Spoke to a couple of the guys about their picks for the NCAA tournament and it's a wildly varied bunch. Anthony Stewart is picking Marquette as his dark horse, Nick Boynton is going with UConn because they are a No. 1 seed and he likes those top seeds with New England connections, and Craig Anderson is going from Illinois because he's a homeboy and is representing the ILL.
Tried to get Michael Frolik to admit to picking Akron in the tournament, but he didn't know where Akron was. Two words Michael: Go Zips.
-- Nick Boynton is out of the lineup again tonight, and Pete DeBoer says ''you have to believe me'' that it's nothing personal. DeBo says he likes the way the six D have been playing of late, although he couldn't tell me what Steve Eminger brings to the table that is better than Boynton. Says it's a real tough choice.
From my perspective, it just seems a little strange that Boynton has only played three games since that blow up with the coaches in New York, and only then because Bryan McCabe was hurt. DeBo says he likes what Eminger has brought to the table since coming over in a trade on March 4, but I haven't seen it. Eminger helped out on the power play when McCabe was out, but I haven't seen a whole lot out of him since he's been here.
For his part, Boynton says he believes he and DeBo have cleared the air and he believes that his lack of playing time has nothing to do with the blowup.
My take: The Panthers weren't real happy with Boynton's play before the New York game, and he was benched in the third period of that game for a reason. Eminger is a guy DeBo knows from their junior days together and they are giving him a chance to show what he's got. Eminger will probably be with the Panthers next year, Boynton, probably not. We'll see how this develops.
-- Anthony Stewart also out of the lineup.
-- The Toronto media had some fun with the 'Playoff Promise' deal, a good number of them noticing the billboards with DeBo on them. Asked if he's now the face of the franchise, the good-humored coach responded ''I hope not. It's not that good looking if it is.''
-- McCabe has gotten rid of his full plastic shield and is going old-school with a full metal cage. Says it's much easier to breathe in. He adds that he hasn't worn a full face mask since he was 15, and probably last wore one when he was in world juniors as a 19-year-old. ''It sucks,'' he said.
McCabe, you might recall, had three plates inserted into his face after taking a slap shot off his mug a few games ago against St. Loo.
Wednesday's Game (and how it affected the Panthers): Carolina won. Three points up. 'Nuff said.
Thursday's Games (and who the Panthers would be rooting for if they weren't so busy watching the Akron-Gonzaga -- Zip 'n Zag -- Game)
Canadiens @ Senators, 7: Panthers need to start picking up some ground and doing so soon. They like the Sens and their celebrity girlfriends in this one.
Leafs @ Panthers, 7:30: Cats have lost four straight and the Leafs are playing like they have nothing to lose. Which they don't. Florida is a tight, desperate team. This, friends, is a must-win.
The Standings (presented by the MAC champion Zips, Bryan McCabe's cage and courtesy of tsn.ca/nhl)
|2||New Jersey||70||46||21||3||95||218||173||25-10-1||21-11-2||8-2-0||Lost 1|
|6||NY Rangers||71||37||26||8||82||181||193||21-10-4||16-16-4||6-3-1||Won 2|
|14||Tampa Bay||70||23||32||15||61||184||231||11-14-10||12-18-5||3-4-3||Lost 1|
|15||NY Islanders||70||24||38||8||56||176||224||16-14-5||8-24-3||6-2-2||Won 1|
|2||x-San Jose||69||45||14||10||100||222||171||27-3-4||18-11-6||4-5-1||Lost 1|
|11||St. Louis||70||32||29||9||73||196||207||19-13-5||13-16-4||6-3-1||Lost 1|
|13||Los Angeles||69||29||30||10||68||182||203||16-14-8||13-16-2||3-6-1||Lost 3|