out front.

-- Anyone catch the end of that Bills game? Holy smokes. They suck.

-- CPR Line getting the start again tonight...

-- Just had a rousing rendition of O! Canada and we're ready for some hockey....and away we go...


-- From the 'Don't Give the Panthers Any Ideas' Department: Aside from their championship banners, GM Place banners also hang from the rafters. No Celine Dion banners in sight, though..

Jaws -- Gregory Campbell just tested Schneider...nice stop...Anderson's had to make two nice saves already...



-- Uh-oh...Keith Ballard hurt, looks like he took a shot off the leg/knee...still stayed out there although he couldn't skate..he couldn't get into position, and make it 2-1..


-- Ballard has left the bench area, but it looks like he can put weight on that leg now, he couldn't do that before...walked gingerly into the locker room area...will keep you updated...

-- Cats on the power play...Daniel 'Henrik' Sedin goes to the box for holding at 13:19


-- Canucks kill off the penalty, Ballard returns to the game...

-- CPR Line broken up, at least for now...Dvorak now with Kreps and Frolik; Ville and Soup with McLean...

--Battle of 13s on the ice...Anthony Stewart vs. Mike Brown....it was a quick one...winner for Stewie...


-- Another nice save for Anderson...shots now even at 7 each; 2:15 left in the first...

--CPR Line back together...

-- Vancouver gets its first power play of the night, Skrastins into the box with 2:05 left...


--Just spoke to JM...Noah Welch will be back with the Panthers tomorrow...

-- Still no sighting of Cuba Gooding Jr....There is a giant inflatable whale floating around the arena, however...doesn't seem to be dropping off coupons like the one at the Bank used to. Hey, whatever happened to the in-arena blimp? Ha ha, keep your jokes to yourself...

-- In case you've noticed (and judging by the attendance, you haven't), the Rochester Americans had a pretty good week. The Amerks went 4-2 since Dec. 6, and have won two straight after beating my Cleveland Lumberjacks (Lake Erie is a terrible name) and Syracuse Crunch this weekend...


--Ballard into the box for hooking, 1:57...Vancouver's second power play of the night...

--Shawn Matthias stopped on breakaway...made a nice move...

-- Also, Stephen Weiss is not anywhere to be found...will find out what's up at the next break...


-- Canucks get another PP chance, Radek Dvorak to the box at 6:08...

-- Weiss got rammed into the boards and is out of the game...team calling it an upper body...Justin Copertino says he may have to go to the hospital for X-rays...will update after the game when I know some more about what happened...

-- Panthers going on the PP at 8:52...FLA 0-1 tonight...

-- 31 seconds in and Bryan McCabe gets nabbed for holding...10 yards from the spot of the foul, it's 4-on-4 for 1:29, then Canucks on PP...


-- Stephen Weiss apparently taken to a local hospital for precautionary measures...


-- Panthers back on the power play at 13:10..and it just doesn't matter...


-- Soup gets his fight on, throws some nice punches but connects on few against Shane O'Brien...

-- Nasty Nick to the box at 18:16...

-- Vancouver gives PP back...4-on-4 for :45, then FLA power play...Henrik 'Daniel' Sedin to the box...


--We're in the third, and nothing is happening...


--I think this is going to do it for now. Have to run down to the locker room at the buzzer. Could return if something strange happens. There's 5:02 left, so it's not over.

Remember to check back later this morning; whatever update I have to Stephen Weiss will be here first..

Have a happy Monday....

Coming up Next: Late Night LIVE! ... It's Florida Panthers at Vancover Canucks, 10 p.m. Miami Time ... Injured Guys Back Thursday ... Roberto Luongo Setback ... Welcome Back, Mr. Repik ... Show G The Money ... Back in Time

LouieVANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Luongos will be without their namesake goalie/captain for a little longer, Roberto Luongo telling the gathered media that he won't be going back on the ice until his injured groin starts feeling better.

He says there's no timeline to his return and that's he's frustrated not being out there. Got to feel for Louie. The guy's a gamer, wants to be back on the ice but there's nothing he can do about it. This injury just has to run its course.

-- Will be going LIVE! tonight at the game, so if you're watching Center Ice at home or watching online or just flat out bored, come on back later.

-- Big news out of practice today is it appears most of the injured guys will be back Thursday in Carolina. Here's what I got out of each guy today...

Nathan Horton: He showed us the cut on his ankle and it looks like it has almost completely healed. There's still some scarred skin around the original cut, but it doesn't look like it could break open now. He skated hard today, says he wasn't able to put weight on the foot (he has a small fracture by his heel) in Ottawa, but after resting it, that's not a problem now. He says he thinks he'll be back for the WhalerCanes.
Richard Zednik: Says he felt fine, but that's really all I got out of him. He wasn't in a real talkative mood.

Cory Murphy: Says he's feeling pretty good, but with six healthy D and Noah Welch due back soon, don't think the Panthers are going to rush him along.

David Booth: Says he thought he was going to play tonight against Vancouver, but the medical staff thought better of it. The thought here is they think the extra few days will be beneficial for his healing process. He says his shot is fine, he's ready to roll.

Rostislav Olesz: No update on him because he isn't on the trip. We'll see what his deal is when we go back to Incredible Ice Tuesday morning.

Cory Stillman: Back in the lineup tonight, playing on the left side with Shawn Matthias at center and Michal Repik on right side.

-- Speaking of Michal Repik, he was quite popular with the local media today. Repik, you might recall, Repik spent three years playing here with the Vancouver/Tokyo/San Francisco/New Jersey Giants, helping them win the Memorial Cup in 2007. Kenndal McArdel, recently sent back to Rochester, was on that team as well.

Repik says he was able to see his host family last night as well as some friends he made while here. He's been playing well, too, although you have to think his time is limited with all the guys coming back. Repik will be back, though. This kid has a bright future with the Panthers. The team is very pleased with his development.

Showmemoney_2 -- Special guest coming out tonight as Mr. Cuba Gooding Jr. has agreed to talk some hockey tonight with yours truly before the game.

If you have any questions for him, send them along. He's a big hockey fan, and a big fan of the Canucks. Ran into him last night watching the game and he seems like a real cool dude. So it should be fun.

-- In case you missed my notebook today, you missed these numbers:

Last time Florida won the Red Deer Series at Edmonton and Calgary before this season? Never.

Last time Florida won in Vancouver? The franchise's inaugural season of 1993-94.

Said Bill Lindsay: "I remember that game. I got all mad about something that night.''

So there you go...

December 13, 2008

Hockey Night with the Panthers ... Don Cherry Digging Stephen Weiss and the Cats ... Will South Florida Get 'Cat Scratch Fever' Again?

DoncherryVANCOUVER -- The Panthers were part of the popular Coach's Corner segment during the first intermission of Hockey Night in Canada tonight, Don Cherry offering praise for the Panthers, Stephen Weiss and Pete DeBoer.

He also called players from the Lightning and Senators "thugs who would steal your hubcaps'' because they dared to show up to the rink on a freezing winter night wearing ski caps and not bothering to put on a tie. According to him, the Capitals are in first place because they are dressed sharp and "setting a good example for the kids.''

Well, you get what you get when you listen to Cherry. Dude's popular, but...

Anyway, the Panthers are a huge story up in Canada these days, what with all the wins, the success under DeBoer and, of course, Jay Bouwmeester. The small crowds in Sunrise also got a mention in the lead of today's Calgary Herald, the barb (I laughed) thrown south before the score was mentioned. BankAtlantic Centre...

It's safe to assume the Panthers are a bigger deal here than they are at home. I haven't watched the local Publix news in South Florida in a few days (although I did see a Publix commercial on Atlanta's Peachtree TV that made me a little homesick) but I'll bet Florida's been lucky to get even a single highlight up on the 11 o'clock news what with the team being out of town and the games still going on when the sports segment goes on.

I've also done four radio interviews talking about the team to various Canadian stations, but the only South Florida interview I had planned was with Goldie. And I think I missed his call when I was flying.

One person from the Panthers told me "the Dolphins are killing us.''

Sure, the Dolphins hogging all the spotlight during this surprisingly successful season is taking some steam away from the local hockey team's nice run. But the Dolphins will always overshadow the Panthers. They did last year and they were 1-15.

Truth is, having so many games not being televised is what's really killing the Panthers at home right now.

FSN will tell you ratings for hockey are very low at this time of year and the cost of televising this Canadian roadie wasn't worth the effort ratings-wise (the final three games of this trip started at 9 p.m. Miami time or later). FSN is going to make up for it, a good 95 percent of the games after New Year's being on.

Fiorentino For those wondering, FSN/Sun is televising 71 Miami Heat games this year, six more than the Panthers. Considering the ratings the Heat bring in compared to the Panthers, I'm surprised there's not more of a disparity. At least these games out here are on Center Ice, although if you don't spring for that package, finding a place in South Florida that does can be daunting.

FSN is going to be back on the Panthers bandwagon. They just hope the team is still winning when they do.

Hnnic If not, the Panthers seem to have quite a few people interested in their antics up here in Canada.

I haven't even heard one relocation joke this trip.

Of course, we haven't visted Hamilton. I better wear a tie tomorrow. Don't want people thinking I'm there to steal their hubcaps.

-- Parting thought at the end of the second intermission from HNIC's Hot Stove: Pierre LeBrun doesn't break any news, says the Panthers are going to put the hard sell on Jay Bouwmeester to try and sign; if he doesn't, he'll be moved by the trading deadline.

With the guys off camera, someone muttered "no one is happy in Florida.'' My money is on Al Strachan.