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It's Andre Dawson Night in Montreal

Expos MONTREAL -- Good to be back in Montreal, especially on a day when Andre Dawson was finally elected to the Hall of Fame.

I know that was yesterday, and I was here.

The newscasts led with the Dawson news and it was a front page story here in Montreal. In both languages. So that's pretty cool.

Anyway, enough baseball talk.

Here's some hockey stuff for you. Not much going on, but ...

-- Stephen Weiss admits that there is pressure on his line to produce goals for the Panthers this season as sometimes if they don't score, no one does.

The Panthers would like to see a more diverse scoring group, but Weiss says he enjoys the pressure to perform.

“It's a good pressure,'' he said. “We put that on ourselves as well. We have to contribute every night and our team needs that to win. We don't go into the game looking for other guys to score. We want to be the line that does it. If we get it from all over the place, it's a bonus.''


Of the Panthers 120 goals going into Thursday's game (which was tied for 10th in the league and third in the east), 98 had been scored by forwards.

The combination of Weiss, Nathan Horton and Michael Frolik accounted for 44 of those goals, or 45 percent of all goals scored by forwards and 37 percent of Florida's totals.

In the Panthers 3-2 loss to the Maple Leafs on Tuesday, both goals came from defenseman Bryan McCabe with Horton the only one of Florida's big three getting a point. He had the second assist on McCabe's second goal.

“That pressure comes with the territory with that group,'' said coach Pete DeBoer. “That's what you pay top-line players to do, to handle that pressure the right way. We know what those guys are going to bring. They're not going to score every night, but they are going to create chances every night and they haven't been a liability on defense.''

And with Florida's top line clearly defined, DeBoer is giving them the bulk of the icetime both 5-on-5 and on power plays.

“We need to score for us to be successful and like the pressure being the line that has to contribute,'' Weiss said. “We know we're going to get our chances on the power play and we have to capitalize on that.''


-- DeBoer was asked by a local television reporter whether the Panthers were going to send rookie defenseman Dmitry Kulikov back to his junior team in Quebec once his knee heals.

“No chance, no chance,'' DeBoer said laughing. “I coached junior for a long time and I have been in that position before. I know they have their fingers crossed .-.-. But he's shown himself to be an NHL player and is a big part of our lineup and we miss him when he's out.''

Kulikov, 19, suffered a knee injury on Dec. 18 and is still a few weeks away from returning. The Panthers could send Kulikov back to his junior team despite him playing in more than nine games this season. Kulikov would still have burned a year of NHL status and would be paid by the Panthers if he was sent back – which isn't going to happen.

-- The Panthers tied Montreal in points last season, yet lost a tiebreaker and watched the Canadiens take the eighth and last playoff spot in the east. Had the Panthers earned one more point to overtake the Canadiens, Florida would have halted its postseason drought at seven seasons.

Now, the Panthers are in danger of tying the league's all-time mark for playoff futility if they fail to make it for a ninth season.

“We tied for the last playoff spot last year and are in the mix this year,'' said DeBoer. “What happened before I got here or other guys got here .-.-. I don't think one guy has been here for the entire nine years. It's not a record anyone wants and we know it's there. But all we can control is what we do here. I think the organization is headed in the right direction.''

PS: My email is back up and operational.

grichards@miamiherald.com

Comments

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I think the organization is headed in the right direction.''
really Peter? how ? seriously?

How about changing the direction by blowing it all up and getting a real Hockey President of Operations and a new General Manager and getting real scouts and start all over!! DeBoer is becoming a puppet for the ownership.

lets see if I have this right, after the Toronto game DeBoer says we don't have the talent to not compete, if we don't compete and work hard we won't win.

Now he says he likes the direction we are going.

Sexton says he likes the make-up of this team.

Lets look at the last nine years and you will see the same quotes almost every year.

It is bad enough that the panthers are not relevent in their own market, yet they are not relevent in the NHL.

With XM radio when the panthers are on the road you are able to hear the other teams feed. You learn a lot about that. For example before the start of the game, the announcer said that Montreal should be thankful that they are playing the panthers.

How can a team not make the playoffs for 9 years and have so little talent to show for it.

Clean house and start making people accountable. The GM doesn't have a clue if he likes the make-up of this team.

I wonder if there is a "time limit" on how long the Panthers can suck before the NHL steps in and insists they do something positive. Face it, every day they are pathetic losers and every season they miss the playoffs they weaken the NHL brand and prove that the league made a mistake putting a team in this market.

Were I Bettman, I would establish a committee of HoF'ers in the builders category that evaluates team movements and trends and, once a threshold of extreme ineptitude is reached, begins sending letters to the NHL team notifying that their poor performance is putting their franchise in danger of being revoked.

They are trying, but lack talent. Therefore, the problem stem from scouting and GM decisions. The Deboer system seems to work on the Good players who were never performing until now, on the average players like Oslez, Kreps, Campbell, they can only do so much. Panthers need to change their coaching philosophy to win games (change to the old less agressive system) or get rid of the overpriced players. The team is close, but the current backline players are not it. There is no talent on their "energy lines."

Diggler, believe it or not, South Florida is a hockey market, but the interest is very low now, because, well, the Panthers stink, and have been crappy for a really long time (in the world of hockey). Even if Panthers fans aren't filling the stands, the other other teams' fans are filling the stands (i.e. Rangers, Canadiens, Maple Leafs). That's why before the season begins, ownership requests the scheduling of those teams during the holiday season, and doesn't give mini-plan owners those games, because ownership wants to fill the seats to the maximum extent possible to pay the bills, even if it's filling the arena with fans of the competition.

Maybe Bettman can take over Sexton's job and make some moves to improve this team. Weiss hit it on the head - we're not a very diverse scoring group. Rhino has gone ice cold since a hot start and the 2nd line isn't contributing as it should, and neither are the 3rd or 4th lines beyond Dvo's occasional scoring spurts.

This team is really a 1st line with 3 energy lines and that's not going to get it done. I wish something would be done to try to get us over the hump and not be satisfied with toiling around .500 the whole season.

I agree w/ STHSD1, when you listen to XM, it is always the other teams feed, and its a totally different perspective. Whether its XM, NHL network or even LOCAL news, you only hear about Zednik getting his neck sliced, FORMER Panther (tee-hee) Boumeester/Jokinen/Luongo/Anderson/etc., Booth laid out on ice and how he should have been looking, Ballard hitting his own goalie...blah, blah. This team will not put up the numbers--and our first line will get nods once in a while. Other than that, I am kinda looking forward to March. I think this WILL be an unrecognizable team in the near future.

I've said all along, this roster with or without Booth is not playoff bound. All the bandwaggoners who thought that our little run in December was a potential playoff push are now hopefully realizing the same.

This team is hard to figure out and sometimes hard to watch. And last night we had to watch a team that Jacques Martin built, play a team that Jacques Martin coaches. UGH!

No star player, no offence beyond the first line(they haven't done anything lately), and a season that is slipping away, if it hasn't already.

The organEYEzation likes the roster and doesn't feel much need for change. In any other town, this nine year non-playoff run would be causing suicides of epic proportions. Yet, as a former coach once said, there's no pressure to win!

Therein lies the problem.

"I think the organization is headed in the right direction.''
- Pete DeBoer

This team won't be heading in the right direction until we have more NHL caliber players than AHL caliber players.

This team won't head in the right direction until we get an above average player or two.

This team won't be heading in the right direction until we get a GM who knows how to use a phone.

This team won't be headed in the right direction until the owners wake up and realise they aren't props.

and this team is definetly not headed in the right direction if we got a coach spewing out crud like, "I think the organization is headed in the right direction.''

Congrats Panthers on nine straight years missing the playoffs, or is it ten? I don't even know any more I've lost track.

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