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37 posts from December 2008

December 13, 2008

Sunday: Florida Panthers at Vancouver Canucks ... Cory Stillman Returns ... Kamil Kreps, Stephen Weiss, Michael Frolik To Remain Together ... Sorry, No Louie ... Tanner Glass Back to Roch ... Competitor Does Good Deed

VancouverVANCOUVER -- Hello from beautiful Vancouver, B.C., home of the Canucks, Lions and Grizzlies. OK, I think the Canucks moved out and are now playing in Edmonton.

It's lovely weather we're having here on the Pacific Coast, and the view from my room on the 23rd floor is absolutely stunning. This place may be super-expensive, but there's no doubt it is one of the best cities in all of North America. I love coming here.

Big news today is that Cory Stillman will make his return tomorrow against the Canucks. Stillman has been out for more than a month with post-concussion symptoms. Stillman was hurt Nov. 2 in Atlanta and returned against Detroit two weeks later only to be faced with some setbacks.

Just got word that Tanner Glass is the odd man out, sent back to Rochester to make room for Stillman on the roster.

PDeB says he's not going to rush Stillman, and says "we know he's been out a long time,'' and that "we don't expect him to play 19, 20 minutes tomorrow.'' Stillman will probably be on the one of the lower two lines to start, with PDeB saying he'll be part of the power play from the start.

-- PDeB also says that he put Kamil Kreps on the Stephen Weiss/Michael Frolik line last night because he thought Kreps "had a real jump" and that he added some good speed to that line. He says they're going to stay together tomorrow as well.

-- Word out of Canucks camp is that Roberto Luongo (don't know if you've heard of him) is still out with that groin injury suffered last month in Pittsburgh. Louie didn't go with the team to Edmonton (Canucks play Oil tonight) and one scribe says he'll be surprised if Louie is in the lineup by Christmas. That gives him plenty of time to do his shopping.

-- Oh, yeah, they don't call him Louie up here. It's now Bobby Lou.

Weak.

-- Speaking of Luongo, special props to Hero of the Day Steve Gorten. While dropping off the rental car today in Calgary, he went inside the booth where a young lady was on her cellphone. She had left her baby on the counter in the car seat; the baby was about to fall to the ground when Steve reached out and made a great glove save. Or so it was explained to me by the very appreciative mother and the clerk. I was dismantling the XM radio at the time.

So kudos to Gorto, The Miami Herald's Hockey Hero of the Day*.

(*) We usually don't have a Hockey Hero of the Day, it's just something I came up with. Today.

-- Congrats to the Pahokee Blue Devils; they didn't win the Muck Bowl this year, but they won their third straight state championship today. Good for them, especially after the tragedy they suffered early in the year.

December 12, 2008

LIVE! Miami Herald Extra-Special Coverage From Calgary ... Final: Florida Panthers 3, Calgary Flames 2 (SO)... Franchise Record for Consecutive Road Wins ... Craig Anderson back Sunday ...

Weiss2 CALGARY -- The Panthers have done it again, winning their third straight and sixth in seven games. Friday night, the Cats beat the Flames 3-2, Stephen Weiss scoring in the shootout as Tomas Vokoun stopped all three shots he faced in the session.

Florida has now won the first three games on this road trip, and have won five straight on the road for the first time in franchise history. This is one of those that may not be so historic, since ties prevented past teams from accomplishing these kind of things. But hey, a record is a record.

Last time Florida won four straight on the road prior to this season: Last year at this time; 1997, '96 and '95.

-- Panthers pull into a tie with Buffalo for eighth in the East. From last in the NHL to Top Eight in the east, second in the division. Not too shabby.

-- Since the game went so late, my game story in tomorrow's edition of (Your) Miami Herald will be without quote. Not a one of 'em. So here's what I got after the game.

Says Pete DeBoer:

"It wasn't that long ago we were sitting at the bottom of the league. They've picked themselves up and it hasn't been easy with the injuries we've faced. It would have been easy at that point to pack the season in, lose three or four in a row and be totally out of it in December.

''Instead, they've kind of beaten the odds here. We've used different guys and they've clawed back into it. We have a long way to go. As I said a few games ago, we're not throwing any parades around here.''

-- Stephen Weiss now has three straight game-winning goals.

''Confidence is a nice thing,'' Weiss said. "When you are winning, you feel like you can do no wrong. When you're losing, it's the opposite. With the goaltending we're getting, we feel like we can compete with anyone.

"The way we're competing is keeping us in games. We're not giving anyone anything.

"It feels good to win games and I don't care if I'm getting the goals or not. It doesn't matter who. That's the most important thing. It's not a one-man show by any means. It's been a true team effort the past few weeks.''

Vokoun -- Weiss on putting one past Vokoun: "I felt bad for Tomas because that's a bad one to go in early. That's part of the game. I was backchecking hard, put my stick in the lane and it goes in. It happens. Yeah, it feels good to get it back.''

-- Kamil Kreps on getting his first of the season: ''It felt like 10 pounds fell off my back.'' He later amended that to 50 pounds.

-- Kreps on Tomas Vokoun (35 of 37 plus 3 in shootout): "Vokie played unbelievable for us. Our goalies have been great every night. That's why we've had the success these past few weeks.''

-- More from Pete DeBoer:

"Credit the guys in the room. It started with Tomas Vokoun tonight. He was outstanding for us, he's faced some adversity lately with Anderson playing so well. It's not an easy spot I stuck him in tonight. I thought he played great, I think the guys fed off it.

"I don't know [how it's happening] and I wish I had the answer. It's just good old fashioned hard work and team play. Everyone who has come up is giving everything they have. They've all bought into playing a team game and we've gotten some bounces. But I can't stress enough how hard they've worked.

"It's a great feeling. Again, credit the guys.

"I've been impressed with how much we've worked, how much character there is in this room.''

--

Here is my LIVE! coverage of Friday's game. Was working on deadline again, so it peters out at the end.

Keenan_2 CALGARY -- Hello and welcome to another edition of Florida Panthers LIVE!, yet another small part of Miami Herald Hockey Central.

We're in Calgary right now, although it feels kind of lonely in the Saddledome. Not a lot of people here, the awful winter conditions keeping many away I would assume. There's a lot of snow on the ground and it's blowing around every which way.

Bobdoug2 I still don't understand how it takes valet an hour to get a car, nor how no one here seems to know how to drive in the white stuff. If this was Atlanta, I would understand it better. But this is Calgary. Gots to think they're used to it.

-- News from the Panthers: Pete DeBoer says Craig Anderson will start Sunday in Vancouver, saying "he deserves it.'' PDeB also won't come out and call Andy the starter (although this will be start No. 8 out of 9 possibles) saying "we have two starters.'' I asked if we could go 1A-1B, and he left that up to me. Nice of him.

GAME ON -- GAME ON

Berternie2 -- Former Panthers Mike Keenan and Todd Bertuzzi were just honored by the 'dome PA guy. Iron Mike coached in his Toddbert 1,500th NHL game Wednesday in Detroit, and Bert got his 600th NHL point with an assist. Congrats to both.

-- Panthers are off to a much quicker start tonight, already banging out four shots against Miikka Kiprusoff. Flames have been in FLA zone a bunch already, but TVo really hasn't been challenged yet. We have a lot of hockey left to play. Check back early and often...

-- Panthers take the first penalty of the night, Michal Repik going into the box for holding at 8:56...

-- Florida kills off the penalty, now it's Calgary's turn to kill...Adam Pardy heads in at 11:35...TV timeout (for those in Calgary, ones with Center Ice and all my friends at Quarterdeck. Enjoy the game folks)...

-- Killed...

--Actually a very good crowd in here despite the messed up roads and awful conditions..

-- And they all loved seeing Rene Bourque's shot go off Stephen Weiss' stick and past Tomas Vokoun...hey it's Weiss' third goal in as many games! OK, not so much...

CALGARY GRABS THE LEAD, WEISS GETS STICK ON PUCK, KNOCKS PAST VOKOUN AT 16:07....CAL 1, FLA 0...

--Nasty Nick into the box for tripping at 17:34...

--AND IT'S KAMIL KREPS WITH THE STOLEN PUCK, THEN THE DEKE, THEN THE SHORTHANDED GOAL...IT'S TIED UP NOW...WITH 1:57 LEFT IN THE FIRST....FLA 1, CAL 1...FLAMES STILL ON POWER PLAY...

--For those scoring at home (good for you), that's Florida's second shorthanded goal of the season. Will bring back some snow to the first person to answer who had Florida's first this season.

-- And congrats to Kamil; that was a great play by him and brought him his first goal of the season. Still on the short list of goal-less Cats: Jassen Cullimore, Brett McLean, Tanner Glass (to be fair, this is his third game), Shawn Matthias (ninth game) and Nick Tarnasky.

AND THAT'S ONE COMPLETE IN CALGARY...WE'RE TIED, 1-1...STATS ON THE REBOUND...

--SOG: FLA 12-10; plus-1: Skrastins, Bo, Peltonen; minus-1: Weiss, Boynton, Frolik

-- Start of the second coming up next...

PANTHERS SCORE AGAIN, JAY BOUWMEESTER UNLEASHES LONG SHOT, LOOKS TO BE DEFLECTED BY SHAWN MATTHIAS...THEY ARE CREDITING BO, WE'LL SEE...ANYWHO: FLA 2, CAL 1...GOAL AT 1:45 OF THE SECOND...

RIGHT BACK COME THE FLAMES...BOURQUE GETING DOWN IN FRONT AND BEATS A GOALIE WHO WASN'T REALLY LOOKING THE RIGHT DIRECTION...TIED AT 2....

--Still tied up, Florida has done a nice job killing penalties tonight, and had another good shorthanded chance as they killed off a two-many-men penalty...FLA outshooting Flames 21-14 with 4:55 left here in the second...

--Football update: St. Thomas Aquinas will go for its second straight state title and its first 15-0 season next week, the Raiders the only Broward team left standing. In the Raiders way: old nemesis Lakeland. Miramar knocked out by Miami Northwestern. Heck of a year for the Patriots, their best ever.

-- Back to hockey, we're in the third and the Panthers are on the power play early on...high-sticking on Jarome Iginla...Panthers are 0-for-2 on the power play tonight...

-- Panthers back killing off penalties, Ville Peltonen in for tripping...nine minutes left, we're still tied at 2...

-- Florida kills off another penalty...Cats come into this one ranked 13th in the league on the penalty kill...Flames are 0-4 tonight with the advantage...playing a lot more in the Florida zone though, Panthers playing second straight after winning in Edmonton on Thursday. They don't look tired, but Calgary looks fresh...just saying...

-- We got 5:46 left here in regulation...Panthers would be very happy to go to overtime and get a solid road point. My editors don't care about solid road points. They want this one to be over so I can file...

--This could be it: Cullimore to the box with 4:56 left...we'll see...

-- Cats kill it off, Dvorak on breakaway shoots into the glass with 3 minutes left...

As you all know by now, the Panthers forced overtime, failed to score on a power play in overtime and went into the shootout. There, Tomas Vokoun made three nice saves (well, one went off the post) and Stephen Weiss won it. Panthers are trying to get to Vancouver now and good luck to them. Of course, good luck to me because I'm going to try and get out of this frozen Toyota Tundra tomorrow.

Thanks for checking in ladies and gentlemen, see you tomorrow.

December 11, 2008

LIVE! Florida Panthers at Houston Oilers ... It's a Final: Panthers 2, Edmonton 0 ... Craig Anderson 41 saves ... Goals: Stephen Weiss, Radek Dvorak

GretzstatueEDMONTON -- Big win for the Panthers tonight, Craig Anderson playing extremely well.

Panthers only got off 16 shots, but they played a tight game although they seemed to be hanging on for dear life for most of it. This Edmonton team has a ton of speed, and they peppered Craig Anderson with a ton of shots.

According to Pete DeBoer, the decision had been made and Tomas Vokoun goes tomorrow in Calgary. It's the right thing to do. If Vokoun took on 41 shots on the front end of a back-to-back night, Anderson would start.

Looks like Andy goes Sunday in Vancouver. Well, sounds like it. Andy said he was going to rest tomorrow, be ready to play if needed, "and get ready for Vancouver.''

So there you go.

Florida's defense, in my opinion, looks horrible. Statistically, that is. Realistically, they are saving the Panthers on a nightly basis. As good as Andy has been, his defense has been terrific and have been all over loose pucks and are just playing a good team game.

JM's goal was to fix the defense during the offseason and he did just that. These guys have been really strong (although FLA is giving up way too many shots on most nights) the past few weeks.

Oh, and Andy has stopped 95 percent of the shots he's faced since taking over to TVo on Nov. 26 against the Devils.

Here are some quotes:

''I think of regardless of how the game was going [Vokoun starting] was always the plan,'' DeBoer said. ''It's the right thing to do. Tomas deserves to play a game. From an energy point of view, we hope he can give us a boost.''

''I thought we played a good road game,'' DeBoer said. ''I don't look at the shot clock. They're a fast team. They've been off for four days so we knew they'd throw a lot of speed at us. A lot of the shots were from the perimeter. Craig handled the rebounds really well, and when he didn't, our six defensemen were terrific. They controled the game.''

"The one thing we did really well was clean up the rebounds and let me see the first shot,'' Anderson said. ''It helped the team get the win.''

"He was awesome and made it look easy,'' Stephen Weiss said of Anderson. ''He's still our best player.''

And now, here's my LIVE! coverage of Thursday's game. I kind of quit after the Panthers scored their first goal, late deadlines and all.

But I made my deadline by five minutes. My editors were thrilled.

Enjoy the replay of Panthers LIVE! at Miami Herald Hockey Central. Drive careful everyone, see you in Calgary.

LIVE! FROM EDMONTON BELOW:

For those of you who don't have Center Ice, you can't watch tonight's clash between the Panthers and Oilers from Rexall Place.

What are you waiting for: Get to Quarterdeck!

Or just hang out here. Going to do a little live blogging during the game, one that's about to get underway.

As we said here earlier, Mathieu Garon in net for the Oil, Craig 'Andy' Anderson going for the Big City Cats.

And away we go...

GAME ON -- GAME ON -- GAME ON

-- The CPR line gets yet another start tonight.

--The Edmontons just held the puck in the Florida zone for a bit, and got off two shots...16:14 left, scoreless; shots: EDM 2-0

--Great save by Andy...also, Stephen playing well on both sides of the ice...

-- No surprise there..

-- Going to Red Deer tomorrow. Thought everyone would want to know that...Making Steve X drive....

-- Nice save by Andy at 11:49; taking a TV (for those in Edmonton) timeout...Panteros still no shots, but have worked the puck into the EDM zone a few times.. Shots: 6-0

--Past the 10 minute mark, still no shots...EDM has seven...

--Panthers get a shot! Panthers get a shot!

-- Cerrano's got the disks! Cerrano's got the disks!

-- Frolik may have just saved a goal, swiping it out of the crease to move it on up the road...another TV timeout with 5:51 left...shots: 8-1

--Did you see what Carolina was doing to Philly tonight? 5-1 going into the third for the Canes. Guess that one's over, eh?

-- What? Philly scored four in the third and have tied it up? Whaaaaat?

--And in Pittsburgh, Pirates beating the Mets 8-1...New York needs to shore up that starting pitching....

--Tampa Bay about to get a much-needed win in Montreal...

-- Lot of cool banners up in the rafters here in Edmonton...got some names and numbers on one side, what look to be playoff banners of some type on the other. Have not seen a Celine Dion banner, but it could be hidden somewhere...

-- 4:21 left; nothing has happened. Shots 9-1

-- Two shots for the Panthers now....awesome!

--Just put JayBo on the jumbotron...mixed reaction for the home boy...

-- Panthers appear to be picking up the pace a bit here in the final two minutes...these teams better do something....crowd is asleep...

--Nice win for the Bolts...Barry Melrose is mad...

-- OK, looks like someone is going to throw with Ladislav Smid...he just hit Frolik in the back after he passed off the puck; Smid was jawing with the Florida bench as the period ended. Someone on the bench probably said 'what kind of name is Smid?' and he got ticked. Sure he's used to it.

Anywho, end of one...Shots: 13-4...no-doz popped: 3

-- Philadelphia, winner-winner, chicken-dinner...

--OK, back on...second period now underway in Edmonton...

-- Panthers going on the penalty kill, Dvorak in for tripping at 3:51...first penalty of the night for either side..

-- OK, Panthers kill off penalty, get some more shots...still, not much going on...shots: 18-8

STEPHEN WEISS IS ON FIRE....WITH SHELDON SOURAY IN THE BOX, WEISS SCORES FROM THE RIGHT CIRCLE AS GREGORY CAMPBELL PLAYS BLOCKER...COMES ON 11TH SHOT WITH 5:04 LEFT...IT'S FLA 1, EDM 0...

--

In Oil Country ... Florida Panthers at Edmonton Oilers ... More on Jay Bouwmeester ... No David Booth, Nathan Horton ... Gators force FSN Change ... Mathieu Garon in net for Oil

EarlcampbellEDMONTON -- Remember in the movie My Cousin Vinny where they talked about that famous Alabama mud?

Edmonton might have something to say about that. The sun is out and it's chilly, but it's not too bad. Save for all the muddy slush that may have ruined not only my Nikes, but my jeans as well.

At least it's not windy.

-- Not a whole lot going on at practice today. Goldie informed me of a report that stated David Booth would be in the lineup today. Don't know Gretzky2_2 where they got that, but it's not true.

''Bad source,'' Pete DeBoer said.

Four of the injured guys were still going strong when me and Steve X sauntered out of Rexall Place and into the cold. Booth was one of them.

-- Nathan Horton was not, coming off the ice early. He says he's still having trouble with his foot, although the deep cut "is healing nice.'' To find out where the discomfort is coming from, Horton had an MRI here yesterday. Now it appears he has a small fracture near his heel. He doesn't have a timetable for a return, but it's at least a week. Going to take it day-by-day.

-- As expected, the local buzz surrounded Jay Bouwmeester and his contract. The general consensus around here is that Jay won't be with the Panthers (big shock), and that Edmonton could offer some serious jingle to get their hometown boy back. I don't think Jay will sign here to play under a microscope, and two people I talked to up here agree with that assessment. The Oilers are going to try to get him, though.

Pete on Jay: ''He's been outstanding. I didn't have a real appreciation for how good he is. He has that unique combination of speed and range where he can shut down the best players on every team. He's also found his offensive game, something that started last year when he put up 15 goals.

Jaybo2 ''He does it all. He's our best player. He's our leading scorer, plays more minutes than anyone in the league. What more can you say?''

How about this: ''We're trying to create an atmosphere here where he believes that he can be part of something that's moving forward. We're trying to win and win on a regular basis and play in some playoff games. That's the only pressure I put on myself, and that goes to the whole group and not just Jay.''

And this: ''I see good things. We're starting to create an identity of a team that comes and works hard and is tough to play against. We've created some accountability here early in the season with the players throughout the lineup. If you come and work hard, you're going to play. If you don't, you're not. Things don't change overnight. Not playing a playoff game in six or seven years is a long time. I believe we're heading in the right direction.

''We're not going to convince Jay to stay based on any conversation. He's going to have to see it. I understand that.

''I can't say enough about him. He sure isn't playing like a guy who doesn't want to be here. He's giving it his all every night, shows up every day to work. He's blocking shots, doing all the little things that help us win every night. That's where the proof is for me.''

Samgagner -- Sam Gagner, the pride of Broward County, will be back in the lineup for Edmonton tonight after missing the past two games with a concussion he suffered against Dallas. Sam, you may remember, is the son of former Panther Dave Gagner.

Davegagner One of Sam's earliest memories of playing hockey came at Incredible Ice. Sure, he moved on and honed his game away from South Florida, but we can take some credit for the young man making it so far.

At least I do.

-- And this just in from FSN: They are dropping coverage of the Carolina game at the Bank on Jan. 8 because it conflicts with the Gators in the BCS title game. They will pick up the Atlanta game on Jan. 10, and add HD to the Carolina game on Feb. 12.

Have an email into Michael Yormark trying to see if they are going to move up the time of the Jan. 8 game because of the title game. We shall see.

-- Edmonton is going to go with Mathieu Garon tonight instead of Dwayne 'Wade' Roloson. Garon has won his past two starts (Dallas, LA) after being benched for a while.

December 10, 2008

Craig Anderson Goes Again ... No Roster Moves Yet ... Florida Panthers at Edmonton Oilers

Andy3EDMONTON -- Hello from Canada's City of Champions, where it's about 35 degrees out, the sun is shining and I feel bad about saying Edmonton was worse than Ottawa.

This feels like South Beach right now compared to what I left behind. It's sweatshirt weather right now. Feeling almost balmy (if you can ignore all the snow on the ground).

Just spoke to Pete DeBoer and he confirmed Craig Anderson goes tomorrow against the Oilers, with Tomas Vokoun getting his first start in weeks Friday in Calgary. Who starts Sunday against Vancouver -- rumor is old pal Roberto Luongo could be healed by then and in net -- is up in the air.

''I think Craig found a way to win us a game the other night, no matter how it looked,'' DeBoer said. ''He made some big saves in the third period and overtime. It was a critical two points. The guys in the room expect him to start. He went into a tough situation, a tough situation and got us a win. If Tomas was in the same spot, I'd be doing the same thing with him.''

Team had a spirited if not very long practice today somewhere in the Edmonton suburbs. I got delayed two hours today in Ottawa and missed it. The team will not be making any roster moves, so that means the five players who are on the injured list will remain there for the time being.

More as the day goes on.

I'm heading to the pool.

December 09, 2008

Snow Day in Ottawa ... Panthers off to Edmonton, Miami Herald writer not-so-much ... Richard Zednik Close ... Cory Murphy to practice Wednesday

076OTTAWA -- Air Canada decided it didn't feeling like flying through the snow (and why should it) so my flight to Edmonton got canceled giving me another night in Ottawa, and one less night in Edmonton.

Thanks Air Canada!

Went to the SensPlex this morning for the Panthers injured skate (the rest of the team had the day off) and word is Richard Zednik should be cleared to go any day now. I talked to him and he was a lot more hesitant than others, saying he's still not sure the elbow is strong enough to endure game-type physical play. He's going to give it a few more practices and see.

Cory Murphy says he's going to go all out tomorrow at practice for the first time. No real timetable on his return.

David Booth says he hopes to be back from an injured shoulder in a week, but he always says that. He wants to play, but the shoulder isn't letting him. We'll have to see on this one.

I've heard rumblings that some want Tomas Vokoun back in net tomorrow, although don't know which way Pete DeBoer is going to go. If you would have asked me in the second whether Andy would get to start against Edmonton I would have said no. Then he stood on his head in the third and overtime to help Florida get the win, and he just might get the seventh straight start after all.

Vokoun was the goaltender at the injured skate today. Usually I would say that means he won't be starting, but the more I think of it, that may not have anything to do with it. The team will have had ample time to prepare for the Oil, and Tomas hasn't played in a while. He may have volunteered to work the practice to get sharper.

Will know more tomorrow if/when I get into Oil Country.

-- Craig Anderson versus:

Edmonton: 1-2-1, 3.94, .871

Calgary: 0-2, 2.41, .902

-- Tomas Vokoun versus:

Edmonton: 6-9-2, 2.94, .898

Calgary: 11-3-3-1, 1.97, .930

-- I will never complain about ESPN again after watching some of the stuff their Canadian cousin TSN puts on when it doesn't have a hockey game to show. Goodness gracious. Today they had on the preliminaries -- PRELIMS! -- of the Canadian women duck-pin bowling championships. That was after they had some guy showing us all how to grill fish.

I wish I could make stuff like this up. 

Last night, after a way-too-short SportsCentre (yeah, I spelled it right) they put on a Canadian strongman competition. Good thing they also have NFL, NHL and NBA networks up here too.

At least Corner Gas is on the Comedy Network.

-- Chris Gratton sent to the minors by Tampa Bay. Ugh.

December 08, 2008

Beautiful Day in the 'Capital' ... Michal Repik, Tanner Glass In ... Kenndal McArdel, Janis Sprukts Out ... Six (including Nathan Horton, David Booth and Richard Zednik) Practice ...

OttawaKANATA, Ontario -- Greetings from the tropical city some tell me is the Capital of Canada. I always thought the Capital City was Red Deer, but I guess that's what I get for taking all of my Canadian history from Randy Moller.

It's a beautiful day here, supposed to get above zero at some point. It's only minus-3 right now, so hopefully a warming trend pops up and we get to thaw out a bit. And for you metric system folks out there, when I talk temperatures, I'm talking in Fahrenheit, not Celsius. I don't know what the temp is in Celsius, but it's a lot worse than minus-3 I can tell you that with much confidence.

Anyway, I am bundled up, have my Ed Reed-issued Nike football gloves on and a 'toque' a friend bought for me in Miami a few years ago. Of course, we call them 'ski caps' back hope, but I ain't going skiing. Thinking about a movie. And another cup of coffee.

-- The Panthers have recalled Tanner Glass and Michal Repik for tonight's game after sending Kenndal McArdel and Janis Sprukts back to Rochester after Saturday's game against Boston. Glass has been here before and knows the deal; tonight will mark Repik's NHL debut.

And thanks to PR guru Justin Copertino for this nugget: Repik will be the fourth Panther to make his NHL debut with the Cats this season. Repik joins Michael Frolik, Jason Garrison and McArdel.

Congrats to all of them.

-- More from Ottawa after the morning skate. At Scotiabank now, just getting warmed up.

Not literally, of course.

-- Nothing much out of practice, except that just about everyone was out there today. Nathan Horton worked out, as did Richard Zednik, David Booth, Cory Stillman and even Cory Murphy.

Rostislav Olesz is not on the trip.

Zednik looks really good out there shooting the puck, although Pete DeBoer says he "fell" during a practice last week which set him back a bit. Nate didn't look like he was skating all that gingerly despite the deep cut, but we'll see how he goes tomorrow. Booth was shooting the puck a little bit, but I never saw him pull back and let one rip. Lot of soft, backhanded stuff out of him.

Going to grab some lunch, then a movie. Will be back at Scotia early, will have some Tanner Glass/Michal Repik stuff after that.

Enjoy your day folks.

December 06, 2008

Andy Hits the Road ... Craig Anderson to Get Sixth Straight Start ... Janis Sprukts, Kenndal McArdel back to Rochester

Andykaufman Just a quick note before deadline beckons: Pete DeBoer just announced that Craig Anderson will start again Monday in Ottawa.

When I asked him if this means Andy is the new starter here (this will be his sixth straight start), PDeB says the Panthers are lucky to have two starters, and that he is only being fair to Andy.

DeB continued, saying if Tomas Vokoun had just gone through the stretch Andy did, he would go back to Vokoun after he lost. PDeB also added tonight's game wasn't lost because of goaltending.

''We could have played for three more days and not scored a goal,'' he said.

Andy in Ottawa earlier this season: 42 shots, 41 saves; FLA 3, OTT 1

-- Kenndal McArdel and Janis Sprukts are going back to the AHL, at least for a day or two. Both could be back for Monday's game at Ottawa. Unless JM has a trade in the works. Let the rumors begin! Or, at least, continue....

Boston Bruins at Florida Panthers ... Rostislav Olesz Out ... Janis Sprukts In ... Anyone Left in Rochester?

SpruktsRostislav Olesz will not play tonight, the groin injury he suffered in Thursday's win against Buffalo keeping him out against the Bruins.

Another player is leaving Rochester to join the Panthers, Janis Sprukts (four goals, six assists with the Americans) en route to sunny South Florida for the game.

Good news, though, on the injury front: Pete DeBoer says all five of the injured forwards will be on the trip to Canada, although all of them are doubtful for Monday's game in balmy Ottawa. Good for them. They can huddle around a fire to stay warm while the rest of us brave the Kanata winds.

-- Cory Stillman practiced today, his first full-on practice since he had his concussion setback against the Red Wings way back when. He says he feels good, but admits he's still a bit away because of his conditioning. Because he had a concussion, he hasn't been able to do much. But he'll be in uniform tonight for the pre-skate before heading back to the press box.

December 04, 2008

Welcome to Andytown, FLA

Andy2 Yes, Virginia, Craig Anderson will get another start in net Saturday night when the big, bad Bruins roll into town trying to blow the Panthers down.

Anderson has been stellar in net of late, and will be making his fifth straight start.

Here are some numbers to chew on:

Anderson is 6-1-3;

Anderson is 14-3-3 since Jan. 3 (he was winless -- in 2007-08 -- heading into that start);

Since taking over for Vokoun in the second period against New Jersey, he's stopped 172 of 180 shots;

Thursday, he made 45 saves on 46 shots.

Pete DeBoer says it hasn't been hard choosing Anderson over Tomas Vokoun, praising the veteran for how he's handled this recent turn of events. And, DeBoer adds, he could care less that Vokoun is the second highest paid player on the bench, and that money never comes into who he gives playing time to.

Me thinks there are a few people in the Florida front office not too happy to be seeing $5-plus million sitting on the bench, though.

Good for Andy; he's going to get paid this offseason, bet on that.

Noah Welch to Rochester

NoahThe Panthers sent Noah Welch to Rochester today, the Florida defenseman leaving around 5:30.

Welch has been a healthy scratch the past few games, last playing on Nov. 26 against the Devils. Welch has only played in 14 games this season.

He's being sent down on a two-week conditioning stint, so he doesn't have to clear waivers. This is just a way to get him some playing time as there isn't much room for him lately.

Game Day ... Buffalo Sabres at Florida Panthers ... Need more scoring ... On Frozen Poll: Name That Line

LarryBig football game this weekend, with Buffalo-Miami week kicking off today in Sunrise.

Strange week. The Sabres are in Fort Lauderdale playing ice hockey; the Dolphins are traveling to Toronto to play football. Hey, at least they're not going to Kanata.

-- Not a whole lot going on at the skate today. PDeB says he's very happy for longtime friend Paul Maurice Maurice getting the Hurricanes gig. Says Jim Rutherford, also a friend of PDeB, is always thinking "outside the box" and making wise choices.

I like Peter Laviolette and thinks he got a bit of a raw deal. But he knew this day was coming if the WhalerCanes didn't get their act together. They didn't, and a good coach is out of a job. There will be offers forthcoming.

-- Hard to believe, but Washington's Bruce Boudreau is now the most tenured coach in the Southeast Division (although Maurice has more NHL wins than any of the other four have coached in NHL games combined). Boudreau was hired last Thanksgiving; since then, Jacques Martin, John Tortorella, Barry Melrose and Laviolette have been fired, with Atlanta's Don Waddell stepping down to hire John Anderson.

-- PDeB says he likes the effort from Kamil Kreps and Brett McLean, but these two need to start putting some pucks in the net. Yep.

-- David Booth will be in the television booth with Goldie and Denis tonight during the second period. Puck Daddy talked hunting with Booth during the Washington trip. Check it out right here...

-- NHL Network has a television crew following around Randy Moller today, part of their Voices series. Hope the Panthers get some goals for Randy to break out a good one. Something from Animal House, please.

-- Going to the game tonight? Like to putt?

Rodney TaylorMade-adidas Golf and the National Hockey League's Florida Panthers are teaming up to present Panthers' fans with a 25-foot putting challenge at four home games in the month of December. Contestants will putt for a chance to win TaylorMade golf equipment.

The putting challenge gives fans an opportunity to putt with a TaylorMade TP golf ball emblazoned with a  uniform number of one of their favorite Panthers using a TaylorMade             Rossa® Monza® Spider putter, which was used to win twice on the PGA Tour in 2008. Fans can choose one of the following players' numbers: star defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (#4), assistant captain Cory Stillman (#61) or starting goaltender Tomas Vokoun   (#29).

The putting challenge will be held during each of the following home games at BankAtlantic Center:


12-4 – vs.             Buffalo Sabres
12-6 – vs.             Boston Bruins
12-21 – vs.             Colorado Avalanche
12-23 – vs.             Nashville             Predators

-- And now, it's Name that Line time with another On Frozen Poll. Ville Peltonen, Gregory Campbell and Radek Dvorak have been playing great and probably need some sort of nickname. Don't know if we can come up with anything as clever as Sunrise Express, but who knows.

Seems like CPR is a big hit, although Goldie is breaking out 'Soup to Nuts' tonight on FSN, and he's sticking with it.

Any other ideas can be left below. Get voting!

December 03, 2008

Name That Line ... CPR the Leader ... Day off for Panthers

CprWASHINGTON -- About to head out of the capital of the District of Columbia and figured I would offer up a more official contest on the naming of Florida's most successful line combination of late.

Gregory Campbell, Ville Peltonen and Radek Dvorak have been terrific for Soup the Panthers the past five days. Now, I don't know if it was the waiving and subsuquent trading of Wade Belak that had anything to do with it, but this trio is playing terrific.

A few guys offered up the CPR line here last night, and I love it. Think it's perfect. First, the letters work out: Campbell-Peltonen-Radek. That's key. Dvo Plus it has some meaning. CPR is a life-saving technique. The CPR line has without a doubt breathed new life into this Panthers season.

They are all over the place, doing the hard work in the corners and on the backend of the ice, and they are also getting some reward lately with all three scoring pretty much on a nightly basis.

If you have any other ideas, please, feel free to leave them here in the Ville comments section. Once we have five or six suggestions, we'll go to The Frozen Poll, yet another small part of Miami Herald Hockey Central.

I think you know which name is getting my vote. If I had a vote, that is. I have yet to register.

-- The Panthers took a well-deserved day off today, arriving in South Florida earlier this morning. They'll be on the ice tomorrow at the Bank in preparation for the Sabres. It's Buffalo-Miami week kids, be prepared.

December 02, 2008

Craig Anderson Will Start Again ... Florida Panthers vs. Buffalo Sabres ... Ville Peltonen, Gregory Campbell, Radek Dvorak on like Donkey Kong ... No One Hurt

Andy WASHINGTON -- Just a quick note before I head out of Cingular Center here in DC, but Pete says Craig Anderson is back on Thursday against the Sabres.

Anderson will be making his fourth straight start in place of Tomas Vokoun. Anderson is 5-1-3; Vokoun is 5-10-0. So DeBoer is sticking with the hot hand.

-- For once, no injury news to report.

-- It appears the Gregory Campbell/Ville Peltonen/Radek Dvorak line needs a name. They've been playing outstanding hockey all over the place. Offensively, they have nine goals and 10 assists in the past five games.

-- Panthers have gotten points in past five games. Last year, they got points in nine straight at one point (eight of nine were wins, overtime loss to Carolina messed up the string).

LIVE! Florida Panthers at Washington Capitals from MCI Center in Washington ... Sean Avery, Dion Phaneuf and Elisha Cuthbert in the news ...

CapitalsWASHINGTON -- Hey hey, ho ho, it's hockey night from the nation's capital as the Florida Panthers make their first visit to MCI Center since  last season's regular season finale (say that three times fast. OK, not that hard).

Both teams are so banged up, their two AHL teams have called off practices and will attend tonight's game. If anyone gets hurt from the Caps, someone from the Hersey Bears is ready to hop into the action; ditto for the Rochester Americans.

Well, that's not exactly true. The Panthers have raided Rochester so badly, there is no one left. The team is now out of players and plan to hold open tryouts Wednesday at the Rochester Shake-n-Skate. Be there by 10 a.m. and the team will sharpen your skates at a 50 percent discount!

The flat screen televisions here are blank, Capitals television voice Joe Benanti has nothing to say (OK, that's not true either) and folks throughout South Florida are gathering around the radio to listen to Radio3 tonight's television-free game.

At least that's what Randy Moller told me. Don't know if that's true or not.

Either way, will be back with LIVE! coverage of tonight's game. Don't be left out in the cold; come on back to On Frozen Pond, just a small part of Miami Herald Hockey Central.

-- Kickoff is around 7 p.m., so I'll be back around then. Lines and stuff like that can be found in the previous post, you know, the one just below this one. Go ahead and check that out. It's free.

--Don't know if you heard, but Sean Avery has been suspended for making comments regarding Dion Phaneuf today in Calgary. Has to do with Phaneuf dating Avery's ex-girlfriend, the very lovely and talented Elisha Cuthbert.

Check out the story here.

Elisha And, in case you don't know who Ms. Cuthbert is, well, here ya go.

You're welcome.

-- My take on Avery: I don't think the NHL should suspend a guy for making comments like this. The NBA never would. He didn't question the integrity of the league, rip refs for taking money under the table, anything like that.

Elisha2 Classless? Oh yeah. Sean Avery went rolling in the sewers on this one. But he shouldn't be suspended by the league.

-- From the 'Did You Know, Did You Care?' File: Not far from the Georgetown 1984 national championship banners hanging from the rafters here are three banners celebrating the Washington Mystics leading the WNBA in attendance.

True story: The Mystics have banners honoring their 'attendance championships' from 1998, 1999 and 2002.

Good for them.

Chevy Chevy2 -- I didn't know Chevy Chase had his own bank. He must have done very well with his Vacation movies and his late night talk show, eh?

-- Warm-ups are over and I'm feel ready to go.

About ready to start tonight's Radio Only game from DC...players have started coming out onto the ice. Radio4 Scratches for Florida: David Booth (shoulder) and Noah Welch (coach decision). Craig Anderson in net for the Florida Cats, Jose Theodore in the cage for the Caps.

GAME ON -- GAME ON -- GAME ON -- GAME ON

-- Stephen Weiss just made a few nice moves and worked the puck in on Theodore; nice save at 3 minute mark. That's Florida's first shot of the night...

-- Haven't done the number game in a while, so here we go:

Nick Tarnasky is wearing No. 74, the first player in franchise history to do so. Good for you, Nasty.

Kenndal McArdel is wearing No. 71, also the first time that number has been worn. Congrats to both.

-- Weiss line is looking exceptionally good. Have kept the puck in the WASH zone every time they've been on the ice...

--Caps get the first power play chance of the night, Michael Frolik going to the bin at 6:14...shots: 1-1

--Andy is sharp tonight...just turned back two big scoring chances during the power play...panthers kill it off...we're at the midway mark of the first...

-- He just had another one...

--Question on JumboTron: What is Florida most known for? A: Oranges; B: Beaches; C: The Early Bird Special. Text your answer to 37686 now...

Elisha4_2 --4:55 left in the first; Panthers haven't done anything offensive lately...shots: WSH 7-2

-- Capitals going back on the power play...Brett McLean in for tripping @ 15:47

10 SECONDS INTO POWER PLAY, IT'S NICKLAS BACKSTROM...NICE JOB BY CAPS WORKING PUCK AROUND...WITH 4:03 LEFT IN FIRST, IT'S WASHINGTON 1-0 OVER PANTHERS

--Panthers getting a power play chance at 17:35..

-- Caps kill off power play. FLA shots: 0

-- Radek Dvorak has a good shot, stopped in the final seconds...

AFTER ONE, IT'S NATIONALS 1, MARLINS 0

-- We'll be back for the second...

-- Florida gets off four (FOUR!) shots in the opening period...they are: Stephen Weiss (1) and Dvorak (3). Good looking offense tonight...

--In college basketball action, the No. 22 Hurricanes are all over Ohio State 36-22 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge...

SECOND PERIOD -- SECOND PERIOD -- SECOND PERIOD

HOLY PELTONEN...HE WALKS IN JOSE 'JOSE' THEODORE AND GOES TOP SHELF TO TIE IT AT 6:19...IT'S NOW 1-1...

-- Panthers are looking a lot more aggressive here in this second period...and what can you say about the Peltonen-Dvorak-Campbell trifecta? Also, Soup is wearing the A tonight...

-- Panthers go on the power play...Alex Ovechkin in the box for interference..

PANTHERS SCORE...PUCK GOES OFF KARL AZNER AND PAST THEODORE...HAVE TO SEE WHO THEY GIVE IT TOO...REGARDLESS, FLA 2, WASH 1....

Beaver -- Giving it to Jay Bouwmeester...unassisted...'cept for Azner and Theodore...Oh Beaver....

-- Taking a timeout...8:37 left in the second...Florida has been pretty good in this period, playing that 'team' game...Weiss has been all over the place, Dvorak and Peltonen too...shots now: WSH 12-11.

-- The Anthony Stewart Trio has also been pretty good. Had some chances..

-- Panthers back on the power play...

OH MY...IT'S 3-1...BRYAN MCCABE WITH A WICKED WRISTER FROM THE LEFT SIDE, LOOKS TO HAVE GONE OFF OLESZ AND THROUGH...CATS WITH A TWO GOAL LEAD WITH 7-PLUS LEFT IN THE SECOND...THEY'RE SAYING IT WAS CLEAN...GIVE IT TO MCCABE...NICE SAVE BY MCLEAN TO GET HIM THE PUCK...

-- Panthers are playing a pretty good game right now, although the Caps have been helping out...still, with this makeshift lineup, Florida fans have to feel pretty good about things...

-- We're at the two minute mark here in quarter numero dos...

-- Anthony Stewart just had a nice chance, picking off the puck and firing it off...1:06 left in second...

OK KIDS, END OF TWO IN WASHINGTON, FLORIDA GETS THREE GOALS, TAKES LEAD AGAINST MYSTICS 3-1...

-- Will be back in the third...don't run away...

THIRD PERIOD -- THIRD PERIOD -- THIRD PERIOD

WARM UP THE BUS, RADEK DVORAK GETS ANOTHER ONE...ITS 4-1 WITH 15:15 LEFT...THE FANS HERE IN THE UPPER DECK AIN'T HAPPY...

-- Washington just went on the power play and got off some good shots...Anderson is really playing well right now...just stopped Ovechkin on a monster shot from the left side...

-- Under 10 minutes left...shots: WSH 23-18

-- Panthers now getting a power play chance of their own...coming with 6:55 left...

CAPS CUT IT IN HALF...IT'S 4-2 WITH 3:49 LEFT....DON'T RUN AWAY JUST YET...

-- Ville Peltonen just went into the box with 3:11 left for tripping...

IT'S A ONE GOAL GAME...WASHINGTON SCORES WITH 2:58 LEFT...FLA 4, WASH 3

-- Good scrap here to the end...Ballard and Ovechkin just jostled a bit...Wash takes a TO with 1:19 left...And here comes Bluto on the scoreboard...

'It ain't over now...'

IT IS NOW...CAMPBELL WITH THE EMPTY NET WITH 1 MINUTE LEFT...PANTHERS 5, WSH 3...

Good night kids...see you another time...

LIVE! From Washington D.C. ... Florida Panthers vs. Washington Capitals ... Tuesday Update

JasontaylorWASHINGTON -- The Panthers held a quick and painless morning skate at the D.C. Arena this morning, the Capitals allowing the early ice as they practiced at their facility in Virginia.

Kenndal McArdel is here and fired up for his NHL debut tonight. Looks like Noah Welch is the healthy scratch again tonight.

Not much going on, other than Shawn Matthias is centering a line with Kamil Kreps on the right wing. Michael Frolik and Rostislav Olesz are with Stephen Weiss on the top line. Here's how the Panthers will start tonight:

Rostislav Olesz-Stephen Weiss-Michael Frolik
Ville Peltonen-Gregory Campbell-Radek Dvorak
Brett McLean-Shawn Matthias-Kamil Kreps
Nick Tarnasky-Kenndal McArdel-Anthony Stewart

-- The Caps are a banged up bunch to. Tarik El-Bashir, a long-time Friend of On Frozen Pond (FOOFP), wrote about the Caps' ills here in The Washington Post. Good read.

Here are the guys out of the lineup today: Mike Green, Sergei Federov, John Erskine, Alexander Semin, Chris Clark, Jeff Schultz and Tom Poti. Lot of dudes on the DL.

-- Don't forget, today's game is radio only, so I'll be doing a LIVE! report from atop the Phone Booth starting sometime before 7 p.m. So go ahead and watch the Miami-Ohio State basketball game; I'll keep you updated on the hockey right here at Miami Herald Hockey Central.

-- Thursday, FSN gives us a new episode of Inside the Panthers, this show focusing on Richard Zednik. Here's the official release:

The next edition of FOX Sports Florida’s Inside the Panthers, profiles Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik. In his 12th season playing professional hockey, Zednik has forged a solid career but was thrust into the international spotlight last season when he suffered a horrible accident on the ice. The upcoming show catches up with Zednik about his career highlights and he recounts that frightful night and road to recovery. Hosted by Craig Minervini, INSIDE THE PANTHERS: RICHARD ZEDNIK – ROAD TO RECOVERY premieres on FOX Sports Florida Thursday, December 4 at 6:30pm and replays multiple times throughout the NHL season.   

 

A native of Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, Zednik was a 10th round draft pick of the Washington Capitals in 1994 and went onto play for them in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Detroit Red Wing his rookie season.  He later spent four seasons with the Montreal Canadiens where he posted a career best 31 goals during the 2002-03 NHL season. 

Signed by the Panthers as a free agent prior to the 2007-08 NHL season; Zednik was on his way to a promising season but it was cut short by a horrifying injury on February 10, 2008.  In an away game against the Buffalo Sabres his carotid artery was accidentally sliced by a teammates’ skate.  Quick work by Panthers trainer Dave Zenobi, along with Sabres team doctors, helped avert a potentially tragic situation.

Fans will hear from those who saved Zednik’s life that fateful night in Buffalo, Sabres’ team doctor Les Bisson, and the head of emergency Medicine at Buffalo General Hospital, Dr, Robert McCormack, give their view of the procedures and practices that helped Zednik through the ordeal.  Also featured are former Washington Capitals teammate, Olaf Kolzig and current Detroit Red Wing, Marian Hossa, who played alongside Zednik for the Slovakian National team.

December 01, 2008

Hello from Baltimore ... David Booth out ... Kenndal McArdle in ... Florida Panthers vs. Washington Capitals, NO TV ... Now with Man Games Lost!

HomicideBALTIMORE -- Greetings from Charm City, the place that brought us Cal Ripken, the Colts, Homicide: Life on the Street, The Wire and killer crab.

Of course, those history majors out there know the Colts were originally the Miami Seahawks of the All-American Football League, but whatever.

Made the drive from the Capitals' training facility in Arlington, Va., and am now in Natty Boh country. Not a pretty day, either. But, I did get to walk through my first hail storm. It was cool. Like little pieces of ice balls crashing to earth. Should have held out a cup and filled it with Diet Dr. Pepper afterward.

Now, on to hockey....

-- Pete DeBoer says David Booth's shoulder is going to keep him out of Tuesday's game against the Caps, and will probably keep him out at least a week. Kenndal McArdle will be on his way to D.C. here in the coming hours. McArdle was Florida's first round draft pick (20th overall at the post-lockout, Sidney Crosby, Ottawa hotel ballroom draft) in 2005.

McArdle will make his NHL debut tomorrow if all goes to plan. He has three goals and 10 points with the Americans so far this season.

-- No real updates on Cory Stillman nor Nathan Horton. Horton's lacerated ankle could keep him out an extended time because the area of the injury is susceptible to re-open. If that happens, he's out all over again. PDeB says Stillman had a good couple of days, but has been out so long (one game since Nov. 2) Mrboh there's really no timetable right now.

-- If I think of anything else, will bring it here. See you at Nacho Mamas!

-- From the 'You Asked for It' File: Panthers, through Sunday's game, are at 80 games lost due to injury. With six guys on the DL right now, that will hit 86 after the Washington game.

Most lost: Bryan Allen at 21, followed by Cory Murphy (16), Cory Stillman (9) and Bryan McCabe (10). McCabe is active again; his 10 games are from earlier.