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42 posts from February 2009

February 28, 2009

Hello from Jersey: Florida Panthers @ New Jersey Devils 1 p.m. ... Craig Anderson IN ... Cory Stillman OUT

Soprano NEWARK, N.J. -- Hello from the Mile High Press Box in Newark, where you definitely have a better view of the ice than I do.

And many of you are in South Florida.

I think I can see Hoboken from here.

Anyway, Craig Anderson makes his third straight start today, Tomas Vokoun is dressed but apparently not good enough to go.

Vokoun is lucky in one regard: The team is taking a train to Washington after the game so the pressure of an airplane won't mess with his inner ear infection. At least not until Monday's flight to the 'ATL' that is.

-- Cory Stillman is out a second straight game with an injured foot. I earlier reported that it was his ankle based off information I was given, but as Stillman said ''you were close.'' It's his foot. Says it's badly bruised and he can't get the foot into his skate boot without serious pain. He should have just left it on.

-- Nick Boynton is also out, likely watching on television from home.

-- Martin Brodeur in net for the Devils -- who, interestingly enough, have a priest walking around press level. I can't make stuff like this up.

-- The Lines: CPR; Frolik-Weiss-Booth; Zed-Horton-McLean; Stew-Kreps-Tarn. D Combos: Bo/Skrastins; Ballard/McCabe; Welch/Cullimore.

-- Last night's scores (and how they affected the Panthers): Montreal beats Philly, but it comes in overtime. So, another three point game. Habs now three points up on FLA in fifth, Philly six points up in fourth. Pittsburgh beats Chicago in a wild overtime affair, the Pens picking up two clutch points. Pens are one point out, but have played two more games than Florida.

-- Today's games (and who the Panthers would be cheering for if they weren't visiting the Washington Monument later tonight. And there are a lot of games, so the only games listed are ones that have anything to do with the Eastern Conference playoff hunt.)

Caps @ Bruins, 1: Washington is running away with the Southeast, but root for the Bs if you wanna.

Panthers @ Devils, 1: Florida players are big fans of Martin Brodeur, so they are rooting for the Devils obviously.

Sharks @ Canadiens, 7: Don't need any more wins by Montreal.

Leafs @ Senators, 7: Just threw this one in there.

Sabres @ Islanders, 7: Need a solid performance at the lighthouse by the fishermen.

Avs @ Rangers, 7: Colorado doesn't look too good right now, but neither do the Rangers.

Canes @ Thrash, 7: Hockey Night in the ATL. Always an exciting time.

Satriales The Standings (presented by Satriale's Pork Store in Kearny; courtesy of TSN.ca/NHL)

Eastern

RankTeamGPWLOTPTSGFGAHomeAwayLast 10Streak
1Boston62421289221213821-4-421-8-44-4-2Won 2
2Washington62391858320717925-6-114-12-46-3-1Won 1
3New Jersey61391938118615120-10-119-9-27-3-0Won 1
4Philadelphia603317107619817518-8-415-9-67-2-1Lost 1
5Montreal62332277319118719-6-414-16-34-5-1Won 3
6Florida61312287016916617-8-514-14-36-4-0Won 1
7NY Rangers63312487015317418-10-413-14-42-5-3Lost 4
8Buffalo62312476918217317-12-214-12-54-4-2Lost 2
 
9Carolina63322656916618117-13-115-13-46-4-0Won 1
10Pittsburgh63312666819119517-12-214-14-46-3-1Won 2
11Toronto622426126018722411-11-813-15-45-2-3Won 3
12Ottawa60232895514917213-11-510-17-46-3-1Lost 1
13Tampa Bay622030125215619811-12-89-18-43-6-1Lost 2
14Atlanta62223465018321810-17-212-17-44-5-1Lost 1
15NY Islanders61183674314820412-13-56-23-22-6-2Lost 2
 

Western

RankTeamGPWLOTPTSGFGAHomeAwayLast 10Streak
1San Jose6042999320314526-2-316-7-66-2-2Won 1
2Detroit62411389023417924-4-317-9-57-2-1Won 2
3Calgary61371868019517522-7-415-11-27-1-2Won 4
4Chicago60341797720115315-5-619-12-35-4-1Lost 3
5Vancouver61312287018317415-11-416-11-48-2-0Won 1
6Columbus62312566816717319-10-212-15-47-2-1Won 1
7Minnesota60302556515314118-11-512-14-04-4-2Lost 2
8Dallas60292476517518317-10-412-14-35-5-0Lost 3
 
9Edmonton61302656517018614-12-416-14-14-4-2Lost 1
10Anaheim63302856517618515-13-315-15-24-6-0Lost 1
11Nashville62302846415117218-11-212-17-25-4-1Won 3
12St. Louis61272686217018016-11-511-15-36-2-2Won 2
13Los Angeles61262696115817513-13-813-13-13-5-2Lost 2
14Phoenix62273055915819017-12-210-18-33-7-0Lost 2
15Colorado62283315716819417-14-011-19-13-7-0Lost 3

 


Ducks @ Star

February 27, 2009

BONUS LIVE! It Can Be Sunny in Philadelphia ... Montreal Canadiens 4 @ Philadelphia Flyers 3 (F-OT) ... Briere OUT

Sunnyphilly PHILADELPHIA -- Greetings and salutations from the Steel City, Sol home of the reigning Arena Football League champion Philadelphia Sol.

Good to be here in Philly for tonight's highly anticipated matchup between the hometown Flyers and the Montreal Canadiens.

It's a pretty important game for the Panthers, and to make sure there are no shenanigans in the scoring, Jacques Martin is here as well.

Actually, JM is here scouting the Flyers and Canadiens to see if there are any players here he might want. I don't know if either of those teams covet any members of the Panthers, but one name does come to mind.

Yes, everyone here wants to talk about Jay Bouwmeester. But I don't see him coming to Philadelphia only because the Flyers are so close to the cap they had to waive two players yesterday. They lost Glen Metropolit to these Canadiens as they claimed him this afternoon. He's in the lineup for the Habs tonight. At least he didn't have to move his gear too far.

Daniel Briere, the reason for the waivings, is not in the lineup tonight because the Flyers still haven't cleared enough cap room to get him onto the ice. The Flyers would have to do quite a bit to fit Jay's contract under, and some of the players they would want to trade the Panthers would have little interest in.

But JM's been here twice in the past three days, so who knows.

-- Nothing new on Nick Boynton's status. Spoke with JM a few minutes ago and he said they're going to talk next week. ''We're giving him a few days off,'' JM said.

''We'll deal with it more next week.''

As for thoughts that Boynton could be traded or waived, Martin was speaking more long term about Boynton, saying ''he is no different than any of our players who have expiring contracts. We'll evaluate him at the end of the season, the same as Ville, Zednik, Radek. Those guys.''

-- For those wondering: Craig Anderson is not on the market. ''We need two goalies,'' JM said, ''and he's playing real well for us.'' Rochester's Mike Brodeur does not belong to the Panthers as he's with Rochester on an AHL contract. Anderson is a pending free agent.

-- We'll be scoreboard watching tonight as I stay on throughout this game. Feel free to check in early and often. With that in mind, here's today's belated schedule and who the Panthers would be rooting for if they weren't all at the movies in Secaucus.

Canadiens @ Flyers, NOW: Probably Philadelphia. Not because cheesesteaks are better than poutine, but the Habs are only one point in front of the Panthers for fifth in the east. And yes, cheesesteaks kick the tar out of those gravy-covered fries every day of the week and three times on Sunday.

Joffrey Lupol is showing off for JM, scoring to make it 1-0 just 28 seconds in.

Kings @ Wings, 7:30: Belle Tire, don't matter to the Cats.

Pens @ Hawks, 8:30: Pittsburgh is still out of a playoff spot, but two points puts it one point back of Carolina and Buffalo for eighth.

Wild @ Flames, 9: Who?

Lightning @ Canucks, 10: Louie, I guess.

Flyers -- Flyers, up 1-0, are wearing their cool orange throwback alternate jerseys. Canadiens are wearing some new look. Red white and blue? Since when?

-- Next time we come up here, hope to catch a Phantoms game at the Spectrum. They're tearing it down, you know.

-- Flyers update: The home team is up 2-0. Mike 'George' Richards giving the Flyers a nice cushion at 8:14 of the first.

-- Philly is on the Peco Power Play with just over five minutes left in the period.

-- Habs score on a power play with 3:35 left in the period as Tomas 'Tom' Plekanec knocks in a loose puck.

-- Cushion? Montreal just scored again, span of 13 seconds...very bad goal... 2-2. Eh.

-- Whoa Nellie. Montreal just scored again, Alex Kovalev doing the honors with 1:31 left. That's three goals for Montreal in two minutes. The folks here aren't showing much brotherly love.

-- We're in the second here in Philly, and the Flyers have just tied it up with 6:17 left in the period. Simon Gagne picks off a puck at center ice, charges in on Jaroslav Halak and slides 'er in. Looks like Halak made the initial save but couldn't control the puck. It's under review but looks good to me. Give 'em the goal, we're tied at 3.

-- Didn't notice this before: goals here are sponsored! Holy smokes. But they are sponsored by Tastykakes, a Philly tradition (and a darned tasty one). So I don't mind so much.

-- This is a pretty good game. Lot of hitting, lots of bad blood. Fun to be here. And not be on deadline.

-- Couple nice little scuffles broke out in the concourse during the second intermission. Fun stuff...

--Well, no scoring in an exciting third period. So, both teams get at least a point. Shots right now: PHL 37-31.

-- Scottie Upshall is going to the box for running into Halak with 2:39 left in the overtime, giving the Habs a 4-on-3. Nitty has looked good lately and just made a nice save. We'll see.

-- And that's that. Mathieu Schnieder wins it with a nice shot that beat Nitty with 1:39 left in OT and a minute left in the penalty. He then did an Ovechkin leap up against the glass that brought some middle digits and some choice words for the Flyer faithful sitting there. The big group of Canadiens fans sitting in the upper deck appear to be getting pelted with stuff.

Par for the course I guess.

Anyway, come back and visit tomorrow as I come to you from high-high-high above the Newark City Centre in Hoboken.

Peace in the Big East....

Today's BONUS! On Phrozen Poll: Where should I get a cheesesteak tonight? Pats, Ginos or Jims on South Street. You make the call. Any other options, leave as a comment below. Get voting!

Nick Boynton Sent Home, Out Next Three Games ... Craig Anderson Likely to Start Saturday versus Devils

Boynton NEWARK, N.J. -- Florida defenseman Nick Boynton has been dismissed from the team for disciplinary reasons and will not be with the team for the remainder of the team's three game road trip.

Boynton, acquired from Phoenix over the summer as part of the Olli Jokinen trade, played Thursday in New York and traveled with the team to its suburban New Jersey hotel after the game.

According to roommate Keith Ballard, Boynton was upset with the team's decision to send him back to South Florida. It's possible, with the NHL trade deadline coming on Wednesday that Boynton has played his last game with the Panthers (although Jacques Martin didn't sound that way on Friday night in Philly).

Boynton was benched for the third period of Thursday's comeback win against the Rangers and there have been rumors general manager Jacques Martin was even thinking of waiving Boynton. Martin confirmed that Boynton had been sent home but wouldn't go into further detail.

Little used Noah Welch now gets his chance to make his mark, and will play in at least the next three games starting Saturday at New Jersey (1 p.m., FSN).

- Goalie Tomas Vokoun is still suffering from an inner ear infection and didn't practice Friday. Craig Anderson will likely start against Martin Brodeur and the Devils.

- Winger Cory Stillman is still limping around with a seriuosly bruised foot after being hit by a puck Thursday morning. He is doubtful for Saturday as well.

More later when I get to Philly... Habs-Flyers LIVE! tonight.

Panthers Win! Really? They Did? Good for Them ... Dumb Stats You May Like ... Randy Moller on XM Radio ... BONUS: Scoreboard Watch, Standings

Stanleyflag NEW YORK -- Sometimes, statistics do lie.

In years past, the Panthers were a victim of the stat sheet on more than a few occasions. Remember when the Panthers would outshoot a team by 10 or 15 and lose by three or four? Many times this year, the Panthers have been the team taking advantage of limited opportunities.

Like this night in Nueva York.

Shots: Rangers 41, Florida 22.

Scoreboard: Florida 2, Rangers 1.

The Panthers won tonight basically because they hung around long enough. And the Rangers are not very good right now. Tom Renney came out in today's papers and told reporters that he thinks John Tortorella is ''the right guy'' to get the most out of this Blueshirted bunch.

Right now, the Rangers need more than just Torts.

What they need is some goals.

The Rangers have lost 12 of 14, and in each of those loses, they've scored two goals or fewer. Talk about wasting a great job in goal by Roberto, er, Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers had chance after chance after chance tonight. Empty net chances. Breakaway chances. Where were they shooting that puck?!? chances. Craig Anderson made the saves when he had to, but truth be told, he had a lot of help.

From the Rangers.

No matter. ''We were lucky to get the two points,'' Pete DeBoer said. ''And we'll take them.''

Playoff teams steal a game or two or three on their road to the postseason. The Panthers have been shoplifting some points lately.

Does that make them darn good or just darn lucky. I don't know. Sometimes hard work creates its own luck. The Panthers work hard. They've earned everything they've gotten. And now they took two points from the Rangers, pulled into sixth place and trudge on. A good result for a decent effort at a much needed time.

Clerkshockey Next up: The Jersey Boys. Martin Brodeur made his return to the Jersey net tonight and shut out the Avs.

Brodeur owns the Panthers Denisslapshot (owns, owns...) and will be ready for the challenge come Saturday afternoon.

Will the Panthers be ready? Probably. As long as they stick around.

-- PS: I can't wait to make my return to Newark. Can't. Wait. Just a great place. Friendly people everywhere around the house that Lou Built (and the NHL should have checked out before opening).

-- Tonight was Florida's first third period comeback win against a team other than Toronto. Florida came back from third period deficits to beat the Leafs twice in a one-week span. And that's been it. Until tonight.

-- Florida hasn't lost consecutive games (in regulation) since the New Year's Montreal/@Islanders debacle.

-- Nathan 'Nate' Horton had one shot tonight. It was a peach, hon. Horton's goal tonight stood up as the game winner. In 28 games against Torts, Horton has 17 goals. It's quite impressive. He's kind of a big deal.

-- Randy Moller stayed behind in New York tonight (veteran move there) while the rest of the team moved on to Jersey. He has an excuse: Molls is joining NHL Live tomorrow at 12:45 from the NHL Store (that has a lot of Hartford Whaler throw-back gear, FYI). You can hear Molls on XM/Sirrius Radio as well as watch live on NHL Network.

Think he throws some movie lines out? Molls told me today that he has over 1,000 requests on standby. For a team that can't score.

Baxter My fake Moller call from tonight: ''He shoots, he scores! Nathan Horton goes top shelf off a terrific pass from Richard Zednik to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead! You ate a whole wheel of cheese? I'm not even mad! I'm impressed!''

-- Thursday's Scores (and how they affected the Panthers, although probably not personally): Carolina beats the Beefs in a shootout 2-1, so the Canes pull into a tie for eighth with Buffalo; both are a point back of the sixth-seeded Panthers and Rangers. And that was it.

-- Friday's Games (and who the Panthers would be pulling for if they weren't living large in Newark. OK, the guys will be watching): Check back tomorrow.

-- The Updated Standings (presented by Denis Potvin and courtesy of TSN.ca/nhl)

Eastern

RankTeamGPWLOTPTSGFGAHomeAwayLast 10Streak
1Boston62421289221213821-4-421-8-44-4-2Won 2
2Washington62391858320717925-6-114-12-46-3-1Won 1
3New Jersey61391938118615120-10-119-9-27-3-0Won 1
4Philadelphia59331797519517118-8-315-9-67-3-0Won 2
5Montreal61322277118718419-6-413-16-33-6-1Won 2
6Florida61312287016916617-8-514-14-36-4-0Won 1
7NY Rangers63312487015317418-10-413-14-42-5-3Lost 4
8Buffalo62312476918217317-12-214-12-54-4-2Lost 2
 
9Carolina63322656916618117-13-115-13-46-4-0Won 1
10Pittsburgh62302666618619117-12-213-14-46-3-1Won 1
11Toronto622426126018722411-11-813-15-45-2-3Won 3
12Ottawa60232895514917213-11-510-17-46-3-1Lost 1
13Tampa Bay612029125215519611-12-89-17-43-5-2Lost 1
14Atlanta62223465018321810-17-212-17-44-5-1Lost 1
15NY Islanders61183674314820412-13-56-23-22-6-2Lost 2
 

Western

RankTeamGPWLOTPTSGFGAHomeAwayLast 10Streak
1San Jose6042999320314526-2-316-7-66-2-2Won 1
2Detroit61401388823217823-4-317-9-57-2-1Won 1
3Calgary60361867819117421-7-415-11-26-2-2Won 3
4Chicago59341787619714815-5-519-12-36-4-0Lost 2
5Vancouver60302286818117314-11-416-11-48-2-0Lost 1
6Columbus62312566816717319-10-212-15-47-2-1Won 1
7Minnesota59302456515213718-11-512-13-05-3-2Lost 1
8Dallas60292476517518317-10-412-14-35-5-0Lost 3
 
9Edmonton61302656517018614-12-416-14-14-4-2Lost 1
10Anaheim63302856517618515-13-315-15-24-6-0Lost 1
11Nashville62302846415117218-11-212-17-25-4-1Won 3
12St. Louis61272686217018016-11-511-15-36-2-2Won 2
13Los Angeles60262596115717313-13-813-12-14-4-2Lost 1
14Phoenix62273055915819017-12-210-18-33-7-0Lost 2
15Colorado62283315716819417-14-011-19-13-7-0Lost 3

February 26, 2009

UPDATE: Tomas Vokoun, Cory Stillman OUT

Booththeatre1 NEW YORK -- Pete DeBoer said he would decide what goalie plays tonight at 5, but he pushed that back to a game time decision.

It looks like Craig Anderson will get the start as he is getting most of the reps during the warm up at the Garden.

Tomas Vokoun is suffering from an inner ear infection, an ailment that Booththeatre2 cost him Tuesday's start in Boston.

-- Cory Stillman left practice early today after being struck by a slap shot while hanging out by the net. Stillman went down in obvious pain and tried skating it off.

He came to the bench with a scowl on his face and went into the dressing room.

Stillman is not in the lineup tonight with the injured ankle. I've heard the ankle doesn't appear to be broken, although X-Rays have not yet been taken. Updates as they come.

The Rat that Ate New York City: Florida Panthers @ New York Rangers ... Tomas Vokoun now MAYBE ... Brett McLean IN

Newyorkrat NEW YORK -- Not a whole lot to post here, other than the Penguins made a deal today, sending defenseman Ryan Whitney to the Ducks for Chris Kunitz and a prospect.

So I guess that officially kicks off Trade Deadline Week.

Hanging out in New York City as many of you already know. Confusing town, New York is.

First, I went to Times Square. No clocks. Then I went to Madison Square Garden. No flowers. So, off to Alphabet City. Guess what? No soup. Then, later, I headed to the meatpacking district. Not a t-bone in sight. Oh well.

Headed to Battery Park later today. My digital recorder is running low on juice. Hope they have a deal on triple As.

-- Visited pal Mark from the NHL offices today and had a very nice lunch. Then it was off to the NHL Store. Cool stuff. I bought a vintage Magic Johnson Lakers jersey. Really cool. Actually scored a throwback Hartford Whalers cap. Sweet. It just jumped to the top of the starting rotation.

-- Tomas Vokoun has an inner ear infection says Pete DeBoer. He says he'll know by 5 p.m. who will start in net.

-- Brett McLean back onto the fourth line in place of Nick Tarnasky. ''Fresh legs,'' PDeB says.

-- Wednesday's Scores (and how they affected the Panthers): Phillies pick up another two points by shutting out Los Angeles. Pitt moves two points closer after shutting out the Isles. Rangers get a point, but that's it as Leafs win in a shootout.

-- Thursday's Sked (and who the Panthers would be rooting for if they weren't busy playing the Rangers)

Avs @ Devils, 7: El Paso. Well, first game back for Martin Brodeur. So they have that going for them. Which is nice.

Leafs @ Isles, 7: Um, yeah.

Panthers @ Rangers, 7: Florida roots for Rangers and old friend John Tortorella. A Florida regulation win and the Panthers move into tie for sixth with the Blueshirts.

Sabres @ Canes, 7: This, folks, is a biggie. Carolina can jump both Panthers and Sabres with a regulation win tonight combined with a Florida loss. All those who emailed me and told me the Canes were done? Told ya so.

Thrashers @ Capitals, 7: Has Atlanta played a home game this month?

Ducks @ Bruins, 7: The Bs looked good the other night. This does nothing for Panthers one way or another.

Sharks @ Sens, 7:30: A Sens loss and they are probably cooked like a Christmas goose. Which, I have never had on Christmas.

Coyotes @ Preds, 8: Olli's on Music Row. And that's all I got.

Blues @ Stars, 8: I. Don't. Care.

Jackets @ Oil, 9: When I ask players what their favorite NHL city is, for some strange reason, Edmonton never comes up.

The Standings (presented by the Carnegie Deli and 30 Rock; courtesy of TSN.ca/nhl)

Eastern

RankTeamGPWLOTPTSGFGAHomeAwayLast 10Streak
1Boston61411289020613820-4-421-8-44-4-2Won 1
2Washington61381858120317624-6-114-12-46-3-1Lost 1
3New Jersey60381937918215119-10-119-9-26-4-0Lost 1
4Philadelphia59331797519517118-8-315-9-67-3-0Won 2
5Montreal61322277118718419-6-413-16-33-6-1Won 2
6NY Rangers62312387015217218-9-413-14-42-5-3Lost 3
7Florida60302286816716517-8-513-14-36-4-0Lost 1
8Buffalo61312466818117117-12-214-12-45-4-1Lost 1
 
9Carolina62312656716418016-13-115-13-46-4-0Lost 1
10Pittsburgh62302666618619117-12-213-14-46-3-1Won 1
11Toronto612326125818222011-11-812-15-44-3-3Won 2
12Ottawa59232795514817013-10-510-17-46-2-2Won 1
13Tampa Bay612029125215519611-12-89-17-43-5-2Lost 1
14Atlanta61223365018021410-17-212-16-45-4-1Won 1
15NY Islanders60183664214419912-13-46-23-22-7-1Lost 1
 

Western

RankTeamGPWLOTPTSGFGAHomeAwayLast 10Streak
1San Jose5941999120114426-2-315-7-65-2-3Lost 1
2Detroit61401388823217823-4-317-9-57-2-1Won 1
3Calgary60361867819117421-7-415-11-26-2-2Won 3
4Chicago59341787619714815-5-519-12-36-4-0Lost 2
5Vancouver60302286818117314-11-416-11-48-2-0Lost 1
6Columbus61302566616617319-10-211-15-46-3-1Lost 2
7Minnesota59302456515213718-11-512-13-05-3-2Lost 1
8Dallas59292376517418017-9-412-14-35-5-0Lost 2
 
9Edmonton60302556517018514-11-416-14-15-3-2Won 1
10Anaheim62302756517617915-13-315-14-25-5-0Won 2
11Nashville61292846214717117-11-212-17-25-4-1Won 2
12Los Angeles60262596115717313-13-813-12-14-4-2Lost 1
13St. Louis60262686016717916-11-510-15-35-2-3Won 1
14Phoenix61272955915718617-12-210-17-33-7-0Lost 1
15Colorado61283215716819017-14-011-18-14-6-0Lost 2




February 25, 2009

New Look Rangers? John Tortorella Makes Debut Tonight in Toronto

Tortsbolts

NEW YORK – The Panthers have a big test tomorrow against the New York Rangers, a team that has been playing so poorly of late it just got its coach fired despite most knowing the problems probably weren't as much Tom Renney as it was the guys wearing those blue sweaters.

The Panthers coaching staff doesn't have much to go on in how to prepare for the Rangers.

Or do they?

The Rangers play their first game of the John Tortorella Era tonight in Toronto. Believe me, the Florida coaching staff will not be taking in any Broadways shows tonight. If they decide to hit Little Italy for dinner, the place better have MSG tuned into the televisions.

The Florida coaches will be watching the Maple Leafs-Rangers game very intently.

Pete DeBoer has coached against the Rangers, but he hasn't coached against these Rangers. Expectations are that Tortorella is going to open things up. The Rangers haven't been very creative offensively, and I don't know if a change in coaching on Monday is going to change that this early.

What the Panthers will draw on is the experience of assistant coaches Mike Kitchen and Pierre Groulx. They know the Tortorella Lightning, and they figure this New York team is going to look a lot like those Tampa teams. Pete says they didn't go deep into the film vault to pull out old Tampa tape, although that may not be a bad idea. Might want to ask JM the former coach his thoughts on Tortorella's tendencies.

You might be surprised, but JM never had a losing record against the Lightning in his three years as coach of the Panthers.

In the past three seasons, Florida was 15-9 against the Bolts.

Florida is looking for its third win in four tries against the Rangers on Thursday.

-- Martin Brodeur is back, starting in net for the Devils tomorrow night against the Nordiques. If all goes well, will probably see him in net Saturday afternoon against the Panthers as well.

Give up a Bronx Cheer for Denis: 30 Years of 'Potvin Sucks!'

Potvinsi

BOSTON – Denis Potvin laughs about the chant now. It wasn't always this way.

Anyone who has ever been to a New York Rangers game in the past 30 years has heard the chant that starts in the rafters, a chant started with a sing-song whistle.

The whistle ends: Duh, duh, duh: Pot-vin Sucks!

Denis Potvin, the Panthers television analyst since the team's inception in 1993, was vilified by Rangers fans on this day in 1979 after he put a nasty hit on Rangers' center Ulf Nillsen.

The swift Swede broke his ankle on the play, the result – as he said – of bad ice at the Garden. His foot got caught in the boards and when Potvin hit him, his ankle took the brunt of the brute force. Both players say it was a hard, but clean hit.

''It was,'' Potvin says, ''an accident.''

Potvincup No matter. The Rangers, who despise the Islanders to this day, began hurling insults at the Islanders captain. It started as Potvin Sucks (which some still feel is as vulgar a word as any of the Big Seven, and a word I had to argue to get into this morning's Miami Herald) and morphed into something much worse.

Fans would hurl all sorts of abuse at Potvin whenever the Islanders came across to the Garden, with Potvin telling me last night at one game someone threw a 9 volt battery at him.

''It whizzed right by my ear,'' he said. The players weren't wearing their helmets at the time because of the anthem, and at the time, the Garden would completely darken the arena with only the anthem singer illuminated. No one knew who threw the battery thanks to the cloak of darkness.

''It was very difficult in the beginning. It almost felt life-threatening. Those were pretty nasty times,'' Potvin told me last night outside the FSN booth. ''They haven't completely darkened the lights in the Garden for the anthems since.''

I approached Denis about this story yesterday after hearing he wasn't talking to anyone about it. He feels the whole thing is a 'no-win' situation for him, although I talked him out of that thinking. My take: Denis is part of the history and lore of not one but two New York hockey teams.

He'll forever be an Islander, captaining them to four Stanley Cup titles. But he'll probably be part of the Rangers forever as well. You can't go to a Rangers game without hearing that chant. ANY Rangers game. They were chanting it in Europe during those games there earlier this season. They chant it in Florida, Los Angeles, Montreal. If the Rangers are playing, you'll hear the chant. Fans even started it during the Adam Graves retirement ceremony a few weeks back.

''Brian Leetch made a comment about it when his jersey was retired,'' Potvin says. ''You saw Adam Graves chuckle when he heard it. Listen, I don't belong in that. Those guys are being honored. But in many ways, that sort of confirmed the fact that the fans think it's just a chant that motivates the Rangers. It's their chant. It's not about me or the Islanders.''

Potvinmarriott But it's not a violent chant anymore. Time has erased most of the bitterness and many fans have forgotten or don't even know the genesis of the chant. They've been chanting it so long it's part of their fabric. Heck, you even hear it at baseball and football games.

''I was at Yankee Stadium when the Marlins played in the World Series and heard that chant,'' Potvin said with a grin. ''I crunched down into my seat. I couldn't believe it. It happens everywhere in New York. It's a rallying cry of sorts.''

Some Ranger fans absolutely hate the tradition. I was in the upper deck at a Rangers-Canucks game earlier this season with Goldie and Bill Lindsay. Whenever someone started the whistle, about a dozen fans would start booing and telling the guy to shut up. But when the whistle was over, the overwhelming majority of fans in the stands did the chant.

A few minutes later when things were a little quiet, someone else did it. It went on all night. Goldie snickered a few times. You know Goldie's been guilty of chanting that many a time in his younger years at the Garden. Today the two are close friends and working partners.

''Now it's like a generational thing, like passing down Giants tickets. It's become pretty interesting and I can't believe it's gotten to this point,'' said Potvin, who will undoubtedly hear the chant a few times Thursday when the Panthers visit New York.

''I don't think it has anything to do with me anymore.''

But it's all you Denis. Enjoy hearing thousands chant your name tomorrow night.

-- Here is my original story from today's Miami Herald. For some reason it was late getting up online.

-- Here is a female fan dancing to the ditty outside MSG after a tossing back a few apparently.

Southbound and Down: Steaming into New York City ... Thursday: Florida Panthers @ New York Rangers ... Tomas Vokoun IN ... Results, Scoreboard Watch

Smokeybandit2

AMTRAK ACELA EXPRESS TO NEW YORK CITY – Good morning from somewhere in Massachusetts. Boston would be in my rear view mirror, although these fast trains don't have mirrors so much as I can tell. I do know it's back there somewhere.

The Panthers returned to the scene of the crime for Wednesday's practice, taking to the Boston Garden ice before leaving for the Windy City – New York. ''Practice was uneventful,'' Pete DeBoer said. ''We're just moving forward.''

Planestrains Rough night for the Sunrise Six last night, the team just not clicking from the get.

Thought that game was going to be a disaster early. The defense left Craig Anderson out to dry, but eventually he got things going and the Panthers looked to tie up the game at 2 in the second period. That never happened. Anderson got beat on a sweet deflection by fourth liner Byron Bitz to make it 3-1 and that was all she wrote.

Listen, the Panthers were due for a stinker and it may just turn out to be a good thing. They didn't lose much ground in the playoff dealio last night, so everyone can just relax. They get a good game in New York and all is well, once more, with the world.

-- Tomas Vokoun back in net Thursday against the Rangers. DeBoer says he doesn't blame Anderson for the first two goals last night, saying ''those were mental mistakes we made.'' He did say Anderson might have played better late in the game. ''The third, fourth goal. We need a save there.''

DeBoer says they haven't talked about what the goalie rotation for this weekend will be. Panthers play at New Jersey Saturday at 1, then Washington at 3 on Sunday. DeBoer did not rule out going with Vokoun in both.

''We're in playoff mode,'' he said. ''We're going to go with whatever guy we think can get us the win.''

-- Today's Florida Lynx:

* David J. Neal talks trade deadline.

* Panthers get beat by Red Sox 6-1 on Mike Lowell's seventh inning grand slam at Fenway

-- Planing on checking out Stan Van Gundy's Orland Magic tonight at the Garden. The Van Gundys stunk it up against the Bulls last night in O-Town, so we should see a pretty inspired bunch tonight. Should be fun. Haven't been to a Knickerbockers game in the Garden since hot dogs cost a nickel!

-- Good to see old buddy Cory Murphy pot a pair of goals last night in Calgary.

-- Tuesday's Scores (and how they affected the Panthers): Anaheim helped out the Floridians by winning 3-2 in Buffalo; Panthers and Bison still tied for seventh with 68 points. Ottawa helped keep Carolina down with a 4-2 win in Kanata. On the flip side, Philly moved two points away with a win over Washington, and Montreal got a big win at home over the Luongos.

-- Today's Games (and who the Panthers would be rooting for if they weren't all taking in Broadway shows tonight)

Kings @ Flyers, 7: Florida needs the Flyers to lose here or Philly picks up another two and leads by seven.

Sharks @ Wings, 7:30: No playoff implications here, but a darned good matchup. I like the Wings. You know this.

Rangers @ Leafs, 7:30: The Leafs are the Panthers of old, as in, an embattled coach loses to the Leafs and gets canned. Tom Renney's last game as coach of the Blueshirts came Sunday, an overtime loss to the Leaves. Tonight marks the debut of one John 'John' Tortorella behind the New Yawk bench. Panthers are a point behind the Rangers, so they should root on the Leafs. Not telling them what to do, just suggesting.

Isles @ Pens, 7:30: The Isles have 42 points, by far the fewest in the league. That said, the Panthers would like to see them get two more tonight. Penguins are four points back of the Cats. Florida would like to keep it that way.

The Standings (presented by Amtrak and Spam-a-Lot; courtesy of TSN.ca/nhl)

Eastern

RankTeamGPWLOTPTSGFGAHomeAwayLast 10Streak
1Boston61411289020613820-4-421-8-44-4-2Won 1
2Washington61381858120317624-6-114-12-46-3-1Lost 1
3New Jersey60381937918215119-10-119-9-26-4-0Lost 1
4Philadelphia58321797319317117-8-315-9-66-4-0Won 1
5Montreal61322277118718419-6-413-16-33-6-1Won 2
6NY Rangers61312376915117018-9-413-14-32-5-3Lost 2
7Florida60302286816716517-8-513-14-36-4-0Lost 1
8Buffalo61312466818117117-12-214-12-45-4-1Lost 1
 
9Carolina62312656716418016-13-115-13-46-4-0Lost 1
10Pittsburgh61292666418519116-12-213-14-45-4-1Lost 1
11Toronto602226125618021910-11-812-15-43-3-4Won 1
12Ottawa59232795514817013-10-510-17-46-2-2Won 1
13Tampa Bay612029125215519611-12-89-17-43-5-2Lost 1
14Atlanta61223365018021410-17-212-16-45-4-1Won 1
15NY Islanders59183564214419812-13-46-22-23-6-1Won 1
 

Western

RankTeamGPWLOTPTSGFGAHomeAwayLast 10Streak
1San Jose5841899120014026-2-315-6-65-1-4Won 4
2Detroit60391388622817722-4-317-9-57-2-1Lost 1
3Calgary60361867819117421-7-415-11-26-2-2Won 3
4Chicago59341787619714815-5-519-12-36-4-0Lost 2
5Vancouver60302286818117314-11-416-11-48-2-0Lost 1
6Columbus61302566616617319-10-211-15-46-3-1Lost 2
7Minnesota59302456515213718-11-512-13-05-3-2Lost 1
8Dallas59292376517418017-9-412-14-35-5-0Lost 2
 
9Edmonton60302556517018514-11-416-14-15-3-2Won 1
10Anaheim62302756517617915-13-315-14-25-5-0Won 2
11Nashville61292846214717117-11-212-17-25-4-1Won 2
12Los Angeles59262496115717113-13-813-11-15-3-2Won 1
13St. Louis60262686016717916-11-510-15-35-2-3Won 1
14Phoenix61272955915718617-12-210-17-33-7-0Lost 1
15Colorado61283215716819017-14-011-18-14-6-0Lost 2

February 24, 2009

Boston Legal: Florida Panthers @ Boston Bruins ... Craig Anderson Starts ... Michael Ryder In for Bs

Bostonlegal2 BOSTON -- Back from lunch and a very productive trip to Marshalls where I not only scored some really cheap Nike socks (you know how much money I waste a year on socks?) but also a very cool Spyder ski hooded sweatshirt off the clearance rack.

It was much colder here than I thought it would be. It appears that I'm getting back to my Florida roots.

Anyway, as posted before, Tomas Vokoun is feeling the effects of the flu and will not be in net tonight despite pitching a shutout (off two hits) against the Bruins last Saturday in Sunrise. Craig Anderson is no stranger to Boston, stopping 40 shots to shut the Bruins out last March. That game came on the heels of his record-setting 53-save shutout of Pittsburgh the game before.

In his last start against Boston on Dec. 6, Anderson gave up three goals in a 4-0 loss. He hasn't started since Feb. 3 (the big comeback in Toronto) when Vokoun was sick as well. Since beating Pitt on Jan. 3, Anderson has made just three starts -- and Vokoun came on in relief in one of them.

Rustyeuro Rusty?

''This is nothing I haven't been through before,'' Anderson said. ''You would like to play a lot and get into a rythm, but not everyone has that luxury. I have to be ready when called upon. It doesn't matter how many games you play. You have to be ready to play for your teammates.

''Today is a new day. I have to do something spectacular today like I did last year. That has to be the goal.''

Says Pete DeBoer: ''Like I've said all year: We have the luxury of having two starting goalies. It makes these kinds of decisions easy.''

-- PDeB on Jay Bouwmeester handling of the distraction that is trading day: ''He's been the consumate professional.''

-- Boston's Michael Ryder is back in the lineup after missing the past few weeks after busting up his mug in Ottawa, comes back tonight. It's a week of comebacks for the Panthers. Tonight Ryder, Thursday John Tortorella, Saturday it appears that Martin Brodeur will be in net for the Devils when Florida comes to Newark. Word is Brodeur could be in net when the Devils play Colorado on Thursday.

Brodeur is 31-12-7 against the Panthers lifetime. Not counting his 4-0 record against the Cats in the 2000 playoffs. Brodeur is 6-2-2 this season.

Craig Anderson Starts ... Tarnasky In, McLean Out ... Panthers @ Bruins

BOSTON -- Grabbing some lunch at the famous Fours across from the Garden and offering up some news via the Blackjack.

Tomas Vokun made it through practice, but Craig Anderson will start. Fourth line remains the same as Saturday, Nick Tarnasky in and Brett McLean out.

More, as always, later. Cheers.

George Richards

The Miami Herald

NHL/Florida Panthers

grichards@MiamiHerald.com

February 23, 2009

Jacques Martin Talks Jay Bouwmeester (and the Panthers)

Jaybo4 BOSTON -- Jacques Martin was part of a conference call today (I missed out because I was stuck flying today. But good news: USAir starts giving out free soda and water in coach come March 1!)

With the trade deadline rapidly approaching (Florida's final game of this five-game roadie is March 3; the deadline is the following day) and JM the GM spoke at length about what's going on with Jay and the Panthers.

A report out of Philadelphia says that the Panthers don't want to take back any money in a potential Bouwmeester deal. This would jibe with a report Ottawa's Bruce Garrioch offered up a few months ago.

If this is indeed the case (and I'm pretty sure it is not), here's my take: The Panthers are struggling financially and don't want to add payroll. If Jay is traded, only a fraction of his salary would go to the new team. If Jay is traded after the Atlanta game, there would be 18 games left. That means Jay is due just over a million bones. But, in this economy, a million bucks is a million bucks.

That said, a million is not that much -- in the hockey world -- so the Panthers could just keep him. But another couple of employees were let go recently. They are trying to save money all over, and, well, Jay is a very well paid employee. The ones the Panthers have let go are not.

Financials aside, let's look at what the Panthers have if they don't get a veteran player in return and just go the draft pick/prospect route: JM must feel confident that No. 7 defenseman Noah Welch can step in and play OK.

Of course, if the Panthers don't get anything back, someone has to come up from Rochester.

My money is on Jason Garrison. JM really seems to like this rookie, and by all accounts, he's been playing well for the Amerks. Spoke to JM about him a few weeks ago and he had a lot of good things to day, mostly, that if Florida needed a d-man, he would be the guy. Keaton Ellerby could also be an option, but Garrison is an older guy (he played at Minnesota-Duluth) and did well in his one game with the Panthers.

I'm not implying the Panthers think either player is the next Jay Bouwmeester, nor do they think either is close to that elite level. But they might think they can survive with those two.

Are these good options? Don't think so. Not for today. Tomorrow maybe. But this franchise has had too many promises of tomorrow.

And, for the record, JM has told me and said today in his Q&A that he wants to help the franchise today. That would mean a team has to overwhelm JM to make any kind of deal. And money would be coming back along with some mix of draft picks and prospects.

But I'm hearing this ''no money coming back'' from too many places to dismiss it. We'll see what happens.

Does JM believe Jay will resign? ''I don't know how much belief.''

Hey, the Panthers could just resign Jay and that would be that. Speaking of that, the top photo is courtesy of BarryMelroseRocks.com...funny post on Jay here....

Here's part of the transcript, courtesy of the NHL. Key quotes (in my opinion) in bold italics:

DAVID KEON: We now have with us Florida Panthers general manager Jacques Martin. Jacques will be involved in his 15th NHL trade deadline next week. The Panthers currently have a record of 30-21-8 for 68 points, good for second in the Southeast Division and the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race.


            Q. In general for the trade deadline or the summer, you guys are in a playoff berth, but unfortunately your power play is 26th in the league. Would you be resorting to looking for these type of players in general to help out those situations?
 


They are coming off a week where they shut out two of the top seeds in the Eastern Conference, Boston and New Jersey. Thanks to Jacques for joining us. We'll open it up for questions now.
 
Q. I was wondering about approaching the trade deadline when the team is in a situation like this in the midst of a playoff race. How much does marketing, how much does the trust of the fans play into any sort of personnel decisions you make at the deadline?
           
JACQUES MARTIN: Well, I think we appreciate our fans a great deal, but I think from a management standpoint, you can't manage your franchise or your hockey team according to the fans. I think we have people that evaluate our team on a daily basis. The last couple years we've tried to build a team that would put this franchise in the playoffs moving forward, and we evaluate areas that we need to improve, and when you get into a trading deadline like next week, you probably look to improve your club for the stretch drive if you can, or at the same time, I think we like our hockey club. We think our hockey club has grown a great deal since last summer. We've made a lot of moves in the offseason, a lot of acquisition, and we feel that our team is improving as the season is moving along.

Q. Given the answer to that question, can you give us an update then on where you are with Jay in terms of bringing him under contract, if it's still an option? And if you don't think it is realistically between now and July 1st, what's your strategy moving forward with an eye to maximizing your assets for the future?

JACQUES MARTIN: Well, I think it's clear that our priority for this franchise at this point in time is to make the playoffs this year. I think we're in the process of evaluating what's available for Jay Bouwmeester, and come March 4th a decision will be made whether we move forward with Jay on our team or if I feel that I can get something that makes us a better club, then the possibility of moving him. But I think the priority for us right now is to move forward to improve our club, to make the playoffs this year, and I don't want to disturb that.
          
So depending on what's available, if it's a good transition, if we feel we can improve certain areas of our hockey club, then that would be a possibility. But I think there's also a possibility that we retain Jay, then we see where we're at after the season.

Q. Does that suggest any kind of package you would be looking at between now and March 4th, you would need somebody to come in and play in your line?up, whether it was to bolster your offense or wherever, but you would need someone to play now as opposed to a package that was strictly futures?
           
JACQUES MARTIN: Yeah, I think as I stated in my first sentence when I made the fact that I want our club to improve. If we trade Jay Bouwmeester, we need to have somebody in return to help our club going down the stretch.
 
            Q. How much belief is there in the organization right now that you guys could sign Bouwmeester before the trade deadline?
            JACQUES MARTIN: I don't know how much belief. I think that what's important is to look at all our options, and whether he signs between the trading deadline or not, I think that we're investigating to see what's available for him, and we'll make the decision in due time.
 
            Q. If you do decide to trade him, would you be willing to offer any other general manager a window to negotiate with him to sign him?
            JACQUES MARTIN: Well, I think it depends on the situation. I think we have to see whether we have a deal in place, and then we would make that decision.
 
            Q. When was the last time you talked contract with him?
            JACQUES MARTIN: I've talked contract with him on a continual basis. I think that we've kept the communication fairly open.
 
            Q. He's one of the quietest players that any of us will ever meet in the NHL. How would you describe him to people who don't know him?
            JACQUES MARTIN: Well, I think Jay is very professional. I think that even when you look at the contract situation, I think he's come this year and is giving us some tremendous hockey. He's competed on a nightly basis. He's been one of our better players. He's gone about his business. He has a contract, and I think what people have to realize is there's many other players that are in the same situation as Jay Bouwmeester. You look at the Montreal Canadiens. I don't know how many players are going to be free agents at the end of the year, and I think it's probably something we're going to see on a more regular basis under the new CBA, the fact that more players are becoming free agents at a young age.
 
            Q. Can you tell us how the status of your negotiations with Jay Bouwmeester have changed from the beginning of the year and what effect, if any, the success your team has had this season has had on those?
            JACQUES MARTIN: I don't think the negotiation with Jay is for public knowledge. I think you have to respect the privacy between a club and the individual agent, so I don't think I'm in the liberty of talking about our negotiations. I think negotiations have been good, but I think that's something that I don't want to do on the public table. It's no different than any other players; I think when you're talking about negotiation, I think that should be done on a private basis.
 
            Q. Having seen this team about 60 games this season and having coached them in the past, what type of players are you looking to add to this roster before the deadline to strengthen your playoff push?
            JACQUES MARTIN: Well, I think first of all, it's important to get somebody that's going to fit into the chemistry. I think that we have a great chemistry as a team. I think we have a good balance of young players versus veteran players. I think that we've improved our defense a great deal over the last three seasons. I think when you look at the mobility of our back end, you look at the production, I think we're still No. 1 from getting some production from the defense.
            I think if there was any areas that we would like maybe to improve, it would be maybe at the center position. I think that's something that if we could improve, or even the depth of our forwards, that would be something we would look at.
 
            Q. Considering Jay's status, have you received many phone calls inquiring about his services?
            JACQUES MARTIN: Regarding Jay, I think I've been in continual contact with general managers. We've talked about Jay with certain teams, no different than any other top players on our hockey club.
 
            Q. And about the negotiations, has he expressed a willingness to remain with the organization?
            JACQUES MARTIN: I think, as I said before, I think you have to respect the privacy of the player and the privacy of the organization, and I think we've had several communications, several talks in the last season, and I think that's something that should remain private.
 
           Q. Do you feel that Bouwmeester needs to be a part of this team to challenge in a playoff run, and how much would it affect the team chemistry if he's lost?
            JACQUES MARTIN: Well, I think, as I said earlier about Jay, I think it all depends on what we could acquire in return. I think if it's a package where we feel that we improve our hockey club, I think the rest of our organization, the rest of our players I think would recognize that. And that's why I said, we're going to make ?? we'll go forward with Jay in our lineup if we can't get something that helps us now, and if we do get something that we feel is more beneficial for our hockey team, then I guess I would be willing to change the chemistry.
 
          

Tomas Vokoun: NHL Second Star

Vokoun4 BOSTON -- Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun was honored by the NHL today, being named the Second Star of the Week after recording two shutouts. He has two in the past three games and three in six games.

Vokoun also has pitched six shutouts this season -- a career high. He had five in his final season with Nashville. Vokoun is the third Panther to be honored this season, joining David Booth and Gregory Campbell.

Philly's Mike Richards was the top star after leading all NHL scorers with eight points (three) goals. Chicago's Cristobal Huet, who beat the Panthers on Thursday, was the third star.

Vokoun stopped 115 of 118 shots this past week, giving up three to the Blackhawks. It was a pretty impressive week. As we told you earlier, he missed practice today because of the flu. He's questionable for tomorrow. It's time for Craig Anderson to get a start, but it's real tough to pull a goalie as hot as Vokoun is right now.

Big Apple Blowup ... Tom Renney OUT, John Tortorella IN with Rangers ... Frozen Poll Time

Torts BOSTON -- The Rangers got a new infusion of emotion today, firing Tom Renney and bringing John Tortorella out of the television studio to be their new coach.

Tortorella, you may remember, used to coach the Tampa Bay Lightning. And he doesn't like the Florida Panthers (well, the management) all that much.

Torts would make his debut behind the Rangers bench Wednesday at Air Canada Center.

His Madison Square Garden debut? Thursday against the Panthers. Hope they do some kind of media scrum at MSG Thursday morning. I would wake up early for that. Seriously, I would.

-- With Renney out in New York, that means all four coaches who participated in the European kickoff have been fired. Tampa Bay was first with Barry Melrose, followed by Ottawa's Craig Hartsburg and Pittsburgh's Michel Therrien.


Rats Redux ... Don't Call it a Comeback, They've Been Thrown for Years

Barrasso We haven't seen rubber rats in large numbers on Florida ice in quite some time, although the rubber rodents are definitely making a comeback.

Sure, the NHL came up with a rule to block the practice of throwing objects onto the ice during a game soon after the Panthers' 1996 run to the Finals were over. That doesn't mean people haven't been doing it in smaller numbers since.

Rats11 We've seen a rat or two fly onto the ice after goals in the past decade, but most know it's a practice that could cost the home team. Yes, the refs could call the Panthers for a two minute delay of game if it were to get out of hand.

But there is no delay after a game is complete. Lately, more and more rubber rats have found their way to the ice following Florida victories. Saturday after the Boston game, more than two dozen hit the ice. Some were small, some were big.

Beezerrats Boston's Mark Stuart doesn't seem to like the rekindled rat passion in South Florida. As the Bruins were leaving the ice, a big rubber rat hit the ice right next to him. He spun around and with a look of disgust on his face, picked up the rat with his stick and flung it over the boards and back into the stands.

Good stuff.

-- Panther fans won't get a chance to check out how far they can throw a rubber rat for some time. The team kicks off a weeklong road trip, five tough games with plenty of playoff implications.

Can the Panthers survive it? We'll see.

On the Road to Rhode Island ... Or Boston. Whatever. ... Florida Panthers Road Trip ... Tomas Vokoun Sick ... Monday Scoreboard Watch with Standings

Rhodeisland TERMINAL 3, FORT LAUDERDALE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT IN DANIA BEACH, NEAR HOLLYWOOD AND DARN NEAR CLOSE TO DAVIE -- Don't have much news today since I'm on my way to 'New' England, the Panthers visiting the not-so-hot Bruins tomorrow night in B-town.

What is up with the Bruins? They looked pretty good Saturday in Sunrise but didn't look all that sharp yesterday in Tampa Bay. Have to think the Bruins will come out flying tomorrow. Flying.

News out of practice is this: Tomas Vokoun didn't skate because of some sort of flu bug. Pete DeBoer says things will be evaluated tomorrow at the skate. Also, no word on lineup change. Pete says they are going to talk about whether Brett McLean is back on the fourth line on the plane ride to Quohog.

-- Yesterday's Scores (and how they affected the Panthers): Florida got a lot of help from Alex Ovechkin and Co. Caps beat up on Pitt, keep the Pens back a few points.

Toronto almost pulled off a regulation win in the Garden, but the Rangers tie it up late only to lose in OT. New York? Not a good team right now. That game was hard to watch for two periods. The third was entertaining though. Carolina got a nice win against Colorado and move two points closer.

The big thing in the race right now is the injured ankle of Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller. If he's out for an extended period of time, the Buffs are in deep. Do you think the Rangers hurt him intentionally?

-- Today's Schedule (and who the Panthers would be rooting for if they weren't busy enjoying Boston tonight)

Sharks @ Stars, 8 (Versus): This is the only game on the docket and affects the Panthers in no way whatsoever. Enjoy Boston boys.

-- The Standings (presented by US Airways, The Fours in Boston and TSN.ca/nhl)

Eastern

RankTeamGPWLOTPTSGFGAHomeAwayLast 10Streak
1Boston60401288820013719-4-421-8-44-4-2Lost 2
2Washington60381758120117224-5-114-12-47-2-1Won 1
3New Jersey60381937918215119-10-119-9-26-4-0Lost 1
4Philadelphia57311797118916917-8-314-9-66-4-0Lost 1
5Montreal60312276918418418-6-413-16-33-6-1Won 1
6NY Rangers61312376915117018-9-413-14-32-5-3Lost 2
7Florida59302186816615917-8-513-13-37-3-0Won 1
8Buffalo60312366817916817-11-214-12-45-4-1Won 1
 
9Carolina61312556716217616-13-115-12-46-4-0Won 3
10Pittsburgh61292666418519116-12-213-14-45-4-1Lost 1
11Toronto602226125618021910-11-812-15-43-3-4Won 1
12Ottawa58222795314416812-10-510-17-45-3-2Lost 3
13Tampa Bay602028125215219111-12-89-16-43-5-2Won 1
14Atlanta6021336481762119-17-212-16-44-5-1Lost 2
15NY Islanders59183564214419812-13-46-22-23-6-1Won 1
 

Western

RankTeamGPWLOTPTSGFGAHomeAwayLast 10Streak
1San Jose5740898919914026-2-314-6-64-2-4Won 3
2Detroit60391388622817722-4-317-9-57-2-1Lost 1
3Calgary59351867618717320-7-415-11-25-3-2Won 2
4Chicago58341687619414315-5-519-11-37-3-0Lost 1
5Vancouver59302186818117014-11-416-10-48-1-1Won 4
6Columbus60302466616516919-10-211-14-46-3-1Lost 1
7Dallas58292276517417917-8-412-14-36-4-0Lost 1
8Minnesota58302446415113518-11-412-13-06-3-1Won 2
 
9Edmonton59292556316518213-11-416-14-14-4-2Lost 3
10Anaheim61292756317317715-13-314-14-25-5-0Won 1
11Nashville60282846014216816-11-212-17-25-4-1Won 1
12Los Angeles58252495915517013-13-812-11-15-3-2Lost 2
13Phoenix60272855915618417-12-210-16-33-7-0Won 2
14St. Louis59252685816517815-11-510-15-35-2-3Lost 1
15Colorado60283115716518617-14-011-17-15-5-0Lost 1


February 22, 2009

The Price Was Right ... The Road is Calling ... Sunday Scoreboard Watch with Standings

Barker Huge win for the Panthers on Saturday night, the 2-0 decision over the Bruins impressive in many ways.

First off, I thought the Panthers were really charged up for this one. They came out flying and hitting. They didn't get a lot of scoring chances early, but the ones they had were good. I thought Florida was terrific in the second if not snake-bit. Huge two goals by Radek Dvorak; huge game in net by Tomas Vokoun.

And now we move on. Going to Boston on Tuesday, then Nueva York, Newark, Washington and ATL. Not going to be easy.

-- Saturday's Games (and how they affected the Panthers): Pittsburgh stays in the race for a playoff spot by picking up two huge points by beating the Flyers. Montreal also gets a much needed win, beating the Senators 5-2. Buffalo beats the Rangers to keep pace and allow itself and the Panthers to pull even closer to the Blueshirts.

-- Sunday's Schedule (and who the Panthers would be rooting for if they really cared enough to invest the time and money into Center Ice package):

Pens @ Caps, 12:30 (NBC): This is a juicy matchup, one NBC has been pimping hard all week. Have to root for the Caps to put down the streaking Pens.

Avs @ Canes, 3: Same thing; root for the Avs because the Canes are getting closer and picking up steam. Avs probably used up all their good energy by beating Wash the other night. Canes win this one.

Bruins @ Bolts, 5: Actually, rooting for the Bruins. The Panthers don't want a seriously ticked off Boston team ready to play come Tuesday.

Wild @ Hawks, 7: Wild get a big win last night against the Wings.

Leafs @ Rangers, 8: Hello Toronto. Rangers are slumping, Panthers have to hope that continues.

The Standings (brought to you by Woodlands Country Club and TSN.ca/nhl):

Eastern

RankTeamGPWLOTPTSGFGAHomeAwayLast 10Streak
1Boston59401188819713319-4-421-7-45-3-2Lost 1
2Washington59371757919617023-5-114-12-47-2-1Lost 1
3New Jersey60381937918215119-10-119-9-26-4-0Lost 1
4Philadelphia57311797118916917-8-314-9-66-4-0Lost 1
5Montreal60312276918418418-6-413-16-33-6-1Won 1
6Florida59302186816615917-8-513-13-37-3-0Won 1
7Buffalo60312366817916817-11-214-12-45-4-1Won 1
8NY Rangers60312366814916718-9-313-14-32-6-2Lost 1
 
9Carolina60302556515717415-13-115-12-46-4-0Won 2
10Pittsburgh60292566418318616-12-213-13-45-4-1Won 2
11Toronto592126125417721710-11-811-15-43-3-4Lost 3
12Ottawa58222795314416812-10-510-17-45-3-2Lost 3
13Tampa Bay591928125014818810-12-89-16-42-6-2Lost 4
14Atlanta6021336481762119-17-212-16-44-5-1Lost 2
15NY Islanders59183564214419812-13-46-22-23-6-1Won 1
 

Western

RankTeamGPWLOTPTSGFGAHomeAwayLast 10Streak
1San Jose5740898919914026-2-314-6-64-2-4Won 3
2Detroit60391388622817722-4-317-9-57-2-1Lost 1
3Calgary59351867618717320-7-415-11-25-3-2Won 2
4Chicago57341587619314115-4-519-11-38-2-0Won 4
5Vancouver59302186818117014-11-416-10-48-1-1Won 4
6Columbus60302466616516919-10-211-14-46-3-1Lost 1
7Dallas58292276517417917-8-412-14-36-4-0Lost 1
8Edmonton59292556316518213-11-416-14-14-4-2Lost 3
 
9Anaheim61292756317317715-13-314-14-25-5-0Won 1
10Minnesota57292446214913418-11-411-13-05-4-1Won 1
11Nashville60282846014216816-11-212-17-25-4-1Won 1
12Los Angeles58252495915517013-13-812-11-15-3-2Lost 2
13Phoenix60272855915618417-12-210-16-33-7-0Won 2
14St. Louis59252685816517815-11-510-15-35-2-3Lost 1
15Colorado59283015716318117-14-011-16-15-5-0Won 3







February 21, 2009

Hockey Day in Sunrise ... Boston Bruins @ Florida Panthers ... Nasty Nick IN, Brett McLean OUT ... More from Randy Moller ... Saturday Standings and Scoreboard

Hockeyday Nothing finer than Hockey Day in Canada, with coverage from CBC on the NHL Network as we speak.

Lots of fun, with a lot of the programing surrounding small-town Canadian hockey.

This year's Hockeyville: Campbellton, New Brunswick.

Check it out if you would. The CBC does a great job with this all-day coverage, the highlights of which are the three games involving all six Canadian teams. The biggie, of course, is Mats Sundin and the Luongos going into Toronto tonight.

Montreal and Ottawa kick off the Canadian NHL games today at 3.

-- Mmmmm. Timbits.

-- Big doings in Pantherland, the Bruins coming to town and creating quite a buzz. Tonight's game is expected to be only the second sellout of the season. Opening Night was close. Should be a good atmosphere in North Weston tonight.

David J. Neal, sure you all remember him, writes about Panther Hysteria in a rare 1A feature.

Good crowd at the morning skate today. Nice seeing everyone.

-- Speaking of links, Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post writes about Randy Moller and his crazy goal calls. Why link to a Post story? Word is we share things now. Sometime they run my stuff. Or so I've heard.

Here's the original story from Barry Jackson way back in December.

-- Oh, what the heck: Here's Mollers' YouTube clip. Enjoy.

-- Pete DeBoer is mixing things up a little bit, sitting Brett McLean and putting Nick Tarnasky back in the lineup. PDeB says it wasn't a message thing, saying no one plays harder than McLean and that Tarnasky has fresh legs and deserves a spot in the lineup.

Also, putting in Nick toughens things up a bit in case Boston wants to mix things up. The Panthers do need more production from McLean but the entire fourth line.

Anthony Stewart is getting chances, so is Kamil Kreps. McLean had a big scoring opportunity Thursday. But they need to start taking advantage. That fourth line doing something offensively would be a huge lift.

-- T-Vo goes tonight.

-- Former Panther Chris Gratton is finally done with the Lightning, picked up by Columbus off waivers. Good for him. He'll dig C-bus (and dig the postseason).

-- Friday's Games (and what they meant to the Panthers): Tampa Bay did the Panthers no favors, giving up two in the third at Carolina as the Hurricanes moved to within a point of seventh/eighth.

Colorado put a hurting on the Caps (not that it matters) and the Red Wings seemed to be on the Belle Tire power play throughout the second in their win over Anaheim. The Ducks are in trouble.

-- Saturday's Games (and who I think the Panthers would be rooting for if they were into such things)

Tooclose Pens @ Flyers, now: Game is tied at 1 as I write this. Panthers are rooting for Flyers; Pens are getting too close for comfort (remember that show? The Cosmic Cow? The hot daughters? Judge Smails? Good stuff).

UPDATE: Pens win 5-4 in regulation. That means the Pens (with Sergei Gonchar back) are poised to make a nice run. Pens are two points back but Panthers have played two fewer games. Still.

Hawks @ Stars, now: No real interest.

Sens @ Canadiens: Rooting for the Sens. They're probably out of it but the Panthers are chasing the scandal-plagued Habs.

UPDATE: Alex Kovalev sure looks relaxed, doesn't he?

Coyotes @ Kings, 4: No real interest, although the Kings are trying to get into the playoffs. Well, the Dogs are too.

Thrashers @ Sharks, 4: Atlanta is still on the road? Geez.

Rangers @  Sabres, 7: Tough one here. Panthers are just hoping this one doesn't go to overtime. Panthers have one left against Rangers (Thursday at MSG) and two in Beefalo. So I guess Buffalo.

Canucks @ Leafs, 7: No real interest, although it should be fun to see if Mats gets the Bryan McCabe treatment.

Devils @ Islanders, 7: Islanders. Why not.

Bruins @ Panthers, 7: Florida is rooting for the Bruins in this one. They're like that you know.

Ducks @ Jackets, 7: Ducks really need this one. Right now the word to describe their game ryhmes with duck.

Wings @ Wild, 8: Minny is trying really hard to get into the playoffs, but this game isn't too important since Mike Russo is here in Florida. OK, he's going to a wedding. That's a good excuse.

Preds @ Blues, 8:30: I don't think I want to comment on this game.

Flames @ Oil, 10: Final game of Hockey Day in Canada. Should be a wild night in Red Deer.

The Standings (brought to you by Tim Hortons)



DIV GP W L OT Pts GF GA Home Away L10 Streak
1 NE 58 40 10 8 88 197 131 19-4-4 21-6-4 5-2-3 Won 1
2 ATL 59 38 18 3 79 182 147 19-10-1 19-8-2 7-3-0 Won 1
3 SE 59 37 17 5 79 196 170 23-5-1 14-12-4 7-2-1 Lost 1
4 ATL 56 31 16 9 71 185 164 17-7-3 14-9-6 6-4-0 Won 3
5 ATL 59 31 22 6 68 147 163 18-9-3 13-13-3 2-6-2 Won 1
6 NE 59 30 22 7 67 179 181 17-6-4 13-16-3 2-7-1 Lost 3
7 SE 58 29 21 8 66 164 159 16-8-5 13-13-3 6-4-0 Lost 1
8 NE 59 30 23 6 66 175 166 16-11-2 14-12-4 5-4-1 Lost 1

9 SE 60 30 25 5 65 157 174 15-13-1 15-12-4 6-4-0 Won 2
10 ATL 59 28 25 6 62 178 182 16-12-2 12-13-4 4-4-2 Won 1
11 NE 57 22 26 9 53 141 163 12-10-5 10-16-4 5-3-2 Lost 2
12 NE 58 21 26 11 53 175 214 10-11-7 11-15-4 4-3-3 Lost 2
13 SE 59 19 28 12 50 148 188 10-12-8 9-16-4 2-6-2 Lost 4
14 SE 59 21 32 6 48 175 208 9-17-2 12-15-4 4-5-1 Lost 1
15 ATL 58 17 35 6 40 140 198 11-13-4 6-22-2 3-6-1 Lost 2




DIV GP W L OT Pts GF GA Home Away L10 Streak
1 PAC 56 39 8 9 87 196 139 25-2-3 14-6-6 4-2-4 Won 2
2 CEN 59 39 12 8 86 226 172 22-4-3 17-8-5 8-1-1 Won 2
3 NW 58 34 18 6 74 184 171 20-7-4 14-11-2 4-4-2 Won 1
4 CEN 56 33 15 8 74 190 140 15-4-5 18-11-3 7-3-0 Won 3
5 NW 58 29 21 8 66 178 168 14-11-4 15-10-4 7-2-1 Won 3
6 CEN 59 30 23 6 66 163 164 19-9-2 11-14-4 6-3-1 Won 2
7 PAC 57 29 21 7 65 173 176 17-7-4 12-14-3 7-3-0 Won 2
8 NW 58 29 25 4 62 163 179 13-11-3 16-14-1 4-5-1 Lost 2

9 PAC 60 28 27 5 61 168 175 15-13-3 13-14-2 4-6-0 Lost 3
10 NW 56 28 24 4 60 144 132 17-11-4 11-13-0 5-4-1 Lost 3
11 PAC 57 25 23 9 59 152 164 13-12-8 12-11-1 5-3-2 Lost 1
12 CEN 59 27 28 4 58 141 168 16-11-2 11-17-2 5-4-1 Lost 3
13 CEN 58 25 26 7 57 165 177 15-11-4 10-15-3 5-2-3 Won 1
14 NW 59 28 30 1 57 163 181 17-14-0 11-16-1 5-5-0 Won 3
15 PAC 59 26 28 5 57 150 181 17-12-2 9-16-3 2-8-0 Won 1

February 20, 2009

Short and Sweet: The Links are Calling ... Standings, Scoreboard Watch

CaddyshackSince I'm playing golf today, figured I would throw something up here before heading to practice. If anything happens there, I will post via the cellphone. So if you don't see anything else, nothing else happened. Got it? Good.

Last night was not a good one for the Sunrise Six, but, those nights happen. You can't win them all, and Chicago came out and played an exceptional game. Tomas Vokoun kept the Panthers in it for a while; he was worked hard last night. Then things fell apart at the end. It happens folks. Move on.

Florida wasn't hurt too much in the standings as Buffalo and Montreal both lost, so status quo for one more day. But, Carolina and Pitt both picked up two points in the process and are now right back in the game. I would be worried about both teams. Lot of games left, lot of points.

-- Congrats to the Coyotes for beating the Thrash in a shootout. Did any team need a win more than Phoenix?

Today's Games (and who I think the Panthers would be cheering for if the Panthers were actually cheering for anyone):

Colorado @ Washington, 7: This one really doesn't matter now does it? Washington is running away with the SE and the Avs stink (although they've won two straight). Washington should win this one handily.

Tampa Bay @ Carolina, 7: Have to root on the Bolts. Carolina will get two more points here and put itself in the middle of the race again.

Anaheim @ Detroit, 7:30: I don't know who the Panthers root for, but I like the Red Wings. Belle Tire!

Today's Standings (courtesy of Belle Tire):



DIV GP W L OT Pts GF GA Home Away L10 Streak
1 NE 58 40 10 8 88 197 131 19-4-4 21-6-4 5-2-3 Won 1
2 SE 58 37 16 5 79 195 166 23-4-1 14-12-4 7-1-2 Won 3
3 ATL 59 38 18 3 79 182 147 19-10-1 19-8-2 7-3-0 Won 1
4 ATL 56 31 16 9 71 185 164 17-7-3 14-9-6 6-4-0 Won 3
5 ATL 59 31 22 6 68 147 163 18-9-3 13-13-3 2-6-2 Won 1
6 NE 59 30 22 7 67 179 181 17-6-4 13-16-3 2-7-1 Lost 3
7 SE 58 29 21 8 66 164 159 16-8-5 13-13-3 6-4-0 Lost 1
8 NE 59 30 23 6 66 175 166 16-11-2 14-12-4 5-4-1 Lost 1

9 SE 59 29 25 5 63 153 173 14-13-1 15-12-4 6-4-0 Won 1
10 ATL 59 28 25 6 62 178 182 16-12-2 12-13-4 4-4-2 Won 1
11 NE 57 22 26 9 53 141 163 12-10-5 10-16-4 5-3-2 Lost 2
12 NE 58 21 26 11 53 175 214 10-11-7 11-15-4 4-3-3 Lost 2
13 SE 58 19 27 12 50 147 184 10-12-8 9-15-4 2-6-2 Lost 3
14 SE 59 21 32 6 48 175 208 9-17-2 12-15-4 4-5-1 Lost 1
15 ATL 58 17 35 6 40 140 198 11-13-4 6-22-2 3-6-1 Lost 2




DIV GP W L OT Pts GF GA Home Away L10 Streak
1 PAC 56 39 8 9 87 196 139 25-2-3 14-6-6 4-2-4 Won 2
2 CEN 58 38 12 8 84 221 170 21-4-3 17-8-5 7-2-1 Won 1
3 NW 58 34 18 6 74 184 171 20-7-4 14-11-2 4-4-2 Won 1
4 CEN 56 33 15 8 74 190 140 15-4-5 18-11-3 7-3-0 Won 3
5 NW 58 29 21 8 66 178 168 14-11-4 15-10-4 7-2-1 Won 3
6 CEN 59 30 23 6 66 163 164 19-9-2 11-14-4 6-3-1 Won 2
7 PAC 57 29 21 7 65 173 176 17-7-4 12-14-3 7-3-0 Won 2
8 NW 58 29 25 4 62 163 179 13-11-3 16-14-1 4-5-1 Lost 2

9 PAC 59 28 26 5 61 166 170 15-13-3 13-13-2 5-5-0 Lost 2
10 NW 56 28 24 4 60 144 132 17-11-4 11-13-0 5-4-1 Lost 3
11 PAC 57 25 23 9 59 152 164 13-12-8 12-11-1 5-3-2 Lost 1
12 CEN 59 27 28 4 58 141 168 16-11-2 11-17-2 5-4-1 Lost 3
13 CEN 58 25 26 7 57 165 177 15-11-4 10-15-3 5-2-3 Won 1
14 PAC 59 26 28 5 57 150 181 17-12-2 9-16-3 2-8-0 Won 1
15 NW 58 27 30 1 55 159 180 17-14-0 10-16-1 4-6-0 Won 2

February 19, 2009

Thursday Night Live: Chicago Blackhawks @ Florida Panthers ... Denis Potvin on Bench ... Panthers in White ... Jared Drops Pucks like Pounds ... David Booth for Team USA?

Dabears Hanging out atop the Billboard tonight, doing what I do from the press box.

Things feel weird here tonight though.

Color guy Denis Potvin is doing his commentary from the spot between the benches, the Panthers are wearing white, and Jared the Quiznos Guy not only dropped the ceremonial puck but gave away some of those $8 Footlong (these are the Canadian version) T-shirts.

Dig these black Chicago alternates though.

-- Panthers are going old school tonight and wearing the 'road' whites. First time Florida has wore the white sweaters at home this season. They agreed to do it so Chicago could wear its black alternates.

Apparently Chicago brought the blacks to Dallas for the opener of this road trip and asked Tampa and Florida if they could keep wearing them so the equipment guys didn't have to haul around two sets of unis.

Personally, I think the Panthers should wear the whites at home all the time. Wish the NHL would go back to that. But that's just me.

-- Potvin has a great view tonight, working the game from ice level between the two benches. Should be a good show. Goldie's upstairs all by himself.

-- Jared did a nice job dropping the puck, but proved these new NHL jerseys make guys look fat. OK, they make me look fat. That and my head.

-- Line from one of the people up here: ''Hopefully we'll have the Hamburgler on Saturday.''

One can only hope.

-- Here's part of tomorrow's notebook. Figured some of y'all would be interested:

Boothusa David Booth is likely going to be invited to the USA Hockey camp being held in Chicago this summer and is a prime candidate to be part of the U.S. Entry at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. The Panthers' leading goal scorer this season, Booth says it would be a dream come true to play in the games.

''Being there is my goal and is something I think about a lot,'' Booth said Thursday. ''I think playing for your country is a the greatest honor a hockey player can get. That and winning the Stanley Cup go hand in hand. That would mean everything to me.''

Booth, from Detroit, got a taste of international competition after last season when he and goalie Craig Anderson represented the Panthers with Team USA at the World Championships.

''That was a great experience and I got to know some of the guys and develop a little chemistry,'' Booth said. ''That was also a time for USA Hockey to evaluate me. I hope it helped. I want to be in camp in August and I'll train for it and work to make the team. I'd do anything to be on that team. If it means skating every day over the summer, I'll do it.''