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50 posts from March 2009

March 05, 2009

Welcome Home: Pittsburgh Penguins @ Florida Panthers ... Sidney Crosby IN ... Scoreboard Watch

Pantherschurch The Panthers are back in the house, home for the first time since Feb. 21.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are in town, just in time for the new signage in front of the arena. Vegas style marquees? Looks like they saved some money and bought a used sign. But that's just me.

Went to the office today and found a box addressed to me from the Panthers. Wondering what was in it, I opened it.

Why would the Florida Panthers send me a black rubber rat? Honestly, I shrieked. If anyone still worked at our Pembroke Pines office, someone would have been startled. Luckily there was no one around and I was able to hide my embarrassment. Good thing no one knows about this.

-- According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sir Sidney is back in the lineup for the Pens today. According to this report, Crosby is playing with Chris Kunitz and Jordan Staal.

-- Spoke with Jay Bouwmeester today about remaining with the Panthers. As usual, Jay was quite forthcoming. I actually found out that he plans on going to Publix today because he didn't go yesterday. He says he was just hanging around the house yesterday and really wasn't worried about being moved. In fact, he said he didn't think it was going to happen. And, for the record, he was not packed up and ready to go just in case. ''That doesn't take too long anyway,'' he said.

He also said ''funner'' for like the fifth time in the past month, and added that there is a light at the end of the tunnel with the Panthers. Says he's enjoying this playoff run.

-- Also spoke to Nick Boynton. He didn't want to talk about the altercation with Pete DeBoer, but said if Pete says all is well, all is well. He did say he was happy to be back, happy to remain with the Panthers because ''I really like everyone here. This is a good situation to be in.'' He says he's been skating since Monday.

In a delicious twist of irony, when Nick went to practice with Rostislav Olesz at Incredible Ice on Monday, the only right handed stick available to him (without going to the pro shop and dropping a couple bucks) was Pete's practice stick.

-- Guess what? Also spoke to new Panther Steve Eminger today. Seems real happy to be with the Panthers and is excited that JM and Pete seem to have such faith in him. Because the Lightning's d-corps are more like a d-corpse, Eminger got some great on the job training this year. It should serve him well with the Panthers. Eminger will sport the Double Nickel, the first player to wear 55 since Ric Jackman (who was acquired by the Panthers on deadline day 2006).

Other notable Panthers to wear No. 55? Ed 'JovoCop' Jovanovski was the first, followed by Igor Ulanov (acquired in the Pavel Bure dump), Sean Hill and Jackman.

-- Puck Daddy grades each team's trip to the trade deadline, giving your boys in blue and red a B grade. I would agree with this.

Florida Panthers: Traded D Noah Welch and a 2009 third-round pick to Tampa for D Steve Eminger.

The thought process for GM Jacques Martin was clear on Jay Bouwmeester: We couldn't fleece anyone, so we're going to make the playoffs with him and hope that those warm fuzzies convince him to stay. You almost want to hold off on a grade until you see if that works, because if it does then Martin played this right.

Eminger logged a lot of minutes for the Lightning, and his addition adds a little flexibility to the blue line. This team remains one significant injury up front from being dead in the water, but Martin's betting chemistry and momentum overcome offensive deficiencies. GRADE: B, with a dash of Incomplete.

-- Last night's games (and how they affected the Panthers): Florida gets some help as Carey Price and the Habs are manhandled in Buffalo. Keeps the Canadiens right within reach. Florida has two left against Buffalo including a game there next week.

-- Today's games (and who the Panthers would be rooting for if they weren't watching 30 Rock)

Rangers @ Islanders, 7: Panthers are ahead of Rangers and Islanders aren't real good. So, Isles.

Flames @ Flyers, 7: Olli Jokinen makes his debut in Calgary and does so in Philly. In his last game there with the Panthers, he scored the overtime winner. Panthers are rooting for Flames because they really like Olli and Mike and don't want to see Flyers get two more.

Pens @ Panthers, 7:30: Panthers are 1-0 against Penguins this season, so the Panthers would like to see Pittsburgh tie things up. And they really like this Crosby kid. So, have to think Florida would be rooting for Penguins in this one. Naturally, of course.

-- The Standings (presented by Paul Anka, Primanti Brothers and courtesy of TSN.ca/nhl)


RankTeamGPWLOTPTSGFGAHomeAwayLast 10Streak
1Boston64421399321714621-5-521-8-43-5-2Lost 2
2New Jersey64421938719915522-10-120-9-28-2-0Won 4
3Washington65402058521519325-8-115-12-46-4-0Lost 2
4Philadelphia623418107820218018-8-416-10-66-3-1Won 1
5Montreal64342377519519420-6-414-17-35-4-1Lost 1
6Florida64332387418117817-8-516-15-36-4-0Won 2
7NY Rangers64322487215917519-10-413-14-43-4-3Won 1
8Pittsburgh65332667219819717-12-216-14-47-2-1Won 4
9Buffalo64322577118717618-12-214-13-54-5-1Won 1
10Carolina65332757117418817-13-116-14-46-4-0Won 1
11Toronto642526136319323011-11-914-15-45-2-3Lost 1
12Ottawa622329105615518213-12-610-17-44-4-2Lost 3
13Tampa Bay642131125416520711-13-810-18-43-6-1Lost 1
14Atlanta64233565219122511-18-212-17-45-4-1Lost 1
15NY Islanders63203674715420614-13-56-23-24-5-1Won 2


RankTeamGPWLOTPTSGFGAHomeAwayLast 10Streak
1Detroit65431489424218924-4-319-10-56-3-1Won 2
2San Jose62421199320615226-3-316-8-65-4-1Lost 2
3Calgary63381968220718622-8-416-11-27-1-2Won 1
4Chicago62361798120815717-5-619-12-36-3-1Won 2
5Vancouver63332287419017717-11-416-11-48-2-0Won 3
6Columbus64322667017318020-10-212-16-46-3-1Won 1
7Edmonton63312666817819415-12-416-14-25-3-2Lost 1
8Nashville64322846816517720-11-212-17-27-2-1Won 5
9Anaheim65312866818219115-13-316-15-35-4-1Lost 1
10Dallas63302676718319217-12-413-14-34-6-0Won 1
11Minnesota62302756515714818-11-512-16-03-5-2Lost 4
12St. Louis63282786417318616-12-512-15-36-2-2Lost 1
13Los Angeles63262896116418413-13-813-15-12-6-2Lost 4
14Phoenix63273155915919317-13-210-18-33-7-0Lost 3
15Colorado65283615717320717-15-011-21-13-7-0Lost 6

Beware the Penguins: Pittsburgh @ Florida ... Steve Eminger IN ... David Booth, Sidney Crosby Probable

The Penguins are in town and it looks like Sidney Crosby will be in the lineup after missing four games (all wins) with a groin injury. Does Crosby get run for his Jan. 3 mugging of Brett McLean? Time will tell. Steve Eminger is in tonight, Nick Boynton will sit. David Booth was back today but according to Pete is a gametime decision. More later...

March 04, 2009

Jacques Martin, Pete DeBoer Speak ... Rostislav Olesz back in Two Weeks ... Nick Boynton Back on Team

Jacquespete Nick Boynton met with Pete DeBoer today and all is well. ''Everything is back to normal,'' he said.

Second, JM told us that Rostislav Olesz should be back at practice tomorrow and could be back in the lineup within two weeks.

Also, JM says Bryan Allen is out for the season.

As always, keep checking back. Plenty more to come.

Here is what Jacques Martin had to say. Pete DeBoer is down below....


-- Your reasons for not trading Jay Bouwmeester:

As I said before, I explored the possibility of moving Jay Bouwmeester. But, I made it clear in the past couple of months we would only move him if we felt we thought it would improve our club. We didn't have an offer than would improve our club so we're very pleased he's with us.

As I've said before, I like our hockey club. I felt we've played 64 games and have put ourselves in a playoff position. We keep improving. I think we have one of the strongest goaltending tandems in the Eastern Conference when you look at our goalies and their save percentage and look at their performance. I think they've done a real good job with our team.

I said at the beginning that our defense would be the strength of our club and today we improved our defense. Not only did we keep Jay Bouwmeester, but we acquired Steve Eminger for Noah Welch. With Eminger, we gave our coaches more flexibility. Look at the ice time and the role Eminger played in Tampa, look at his stats, he can step in here and make us a better team. He gives us more speed and quickness on the back end with people like Boynton and Ballard and McCabe. We also still have physicality from Skrastins and Boynton.

Our forwards, we like what they've done. We've had injuries in December to some of our skill guys, but we've been able to overcome that. Our young kids are getting better, Matthias and Repik, in case we have any injuries. You have to look at, although I didn't acquire anyone, Olesz is probably going to be back in two weeks. He's an addition for us up front.

-- Were you very close to doing something?

I think there were some offers, but like I said, in the end, we're very pleased to have Jay here. We feel we've had some good communication with his agent and can concentrate on finishing the season strong, getting into the playoffs, do well in the playoffs and we'll readdress this after the season.

-- Tough decision knowing Jay could be lost for nothing?

I think we as an organization established a while ago what our priority was before I entered into this. We all agreed – hockey management and ownership – that the most important thing was to make the playoffs. That's why we're here with this scenario.

-- Negotiations continue?

I'll wait until the end of the season. I think it's common sense. We have a lot of important games coming and I want him to focus on playing. We'll have a lot of time between the end of the season and July 1. Lets focus on winning hockey games, focus on getting into the playoffs and focus on winning in the playoffs.

-- Can you sway Jay with success this year?

I think so. When you look at some of the comments he's made to the media, and the talks we've had have been positive. We'll revisit at the end of the season.

-- How many legit offers?

I don't think I should say the number, but there were legitimate offers. They were offers that didn't fulfill our needs. I wanted two players in return, a defenseman who could play in our top four. Some teams thought their defense could play in our top four. Obviously I didn't. We did have some offers.

-- Did the moves of other teams have any influence on your decisions?

You don't control what other teams do. I think it's important that you don't get carried into that. I think it's important to really evaluate what the needs are of your team and address those needs. I think we did, from a standpoint of first of all, we retained Jay, so we know what he's brought us and what we have moving forward. And I think we've added some strength to our defense by acquiring Eminger versus Welch. At the same time, What look at is Olesz coming back as an addition to our club.

-- What does Eminger bring?

He's a player that Peter's familiar with. He played for him in juniors when they won the world cup, so I think that's important, when you look at Gregory Campbell's progression this year. No. 2, I think he brings more quickness to our backend moving forward, which I think is important. We've got people that are going to be unrestricted free agents at the end of the year. So we're adding another player that's going to be our property.

 -- Anything new with Boynton?

He's going to be back with the team ... he knows where he stands and is back to competing and hopefully will help our hockey club down the stretch. I think Nick brings some experience, he brings a physicality, some toughness to our backend. We think that he'll help our team.

 -- So he should be back in lineup tomorrow?

That's the coaches decision who they want to use.

-- At one point you wanted to upgrade at center but now Nathan is playing well

It's something that I did some work on, Brian. I think we weren't able to accomplish that. It's something that we're still going to look at down the road. I guess right now at this point, I feel that we're good enough and that we have Shawn that's been playing a lot better lately in Rochester. Hopefully that's another, if we do have some injuries that can help, but I still feel that I like the chemistry of our club. I feel confident that this team is good enough to be in the playoffs. It's not going to be easy, but I think that when you look at our schedule, I think it's favorable, as far as home versus away. We just finished a stretch here where we played the top teams in our conference and were about .500. It's a team game and we've just got to keep working as a team.

-- Look at Chris Neil?

No. I didn’t think that was a part we were looking for.
-- How about Antoine Vermette?

It’s a guy we looked at, but if you look at what they got, we didn’t have a Pascal Leclaire to give them. It was a situation where we couldn’t meet their needs.

-- How much did Pete DeBoer play in the Eminger deal?

Like any other player, we do our due diligence. Peter knows his character. Obviously our scouts have seen him play. We’ve evaluated him. I believe we’re getting Steve at the right time. When you look where he was drafted, he was a first-round pick and in the early years, I’m not sure he was ready but he probably had trouble with his identity in the National Hockey League. Playing at his own comfort level. Only this year did he establish himself, when you look at his contribution and how he played. He’s not coming into a situation where we’re depending on him. When you look at our defense he’s probably the youngest. So we’ve got a strong nucleus of veteran defensemen. He brings quickness and speed, he’s a right-hand shot, so it’s something where he’s got ability to play second power play, we’ve had three guys on the back end most of the year. So our coaches have more flexibility with him there.
 -- Bryan Allen?

He’s out for the season.
-- Olesz?

He’s been skating on his own and will probably skate with the team tomorrow. So we’re looking at about two weeks.
-- Disappointed how it worked out with Welch?

I am disappointed. But it’s not his fault. Last year he was playing coming out of training camp, then had an injury and missed the whole season. This year it just happened we have a veteran defense. Look at Cory Murphy, he couldn’t get in our lineup and went to Tampa and has decent statistics. IN some ways you’re disappointed, in others you feel good because it’s an indication your defense is strong. Because of the nature of our defense and who we’ve added — people like Ballard, McCabe and Boynton, three veterans with a fair amount of experience, and skilled.
-- Is Tampa a good opportunity for Noah?

I think so. But like I said before, it really helps us. He was our seventh and not getting ice time. Touch wood, we haven’t had many injuries in our defense in the second half, but if we did I feel more comfortable. We’re much better equipped to go to war with what we have.

-- What do the Panthers have to do to justify holding onto Jay?

I don’t know if I can answer that. It’s a good question. Don’t think I can answer it now. But to make the playoffs is the most important thing. Look at three years ago, when Carolina won the Cup, Edmonton went to the final after getting in on the last day of the season. So once you get in, it opens the door. When you look at our goaltending, our defense…

-- Were you getting serious offers for Jay?

Right to the wire. 


I think one intangible as a group is our chemistry and how everyone has bought into their role with the team. Anytime you bring in new people there's a chance you disturb that. We kept that intact and I'm excited about it.

-- Talk to Jay today?

No. From my perspective it gives us a little longer to convince him to stay. I think anyone around the team this year has a real appreciation to how good he is and to how important he's been to our team. For me, the longer we have him here just extends the opportunity to impress him and get him to stay.

-- Show him a new winning attitude?

That's the game plan. You would have to talk to him. He sees the direction we're going and he's bought in as much as anyone in the room. He's played some great hockey. Where his decision lies, his mindset, I don't think anyone knows until the summer.

-- Influence on Eminger trade?

Jacques had a list of players in their war room setup, guys they thought might be available and might be able to help us. I gave my input on guys I knew, coached in the past or just known. I won a national championship with Steve Eminger and Gregory Campbell in Canada, so I obviously gave Jacques a good character reference. I obviously haven't seen much of Steve play professionally so we had to rely on Jacques' scouting reports and our pro scouts to what he's done lately.

-- Meet with Nick Boynton?

I met with him today and we had a good meeting. Every thing is back to normal. He's back practicing with us. We have seven defensemen now so we'll make a decision in the morning on who will play. I think we're back where we were. Both of us had a cooling off period so it's business as usual.

-- Here is the press release from the Tampa Bay Lightning regarding Noah Welch/Steve Eminger:

TAMPA BAYThe Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired defenseman Noah Welch and a third-round draft choice in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft from the Florida Panthers in exchange for defenseman Steve Eminger, Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced.

“In acquiring Noah Welch today, we added talent and potential on our blue line,” said Lawton in making the announcement. “Noah is an intelligent puck mover who skates well and has good size and strength. We are confident that with added playing time he will help our team continue to improve.

“I’d like to thank Steve for working hard toward the team’s goals and for his service to the Lightning. Again, we believe we have positioned ourselves to be better over the long term.”

Welch, 6 foot 4 and 218 pounds, has played in a career high 23 games with the Panthers this season, recording a goal and two points.  He has played in 56 career NHL games with Florida and the Pittsburgh Penguins, recording four goals and nine points with an even rating.

A native of Brighton, Massachusetts, Welch has played in seven games with the Panthers’ AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans, this season, recording three assists.  He has played in 122 career AHL games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Rochester, recording 16 goals and 59 points.  He is also a veteran of 17 career Calder Cup Playoff games, tallying a goal and three points.  During 2005-06 he led all W-B/Scranton defensemen with nine goals and was second in assists with 20.  He was also named as a starter to the 2006 AHL All-Star Game.

Welch played collegiate hockey at Harvard from 2001-05, recording 23 goals and 76 points in 129 career games with the Crimson.  He graduated as Harvard’s all-time leader in penalty minutes with 131.  In 2004-05 he was named a First Team All-American by ACHA and was named First Team All-ECAC following his senior season.  He was also named the region’s top defenseman by New England Hockey Writers.  He was also a Second Team All-American , First Team All-Ivy League and Second Team All-ECAC during the 2002-03 season.

The 26-year-old was selected by Pittsburgh in the second round, 54th overall, at the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.  He was traded to Florida by the Penguins on February 27, 2007 in exchange for Gary Roberts.

LIVE! From Sunrise: Jay Bouwmeester STAYS ... Panthers Get Steve Eminger for Noah Welch ... Olli Jokinen Traded to Calgary ... Steve Montador to Boston ... David Booth Speaks

Jaybo6 Welcome to Miami Herald Hockey Central where all we're talking about today is the trade deadline.

And where one can get harmonica lessons somewhere in the Greater Sunrise area at a decent price.

We're also talking about spring training, Don La Greca's pimp suit and anything else you want to talk about. And Manny Ramirez signing with the Trolley Dodgers.

On a side note: I don't fly Delta much, but they have been very nice to me every time I have over the past year. So kudos to them. Used to hate flying Delta. But I don't anymore. So there's that.

Got NHL Network going on at Casa de Jorge; also have TSN's Trade Centre humming along on the laptop. Here's what we have so far. As of 12:03 MT (Miami Time), there have been four trades.

Nothing huge, although Toronto just picked up Martin Gerber off waivers so you have to figure Vesa Toskala may be done for the year. Again, nothing huge since Toronto is out of it. But Gerber? Maybe this will get him on track. Hope so. Good dude.

Here are the deals we gots:

-- Ottawa sends Antoine Vermette to Columbus for Pascal Leclaire and a second round pick;

-- Calgary gets Jordan Leopold from Colorado for Lawrence Nycholat, Ryan Wilson and a second;

-- Pittsburgh gets Andy Wozniewski from St. Louis for Danny Richmond;

-- Buffalo gets some goalie help with Ryan Miller hurt by acquiring Mikael Tellqvist from Phoenix for a fourth round pick.

Right now that's all we've got. I'm hearing the talks between a number of teams and JM are heating up, but nothing so far.

-- As expected, Gary Roberts clears waivers (it's a money issue as much as anything else) but TSN is saying Brendan Morrison is claimed off waivers by Dallas.

-- Buffalo signs Tim Connolly to a two-year contract extension. Filip Kuba also signs with Ottawa for three years.

-- Love how TSN lures me into a curling commercial by playing the 'Always Sunny in Philadelphia' theme. That show cracks me up. Even the song makes me laugh.

Olli2 -- ESPN's E.J. Hradek says Olli Jokinen is very close to joining the Calgary Keenans. No real surprise there. Good for Olli. If that happens, his playoff streak ends. He's the record holder right now at 780 games and counting, although if he goes to Calgary, that goes back to good friend Guy Charron.

Olli's numbers this year: 21 goals, 21 assists in 57 games this year; minus-5. Since Feb. 12 (eight games): four goals, four assists, minus-5.

-- UPDATE: Coyotes get a first round pick, Matthew Lombardi and Brandon Prust for Olli.

What do you think? I think it's a good deal for the Flames although there is going to be quite a bit of pressure on Olli now.

And I don't think his family is going to like Calgary all that much (no offense to Calgary, but it isn't Florida or Arizona).

-- Also, Steve Montador headed from Anaheim to Boston.

-- Stephen: I have talked to a few people inside the organization and nothing going with Boynton right now. But that could change at any time. 

-- Holy: I know there is less pressure because there are veteran guys there, but he's coming in with a lot of expectations. And he's going to a hockey crazed market for the first time in his pro career. I wish him the best, always liked Olli. But there is pressure here, no doubt about it.

Knights -- Digging the TSN music. Think they stole it from Monty Python....

-- OK, heading out to grab some lunch then off to the arena; if anything happens will update on cellphone...

-- LIVE! from the Billboard...Mark Recchi headed to Boston.

-- Bill Guerin is traded to the Penguins, who play here tomorrow. Penguins practiced at the Billboard today, but alas, they are gone now.

-- UPDATE (2:12 p.m. MT): Jay Bouwmeester is still with the Panthers....

-- UPDATE (2:13 p.m. MT): Brian Y is here today...

-- Big day for On Frozen Pond yesterday; cracked the Miami Herald top 5 for views in the day. Not too shabby...thanks kids....

-- Chris Neil coming to the Panthers? That's the newest rumor (E -4)....

Chrisneil Neil is a UFA after this season, so if Florida did pick him up it's probably for a low level draft pick. Neil is a physical presence but doesn't add a whole lot of scoring.

He's making $1.2 million this season and wants to double that. Ottawa doesn't want to go there obviously. Neil's been out since the beginning of Feb. with a calf injury and probably couldn't join the Panthers for a week anyway because of visa concerns.

Neil has two goals and four assists in 44 games this season. He's also a minus-12.

-- Apparently a couple of places are reporting this, although I'm watching TSN and haven't heard it there yet.

-- TSN saying second round picks offered to Toronto for Antropov and Moore...have to think the Panthers are one of those teams offering at least that...

-- Antropov to the Rangers...

-- It's 3 p.m. and Jay Bouwmeester has not been traded...will be talking to JM in about 15-30 minutes and see what went down, why things didn't go down.

-- Panthers trade Noah Welch (three shifts for 2:21 last night) to Tampa Bay for Steve Eminger. Florida also sends a third round to Tampa for the honor. Eminger has four goals and 21 assists in 62 games this season with the Bolts and Flyers.

Eminger, a former Capital, makes $1.2 million and is a restricted free agent after this season.

I think this is a pretty good move. Adds defensive depth and now you're going to see Steve and Nick splitting time I would bet. Noah is a good guy but for some reason it didn't work out for him here even though both sides wanted it to. Look at Cory Murphy; he's getting good time in Tampa and is really contributing there. I'm sure Noah hopes to get that same chance and runs with it.

-- Eminger played for DeBoer with the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL earlier this decade. Gregory Campbell was on that team as well.

-- David Booth on the team staying together:

''I think it's awesome. All the talk was about whether Bo was going to stay with us and I'm really glad he is. He is such a big part of our team. We need a guy like that for our run to the playoffs. Before today, I don't how much we spoke about the trade deadline. We have no control over such things.

''But now we know this is our team. This is the group that's going to the end. It's good. We're pretty close, and we know our coaches and staff believe in us. Believe in us enough to let us do what we can. What we're doing is working. We just have to keep bringing it the best we can each and every night.''


Good Morning Miami ... Trade Deadline Central ... The Jay Bouwmeester Watch

Jaybo5 ATLANTA -- Good morning from a still chilly Terminal A in Atlanta where there's plenty of buzz regarding today's NHL trade deadline.

OK, I made that up. It's nice and warm here in the terminal.

The trade deadline is a huge deal in hockey circles, with people talking about this day for more than a month. I've been getting calls from Canadian newspapers and radio stations since January. Today is like a holiday for hockey fans. Of course, some enjoy it more than others.

Big day for Jacques Martin and the Panthers today. JM is definitely in a tough spot. He's working on some deals right now, trying to get as many pieces as he can for All-Star defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. But how much is enough? JM has said he wants a good forward and a top four d-man at the very least. If he doesn't get it, Jay stays -- at least for a few more months/weeks.

If Jay isn't moved, look for the Panthers to make some minor moves, taking into consideration how close they are to the cap. Florida also has to look at next year; the Panthers like their nucleus and have some expiring contracts, but David Booth is going to get a nice raise next year.

The cap probably isn't going down next season, but the Panthers' financial commitments might. Now, I've heard people say the Panthers are planning to pare their payroll down to the cap basement, but I've been told that is absolutely not the case. Next year's payroll will probably be close to what it is now.

What's going to happen? I don't have any clue. I could see Jay stay. I could see him leaving. I'm just glad I'm not in JM's position today. This is a tough spot.

Anyway, check back in throughout the day. I should be back in the 954 around 9 a.m. so that means I'll be down for a few hours while in flight. David J. Neal is on the case, however, so if something goes down while I'm up, he'll be all over it.

-- Plan on going TradeDay LIVE! around noon today, with a break around 1:30 so I can make the drive across Sunrise Boulevard to the Billboard. Again, check in throughout the day.

If anything happens while I'm in transit, I will be filing via cellphone (you can tell those posts because they come without pics).

-- Got an email last night asking if the Panthers had any interest in Gary Roberts. Sure they do. A lot of teams do. But the problem is Gary's big contract with the Lightning. The Panthers can't bring in that number, especially since they don't know how healthy (hockey wise) Roberts is.

Plus, if he were to come back to South Florida, Pete DeBoer might have to pack up the kids and find a new place to live.

March 03, 2009

Chil-lanta ... Florida Panthers @ Atlanta Thrashers ... Jassen Cullimore, Jay Bouwmeester HERE

Bigpeach ATLANTA -- Welcome to the town where every street, it seems, is named after a Peach or a tree or a Peachtree.

You know the game of hockey was started by Dr. John Naismith, who had his kids at a local YMCA shoot pucks into peach baskets didn't you? Of course you did. That's common knowledge.

Anyway, the Panthers are on the ice, with Jassen Cullimore apparently in the lineup as he is down there for warmups. Jay Bouwmeester is out there as well, so no trade as of yet.

Don't see Keaton Ellerby so his NHL debut is going to have to wait until another day. He seemed just happy to be here and said if he didn't play, it was cool just to be up and see how things work at this level. He's going to get the shot to play next year in training camp.

-- Bryan McCabe just made a new friend. He saw a guy in a Florida jersey down by the glass holding a little kid, knocked on the glass to get the guy's attention then flipped a puck over for the kid. That's cool. Actually see a few fans in Florida gear today. Don't see that very often.

Philips -- Ran into the UM men's basketball team at my hotel today. Big game for your Canes tomorrow at Georgia Tech.

-- Got to play my harmonica a little today. Getting better at it. Not really.

-- Thrash are wearing their hideous brick-colored jerseys with not only the team's name on front, but number too. U-G-L-Y you ain't got no alibi...

-- Great seats (rows, sections) still available...

Today's Schedule (and who the Panthers would be rooting for if they weren't so busy eating boiled peanuts)

Flyers @ Bruins, 7: Cats ain't catching Bs so might as well root them on and hope to get closer to fourth.

Canes @ Caps, 7: Cats ain't catching Caps so need a Wash win to keep the Hurricanes at bay.

Cats @ Thrash, 7: Florida likes the way ATL is playing these days so would naturally root for them.

Pens @ Lightning, 7:30: Panthers have a special relationship with Bolts since both are from Florida.

The Standings (presented by The Varsity and courtesy of TSN.ca/NHL)


RankTeamGPWLOTPTSGFGAHomeAwayLast 10Streak
1Boston63421299321514221-4-521-8-43-4-3Lost 1
2New Jersey63411938519615322-10-119-9-28-2-0Won 3
3Washington64401958521318825-7-115-12-46-3-1Lost 1
4Philadelphia613318107619817818-8-415-10-66-3-1Lost 2
5Montreal63342277519418920-6-414-16-35-4-1Won 4
6Florida63322387217717517-8-515-15-36-4-0Won 1
7NY Rangers64322487215917519-10-413-14-43-4-3Won 1
8Pittsburgh64322667019519617-12-215-14-46-3-1Won 3
9Buffalo63312576918217517-12-214-13-53-5-2Lost 3
10Carolina64322756916918617-13-115-14-45-5-0Lost 1
11Toronto632526126219122711-11-814-15-45-2-3Won 4
12Ottawa612328105615217613-11-610-17-45-3-2Lost 2
13Tampa Bay632130125416420411-12-810-18-43-6-1Won 1
14Atlanta63233465218822111-17-212-17-45-4-1Won 1
15NY Islanders63203674715420614-13-56-23-24-5-1Won 2


RankTeamGPWLOTPTSGFGAHomeAwayLast 10Streak
1San Jose61421099320514826-2-316-8-65-3-2Lost 1
2Detroit63411489023418724-4-317-10-56-3-1Lost 1
3Calgary62371968020118322-8-415-11-27-1-2Lost 1
4Chicago61351797920515516-5-619-12-36-3-1Won 1
5Vancouver62322287218617516-11-416-11-48-2-0Won 2
6Columbus63312666816817619-10-212-16-46-3-1Lost 1
7Edmonton62312656717318815-12-416-14-15-3-2Won 1
8Anaheim64312856718018815-13-316-15-25-5-0Won 1
9Nashville63312846615917219-11-212-17-26-3-1Won 4
10Minnesota61302656515514418-11-512-15-04-4-2Lost 3
11Dallas62292676517919117-12-412-14-33-7-0Lost 5
12St. Louis62282686417318116-11-512-15-36-2-2Won 3
13Los Angeles62262796116017913-13-813-14-12-6-2Lost 3
14Phoenix63273155915919317-13-210-18-33-7-0Lost 3
15Colorado64283515717120417-14-011-21-13-7-0Lost 5

Hello Keaton Ellerby ... Tomas Vokoun IN

ATLANTA - Defenseman Keaton Ellerby could make his NHL debut tonight as the 20-year-old was called up from Rochester. Ellerby is apparently insurance in case Jassen Cullimore has to rush home. Cullimore's wife is expecting. Cullimore is here at the morning skate. As is Jay Bouwmeester, FYI... More later.

March 02, 2009

Welcome to Atlanta, Finally ... Tuesday: Florida Panthers @ Atlanta Thrashers ... David Booth OUT; Tomas Vokoun/Cory Stillman MAYBE

Pepsi2 ATLANTA -- Greetings from Peachtree Street where the Panthers have gathered in preparation for their big game Tuesday against the Thrashers.

It's good to be here in Atlanta, where there is little left of the four inches of snow that fell here this weekend. Good thing.

It's official: I'm sick of snow. I hope I'm done with it this season.

Tomas Vokoun practiced here today and like myself and Steve X., came to Georgia in a most inconvenient way. He drove. Of course, I didn't have an inner ear infection like he did, just a few canceled flights with no guarantee of making it to the 'ATL' in time for tomorrow's game. So I hoofed it in an XM-equipped Pontiac.

Don't know what Tomas and Dave Zenobi drove, but they struggled with the weather too. Will talk to them about it more tomorrow.

Publicenemy I have no good stories from the road to tell. Save for spinning out on an off ramp in Virginia. And buying a harmonica. Then playing the harmonica while Public Enemy played on the radio. And anything else I heard before Steve tried throwing it out the window. Of course, the window was frozen shut so...

Harmonica Still got my harmonica.

-- Tomas Vokoun, like I said before, did practice today. He could go tomorrow if he feels OK. The reason he drove was because he still has fluid in his ear drum and they didn't want him to be subjected to the pressurization of the cabin.

Plus, he said he had never been to South Carolina before and wanted to see what the big deal was.

-- David Booth is out tomorrow with a sore set of ribs courtesy of Mike Green yesterday.

-- Cory Stillman practiced today and is probable for tomorrow. He told me yesterday his bruised foot was feeling much, much better, thanks. Someone from Rochester could be coming up (Shawn Matthias?) just in case. But I haven't heard anything on that front yet.

Roch plays tonight so someone could be getting their bags packed and a free trip to the Lone Star State (Georgia, for those of you bad with geography) for Tuesday's game.

-- Niclas Havelid won't be in an Atlanta uni tomorrow; he was traded today to the Devils.

Avery -- The Panthers have put in a bid on Sean Avery since he was put on re-entry waivers by the Stars.

Just kidding.

-- Nothing new on the Jay Bouwmeester situation. He's still in Atlanta.

-- Also nothing new on Nick Boynton. Pete DeBoer said today that they would discuss the situation when they got back to South Florida.

-- Yesterday's scores (and how they affected the Panthers): Well, Florida thumping Washington 6-2 helped a whole bunch. Said Caps owner Ted Leonosis on XM today: ''Florida did what good teams do. They were focused, played desperate hockey. They were the better team yesterday.'' Martin Brodeur shutting out the Flyers kept Philly two points closer, but Pittsburgh (with three dates remaining against the Panthers) are now in the East's Elite Eight (EEE).

-- Today's Schedule (and who the Panthers would be rooting for if this game wasn't just horrible)

Avs @ Palm Isles, 7 (Versus): Big ratings grab by Versus putting these two powerhouse teams on. Of course, not really Versus fault since this is the only game on tonight's schedule. But didn't everyone know both these teams were going to stink this season? Seriously?

Panther fans might want to pay attention to Denver's Ian Laperriere tonight. His name has been bandied about as one JM is interested in. Don't know where the Florida GM is tonight, but he's either on Long Island or will be watching this game. Might be a couple Islanders who might pique Jacques' interest as well. So for that, it might be worth watching. Or not.

-- Today's Standings (brought to you by the Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia Department of Transportation; courtesy of TSN.ca/nhl)


RankTeamGPWLOTPTSGFGAHomeAwayLast 10Streak
1Boston63421299321514221-4-521-8-43-4-3Lost 1
2New Jersey63411938519615322-10-119-9-28-2-0Won 3
3Washington64401958521318825-7-115-12-46-3-1Lost 1
4Philadelphia613318107619817818-8-415-10-66-3-1Lost 2
5Montreal63342277519418920-6-414-16-35-4-1Won 4
6Florida63322387217717517-8-515-15-36-4-0Won 1
7NY Rangers64322487215917519-10-413-14-43-4-3Won 1
8Pittsburgh64322667019519617-12-215-14-46-3-1Won 3
9Buffalo63312576918217517-12-214-13-53-5-2Lost 3
10Carolina64322756916918617-13-115-14-45-5-0Lost 1
11Toronto632526126219122711-11-814-15-45-2-3Won 4
12Ottawa612328105615217613-11-610-17-45-3-2Lost 2
13Tampa Bay632130125416420411-12-810-18-43-6-1Won 1
14Atlanta63233465218822111-17-212-17-45-4-1Won 1
15NY Islanders62193674515020413-13-56-23-23-5-2Won 1


RankTeamGPWLOTPTSGFGAHomeAwayLast 10Streak
1San Jose61421099320514826-2-316-8-65-3-2Lost 1
2Detroit63411489023418724-4-317-10-56-3-1Lost 1
3Calgary62371968020118322-8-415-11-27-1-2Lost 1
4Chicago61351797920515516-5-619-12-36-3-1Won 1
5Vancouver62322287218617516-11-416-11-48-2-0Won 2
6Columbus63312666816817619-10-212-16-46-3-1Lost 1
7Edmonton62312656717318815-12-416-14-15-3-2Won 1
8Anaheim64312856718018815-13-316-15-25-5-0Won 1
9Nashville63312846615917219-11-212-17-26-3-1Won 4
10Minnesota61302656515514418-11-512-15-04-4-2Lost 3
11Dallas62292676517919117-12-412-14-33-7-0Lost 5
12St. Louis62282686417318116-11-512-15-36-2-2Won 3
13Los Angeles62262796116017913-13-813-14-12-6-2Lost 3
14Phoenix63273155915919317-13-210-18-33-7-0Lost 3
15Colorado63283415716920017-14-011-20-13-7-0Lost 4

March 01, 2009

Capital Win ... Jay Bouwmeester Speaks ... Will He Stay, Will He Go?

Boallstar3 WASHINGTON -- Big bounce back win for the Panthers today, Florida trouncing the host Capitals 6-2 just 24 hours after losing 7-2 in Newark.

Florida gets four goals in the first period and rolls to a nice win. Alex Ovechkin was held in check by Craig Anderson and the Panthers, although he got a late one when Anderson couldn't hold onto the puck and it went over his head and into the net.

David Booth left the game after being run into the boards and he didn't look too happy afterward. He's probably out for Atlanta.

Good news though, is that Cory Stillman should be back. He skated before the game and told me he's not only tying his shoes, but ''wearing my dress shoes.'' That, friends, is a step in the right direction.

-- OK, onto the big news.

Jay Bouwmeester spoke to us after the game about his future in South Florida. Nothing earth shattering here. Bo, a pending free agent, says he hasn't thought about whether he'll still be here in a few days (hours) and adds he doesn't know what's going on with his status.

Bo was the game's top star after getting a goal and an assist.

''I'm on the road, you don't see anything, don't read the paper or anything,'' Bouwmeester said. ''I don't think you worry about it. This time of year, everyone is in a different situation but you know anything can happen. You can't worry about it.''

On staying put:

''We're doing well, and obviously I'd like to be here to see what we can do, make a run at it. 'Whatever happens, happens. We'll see.''

How would you feel about being traded?

''If it happens, I'll deal with it. My head's here. This is my focus.''

You have a lot invested in the Panthers. Enjoying this right now? Is the franchise going in the right direction?

''It's been fun aside for the past couple of games where we didn't play very good. We've been solid, it's been fun. It's always better to win and it's been a long time coming I guess. There is some direction here now, and that's huge. Everyone is buying in.

''We don't have the most talented team, but with everyone chipping in the way we play, we can hang in with anyone. It's rewarding when it's like that because everyone is contributing. We kind of spread it around.''

-- And for you conspiracy theorists out there: Bo's travel bag looks just like all the others. Most of the players have a blue duffel with the Reebok logo as well as Florida's leaping cat. Except for Bo. Well, he has the Reebok logo. No cat in sight.

Panthers @ Capitals 3 p.m. ... Vokoun and Stillman OUT

WASHINGTON - Panthers are running out the same lineup as they did in Newark. I think they are hoping for a better result. That's just me.