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39 posts from January 2010

January 21, 2010

Back on the Island: Panthers @ Islanders, 7 p.m.

Brinkley2 UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Just made it to Uniondale from Newark in record time as myself and Harvey X. cruised through the City and Queens just in time to meet Goldie and Billy in the hotel lobby.

Since there isn't much to do around here, we're off to the mall. Should be an exciting day.

Anywho, Goldie and Billy went to the Islanders morning skate and passed along the news that Rick DiPietro will be taking the night off with Dwayne "Wade" Roloson stepping in net.

Kind of surprising considering how the Panthers torched him the last time Florida was here.

Here were Roloson's numbers against the Panthers in that 7-1 Florida win last month -- GA: 5; GAA: 7.33; SV: .783; SHOTS: 23; SVS: 18

Lifetime, he is 5-4-1 against the southern Cats.

See you at Foot Locker. Might pick up a pair of those new Kobe Nikes.

-- Also, don't forget you can keep up with On Frozen Pond on Twitter. It's fast, it's free and it's somewhat cool. Don't know if the cool kids are still Twittering or not, but what the heck. It is free.


January 20, 2010

Jersey Boys: Stephen Weiss Returns ... Dmitry Kulikov Back Manana ... Darryl Sutter Here, Just Watching?

Jerseytpike NEWARK -- Stephen Weiss will be back in the lineup tonight when the Cats take on Jersey's Team. He's back centering the top line alongside Michael Frolik and Nathan Horton.

Dmitry Kulikov returns tomorrow on the Island with Bryan Allen taking the night off.

Shawn Matthias will be in the lineup tonight with Jeff Taffe getting the night off.

Here are the lines:


And that great picture that was on here before was from the Panthers locker room, one that belongs to the Seton Hall basketball team. Poor fellows. That joint stinks.

-- Calgary GM Darryl Sutter is here, and I can't believe that he's scouting the Devils. I don't think they are going to be sellers at the deadline although the Panthers could be.

Wondering if he's interested in that Florida defenseman wearing No. 4?

Nah, Calgary already has one of those.

-- Don't forget you can follow me on Twitter. Trying to be more active on that and it is easier to post on. So come on over...


January 19, 2010

Mike Van Ryn Rehabbing, Looking Ahead

Ryno Haven't talked about our old pal Mike Van Ryn since he had major knee surgery and shut it down for the season back in October.

Found this story in the London (Ontario) Free Press and thought I would share.

Good luck to Ryno on his comeback.


January 18, 2010

A New Den of Honor: Panthers to Honor Past, Present and Future Hockey in South Florida ... Jiggs McDonald to New York


The Panthers had one of their most popular players from their past at BankAtlantic Center on Monday, the same night the team made its plans known for a new way to honor its past – and perhaps future.

Team president Michael Yormark said a new ‘Den of Honor’ would open later this season, replacing one that was taken down over the summer.  

The new Den will be a virtual South Florida hockey Hall of Fame. About 70 percent of the 4,000 square feet structure (current state of site pictured) dedicated to the Panthers and the rest going to junior and high school hockey in the tri-county area.

Yormark said that folks from the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto have visited Sunrise and have consulted the Panthers on the new area. They have also worked with the team on what should go in (they went through the team's archives) and how to present it. Randy Moller also visited with the Hall staffon the last trip to Toronto.

John Vanbiesbrouck, the team’s original goalie, was at Monday’s game against the Thrashers and said the new plans would be welcomed by the team’s alumni. Yormark says the building will be dedicated on March 20 when the Sabres are in town.

A large number of former players are expected to attend the unveiling.

“It’s exciting,’’ said Vanbiesbrouck, whose jersey from the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals was one of two hanging in the old Den. “I think some of us past players, alumni, don’t have a lot to say about it. But it’s cool they are doing something equal or larger. This team will always hold a big place in my heart.’’

Yormark said the new Den would fill up space on the lower level that once was used as a mini-Hyundai showroom. Yormark said the franchise wants to reach out to its former players – and fans who have become disenfranchised with the team over the years.

“It’s going to be huge, it’s going to be gorgeous. We’re investing significant dollars into this,’’ Yormark said.

“We want to use this as a tool to bring back alumni. This is also an opportunity to reconnect with former season ticket holders that walked away from the franchise. It’s going to be a major tribute the Florida Panthers brand, our former players and our community.’’

-- Moller will miss the Panthers upcoming two-game road trip to the New York area as he rests up after having a health scare after Saturday’s game in Sunrise. Hall of Fame broadcaster Jiggs McDonald is filling in for Moller – who is expected to return to the booth for Saturday’s home game against the Maple Leafs.

Beezer's Back: John Vanbiesbrouck Talks Panthers ... Denis Potvin Here? ... New Lines

Beezer Former Panthers goalie John Vanbiesbrouck was in Orlando for some USA Hockey meetings, so the Michigan resident figured he'd head south to visit family -- and see the Panthers.

The Beezer is attending Monday's game against the Thrashers and will be signing autographs at Pantherland during the second intermission. So, if you have a Beezer mask or jersey you want signed, you gots plenty of time to get down to the arena.

And you will have no problem finding a seat. Trust me on this one. This isn't as bad a crowd as we saw in Atlanta back in November but it may be close. Hey, it's Monday and it's the Thrashers.

Anyway, talked to No. 34 before Monday's game on a variety of subjects.

"This team,'' he said, "will always hold a big spot in my heart.''

Vanbiesbrouck says he would like to attend more Florida games, but living in Michigan obviously prohibits that. He says he still watches on television.

"I love it here and it's exciting to be here,'' he said. "The problem is I don't get around it that much. If I lived down here I would. I watch a lot on television and follow them quite a bit.''

Vanbiesbrouck, as you all know, has become close friends with David Booth over the years. Here's what he said about the injured Booth:

"It's all encouraging,'' he said. "He wouldn't tell me a timetable or that but he says he feels good. I'll go by that. He had a lot of idle time, and what do you do with that? He has so much energy, he's like a caged panther at this point. It's exciting to see he's having some breakthroughs.''

If you want to see what Vanbiesbrouck is working on these days, feel free to visit his website at www.vbksportsviewer.com

-- Tonight is NHL Network Night here in Sunrise. Don't think we'll see Denis Potvin drop the opening puck, do you?

-- Here's what we got with the Stephen Weiss absence. Obviously some changes at center, but also on the second line. Radek Dvorak is up in place of Rostislav Olesz.





Stephen Weiss Out; Shawn Matthias. Jeff Taffe Up

Weiss4 First off, happy Dr. Martin Luther King Day to everyone out there. We have a holiday game tonight with the Thrashers in from Atlanta.

The big news today is that Stephen Weiss missed the skate and will not play tonight. Coach Pete DeBoer says they didn't want to suit Weiss up and then decide he couldn't go as they did Saturday when Weiss was shut down after only a few shifts.

It looks like Dominic Moore is coming up to play on the first line (SunPass Express?) with the second line (Cory Stillman-Steven Reinprect-Rostislav Olesz) sticking together.

Shawn Matthias and Jeff Taffe have been called up from Rochester. Steve MacIntyre was sent back.

Pete said that Dmitry Kulikov and Kenndal McArdle are close to coming back. They are expected to be on the Jersey trip and could play this week.

And Jiggs is here...


January 17, 2010

Playoff Presure? Nope, Not Here ... Jiggs McDonald to fill in for Randy Moller


So, those who e-mail me saying I should stop talking about how the Panthers haven't made the playoffs since 2000 can relax.

According to a couple players and coach Pete DeBoer, that doesn't bother them all that much.

Sure, its a postseason drought that could tie an NHL record if the team fails to advance once more this season.

Some might think that pressure weighs heavy on the players and coaches.

For some, it may just be. For others?

“Listen, we have nothing to lose here,'' said Keith Ballard.

“No one expects us to be in the playoffs because we haven't been in the playoffs in forever. I haven't been there, a lot of guys in this room haven't been there. Lets just leave it out there.Ballard3 We don't need to be in the playoffs today or tomorrow. We just need to be there after Game 82.''

DeBoer says the current crop of Panthers shouldn't have to be completely linked to the failures of the past. There are only a handful of players – Stephen Weiss, Nathan Horton, Rostislav Olesz – who have been with the franchise for more than five years. Players like Ballard, Bryan McCabe, Jordan Leopold, Cory Stillman and Dennis Seidenberg have only been with the team for two seasons.

“I don't think our group carries around that nine year baggage with them on a daily basis,'' said DeBoer. “Maybe that should upset people who think it should. But the reality is I've only been a part of this a couple of years. There's only a few guys who have been part of it more than a handful of years. I don't mind playing the underdog role and flying under the radar.''

Of course, the longer the Panthers stay out of the playoffs, the more that stigma sticks to players like Weiss. When the Panthers were in Toronto earlier this month, The Globe & Mail did a feature on Weiss and how he's carrying the franchise's flameless torch much like Olli Jokinen, Roberto Luongo and Jay Bouwmeester had in the past.

Weissislanders If the Panthers don't make the playoffs again this year, Weiss (barring injury) will have played close to 500 regular season games without participating in the postseason.

During the lockout of 2004-05, the Panthers had Weiss and Bouwmeester playing for their AHL affiliate in San Antonio; when the playoffs came, the Panthers loaned them to the Chicago Wolves so they could get some postseason experience.

Those are the only pro playoff games either player has participated in to date.

The Panthers hope that changes this spring. Florida came into Sunday in 12th place in the east, four points out of sixth place. The team has talked about what it needs to do to stay in the postseason hunt, and Ballard said looking at last year's Carolina team can give the Panthers hope.

Last season, the Hurricanes were out of the mix but stormed into the playoffs and knocked off New Jersey in the opening round. Carolina lost to the Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals.

“In the second half, there's always one team that steps up as another takes one step forward and two steps back,'' said Ballard. “We can't be that team. We have to put something together. We've gotten some points and we're starting to do the little things well. We had a meeting and talked about where we want to be at the Olympic break. We want to make a run for it.''

To make it, the Panthers have to win games or at least pick up the odd point here and there. The Panthers have won two straight and have taken five of the past six available points.

After Monday's game against the Thrashers, the Panthers travel to the New York area for games against the Devils and Islanders. The Islanders came into Sunday holding the eighth and final playoff spot in the east.

“There's always a team that catches fire in the second half and charges into the playoffs,'' said DeBoer. “It has to be us this year.''

Moller2  -- Radio voice Randy Moller had a health scare after Saturday's game and was taken to a local hospital.

Thankfully all is well. Moller is said to be resting up and doing fine. He was released from the hospital Sunday and is back at his home in Palm Beach County.

Jiggs McDonald, a Hall of Fame broadcaster who once called Florida games on radio, will replace Moller in the booth for Monday's game at least.

Jiggs McDonald, best known for his work calling Islanders games during their dynasty years, could travel with the team for the upcoming trip to New York.

Aside from working for the Panthers and Islanders, McDonald -- who resides on Florida's west coast -- has also worked for the Kings and Flames as well as national outlets.

Feel better Molls!

January 16, 2010

Home Cooking? Panthers 5, Lightning 2 ... Stephen Weiss pulled by DeBoer; Injury not thought to be Serious


Fans at the BankAtlantic Center had something good to worry about going into the third period Saturday night.

Would I lose a cap?

Thanks to a pair of goals from Rostislav Olesz in the second and strong goaltending from Tomas Vokoun throughout, the Panthers didn’t have to sweat out another third period.

Olesz and Cory Stillman failed to record the Panthers fifth hat trick of the season Saturday, but they both scored twice and helped Florida to a fairly easy 5-2 win over the Lightning in Sunrise.

The Panthers swept the home-and-home series against Tampa Bay, winning 3-2 on the west coast on Thursday night.

In Florida’s past two games, the third period was key as the Panthers blew a 4-2 lead and lost in a shootout to Washington on Wednesday only to come back and score two in the third the following night against the Lightning.

“It’s important to score when the team wins,’’ said Olesz, who was trying to record his first NHL hat trick. Olesz had a pair of two-goal games within a week, scoring twice in Florida’s 3-0 win at Ottawa on Jan. 9.

“We needed the two points and we moved forward in the standings. That’s more important than who scored in the game.’’

Olesz, who got the game-winner Thursday in Tampa, gave the Panthers some breathing room against a Tampa Bay team the Panthers are competing with in the Eastern Conference standings. Going into Thursday, Florida trailed the Lightning by two points; the Panthers go into Sunday leading by two.

“It’s a huge swing,’’ said coach Pete DeBoer. “We came in wanting to sweep the two games. To their credit, they came out very hard tonight and worked right to the buzzer. That’s a good hockey team and we feel fortunate for the sweep. We haven’t had a lot of luck in a lot of situations, but I think we got some in these two games.’’

The Panthers started Saturday’s game off quickly, with Stillman getting his first goal on a power play chance as he knocked in a pass from Steven Reinprecht past starter Antero Niittymaki just 4:07 into the game.

Midway through the period, Stillman was the beneficiary of another bad decision by rookie defenseman Victor Hedman deep in his own zone.

Hedman, the second overall pick in last summer’s draft, gave up the puck twice in Thursday’s game – with Stillman and Olesz scoring off the turnovers. Saturday, Hedman misplayed a puck and Stillman pounced, snapping a shot past Niittymaki. It was just the third shot of the night for the Panthers.

Florida scored five goals on 13 shots and then let Vokoun do the work. Vokoun ended with 47 saves.

The Lightning scored two goals in the first to tie it up, but then it was all Panthers. Bryan Allen scored from the blue line to make it 3-2 only 32 seconds after Meszaros scored, then Olesz got the only goals of the second. But the Panthers held their lead thanks to their goalie.

“It was all Vokoun,’’ said Stillman, who was trying for his fifth career hat trick. “He stood on his head and made some saves. It’s a game where he’s really the first star. It was a big two points for us.’’

Even the team mascots got into the beating as Florida’s pair of stuffed cats tag-teamed the Lightning’s Thunderbug in a staged pro wrestling-type showdown in the lower level.

“This was a step in the right direction,’’ said defenseman Keith Ballard. “But let’s not start planning any parades or ordering any rings. But we’re going in the right direction. We won a gritty one in Tampa. [Saturday] we were opportunistic. But when we’re up 5-2, we should be up 6-2 or 7-2. We should have made them work for their chances.’’


Center Stephen Weiss played less than six minutes off seven shifts Saturday as DeBoer said he had a “nagging lower body’’ injury that he thought he could play through. With the team taking Sunday off, DeBoer says he thinks Weiss will be ready to play Monday against Atlanta.

“We shut him down,’’ said DeBoer. “He was very close tonight, but we were over optimistic. He wanted to fight through it, but looking at the big picture, I shut it down. We have a big week coming up.’’

(*) Niittymaki didn’t stick around to the end of Saturday’s game as he was replaced by 20-year-old rookie Dustin Tokarski at the start of the third period.

Tokarski, called up to fill in for the injured Mike Smith, made his NHL debut.

(*) The Panthers are 48-31-10 against their cross-state rivals since the series began in 1993. The Panthers first win in franchise history came on Oct. 9, 1993, in Tampa.


January 13, 2010

Doing the Job: Dennis Seidenberg Right at Home in FLA ... Dmitry Kulikov Bored

Simpsons Dennis Seidenberg was a late arrival to the Panthers this season. He hasn’t been tardy since.

The Panthers signed the free agent defenseman a few days into training camp. Seidenberg missed the Nova Scotia part of the marathon preseason campaign, but joined the team in Ottawa and took in most of Florida’s world tour.

It looks like the Panthers would like to have Seidenberg around for all of training camp next season. For that to happen, however, Seidenberg would have to sign a new contract. His current one expires on July 1.

“Every time you sign a one-year deal, it’s in the back of your mind that you have to sign again next year,’’ he said Wednesday. “I like it here. Obviously everyone would like to win more, but I think we have the chance to do that. There’s a good future here.’’

Coach Pete DeBoer has had no problems putting Seidenberg in a number of different situations, and he’s filled in for the injured Dmitry Kulikov on the top power play unit alongside Bryan McCabe. Seidenberg’s offensive numbers aren’t overpowering (one goal, 16 assists), but he has been hot lately, getting three assists in the past four games.

Seidenberg’s biggest contribution has been his knack for blocking shots. Last year, he blocked 39 in the postseason as he helped Carolina reach the Eastern Conference finals. He came into Wednesday’s game leading the league with 129 blocks – 44 more than teammate Keith Ballard.

Last season, Karlis Skrastins led the Cats with 171 blocked shots before not being resigned. Seidenberg had 160 for the Hurricanes.

“We lost a lot of grittiness on defense and we wanted to replace some of that,’’ said DeBoer. “We lost some edge, and Seidenberg brings that every night. He blocks shots, finishes hits. He’s hard to play against. He came as advertised.’’

(*) Kulikov says he is antsy to get back on the ice after injuring his knee in December. Kulikov started practicing with his teammates on Tuesday after beginning his skating training last week. Kulikov could be back in the lineup next week.

“It’s a good feeling to be back practicing with the team,’’ Kulikov said. “Honestly, everyone looks really fast to me right now. I’ll be back in a bit. .-.-. It’s been a boring time for me. I don’t want to get injured again.’’

(*) Center Shawn Matthias was recalled from the minors Wednesday as a precaution in case Nathan Horton couldn’t go. Horton missed two days of practice with what the Panthers called “bumps and bruises.’’ Horton did play, with Matthias being a healthy scratch.

(*) Bryan McCabe was named the team’s defensive player for the month of December.

(*) Forward Nick Tarnasky left during the first period with a lower body injury.

(*) The Panthers are partnering with the American Red Cross to collect relief supplies to benefit those affected by Tuesday's earthquake in Haiti. The team will be accepting non-perishable food, toiletries, bottled water, clothing and donations at Saturday's home game against Tampa Bay.

Fans can also drop off such items between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the team offices on the suite level of  BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise. For more information contact Darren Perry at 954-835-7715.

Caps in Town: Shawn Matthias Called Up ... More on Help for Haiti from The Panthers, The Herald, 790 The Ticket and WQAM 560

Bullets3 UPDATE: Nathan Horton is in the lineup tonight.

Don't know if Nathan Horton's "bumps and bruises" are going to keep him out of tonight's clash between the Panthers and Wizards, err, Capitals. But, Shawn Matthias has been called up from Rochester just in case.

Saw Nathan for a little bit after practice as he left just a few minutes before I did. That's worth noting because Nate usually likes to get out of here early on game days. Thinking he was getting some treatment. We'll see what happens.

-- Don't forget that the Panthers are helping collect non-perishable foods and clothing for those stricken by the earthquake in Haiti. You can bring stuff by tonight or Saturday before the games. They are also accepting donations.

Here are more links to local places you can donate stuff:



Also, our pals at 560-WQAM are holding a donation party on Thursday at the Pembroke Pines Hooters (corner of Pines Blvd. and University Dr., although I've never been there before). Here's the info from their Facebook page:

Please help us help Haiti. We need you to bring anything that you can to the Hooters on Pines Blvd & University Drive from 10am-7pm. Bring food, clothes, shoes, toiletries, first aid supplies, bottle water, ect. Everything will be shipped out to Haiti ASAP. Thanks for COWs, containers on wheels!

-- For those who care, there's a new Mini Stanley being unveiled tonight. Looks kind of like the old one. With a bigger head. Has a whole bobble head doll thing going. Whatever. Enjoy the skit.

-- Working on my notebook for tomorrow as we speak. Got some good stuff on Dennis Seidenberg as well as Dmitry Kulikov. Stay tuned. Will post here in a bit.

Help for Haiti


Just got this email from the Panthers. Thought I would pass it along.

The Florida Panthers announced today that they will collect donations for victims of Tuesday’s earthquake in Haiti during the club’s next two home games against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, Jan. 16 at the BankAtlantic Center.  

“This was a tragic and devastating event for the citizens of Haiti, as well as the numerous South Florida residents that have family members residing in the area,” said Florida Panthers President & COO Michael Yormark. “We encourage our fans to help support this worthy cause and help the victims who are suffering from this unfortunate tragedy.”
Fans are encouraged to bring monetary donations (check or cash), new or used clothing or non-perishable food items and drop them at the donation tables located inside the BankAtlantic Center, just outside Pantherland on the main plaza level.

A Panthers team representative will be on hand to collect donations during both home games. Fans not attending either game may drop their donation at the Panthers Executive Offices located on the suite level of the BankAtlantic Center between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m on weekdays. For more information please call Darren Perry at (954) 835-7715.

January 11, 2010

Frozen in Florida: Panthers return to Coral Springs


After the Panthers 3-0 win over Ottawa on Saturday night, captain Bryan McCabe described the game as “a pretty boring road game, which is what we like. That's our type of hockey.''

It was one of the most uninspiring games the Panthers have played all season, but in the end, it was a success. The Panthers and Senators played a coma-inducing game, one McCabe described as “dump and bump and lull them to sleep.''

Unfortunately, the Sens weren't the only ones put to sleep during the game. Coach Pete DeBoer knows there is a fine line between entertainment and victories and that too many games like Saturday won't do much to grow the game in South Florida.

But he'll take a win every time – no matter the lack of excitement.

“It's a win but it's not going down in the record book as an all-time classic,'' DeBoer said Monday. “There's no sugar coating that. It wasn't a pretty game. But over an 82 game schedule, you'll see games like that.''

A number of players joked about Saturday's game, talking about how brutal it must have been to watch. Neither team brought much offense – the two teams took a total of three shots in the first 10 minutes and Nathan Horton's goal with 8:06 left in the first came off Florida's second shot of the game. Tomas Vokoun secured his fourth shutout and only had 24 saves.

DeBoer was quick to point out that the Panthers don't play too many games like that and used the two recent games against Montreal as examples. The Panthers don't play the dump-and-chase game much at home, and that may be a reason the team has more road wins than ones in Sunrise.

“Two nights before [Ottawa] you saw a great game in Montreal, speed and chances on both ends, great goaltending,'' DeBoer said. “You are trying to sell the game and you want to win, but you want people to see the real product. I believe our real product are like the games in Montreal. But it's a long season. You'll see a lot of different things.''

-- The Panthers three injured players took to the ice before Monday's lengthy practice with David Booth (concussion), Dmitry Kulikov (knee) and Kenndal McArdle (shoulder) skating hard. Booth's return is still a ways off, but Kulikov and McArdle could be back in the lineup next week.

DeBoer says he would like to get McArdle some playing time as soon as possible although he could be returned to Rochester.

“He was playing well before he left,'' DeBoer said. “The more speed and physical play we can have in the lineup, the better.''

-- Horton and Bryan Allen skipped practice as DeBoer gave them the day off because of “bumps and bruises.''

-- Thanks to FP&L outages in western Broward County blamed on the cold snap, DeBoer and a couple of players and staff members have been without electricity the past few days. DeBoer says his young family have become acclimated to the South Florida climate – which isn't a good thing when the temperatures drop.

“Their skin has definitely softened since we moved from Canada,'' he joked. “That would be a typical June day in Ontario and my kids are in sweatshirts and have their hats on.''

January 10, 2010

Coming in from the Cold

Miamisnow OTTAWA -- I know it's cold in South Florida right now, but I can't wait to get back.

We're heading home from the Canadian tundra and looking forward to it.

Not much to add other than that.

Here's my early story for Monday's paper. It's a cold-weather bonus for y'all. Those who care, anyway.

Stay warm!

-- The Panthers have been desperately searching for a scoring line to take some pressure off their top three forwards.

They hope to have made some progress in that quest on Saturday.

In Saturday's 3-0 win against the Senators, the top line scored first as Nathan Horton followed up a rebound to score in the first period. But in the second period, it was the trio of Rostislav Olesz, Cory Stillman and Steven Reinprecht doing the heavy lifting.

Olesz scored twice – taking passes from both Stillman and Reinprecht in the process. Stillman and Reinprecht have played together with some success in the recent past, although they'd been broken up with Stillman missing more than a month after suffering a left knee injury Nov. 20 in Detroit. Olesz is a newcomer to that line, replacing Radek Dvorak two games ago.

So far, so good. Olesz's first goal Saturday came as he camped out by the net and Reinprecht almost surprised him with a pretty no-look backhanded pass from the slot.

“He's starting to play well and starting to understand the way we play, the system we have of give-and-go,'' Stillman said of Olesz. “He got rewarded for it. It's great for him. He was camped out on the first one, was in the neutral zone and shot on the second. We're reading off each other. We have to play in their zone. We have a big body with him going to the net.''

The top line of Horton, Stephen Weiss and Michael Frolik has hit a lull the past few games as perhaps the pressure of having to carry Florida's offensive load has been a hindrance. In the past seven games, that line has three goals and eight assists. Of those totals, Horton has two goals and five assists.

“We're not going to win if everyone doesn't contribute,'' said Horton. “I want to help the team, do whatever I can. When we're playing good, it gives our team a little lift. Tonight, Rusty and their line came through. It's good to have all the lines rolling. We need that. It keeps everyone in the game.''

-- Tomas Vokoun is used to facing a ton of shots during the course of a game, so he was a little bored on Saturday as he was only forced to make 24 saves as he notched his fourth shutout of the season.

Vokoun has faced 1,176 shots this season – second in the league, 43 shots behind Colorado's Craig Anderson. In four games this month, Vokoun has surrendered all of four goals.

“That was unusual for me, a different set of circumstances,'' he said with a laugh. “You have to deal with whatever is going on that day. It's part of the job. You have to try and deal with whatever the amount is.''

-- With 9.6 seconds left in the second, the Senators lost center Jesse Winchester when he went to smash Keith Ballard into the boards and Ballard avoided the hit. Winchester rammed what appeared to be his right knee against the boards and had to be helped off. He didn't return to the game.

Montreal lost Andrei Kostitsyn for the next six weeks after he needed surgery on his left knee after being checked into the boards by Ballard on Dec. 31 in Sunrise.

January 07, 2010

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.


January 06, 2010

Team USA beats Canada for World Junior Title

Worldjrusa Great win for Team USA tonight in the World Junior tournament; hard to believe it's only Team USA's second win in tourny history.

The following text is compliments of Team USA.

I don't think they'll mind.

SASKATOON, Sask. - Defenseman John Carlson (Colonia, N.J.) scored twice, including the game-winning goal in overtime, as the U.S. National Junior Team defeated Canada, 6-5, to win gold at the 2010 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship.

Following a pad save by Jack Campbell (Port Huron, Mich.), Team USA skated up ice on a three-on-one odd-man rush. Carlson glided in on the wing and fired a quick snap shot past goalie Martin Jones for the game-winning tally.

"We put the right team together for this tournament, filled with gritty, hard-working players," said Dean Blais, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team. "Our guys battled the whole tournament, and we're very happy to come away with the gold here in Saskatoon."

Canada took an early 1-0 lead on a backhand goal by Luke Adam two minutes into the game. Team USA responded with back-to-back goals later in the period, however. Chris Kreider (Boxford, Mass./Boston College) fired a wrist shot from the left circle over the glove of Canada starting goalie Jake Allen 14 minutes into the period. Then, just 30 seconds later, Jordan Schroeder (Prior Lake, Minn./Univ. of Minnesota) gave Team USA a lead with a wrist shot high to the short side.

After Canada tied the game to end the first period, Team USA regained the lead one minute into the second on the power play. Carlson let go a long slap shot from the point that beat Allen low to the stick side. But Canada answered once again, knotting the score, 3-3 after two periods.

Team USA took its third lead of the night four minutes into the final period. Captain Derek Stepan (Hastings, Minn./Univ. of Wisconsin) broke into the Canada zone on a two-on-one break and fed Jerry D'Amigo (Binghamton, N.Y./Rensselaer), who gave the U.S. a 4-3 edge. Stepan then extended his team's lead to 5-3, flicking a backhand shot into the net after Allen failed to handle a long shot cleanly.

Canada scored twice in the period's final three minutes, including once on the power play, to send the game into overtime. But Team USA emerged with the victory, the second-ever gold medal for the U.S. in tournament history.

Campbell earned the win, turning aside 32 of 34 shots faced in just over 40 minutes of work after relieving Mike Lee (Roseau, Minn./St. Cloud State Univ.) in the second period. Meanwhile, Jones took the loss, making eight saves after replacing Allen in the third period.

NOTES: Derek Stepan
, who finished as the tournament's leading point-getter with 15 (5-10), was named Team USA's Player of the Game. With 15 points, Stepan tied Mike Modano (1989) for the third-most points ever scored by a U.S. player at a World Junior Championship. Stepan's 10 assists tied Phil Kessel (2006) for second most in U.S. single-tournament history ... Stepan and John Carlson were named to the tournament's Media All-Star Team ... The U.S. will defend its gold medal on home soil next year in Buffalo, N.Y. Tickets are on sale at buffaloworldjuniors.com ... An encore presentation of tonight's game will be shown on the NHL Network in the U.S. tomorrow (Jan. 6) at 6 p.m. EST ... Team USA's other gold medal at a World Junior Championship came in 2004, when the U.S. defeated Canada, 4-3, in Helsinki, Finland. The gold medal marks Team USA's sixth overall medal at the tournament since 1977 ... Sweden defeated Switzerland earlier today, 11-4, to win the bronze medal. For full tournament results and stats, visit IIHF.com ... For full coverage of the 2010 U.S. National Junior Team, including photos, videos and features, click here.


Scoring By Period

USA 2 - 1 - 2 - 1 - 6
CAN 2 - 1 - 2 - 0 - 5

First Period - Scoring: 1, CAN, Adam (Caron), 2:40; 2, USA, Kreider (Palmieri, Jenks), 13:56; 3, USA, Schroeder (Bourque, Donovan), 14:32; 4, CAN, Nemisz (Kennedy, Hall), 16:03. Penalties: CAN, Della-Rovere (charging), 16:34; CAN, Pietrangelo (checking-from-behind, misconduct), 19:21.

Second Period - Scoring: 5, USA, Carlson (Kristo, McRae), 1:03; 6, CAN, Hall (Adam), 3:56. Penalties: CAN, Caron (slashing), 4:20; USA, Lashoff (tripping), 7:13.

Third Period - Scoring: 7, USA, D'Amigo (Stepan, Kristo), 4:12; 8, USA, Stepan (D'Amigo), 6:23; 9, CAN, Eberle (Pietrangelo, Hall), 17:11; 10, CAN, Eberle (Ellis, Kadri), 18:25. Penalties: USA, McRae (delay-of-game), 1:29; USA, Palmieri (charging), 15:59.

Overtime - Scoring: 11, USA, Carlson (Ramage), 4:31. Penalties: None.

Shots by Period
3 OT
USA 13 12 8 4 37
CAN 5 14 19 3 41
Goaltenders (SH/SV) 1 2 3 OT Total
USA, Lee 23:56
-- -- 7-4
USA, Campbell 40:35 -- 12-12 19-17 3-3 34-32
CAN, Allen 46:23 13-11 12-11 3-1 -- 28-23
CAN, Jones 18:08 -- -- 5-5 4-3 9-8






Power Play: USA 1-3; CAN 1-3
Penalties: USA 3-6; CAN 4-16
Attendance: 15,171

January 05, 2010

David Booth back to Michigan State ... USA vs. Canada ... Big Mac in Toronto

Booth2 TORONTO – David Booth isn't with the Panthers on their three game road trip through Canada.

For good reason.

Booth, who has out since being knocked cold by Philadelphia's Mike Richards on Oct. 24, is training at Michigan State and working with a skating coach.

The Panthers felt Booth wouldn't get enough ice time if he traveled with the team this week, so instead of working out by himself in Sunrise, he traveled to his alma mater to work with Jennifer Matras.

Booth has worked with Matras in past offseasons to strengthen his skating.

We felt he needed some technical instruction because he's been off the skates a lot,'' said general manager Randy Sexton. “It made perfect sense. It's the logical next step in his progression. .-.-. Everyone should rest assured that he'll come back when he's ready to come back and when it's appropriate for him to come back.''

Coach Pete DeBoer said Sunday night that he expected Booth to return to the ice this season although he will no longer offer any type of a time line because of the severity of the injury. Booth has been working out and skating since last month, and DeBoer says his skating time on the ice is up to close to an hour.

Sexton said giving a potential date for Booth's return would only be a guess and might “create false expectations for our fans, the media, for David.''


The Panthers are holding their organizational scouting meetings in Toronto. Sexton said all aspects of the organization are being reviewed and other teams are in that mix as well. The trading deadline is March 3 this season – just after the Olympic break ends.

I like this group,'' Sexton said. “I would like us to be healthy because when we do, we have a very solid team. Our guys have sucked it up to get us where we are and going forward we'll keep doing that until we're completely healthy.''


Worldjrcan The World Junior hockey Championships doesn't get much attention in the United States, but the annual tournament is as big a part of the Canadian holiday seasons as Christmas trees and Dick Clark.

The tournament starts on Dec. 26 – Boxing Day in Canada – and ended with the United States playing Canada in the title bout on Tuesday. With a number of players from the U.S. and Canada in the Florida locker room, there were plenty of friendly wagers going around.

You're 4 or 5-year-old and it's Christmas and that's what's on if you are a Canadian kid,'' said Stephen Weiss, who won a Silver for Canada in 2002. “You are watching that tournament and you want to be a part of it.''

Worldjrusa DeBoer was an assistant coach under Brent Sutter in 2005 when Team Canada won gold at the WJC. It was obvious where his loyalties were when interviewed by a dozen media members on Tuesday.

That's a big buzz in the room,'' he said. “It's a great time of the year and it's my favorite tournament in hockey at any level. Hopefully we'll get a Panther and a Canadian win [Tuesday].''

-- The Panthers benched Nick Tarnasky on Tuesday as enforcer Steve MacIntyre was recalled from the minors.

-- Don't forget, I join Andy Slater on 640-AM tomorrow around 6:05 in the PM...next week, I don't know...

-- For the time being, if you need to send me an email, do so at


January 04, 2010

The Coach is an Owner: Pete DeBoer part of Oshawa Generals

Tavaresosh On my way to Canada to check out some snow and possibly an Oshawa Generals game.

Why would I be interested in the Generals now that John Tavares is gone?

Because Pete DeBoer -- second-year coach of the Panthers -- is now officially a part owner of the Ontario Hockey League franchise.

This was a deal that was supposed to be done a long time ago but was messed up because of legal wrangling. But on Sunday, the Generals -- who also brought you one Nathan Horton among many, many others -- was formally introduced with former NHLer Adam Graves as one of the team's new owners.

Will have more from Pete on this later on.

-- What does this mean for the Panthers? Word is the team is going to hold at least part of training camp north of the border. I had heard holding part of it in Kitchener, where Pete coached the Rangers of the OHL.

Even money is now on camp being held in Oshawa -- a good sized town about 40 miles away from Toronto on the shores of Lake Wasapamanni. Or Lake Ontario. One of the big ones.

-- Other famous Oshawa alumni include Bobby Orr and Eric Lindros.

-- For those wondering, Panthers have won three straight in Toronto and two straight in Ottawa. Florida was 0-1-1 in Montreal last season, a year after winning both at Bell Center in JM's final year on the Panthers bench.

Florida plays at Toronto tomorrow night before shuffling on to Montreal and Ottawa.

-- A good showing by Panthers prospect Jacob Markstrom in net at the World Juniors and he still has a chance to medal. The Swedish goalie got beat by Team USA last night in the semifinals, but he can still help his team beat the Swiss Tuesday in the Bronze game.

-- And kudos to those of you who tossed the rats onto the ice when Radek Dvorak scored his third goal of the night last night. Not only was Radek part of that, but you really couldn't get in trouble for throwing them after a hat trick. So good for you.

January 02, 2010

The Booth Watch Continues: Panthers At the Halfway Point

Booth1When talking about the second half of the season, coach Pete DeBoer let a potential bombshell drop.

In regards to the injured David Booth, DeBoer said Booth was "a wild-card factor whether or not he comes back'' and that since he has missed so much time since being suffering his concussion on Oct. 24 that "we're not counting on that.''

Booth has still been skating and still been working out according to DeBoer when asked to elaborate on Booth's status. The Panthers had been saying Booth would return to the lineup in January, but DeBoer sounded very cautious. DeBoer knows you don't mess around with concussions. Other players have and you've seen the end result.

I wouldn't be surprised to see them burn off the final two weeks of February and bring Booth back after the Olympic break in March -- if at all.

“It's a real significant injury,'' DeBoer said. "We’ve seen too many guys in this league -- Eric Lindros, Keith Primeau -- have careers end. It’s something we want to make sure David is part of this franchise for a long time.’’

I asked Pete if Booth had suffered any sort of setback and he said no, not really.


"The problem with this type of injury is you take small steps forward and you take another one back,'' DeBoer said. "Then a couple more forward and inch your way toward getting him back."

-- The Panthers have reached the halfway point of the season and things aren't as bad as it seems. A lot of the guys would like to put the first 41 games behind them and start fresh. And if they can improve on the record of the first 41, they got a chance to make those pesky playoffs.

"Where we're at right now, isn't a place we want to be,'' Tomas Vokoun said. "We're out of the playoffs. We're a few points back. That's not good enough. We need to play better and get some wins and the only ones that can do that is us.''

Pete says he thinks his team is a playoff team and is capable of putting together a nice winning streak. Yet they haven't done that so far this season. Florida has yet to win more than three straight games at a time.

We'll see.

Hey, a win Sunday against the Pens would be a start. The Panthers record at home (6-8-5 including a Finnish home loss) is pretty brutal.

-- Everyone was back at practice today and all are expected to start tomorrow against the Pens.

January 01, 2010

The Winter Classic in Miami? Why Not?

Marlinsballpark The joke around the Panthers locker room when the Winter Classic comes around is always the same: When is Florida going to get one?

It's a joke, of course, because the Winter Classic is an outdoor game. Where you going to play? Joe Robbie Stadium? On rollerblades?

Guess what kids? I think South Florida could actually get one of these outdoor games in the next decade.

And you can thank the Marlins for this even being a consideration (and there is no evidence this IS under any kind of consideration).

One of the big draws of Marlins Park at the Orange Bowl is the retractable roof. Not only will that be great for summertime rainstorms, but for concerts and conventions and such.

It could also be good for outdoor hockey.

Think about it: There are only a few places you can hold the Winter Classic. Baseball parks up north (Yankee/Shea Stadium, Busch Stadium, the new Twins Park, SkyDome, etc.) and college football stadiums not being used. The NHL started this New Year's Day tradition in the Bills' football stadium, but because it takes so much time to set up the ice, they want to stay away from NFL parks what with scheduling issues and all.

So, let's say there are about eight good places you can put this game in the coming years. Maybe more, but lets say eight for now. They are going to be looking for unique places to hold the game. Don't you think an outdoor hockey game in MIAMI would bring a ton of national and international attention to the game? For sure it would.

And with the roof, it could work. You close the roof at the stadium and turn on the AC. You put down the rink two weeks before the game, get a good ice sheet going. Then, you open up the roof for a few hours. If it's too hot the day before, you keep it closed for practice, opening it up only for the game. Even if it was a day like today, a good sheet of ice could keep if only for a few hours of hockey.

Sure, it would take away from the Winter Wonderland that the Winter Classic has become -- and doesn't Fenway look awesome today? -- but that would be cool.

Hockey with a Little Havana flair.

Let's do this.

-- So, where else could the Winter Classic go? There are plenty of CFL stadiums that could host the game, but with NBC wanting to keep the game in the States, unless there are two classics a year, you can bet only Toronto's SkyDome and a roofless Olympic Stadium in Montreal have a realistic chance of hosting one.

One of the two ballparks in New York -- Yankees Stadium gets the edge for coolness, but the new Gotham Bowl* there could send New York's game to Queens -- will probably get next year's game. That or Minnesota's new outdoor (and idiotically roofless) ballpark.

Because of the technoligical advances in making ice, you could also play the game in California (San Fran's Giants Park comes to mind, although rain would mess it up) or Las Vegas' college football stadium.

The Blues could host at the Cardinals park, and Chicago could make a bid for a second game -- this time on the South Side. You also could put a game in a Big Ten stadium (Ohio, Michigan, Penn State, etc.) since they don't play host to bowl games.

I still say putting the Capitals in Baltimore's Camden Yards would be awesome. Great park, only an hour from Washington and Philly. And it would be cool to see a non-NHL market jam 50,000 into a ballpark to see a game. 

Coors Field in Denver, Detroit's Comerica Field are obviously other potential future sites. Going back to Baltimore, I could also see Seattle's Safeco Field getting a game down the road.

I also read a story in Pittsburgh suggesting next year's game be played at Mellon Arena. A roofless Mellon Arena. Kind of cool. That arena was built to open up but they don't know if the roof will open anymore and if it did, whether they could close it. So that suggestion was let the Pens finish out the season at the Igloo, then move to their new arena for next season. With the Pens out of there, you could do whatever you want with the roof and then play the final Pens game there under the open sky on Jan. 1, 2011. After that game, blow 'er up.

I don't see that happening, although I'm sure the NHL would consider that before they would consider the Panthers-Lightning Classic in Miami.

(*) -- Yes Yankee Stadium is going to host a bowl game, pitting a team from the Big East and Big 12 starting next season. Old Yankee Stadium played host to the Gotham Bowl back in the 1960s. Your Hurricanes lost to Nebraska there. A little bit o' trivia for you. For free, as usual.

-- And I got $1.50 saying Jerry Jones would love to put this game in the new Cowboys Stadium. But is it feasible? Yeah, but it would be tricky what with the NFL schedule and all. But I wouldn't be surprised to see this barn thrown in the mix. Maybe the Cotton Bowl in Dallas? The Cotton Bowl game has moved to the Cowboys Stadium so maybe...

-- South Florida was loosely represented at this year's Winter Classic.

Honorary captains Bobby Orr and Bobby Clarke have ties to this area as Orr not only is the agent for Nathan Horton, but lives in north Palm Beach County and often attends Panthers games. Clarke, you may recall, was the first GM of the expansion Florida Panthers.

Also, the NHL's Mark Fischel, who used to work for the Panthers, is part of the league's event crew putting on today's game.

And let's not forget Red Sox owner John Henry still has a home in South Florida after trading in the Marlins a few years back.

Extremely local folks. That's On Frozen Pond.

-- Speaking of local coverage, the Florida Panthers were back on the ice today in Coral Springs. Coach Pete DeBoer didn't do much work with the team, instead he split them up into teams and had them play a little 3-on-3 game. They had fun with it. It was a nice way to get on the ice after New Year's Eve and get the legs going, work up a sweat.

A few guys didn't participate (Bryan Allen, Radek Dvorak) but that was just so they could get some rest. Pete said nothing serious.

No other real news. Writing a piece on Keith Ballard for tomorrow's Herald. He had one hell of a good game last night.