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54 posts from March 2010

March 31, 2010

It Puts the Loss in the Basket: Buffalo Runs Over Panthers 6-2

BuffalobillSABRES 6, PANTHERS 2

BUFFALO – Losing never looks good, but for the Panthers, it may be the only way they get any better.

Winning obviously isn't in the franchise's best interest right now as the Panthers should be playing for draft position. With the playoffs long out of reach, Florida should hope to be bad enough to get into position to have some lottery luck in snaring one of the top junior players.

Just don't tell that to coach Pete DeBoer.

“I could give a [expletive] about draft position,'' DeBoer spat after Florida's ugly 6-2 loss to the Sabres at HSBC Arena. The loss was Florida's fourth straight and seventh in nine games.

“We have young players who aren't learning how to win. That's destructive.''

The Sabres, who clinched a playoff spot on Saturday, played like a team trying to wrap up their division as they scored two goals in each of the three periods. Florida actually led 1-0 after Jeff Taffe got his first NHL goal in more than two years.

After that, however, the Sabres scored four unanswered goals including two in a second period in which the Panthers looked lifeless, lost and lethargic. The Panthers failed to get a shot off for the first 11-plus minutes of the second and were outshot 20-2.

The Panthers were outshot 41-15 for the game – and 31-5 in the final two periods.

“When you are standing behind the bench for that, you would like to be anywhere else,'' said DeBoer. “We had a good first period, did a lot of things well. Then the wheels fell off and we have to evaluate why. .-.-. There's no excuse for the last 40 minutes.''

Before the game, DeBoer talked about playing some of his seldom used players a bit more because “we're not in a position where a playoff position is on the line.'' Rookie defenseman Keaton Ellerby, who had been averaging 4:38 of playing time over the past 13 games played 12:12 on Wednesday. Shawn Matthias got 17:37. Nick Tarnasky 12:27.

“That's going to happen at the end of the year and, sad to say, when you don't have a chance to winning the game,'' said Taffe, who came up from the minors on Wednesday afternoon. “It was good to see those guys get some time.''

Florida cut Buffalo's deficit in half early in the third period when Stephen Weiss worked the puck behind the net and passed to Nathan Horton. A slick pass from Horton across the ice found Michael Frolik and he buried the shot for his 19th goal of the season.

The Sabres, who have won seven of eight, got goals from Jason Pominville and Tim Kennedy in the first period, with Nathan Gerbe and Adam Mair scoring in the second. Tyler Ennis and Henrik Tallinder scored within a 33 second span during the third period to make it 6-2.

“It's deflating when you are in this position time and time again,'' Weiss said.

OLESZ HURT

DeBoer had winger Rostislav Olesz working hard during Wednesday's morning skate, running 'suicide' sprints from the dots between the blue lines to the red line dozens of times. At one point, Olesz was resting on the ice when DeBoer skated up to him and chastised him. “You've only been doing this for five minutes,'' he barked.

It appeared Olesz was being bag skated because of his lack of production. Well, not entirely. Olesz injured his hand last week in Toronto and played through the pain. According to Olesz, the hand went numb Monday against Nashville despite taking a shot. “I could only move two fingers,'' Olesz said, showing off the swollen hand.

Olesz didn't play Wednesday and isn't expected to play Thursday in Boston.

“We wouldn't skate him like that before a game,'' DeBoer said of Olesz, who has one assist and no goals in his past 25 games. “There's nothing broken. I would classify it as a pain tolerance thing.''

-- Taffe hadn't scored in the NHL since he did so against the Sabres as a member of the Penguins on March 12, 2008.

-- Winger Steve MacIntyre assisted on Taffe's goal to earn the first assist in his NHL games. MacIntyre has two goals in 39 games – both coming with Edmonton last season.

THURSDAY: PANTHERS AT BRUINS

When, Where: 7 p.m.; TD Garden, Boston

TV/Radio: FSNF; WAXY 790

The series: Panthers lead 29-27-6

The game: The Bruins are clinging to the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and have played erratic in the past month. Last in the league in scoring, the Bs are coming off a 1-0 win over New Jersey on Tuesday. Last month, Boston never had a winning streak of more than two games. Boston went into the Olympic break with four straight wins. The Panthers have lost four straight and seven of nine but Tomas Vokoun beat the Bs 1-0 in Florida's last trip to the Garden.

No Local TV Means A) No Goldie B) LIVE! Chat

Jimkelly BUFFALO -- Going to get the LIVE! chat going once again tonight so feel free to jump in and we'll talk about anything you want.

Well, we're not talking about that thing on your neck. For the fifth time, go see a doctor.

-- Don't forget, iPhone and iTouch users have to click on the below link to get the chat to work. But I've seen it work. It works.

Wings World: Rostislav Olesz OUT; Tomas Vokoun IN

BUFFALO -- About to sit down for a lunch of chicken wings (shocking) and figured I would throw out an update for tonight's game.

First, Rostislav Olesz is out with a hand injury. Jeff Taffe has been recalled. Tomas Vokoun in net.

Carry on...

Wings World: Rostislav Olesz OUT; Tomas Vokoun IN

March 30, 2010

Playoffs? For Panthers? Playoffs? For Some, Yes

Playoffs The Panthers will not be in the playoffs this season, but that doesn't mean some of their players won't get a taste of the postseason.

A number of players will participate in the playoffs of some sort once Florida plays its regular season finale April 11 at BankAtlantic Center against Tampa Bay.

Veteran players like Nathan Horton, Stephen Weiss, Tomas Vokoun, Rostislav Olesz and others will likely be contacted by their national teams to play in the World Championships – a tournament that starts May 7 in Germany.

“I think any player who is invited should go,'' said general manager Randy Sexton. “It's a great experience, a chance to play a different type of hockey in a different situation. If you're healthy, you should go.''

The World Championships is a tournament made up mostly of NHL players whose teams didn't qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs, therefore, the Panthers have had plenty participate over the years. European professionals also make up the international rosters.

Horton has is said to have angered Team Canada management over the years by declining offers to play in the Worlds. One season, he didn't play citing his upcoming contract negotiations. Horton, understandably, didn't want to get hurt while his agent was working on a deal. Horton ended up signing a six year deal in the summer of 2007.

A good number of Panthers will head back to the minors once the season is complete to help Florida's AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., make a run at the Calder Cup.

The Americans could use the help as they are making their first trip to the playoffs since 2007 when Buffalo and the Panthers shared the affiliation.

“I think all the guys here can help them,'' Sexton said. “It's a grind in the American League and we have a good team there. Those guys going back will a shot in the arm. It's good for both of us.''

Rochester will be getting some players who have gained very valuable experience at the NHL level, with center Shawn Matthias playing strong just about every night. Defenseman Jason Garrison has also played well as his responsibilities have increased at the big league level. Keaton Ellerby, Steve MacIntyre and Victor Oreskovich will also be heading back.

“The playoffs are what you work for so to have the opportunity to play in them is something I'm looking forward to,'' said Garrison. “As you get more time here, you get more confidence and you feel more comfortable down there.''

The Panthers would like to be in the playoffs themselves, but are excited that some of their younger players will be able to experience the pressures of postseason play. Florida's AHL teams haven't been to the playoffs much in the past decade, with the San Antonio team going in 2003.

Florida hasn't been to the playoffs in what will become an NHL record-tying nine seasons.

“It's a valuable experience to be in the playoffs and you only get better by being there,'' said Matthias, who has six goals and seven assists in 27 games with the Amerks this season. Matthias has six goals in 48 games with the Panthers in 2009-10.

“In junior, I played my best in the playoffs. Every shift counts. I think if you finish strong in the playoffs, it carries over into the next season.''

-- Center Stephen Weiss is having a career year, setting a personal high in goals (27) and is four points away from tying last season's career high with seven games still to play.

That doesn't mean Weiss is enjoying this season. With the Panthers playing out the stretch – again – Weiss says he measures his success with that of the Panthers. And Florida could end with its fewest points since getting 75 in the season before the lockout.

“I don’t pat myself on the back for individual success. I do the best I can to help the team win and try to get this team to the next level,'' Weiss said. “It’s frustrating when you don’t see results as a team. It gets to you over time. We’ve got to find a way to get this thing going in the right direction.''

WEDNESDAY: PANTHERS AT SABRES

When, Where: 7 p.m.; HSBC Arena, Buffalo

TV/Radio: No local TV; WAXY 790

The series: Sabres lead 37-22-4

The game: Buffalo has already sewn up a playoff spot and will have three players from AHL Portland in the lineup with Thomas Vanek, Tim Connolly and Patrick Kaleta out with injuries. The Sabres have won six of seven after beating Boston on Monday. Florida has lost three straight and six of eight. This is the last multi-city road trip of the season. After playing in Boston on Thursday, the Panthers only have one more road game left – Saturday April 10 in Tampa.

March 29, 2010

Dateline Sunrise: Panthers Caught by the Predators in OT

DatelinePREDATORS 3, PANTHERS 2 (OT)

The Panthers may be going nowhere fast, but Monday night, they showed they still had a little fight left in them.

Just not enough to beat the playoff-bound Predators.

Despite scoring twice within a three minute span in the third period, the Panthers gave up a late goal and watched Francis Bouillon score in overtime as Nashville departed South Florida with a 3-2 win at BankAtlantic Center.

The Panthers have lost three straight and six of their past eight.

The two teams participated in just a brutal first period, with neither team doing much of anything. The two had a total of four combined shots in the first 10 minutes, and ended with just 10 through the entire period.

“I saw it was 1-0 as far as chances went in 20 minutes of hockey,'' coach Pete DeBoer said. “I haven't seen that in a long time. The game got better as it wore on and I think it's disappointing we didn't get two points. We did a lot of things well in the second half of that game.''

Play was ramped up in the second, with the Panthers getting a good eight scoring chances as Nashville gave the Panthers two power play chances. Florida couldn't convert, however, and the Predators went to the second break leading 1-0 after David Legwand beat Clemmensen 2:41 into the period.

Florida finally solved Dan Ellis in the third period with Keith Ballard putting Florida on the board to tie the score 3:12 in. Just a few minutes later, Stephen Weiss continued adding to his career-best totals in goals as he picked up No. 27 by deflecting a long shot from Jason Garrison.

With that, the game was back on Clemmensen. The backup goalie had seen quite a few shots from Nashville in the third, but was able to turn everything back until Patric Hornqvist beat Clemmensen five hole with 3:07 remaining.

“They found a way to tie it up there,'' said Clemmensen, who stopped 22 of 25 shots. “We were playing well. They really pushed it when they were down by a goal. There's a reason they are where they are at. They find a way to win. It's disappointing. We were right there, just a few minutes away.''

Perhaps the biggest highlight of the night came in the second period highlights when, as expected, heavyweights Steve MacIntyre and Wade Belak met up at center ice.

MacIntyre, called up from the minors just two games ago, slugged it out with the former Panthers enforcer, bringing the small crowd to its feet as the two threw one haymaker after another before MacIntyre finally chopped down Belak.

Belak, traded to the Preds from the Panthers on Thanksgiving Day in 2008, was playing in his first game since Feb. 12. Belak didn't win the fight, but he did give the crowd a laugh when he was captured puckering up to the 'kiss cam' during the second period.

BOOTH UPDATE

General manager Randy Sexton said Monday night that he had not spoken to injured winger David Booth in a couple of days. And he's cool with that.

“His voice mail is full,'' Sexton said, “and that's great. That means he's not on the phone.”

Sexton added that there is less of a concern with Booth's long-term prognosis than there was before. Booth, who is shut down for the season and won't play in the offseason World Championships, was much more alert the day after suffering his second concussion Thursday than he was back in October. Booth's first concussion cost him 45 games.

“Having gotten the test results, I'm a lot less concerned,'' Sexton said. “His level of alertness in Montreal, his mental acuity, his sense of humor, everything was significantly better than in Philadelphia. You're always concerned to have two in a year, but a lot less concerned given the medical results.”

-- DeBoer was asked about Florida's goofy schedule and conceded that Florida's season was over. The Panthers played three games in Canada last week only to fly home to play Nashville on Monday. The team flies back to Buffalo on Tuesday for a game against the Sabres on Wednesday.

“I’d probably be more upset if we were actually battling for a playoff spot,'' he said. “Where we’re sitting right now, it doesn’t matter where we play.''

-- DeBoer went with Clemmensen over Tomas Vokoun on Monday, saying that “something had to change” as Vokoun has one win in his past seven starts. “I’m not saying he played poorly during that stretch,'' DeBoer said, “but we’ve got to win games.''

Since Vokoun was traded from Nashville to the Panthers in 2007, the two teams have played five times – four with DeBoer as the coach. Under DeBoer, Vokoun has been benched for three of those four games.

-- DeBoer says something has to change next season as the team's effort is way too inconsistent.

“It’s obviously maddening,'' he said. “We have some guys that give it to you on a nightly basis, Bryan McCabe, Bryan Allen, some of those guys. And we’ve got a group of guys that need to constantly be pushed.''

-- Byron Bitz injured an elbow Saturday in Ottawa and is day-to-day. Victor Oreskovich was recalled from Florida's AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., and was in the lineup Monday.


LIVE! From The Billboard, it's Monday Night Hockey: Preds @ Panthers

Hello all, going to get this thing going in a bit.

If you want to send some early questions, go right ahead.

I have to approve all questions, so if you don't see it pop up right away, that just means I haven't gotten to it yet.

Ready? Go!

-- Forgot to post this on here earlier today (but I did Tweet/Facebook it) but Tomas Vokoun will not be in net tonight as Scott Clemmensen gets the call against the Preds.

Also, Victor Oreskovich is back from Rochester and will replace Byron Bitz in the lineup. Bitz is out with an elbow injury.

-- iPod and iTouch users need to click on the link below to pick up the Cover It Live software and get into the mix...

-- Don't forget to join us on Twitter @OnFrozenPond

You can also become a fan of the site on Facebook -- On Frozen Pond is the name of the page.

Who Owns the Chiefs? Johnstown Losing Team For Real

ReggieIn the world of minor league hockey, no team is more famous than the Johnstown Chiefs.

That's because the Chiefs play their home games in Johnstown, Pa., in the same arena the fictional Chiefs of the all-time classic Slap Shot played in.

Only not for long.

The Chiefs, who are owned and coached by former Rangers GM Neil Smith, are on their way south. And no, they are not headed to sunny F-L-A ("I think there are a lot of shysters in Florida").

The Johnstown ECHL franchise, which is a perennial loser financially, is headed to Greensville, S.C. -- not to be confused with Greensboro, N.C., where the Marlins have a minor league affiliate.

Here's the AP story on the move with a lot of good local flavor.

Sounds like Smith and his crew are working real hard to keep the name and all of that in Johnstown so if someone wants to make a go of it in the future -- perhaps in the new Federal League -- they can.

Here are some great lines from the movie -- some of the better ones cannot be printed here..you can find all of these great quotes on imdb.com

And if you are bored, you can read the entire script here.

Or just watch the flick for that 50th time.

-- "See this quarter? It used to be a nickle. The golden years are behind you. One season, you'll be hanging up the blades and retiring the ax. Then you'll remember it was Joe McGrath who trained you for the front office.''-- Joe McGrath.

Dickydunn "To see the three Chiefs make a scoring rush, the bright colors of their jerseys flashing against the milky ice was to see a work of art in motion." -- Dickie Dunn.

"If Dickie Dunn wrote it, it must be true." -- Reg Dunlap.

-- "They spent their own dough to get here, and they came here to see us. All right, let's show 'em what we got, guys! Get out there on the ice and let 'em know you're there. Get that stick in their side. Let 'em know you're there! Get that lumber in his teeth. Let 'em know you're there!" -- Reg Dunlap.

Slapshotbench -- "Bleed all over 'em. Let 'em know you're there." -- Ned Braden.

-- "Here's a name for you nostalgia fans: Clarence 'Screaming Buffalo' Swamptown.

"I'll never forget an exclusive interview in which Swamptown revealed that he calls his hockey stick the 'Big Tomahawk,' and he usually refers to the opposing players as 'the little scalps'.'' -- Jim Carr.

-- "Against the rules. You know, you're stupid when you do that. Just some English pig with no brains, you know." -- Dennis Lemieux. 

-- "Every scout in the NHL is out there tonight, with contracts in their pockets, and they're looking for talent. For winners. Oh. All my years of publicity. All the fashion shows and radiothons for nothing. They come here tonight -- to scout the Chiefs -- the toughest team in the Federal League! Not this!" -- Joe McGrath.

Jimcarr -- "Andre 'Poodle' Lussier, defense. Andre, as you know, has been living in semi-seclusion in Northern Quebec ever since the unfortunate Denny Pratt tragedy.'' -- Carr.

-- "I have to confess I've never let the children watch a hockey game. I have a theory that children imitate what they see on a TV screen. If they see violence, they'll become violent. If they see someone stick up a bank, they'll stick up a bank. Heroin. You name it" -- Anita McCambridge.

-- "Oh this young man has had a very trying rookie season, with the litigation, the notoriety, his subsequent deportation to Canada and that country's refusal to accept him, well, I guess that's more than most 21-year-olds can handle... Ogie Ogilthorpe!" -- Carr.

Slapshotflag "I am personally placing a hundred-dollar bounty on the head of Tim McCracken. He's the head coach and chief punk on that Syracuse team." -- Dunlap.


LIVE! Hockey Chat at 7 p.m.: Preds @ Panthers

BigbangOn my flight home from Ottawa yesterday, a couple of guys started talking hockey so of course I jumped into the conversation.

Would it be hard to get tickets to the game tonight, they asked.

Hmmm. Let's see. It's a Monday. The Panthers are out of it. Nashville is the opponent (no offense), tonight is the start of Passover and it's also CBS Comedy Monday.

No, I don't think they'll have much of a problem at all.

I will probably be able to pick them out of the crowd and I don't even remember what they look like.

That said, I'll be there, high atop The Billboard and if you are at home and have any interest in this game, you'll probably be around a computer. That's because there's no TV coverage for tonight's game. When this happens, I usually fire up the blog as we have LIVE! coverage of the game. Come on back around 7 p.m. to sign in and we'll have us a good old fashioned chat session. You can ask me questions, I can pretend to answer them, stuff like that.

It'll be a hoot.

I look forward to conversing with you. Electronically, of course.

Eight is Enough Redux: Should the Panthers Tank It?

FranktheTank OTTAWA -- A few weeks ago, Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said he was coaching every game to win and not giving up hope that his team could make the playoffs until it was mathematically eliminated.

On Saturday evening, Gregory Campbell said he would play with a broken foot to help his team make the postseason.

``We still have a chance here,'' Campbell said.

After Saturday's loss to the Senators, it seems like reality has finally hit the Panthers.

Publicly, anyway.

Florida goes into Monday's game against visiting Nashville with only the slimmest of postseason chances. They reside near at the bottom of the Eastern Conference -- nine points down and a handful of teams away from the eighth and final spot with just eight games left.

Draft No, the Stanley Cup playoffs will not be making a stop in South Florida again this spring. For a record-tying ninth season (and record-breaking 10th year), the Panthers will be out of the postseason.

``I don't really want to be talking about it,'' said alternate captain Stephen Weiss, who, if he plays out the string, will have played 481 regular season NHL games without tasting the playoffs even once. ``You only get so many years to play, and for me now, I'm eight years in or whatever it is, and I haven't played a playoff game. And it looks pretty dim right now. It's frustrating.''

Captain Bryan McCabe came into an empty dressing room Saturday night knowing what would be asked before it was. McCabe has been to the playoffs four times in his career -- but not since the prelockout playoffs of 2004 with the Maple Leafs.

The realization that the Panthers have been out of it has been lingering for weeks. Right before the trading deadline, general manager Randy Sexton sent three veteran players to contenders for draft picks. The message was sent: Not only weren't the Panthers adding to their current roster, but they were selling. The future is not now.

Thomasthetank ``Yeah it sucks, but we've got no one to blame but ourselves,'' McCabe said. ``We put ourselves in this spot. Like I've said before, we've been very inconsistent this year. There's no other way to look at it.''

Last year at the deadline, then-GM Jacques Martin chose to stand pat. By keeping pending free agent Jay Bouwmeester, Martin was sending a message that the Panthers were a playoff team, and Bouwmeester would help that.

What actually happened is the Panthers lost eight of their next 10, missed the playoffs and lost Bouwmeester to Calgary.

Bouwmeester is faring no better with the Flames, who also are on the outside looking in. If he finishes the season, he could play 553 games without going to the playoffs.

Some fans would love to see the Panthers tank their final eight games and put themselves in prime position for one of the coveted top picks in the NHL draft.

But losing games on purpose isn't something hockey players do. The Panthers might not have a winning record, but they say they will continue to play hard.

Dunktank In fact, the Panthers could play spoiler. Boston, Florida's opponent on Thursday, is hanging on by a thread. The Rangers, who visit Saturday night, are in the hunt for eighth spot.

The way they look at it, they owe the game that much. They owe themselves that much.

``It's our job to play hard every night, no matter if we're in it or not,'' said McCabe. ``You've got to have pride in what you do out there. We need to win as many games as we can.''

March 27, 2010

Panthers Get Kicked by Sens ... Confirmed: David Booth Out for the Season

SensSENATORS 3, PANTHERS 2

KANATA, Ont. -- The last time the Panthers visited Ottawa, it was freezing cold, David Booth was out with a concussion and the host Senators were an absolute mess.

Some things definitely have changed.

It's still cold, Booth will miss the rest of the season after suffering another concussion but the Senators have righted their ship.

Saturday night, Ottawa got two goals in the final five minutes of the second period and continued to strengthen its playoff position by beating the Panthers 3-2 at Scotiabank Place.

“We didn't do enough to win, man one through 20,'' said coach Pete DeBoer, whose team has lost two straight and are nine points out of the playoffs with eight games left.

“They capitalized on some plays where we had some forwards standing around watching. They have a dangerous team and can do that. We need a big performance from someone. The last game we won, Booth got two goals.''

On Jan. 9, the Panthers' 3-0 win was Ottawa's third straight loss. After two more defeats, the Sens went on a 11-game winning streak and have never really looked back. The win helped Ottawa keep its lead over Montreal for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and stay within six of Pittsburgh for fourth (and home ice in the opening round).

Florida broke the ice in the second when Stephen Weiss worked his way around the left side and scored on a backhanded shot. On the play, Weiss charged into traffic, with Andy Sutton looking to put a shoulder on the Florida center. Instead, Sutton clipped Weiss but took out teammate Anton Volchenkov in the collision.

Volchenkov left the game after being attended to by medical staff and did not return.

“I think I got away with one there. I was in an awkward spot,'' said Weiss. “Knock wood, that was lucky. I still haven't seen the goal. I was going on net, thought I was going to get killed and shot the puck trying to get out of the way. It looked like we were going to clip knees and I still was in a weird spot.''

Ottawa added a pair of goals late in the second, with Matt Cullen tying it with 4:58 remaining after whacking at a loose puck. With 2:20 remaining, Jason Spezza drove in but lost the puck as it hit a broken stick on the ice. Peter Regin was trailing and picked up Spezza's shot, his slap shot zipping past Vokoun to make it 2-1.

The Senators made it 3-1 early in the third on a power play goal but Florida had plenty of chances to come back thanks to an Ottawa penalty parade. With 6:46 left, the Panthers converted a 5-on-3 power play when Steven Reinprecht knocked a Cory Stillman pass into an empty net.

But Florida had no such success later when it had a 5-on-3 for 1:20 and failed to beat Brian Elliott for the game tying goal.

-- General manager Randy Sexton confirmed Saturday that Booth would not play again this season after suffering his second concussion since Oct. 24. Booth was injured again Thursday in Montreal and returned to South Florida on Friday.

Sexton said after talking to doctors, it was decided Booth wouldn't return.

CAMPBELL CLOSE

Winger Gregory Campbell skated Saturday for the first time since breaking a bone in his foot in a game against Buffalo four games ago. Campbell was able to put on a skate and said the swelling and pain wasn't as bad as he had expected.

“Obviously it's a little sore being a week out, but for what the injury is and the normal time frame is, I feel happy about how it feels,'' said Campbell, who went 25 minutes on Saturday. “According to what [trainer Dave] Zenobi told me, it's an injury that won't swell too much. It's more about pushing off, turning on it. That's what causes the problems.''

DeBoer said Campbell may be able to play Monday against Nashville, but Campbell said Wednesday's game in Buffalo may be more realistic. Campbell is a restricted free agent after this season and says he wants to get to back as soon as possible.

“I'm taking it day by day, but Wednesday is a best case scenario,'' Campbell said. “I hate sitting out. It's been a tough year, missing the games I have missed. I don't like it. .-.-. I think it's worth it for me to come back and play and not sit out.''

-- Olesz left the game in the first period after being hit and suffering a cut above his left eye. After getting stitched up, Olesz returned.

-- Florida lost its second straight game against teams who played the night before in Buffalo. Thursday's 4-1 loss to Montreal came a day after the Canadiens lost to the Sabres; Friday, the Sens won 4-2 at HSBC Arena before coming home to beat the Panthers.

Hockey Night In Canada: Panthers @ Senators

DSCN0470KANATA, Ont. -- Hockey Night in Canada has a good game tonight as the New Jersey Devils visit the Canadiens.

Oh, they also have the Panthers-Senators.

Good thing the NCAA Tournament is going to be on.

All kidding aside, should be a decent game here on the windy tundra of Kanata.

The last time we were here, the Panthers cleaned the Sens by a 3-0 score; the Sens were brutal then. They are better now and are coming off a nice 4-2 win in Buffalo last night.

Just spoke to Gregory Campbell. He says he skated for about 25 minutes today and the foot feels better than he thought it would -- especially since he broke it a week ago. He says the trainers tell him because of where the fracture is that he shouldn't be expecting too much more swelling. It's more of a 'what can I do' injury as he says starting, stopping and turning is the problem.

Campbell says he doesn't expect to play Monday against the Preds but is looking at Wednesday night's game in Buffalo instead.

Back to basketball. Check in when you can. There might be something here.

-- Don't forget you can follow us on Twitter @OnFrozenPond or become a friend of the page on Facebook (On Frozen Pond).

Soup for You: Gregory Campbell May Return

HortonsoupOTTAWA -- Just got back from the morning skate in this nation's capital and am watching a show called 'Canada's Worst Driver.'

Believe it or not, but it wasn't filmed near Hollywood Beach.

Of course, according to Steve X., I may just be Canada's Worst Driver. Whatever. I got us there, didn't I?

Back to hockey: Gregory Campbell was able to get his broken foot into a skate today and was on the ice for the end of practice and was working out on his own.

Coach Pete DeBoer says Campbell could be back Monday against the Predators or Wednesday in Buffalo.

Tomas Vokoun in net tonight against the Senators.

More later....

March 26, 2010

David Booth: Season Over? Probably So

Booth3 OTTAWA – David Booth missed 45 games after suffering his first concussion of his life on Oct. 24.

After getting his second on Thursday night in Montreal, it appears the Panthers star winger is done for the season.

Booth was released from a Montreal hospital early Friday morning and was later put on a plane bound for Miami International Airport. Booth is expected to examined by team medical personnel in South Florida and it will be determined whether or not he can be cleared to play again this season.

Yet with the Panthers playoff hopes all but dead and only nine games remaining, coach Pete DeBoer stressed that the organization needs to look at the big picture when it comes to Booth. Last year's leading goal scorer, Booth signed a six-year deal in the offseason and is the team's highest paid forward.

Booth had eight goals in 28 games this season – including four in the past five games.

“I'm not going to say Booth is done for the season, but he very well might be and there's a strong probability of that,'' DeBoer said after his team's workout in Ottawa on Friday.

“But the next step is to get him to Florida, get evaluated and we'll know more. I'm very concerned about it. Where we are in the standings, you have to weigh whether the risk makes sense. But the doctors will make that decision for us.''

When Booth suffered his first concussion in Philadelphia, Flyers captain Mike Richards was roundly criticized for his open ice hit that knocked Booth unconscious. On Thursday, Booth was working the puck into the Montreal zone when defenseman Jaroslav Spacek collided with Booth, hitting him flush in the face.

Booth was looking down at the ice and didn't appear to see Spacek coming. Spacek was not penalized on the play and seemed concerned for Booth's well being as he stood nearby on the ice as medical staff attended to him. Spacek's hit was called clean by just about every Panthers player and coach asked for an opinion on it.

“You can't just tell him to keep his head up because of the way he plays,'' said DeBoer. “He's aggressive and goes after the puck. The play [Thursday] was him making the extra effort and reaching for it. And a guy was there. That's the way he plays and unfortunately he's gotten a couple concussions because of it.''

Booth had just been coming out of his funk from the first concussion when he was hit with the second. He returned to the Panthers seven games before the February Olympic break, scoring no goals with two assists. The long rest between games seemed to be very beneficial to Booth as he scored two goals with four assists in his first two games back from the break.

DeBoer says he's going to mix up the lines before Saturday's game against the Senators and didn't say who would replace Booth on the second forward line. Bruiser Steve MacIntyre was recalled from the team's AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., but he's expected to play on the fourth line. Michael Frolik could slide up into Booth's spot.

“I think the team was deflated,'' center Stephen Weiss said regarding Thursday's hit. “You never want to see a guy get hurt like that, and after what happened earlier, that was pretty ugly. At least now he has the summer to rest and get better. Hopefully nothing is wrong. We're all thinking about him.''

-- Saturday's game is Florida's final game in Canada this season. The Panthers aren't done with Canadian teams, however. The Senators, Saturday night's opponent, visits Sunrise on April 6.

SATURDAY: PANTHERS AT SENATORS

When, Where: 7 p.m.; Scotiabank Place, Kanata, Ont.

TV/Radio: FSNF; WAXY 790

The series: Senators lead 34-26-3

The game: The two have split the two games this season, with the road team winning each time. After losing five straight, the Senators beat Montreal and Philadelphia earlier this week before visiting Buffalo on Friday night. Florida had its modest two game winning streak snapped with a 4-1 loss in Montreal on Thursday. The Canadiens scored two empty net goals in the final 90 seconds.

Probable Lines: Tomas Vokoun, Scott Clemmensen

Bryan McCabe-Keith Ballard, Bryan Allen-Dmitry Kulikov, Jason Garrison-Keaton Ellerby

Cory Stillman-Stephen Weiss-Nathan Horton

Michael Frolik-Steven Reinprecht-Byron Bitz

Rostislav Olesz-Shawn Matthias-Radek Dvorak

Steve MacIntyre-Kamil Kreps-Nick Tarnasky


David Booth Released, Headed to MIA

MONTREAL -- David Booth was released from a local hospital late Thursday/early Friday after suffering a concussion. Booth took a Jaroslav Spacek elbow to the face and hit the ice early in the second period of the Panthers 4-1 loss to the Habs.

Team spokesman Justin Copertino says Booth is in good spirits and heading back to South Florida. Copertino took Booth to the airport and put him on a plane bound for Miami International.

Big Steve MacIntyre is on his way to join the team in Ottawa. More later, Tim Hortons now...

March 25, 2010

David Booth in Montreal Hospital, Doing OK ... Oh Yeah: Canadiens 4, Panthers 1

Booth1 BY GEORGE RICHARDS

MONTREAL – The Panthers had another scary moment involving winger David Booth on Thursday as he was taken to a local hospital after being knocked out during the second period of Florida's 4-1 loss to the Canadiens.

Booth was hurt after being hit in the face by the elbow of Montreal defenseman Jaroslav Spacek less than two minutes into the second period.

After the game, Florida general manager Randy Sexton said Booth was alert and talking but couldn't give more details as he said Booth had more tests to take.

The Panthers were staying over in Montreal after the game and will travel to Ottawa on Friday morning via a chartered bus. Booth is expected to be on board.

“He's coherent, he's clear, he's alert,'' said Sexton, whose team's two game winning streak was snapped after the Canadiens jumped to a 2-0 lead and held on.

Booth missed 45 games this season after suffering a concussion in a hit delivered by Philadelphia's Mike Richards on Oct. 24.

That hit, and the ensuing coverage that followed it, helped pave the way for rule changes on the way the league doles out punishment for hits to the head. The league's union, coincidentally, agreed to the stiffer penalties hours before Thursday's game.

“What's he's been through, we're all concerned, thinking about him and crossing our fingers,'' said coach Pete DeBoer. “When he got hit, I just hoped it was the wind knocked out of him. When he stayed on his stomach, you get pretty concerned.''

Richards was assessed a game misconduct for his hit on Booth; Spacek was not penalized and watched Booth receive treatment as he stood on the ice a few feet away.

On Thursday, Booth was moving the puck along the boards near the Montreal blue line when the veteran Spacek rushed in and hit Booth square in the jaw with his elbow. Booth hit the ice, although he didn't fall face-first as he did following the Richards hit. DeBoer and a number of players said they felt the hit was clean.

Booth lay motionless on the ice for a few moments but started moving once athletic trainer Dave Zenobi reached him. After a minute or two, Booth rolled over, and sat up. He woozily stood up as Zenobi and a few teammates helped him into the tunnel leading into the Panthers locker room.

“We just hope he's OK and wish him nothing but the best,'' said backup goalie Scott Clemmensen, who was sitting in the tunnel a few yards away from Booth and helped him into the tunnel. “It's tough to see, I don't care who it is, but you don't like seeing a friend of yours laying on the ice. And for him, especially after what he's already been through.''

Florida trailed 2-0 at the point of the Booth hit as the host Canadiens continued working toward a playoff berth as they scored twice in the opening period. Tomas Vokoun, starting in net for the first time since last Saturday, gave up a backhander to Benoit Pouliot off a Florida turnover with 7:20 left in the first.

Montreal got its second goal less than four minutes later when Brian Gionata scored from the right circle. Florida battled back as Radek Dvorak scored with 3:36 left. But the Canadiens took advantage of the empty net, potting a pair of goals in the final 1:24 to end it. The Canadiens took three of four from the Panthers for the second consecutive season.

The Panthers remained seven points out of the final playoff spot with nine games remaining.

LIVING ON THE EDGE

Ever since the Panthers traded a pair of their veteran defensemen earlier this month, DeBoer has been using a short line of defensemen.

Captain Bryan McCabe and Keith Ballard get the bulk of the work as does Bryan Allen – despite his surgically repaired knee that cost him all but two games last season. Rookies Dmitry Kulikov and Jason Garrison are getting good experience, although 21-year-old Keaton Ellerby is barely playing at all.

And DeBoer knows this situation is less than ideal.

“As a coach, it's an accident waiting to happen,'' he said Thursday morning. “We are asking too much of them. They're handling it, but it's not a great situation.''

DeBoer admits he didn't know what to expect from Allen coming into the season, but the 29-year blueliner has been “real gutsy.'' Allen played in his 15th consecutive game Thursday and 67th overall.

-- Former Panthers forward Dominic Moore fit right in with the Canadiens, scoring two goals in his first five games after being traded to Montreal for a 2011 second round pick in February.

Moore, who scored 17 points in 48 games with the Panthers, came into Thursday's game with no goals and five assists in his past eight. Moore had no goals and two assists in his final 13 games with the Panthers.



David Booth Knocked Out vs. Canadiens: Alert, Coherent and Going to Hospital

Booth

BY GEORGE RICHARDS

MONTREAL – The Panthers had another scary moment involving winger David Booth on Thursday as he hit the ice after taking a hard hit from Canadiens' defenseman Jaroslav Spacek during the second period of their game against the Canadiens at Bell Center.,

Booth was helped off the ice and taken from the arena to a local hospital.

According to team spokesman Justin Copertino, Booth was attended to by Dr. David Mulder of the Montreal Canadiens medical team. Mulder said Booth was alert, attentive and moving around. Booth is expected to travel with the team via bus to Ottawa on Friday morning.

Booth missed 45 games this season after suffering a concussion in a hit delivered by Philadelphia's Mike Richards on Oct. 24.

That hit, and the ensuing coverage that followed it, helped pave the way for rule changes on the way the league doles out punishment for hits to the head. The league's union, coincidentally, agreed to the stiffer penalties hours before Thursday's game.

Richards was assessed a game misconduct for his hit on Booth; Spacek was not penalized and watched Booth receive treatment as he stood on the ice a few feet away.

On Thursday, Booth was moving the puck along the boards near the Montreal blue line when the veteran Spacek rushed in and hit Booth square in the face with his elbow. Booth hit the ice, although he didn't fall face-first as he did following the Richards hit.

Booth lay motionless on the ice for a few moments but started moving once athletic trainer Dave Zenobi reached him. After a minute or two, Booth rolled over, and sat up. He woozily stood up as Zenobi and a few teammates helped him into the tunnel leading into the Panthers locker room.

Florida trailed 2-0 at the point of the Booth hit as the host Canadiens continued working toward a playoff berth as they scored twice in the opening period. Tomas Vokoun, starting in net for the first time since last Saturday, gave up a backhander to Benoit Pouliot off a Florida turnover with 7:20 left in the first.

Montreal got its second goal less than four minutes later when Brian Gionata scored from the right circle.


March 24, 2010

Gregory Campbell Fractures Foot ... Tomas Vokoun Rested and Ready

Soup3

MONTREAL – This isn't how Gregory Campbell wanted his contract year to go.

A restricted free agent, the Panthers hard working winger has struggled on offense, scoring just two goals after scoring a career high 15 last season.

“This has been pretty frustrating for me,'' Campbell said Wednesday. “It's been one thing after another. But it's part of the game.''

Now, Campbell's season may be over. Coach Pete DeBoer confirmed on Wednesday that Campbell fractured a bone in his foot blocking a shot last Saturday night. Both DeBoer and Campbell say he could return in the coming weeks, but with the season winding down, it's possible he could be done.

“We'll see how it develops,'' DeBoer said after Wednesday's practice at the Canadiens new suburban training facility. “I don't anticipate him being able to get his [skate] on for a few days but it's definitely not weeks. He doesn't need a cast but it is fractured.''

Campbell played after taking a shot off his skate but once he took off his boot, the foot swelled and he's been unable to put it back on. Campbell said he'll be back before the season ends – the Panthers have 10 games left – but doesn't know when. It could take six weeks for the bone to heal, although Campbell could play through the pain if the swelling subsides.

“It's a broken bone, but once I can put on the skate and push off and feel confident on my stop and starts, then I can come back,'' Campbell said. “If I can get the foot back in the skate, I'll try it. I'm hoping for the best. If it hurts a little, that's fine. But I want to be able to skate the right way. I don't want to be a liability.''

The Panthers will likely tender Campbell a contract after this season as he is a popular player within the locker room and is well liked by the coaching staff. Campbell, the son of NHL executive Colin Campbell, has grown up within the Panthers organization as team picked him in the third round of the 2003 draft. He made his NHL debut a few months later when the Panthers played the New York Islanders.

Florida signed Campbell to a two-year deal worth $1.5 million in 2008.

“I'm coming off a pretty good last year and I have worked hard,'' said Campbell, who has played in 363 career games with the Panthers. “Am I satisfied? No. I always want to be better, help the team in any way. And that means offensively. I try not to focus on the contract stuff. Those things kind of take care of themselves. I put the team first. I believe in this team, believe in the message here and I want to be a part of it. I want to help this team get to the playoffs. The contract is secondary.''

VOKOUN IS BACK

Tomas Vokoun will back in net for the Panthers after Scott Clemmensen backstopped the Panthers to a pair of wins against the Lightning and Maple Leafs. DeBoer says the mental rest, if nothing else, will be good for Vokoun. Not only has he played in 59 games for the Panthers this season-- matching last year's total -- but also was the starting goalie for the Czech Republic in the Vancouver games.

“Look at where we are and how much I have played, I haven't been able to practice much in the past three months,'' said Vokoun. “It's been a nice break. Yes, you want to play. But you have to rest too. You need to have that hunger for the game. It was a nice couple of days.''

Added DeBoer: “It's really the first bump in the road of his season except for our start and I don't think that was his fault. I thought he was pretty sharp. It's a minor bump. With what we've asked him to do and the Olympics and the pressures of being in a one goal game every night, we gave Clemmensen the extra night. We hope Vokoun comes back refreshed.''

THURSDAY: PANTHERS AT CANADIENS

When, Where: 7:30 p.m.; Bell Center, Montreal

TV/Radio: FSNF; WAXY 790

The series: Tied 29-29-6

The game: The Panthers have won two straight games but haven't won a game in Montreal since Dec. 18, 2007. The Canadiens had lost two straight going into Wednesday's game in Buffalo. Before losing in overtime to the Leafs on Saturday, the Canadiens had won six straight to help solidify a playoff spot in their first season under coach Jacques Martin. Montreal has won two of three against Florida this season and seven of the past 11.


March 23, 2010

Panthers Take It To Go In T.O.: Florida 4, Maple Leafs 1

Hortons

PANTHERS 4, MAPLE LEAFS 1

TORONTO – Panthers general manager Randy Sexton said a few weeks ago that had David Booth not been knocked out in October and missed 45 games because of that concussion, his team would be in the playoff mix.

With the way Booth has been playing the past few weeks, Sexton may have a very valid argument.

The Panthers winger scored twice Tuesday giving him four goals in four games as Florida won its second straight game with a 4-1 victory over the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Center.

Booth, who scored a team-high 31 goals last season, has eight goals in 27 games this season.

“You can't really look back and ask 'what could have been','' said Booth. “We have a good enough team here that when anyone steps into the lineup, we have a chance. Those things happen. It's tough, but every team has injuries.''

The Panthers season is rapidly coming to a close and with 10 games remaining, their shot at the last playoff spot is remote indeed. But with Booth and Nathan Horton – who missed 17 games with a broken leg – back in the lineup, the Panthers offense has shown signs of life after weeks of hibernation.

“Obviously, having Booth and Horton back, we're a different team,'' said coach Pete DeBoer. “Someone threw the stat out that since the [Olympic] break, we're seventh in the league in goals scored. That's a whole lot different than the 12 games going in when we were dead last. Those guys are world class players and they change the face of your team when they are in the lineup.''

Florida may have only scored three goals against Leafs backup Jean-Sebastien Giguere (Jason Garrison's came into an empty net) on Tuesday, but had their chances.

The Leafs came into the night winners of three straight and seven of nine, and made goalie Scott Clemmensen work hard throughout.

Clemmensen, making his second straight start after beating the Lightning Sunday in Sunrise, was as sharp as he has been all season and definitely showed he deserves more playing time as the season concludes. Clemmensen was peppered with shots, stopping 42 of 43 to earn his second straight win and seventh of the season.

Before the game, DeBoer said starter Tomas Vokoun would get the start Thursday in Montreal regardless of what happened Tuesday. DeBoer says he's sticking with that plan.

“I had to get into the rhythm of the game,'' said Clemmensen, who has stopped 103 of 109 shots in four games of action in the past week. “I felt pretty confidence all game because I was able to get some saves early on.''

Tuesday, the Leafs looked to a take the first lead when leading scorer Phil Kessel came down on a breakaway but couldn't connect. Instead it was Florida taking the 1-0 first period lead when David Booth picked Luke Schenn's pocket and scored on a breakaway of his own. DeBoer says he wasn't happy with Florida's play in the first, one in which Clemmensen was forced to make 19 saves.

In the third, Booth gave Florida some breathing room when he redirected a shot from former Toronto assistant captain Bryan McCabe at 1:25 of the period. Michael Frolik all but put the game away with 8:22 left when he ripped off a shot from the left circle that beat Giguere.

Clemmensen was also very good in the third period as he helped the Panthers kill off three penalties. Horton went to the bin twice with Nick Tarnasky following suit. Toronto went 0-for-6 on the power play.

The Panthers and Leafs ended up splitting the season series.

-- Center Gregory Campbell missed his second straight game with a foot/ankle injury suffered Saturday against the Sabres. DeBoer said Sunday that Campbell was scheduled to have a second X-ray but admitted Tuesday he wasn't sure if that had happened or not.

-- Tuesday's game was a meeting between two of the youngest teams in the league. Toronto leads the NHL with an average age of 26.7 years old. The Panthers are fifth at 27.4. Of the top five, only one team – Chicago (27.4) – is in the playoff mix.

-- Rostislav Olesz ended his 21 game scoreless streak by getting the second assist on Booth's second goal. Olesz hadn't recorded an assist since Jan. 18 against Atlanta. Olesz hasn't scored a goal since getting two Jan. 16 against the Lightning.

Paper or Plastic?

Yormarknets TORONTO -- I know some of you out there have contemplated going to Sunrise wearing a paper bag on your head to show your displeasure with the Florida Panthers season.

Some New Jersey Nets fans have done so and faced the wrath of Yormark.

Not Michael Yormark. His twin brother Brett.

At last night's Nets-Heat game in the Meadowlands, Brett Yormark (CEO of the Brooklyn Nets) got into it with some fans -- one of whom was wearing a paper bag over his head.

In case you don't follow the NBA, the Nets aren't good. They are a lot worse than the Panthers. Possibly record-breaking bad.

Apparently these guys sit by the bench and by B.Yormark and he didn't like what he saw. If these guys were season ticket holders, I'm sure they've seen a lot of basketball they didn't like seeing. Again, the Nets are brutal.

 According to the Newark Star-Ledger, B.Yormark issued a statement on what happened on Monday night. Hey, I like that the guy's sticking up for his team -- and the paper bag thing has been done to death.

But there is nothing wrong with a paying customer wearing a paper bag (I would avoid the plastic ones) to a game if they wanted to demonstrate their unhappiness with the team.

Unless they got the tickets for free at Quarterdeck. Then you have to wear the Quarterdeck to-go bag. It's only right.

“Our fans have been great and they’ve stuck with us through a tough season,'' B.Yormark says in the statement.

"I did not agree with the way this person expressed his opinion of our team last night and I let him know. It’s been a frustrating season for all of us, but I will continue to stand up for our players, our fans, and our organization. We have an exciting future ahead and we appreciate all of our fans’ support.”

Chillin' in Toronto

Skydome TORONTO -- Good afternoon from cold and chilly Toronto. A good day for a hockey game. They could probably play this one outside.

The Leafs have been pretty well of late and could pull themselves out of last place in the Eastern Conference.

We'll see what happens tonight.

Anyway, Gregory Campbell didn't practice again today and will not play against the Leafs. He must be hurt if he isn't playing in Toronto. Pete DeBoer said Gregory needed a second X-ray (or the team wanted one) but said he didn't know if he had gotten one or not.

Also, no matter what happens tonight, Tomas Vokoun is back in net against the Canadiens on Thursday in Montreal.