First off, have to apologize to all of you who religiously check this site each day looking for some Panthers updates, but there hasn't been much going on.
Don't know if you heard, but the Rochester Americans -- the Panthers AHL affiliate -- opened their first round series with the Abbotsford (Miami) Heat by splitting a pair of games in Rochester before heading west for three games.
The Amerks won the first two games and took a commanding 3-1 lead. Sounds great right?
Eh, not so much.
Like the Capitals, the Amerks took it on the chin and lost the next three games (unlike the Caps, Rochester lost the final two playoff games at home) and were bounced from the postseason. Folks in Rochester are not happy at all, with the crowd at War Memorial chanting for coach Benoit Groulx's job during the Game 7 loss to the Heat. I would guess those disgruntled fans will get their wish.
Jason Garrison had a solid series for the Amerks, registering nine points off two goals. Shawn Matthias has two goals and five assists in the seven game series.
-- Also of note, the Panthers -- who announced their offseason was going to be sponsored by a Japanese luxury car maker that rhymes with Texas -- have signed two of their prospects to entry level deals.
Center A.J. Jenks of the Plymouth Whalers signed on Wednesday as the 2008 fourth round pick recently finished his OHL season with 23 goals and 40 assists. He'll be at the Coral Springs training camp (I haven't heard if Florida has finalized its rookie camp info yet) and likely start the season with the Amerks.
Florida also signed free agent forward Eric Selleck out of Division III Oswego, N.Y. The Panthers like this guy as he is said to be a real gamer. He had 21 goals in 28 games last season for the Lakers.
-- How bout those NHL playoffs, eh? Pretty fun stuff. Like many, I was absolutely floored to see Washington flame out the way they did against the Canadiens -- especially offensively. JM's defense smothered the Capitals and held them to three goals in the final three games of the series.
That's darned impressive. The Capitals can usually score three goals in half a period, but they were stymied by the Habs and star goaling in the making Jaroslav Halak (who stopped 94 percent of shots faced in the series).
Montreal's special teams also flattened the Caps as Washington went just 1 for 33 on the power play in the seven games. You would think that would be last in the league, but it wasn't. Buffalo, which lost to Boston, went 0-for-19 with the advantage in its six game series.
Would have loved to have been in Montreal last night for that party.
Alas, I don't see the Canadiens partying all that much after this. They draw the Penguins next.
-- Speaking of predictions, I went 6-2 in the opening round. That Jersey pick was right on (did the Devils even look like they were interested in playing) but the Red Wings had me sweat out a Game 7 that turned into a laugher. The two losses: Buffalo and, yes, Washington.
Here's what I got for the second round.
In the east, I like the Penguins to ease on down the road and knock off Montreal in five. That will set up a Keystone State Eastern Conference final for the second time in three years because Philadelphia keeps its truck running by knocking off the Bruins in six.
Out west, I hate to do this but I think the Red Wings are going to be a little gassed and this might just be the Sharks year. I'm taking San Jose in 7 -- but feel awful about it. Also taking Chicago over the Luongos in 7. Hope I'm wrong though. Would love to see a Chicago-Detroit west final.
Here's the schedule for all the games.
Hopefully I'll have some more news for you in the coming days. Fore!
Date Time (ET) #4 Pittsburgh vs. #8 Montreal Network
Friday, April 30 7:00 p.m. Montreal at Pittsburgh CBC, RDS, VERSUS**
Sunday, May 2 2:00 p.m. Montreal at Pittsburgh NBC, CBC, RDS
Tuesday, May 4 7:00 p.m. Pittsburgh at Montreal CBC, RDS, VERSUS
Thursday, May 6 7:00 p.m. Pittsburgh at Montreal CBC, RDS, VERSUS**
Saturday, May 8 * 7:00 p.m. Montreal at Pittsburgh CBC, RDS, VERSUS**
Monday, May 10 * 7:00 p.m. Pittsburgh at Montreal CBC, RDS, VERSUS
Wednesday, May 12 * TBD Montreal at Pittsburgh CBC, RDS, VERSUS
Date Time (ET) #6 Boston vs. #7 Philadelphia Network
Saturday, May 1 12:30 p.m. Philadelphia at Boston NBC, TSN
Monday, May 3 7:00 p.m. Philadelphia at Boston TSN, VERSUS**
Wednesday, May 5 7:00 p.m. Boston at Philadelphia TSN, VERSUS**
Friday, May 7 7:00 p.m. Boston at Philadelphia TSN, VERSUS**
Monday, May 10 * 7:00 p.m. Philadelphia at Boston TSN2, VERSUS
Wednesday, May 12 * TBD Boston at Philadelphia TSN, VERSUS
Friday, May 14 * 7:00 p.m. Philadelphia at Boston TSN, VERSUS
Date Time (ET) #1 San Jose vs. #5 Detroit Network
Thursday, April 29 9:00 p.m. Detroit at San Jose TSN, VERSUS**
Sunday, May 2 8:00 p.m. Detroit at San Jose TSN, VERSUS**
Tuesday, May 4 7:30 p.m. San Jose at Detroit TSN, VERSUS
Thursday, May 6 7:30 p.m. San Jose at Detroit TSN, VERSUS
Saturday, May 8 * 10:00 p.m. Detroit at San Jose TSN, VERSUS
Monday, May 10 * 7:30 p.m. San Jose at Detroit TSN, VERSUS
Wednesday, May 12 * TBD Detroit at San Jose TSN, VERSUS
Date Time (ET) #2 Chicago vs. #3 Vancouver Network
Saturday, May 1 8:00 p.m. Vancouver at Chicago CBC, VERSUS**
Monday, May 3 9:00 p.m. Vancouver at Chicago CBC, VERSUS
Wednesday, May 5 9:30 p.m. Chicago at Vancouver CBC, VERSUS
Friday, May 7 9:30 p.m. Chicago at Vancouver CBC, VERSUS**
Sunday, May 9 * 8:00 p.m. Vancouver at Chicago CBC, VERSUS
Tuesday, May 11 * 9:30 p.m. Chicago at Vancouver CBC, VERSUS
Thursday, May 13 * 8:00 p.m. Vancouver at Chicago CBC, VERSUS