Pete DeBoer speaks on Saturday after the Panthers morning skate. Nathan Horton and Dennis Seidenberg interrupt my interview at the end. It's all good. Enjoy.
Pete DeBoer speaks on Saturday after the Panthers morning skate. Nathan Horton and Dennis Seidenberg interrupt my interview at the end. It's all good. Enjoy.
BOSTON – Jacob Markstrom is finding out a lot about the United States during his first training camp with the Florida Panthers.
Prior to flying to Florida last month, Markstrom had only visited a few spots in the midwest. Now, he's become a real traveler, going with the Panthers to North Carolina, western New York and now Boston.
All while trying to focus on making the Panthers when camp breaks in a few weeks.
“It's fun to travel around and see these places I've never been,'' said Markstrom, 20, who has spent the past three seasons playing professionally in his native Sweden. “But I'm here to play hockey. The places might be different, but the puck is the same size. The ice is the same size. It's is cool to be playing in NHL arenas. Hopefully I'll get in some more games as we go along.''
Markstrom will play in his second exhibition game of the preseason on Saturday when the Panthers (2-0) visit the Bruins (1-1). Gudbranson was strong in his debut, knocking down all 17 shots faced in Florida's 4-1 win at Carolina on Tuesday.
Looked upon as the Panthers goalie of the future, Gudbranson is expected to start the season with Florida's AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., but he's determined to push the Panthers two main goalies. Despite the competition, both Tomas Vokoun and Scott Clemmensen have helped Markstrom – as he says all his new teammates have.
“He's had an outstanding training camp as all our goalies have,'' said coach Pete DeBoer. “I don't think people realize that it's one thing to send your 20-year-old off to college up the road. It's a another thing to send him to another country with another language and no family around. It's a whole different thing.
“He's very mature and [goalie coach] Robb Tallas has kind of taken him and mentored him as have our other goalies. He has a good support staff, but this is a lot going on. But you'd never know it. You'd think he was back in Sweden trying out for the local men's team.''
BOOTH GETS TWO
Winger David Booth was back to his old tricks on Thursday, scoring twice and getting physical with Boston's 6-9 defenseman Zdeno Chara. Booth missed 54 games last season after suffering two concussions. He says all is well.
“I wanted to get some hits in, go into the corners. That felt good, it felt good to get back out there,'' said Booth, who will likely play again Monday at Montreal. “I worked out so hard this summer, what I'm doing now is really toned down. I wanted to be in the best shape I could be in after missing so much time.''
Said DeBoer: “I was encouraged in how he played from the drop of the puck. He was getting physical on his first shift. It's a great step for him and everyone else to see that he's back and ready to go.''
ELLERBY, GUDBRANSON BACK
Young defensemen Keaton Ellerby and Erik Gudbranson will get yet another chance to impress coaches on Saturday as they play in their third straight preseason game. They are the only Panthers to have played in both games so far.
Gudbranson, 18, has impressed DeBoer and general manager Dale Tallon with his strong play in camp. Tallon said on Friday morning that Gudbranson's contract status won't be a factor in whether he makes the team or not. “We're looking at what's best for his development,'' Tallon said. “If he makes the team, he makes the team.''
If Gudbranson was to play with the Panthers this season, he could become a free agent at 25. The Panthers have a lot of depth at defense in camp, but Gudbranson is making a serious case.
“He keeps getting better and better as we go through here,'' said DeBoer. “He's making a statement that he's ready to play. We still have some hurdles ahead and there are a lot of games, but he's been very good.''
The Bruins are expected to roll out the A-Team on Saturday as they play their first preseason game on home ice. So, look for Nathan Horton, Gregory Campbell and Dennis Seidenberg to face Florida.
Here's who the Panthers are bringing to the party:
TV FOR BRUINS
If you have the sports package on your cable/satellite television, you should be able to watch Saturday's preseason game at Boston. The game is being televised by NESN and isn't part of the NHL's Center Ice package because it is a preseason game.
Which means it shouldn't be blacked out in South Florida because there is no contractual obligation for cable/satellite folks to do so.
RADIO FOR PANTHERS
For those of you who can't make it to the Panthers two (yes TWO!) preseason games at The Billboard next week, don't fret: Randy Moller will be there for ya.
WQAM, which has the team's radio rights back after a three year run on 790 The Ticket, will broadcast both exhibition games.
Florida at Boston, 7:30 p.m.
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The Panthers may have a serious logjam on defense this training camp, but Keaton Ellerby is doing everything he can to stay in the thick of the competition.
Ellerby, the 10th overall pick of the 2007 draft, has impressed coach Pete DeBoer with his commitment to training this offseason.
“He's been in the minors for two full seasons and eventually you need to make a statement that you are willing to do whatever it takes to be an NHL player,'' said DeBoer. “We haven't seen that kind of commitment from him until now. But that's how you grab a job. We're not handing out jobs. He has to grab one. We have a lot of veterans signed and he needs to take a job from someone.''
Ellerby may be starting his third season in Rochester, but he says things are going to be different. By adding 20-plus pounds during the summer, Ellerby has definitely filled out. He's playing more physical with the added strength and that is giving him more confidence.
One big knock on Ellerby over the past few years was that he didn't play like a 6-foot-4 defenseman. He's starting to now. In Thursday's preseason game against the Bruins, Ellerby took out veteran forward Milan Lucic at center ice.
“It's been a fun training camp and it's been nice getting into a couple games right off the hop,'' said Ellerby, who played limited shifts in his 22 games with the Panthers last season. “It was a long summer, I put on 20 something pounds because they told me I needed to get bigger, fill out. I ate a ton of calories and did a lot of heavy lifting. There wasn't much time off, but it was really good.''
When Ellerby was drafted, a number of scouts compared him to then-Florida defenseman Jay Bouwmeester because of his size and skating ability. Unlike Bouwmeester, Ellerby has been forced to take a longer route to the NHL and one would think he has been burdened by the comparisons. That doesn't seem to be the case as Ellerby has switched up his number to the one Bouwmeester wore up until leaving for Calgary last summer.
“I did what I could over the summer and have worked hard so if I play well in the games, hopefully I can steal a job on the backend,'' Ellerby said.
-- David Booth made his first appearance of the preseason on Thursday – the first game action since his season was ended with a concussion in Montreal. Booth missed 54 games last season after suffering two concussions.
Booth looked in midseason form, scoring Florida's first two goals.
“He's saying all the right things and looks good,'' DeBoer said. “Once he gets comfortable on the ice with contact and everyone flying around, I think he'll be great again.''
THURSDAY'S PRESEASON GAME – PANTHERS 3, BRUINS 2: Booth scored a pair of goals and Dennis Wideman added another as Tyler Plante held off the Bruins at Rochester's War Memorial.
Florida held a 3-1 lead when Tomas Vokoun (13 saves on 14 shots) turned things over to Plante. The Rochester goalie made a number of big glove saves and ended up making 16 saves.
The Panthers travel to Boston and face the Bruins at the Garden on Saturday night. Florida is 2-0 in the preseason; Boston is 1-1.
BOSTON -- The Panthers have given Tyler Arnason his outright release from his tryout while also assigning Clay Wilson to Rochester pending his waiver clearance.
As far as Saturday's game against the Bruins is concerned, looks like the Cats will roll out a similar lineup to the one used Tuesday in Carolina.
No word on whether Erik Gudbranson will play a third straight game although it appears Keaton Ellerby will do so.
More great stuff later today.
Defensemen Michael Caruso, Adam Comrie and Colby Robak have all been assigned to the Rochester Americans and will be there for camp when it opens on Saturday.
Defenseman Mike Kostka has also been released from his professional tryout but he has a contract with the Amerks and will stay back in Roch as well.
Don't forget, LIVE! chat going on throughout tonight's game. Scroll on down and join the fun. Never know who might show up!
Sunrise Sports & Entertainment announced today that the game presentation and experience for the Florida Panthers preseason game vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday, Oct. 1 will be a “dress rehearsal” for Opening Night 2010 on Oct. 16.
As such, the Panthers are targeting moms, dads and families with a limited inventory of complimentary tickets for the Oct. 1 game so they can get a taste of the incredible new party atmosphere that will descend upon the BankAtlantic Center during Florida’s home opener, and every game throughout the season. Fans are encouraged to call 954.835.PUCK or log on to FloridaPanthers.com/FamilyFun to order their complimentary tickets.
Highlights of the new BankAtlantic Center experience include a refreshed in-game presentation, new centerhung scoreboard graphics and themes, upgraded music and sound system, new staff wardrobes, the fully-activated Party Patrol on the JetBlue Tarmac with party vans and inflate-ables, a new public address announcer, in-game host and Panthers Ice Dancer team, a more intimate seating capacity of 17,040, and much, much more. These enhancements will help make Panthers home games the most exciting live experience in South Florida.
Just an FYI: None of the three ex-Panthers are in the lineup tonight for Boston's game against Florida in Rochester. Did speak to Nathan, Gregory Campbell and Dennis Seidenberg, however, and they all send their best.
They will likely play against the Panthers on Saturday night at the Garden.
Most of the players here have ties to Rochester -- or in Jacob Markstrom's case, will.
Players in the pics include Andrew Peters, Kenndal McArdle, Jacob Markstrom, Tristan Grant and Nathan Paetsch.
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The Panthers have played exhibition games in some strange locales over the past few years, but the site of Thursday's preseason contest actually makes a lot of sense.
It's a wonder why the team hasn't been here before.
The Panthers will play host to the Boston Bruins on Thursday night at Rochester's War Memorial – home to Florida's American Hockey League team. The Americans logo has been freshly painted on center ice, but at least on Thursday, the arena belongs to the NHL teams. Rochester's training camp kicks off Saturday.
“They are our farm team and I think it's important they get to see our big players,'' said Panthers coach Pete DeBoer. “The fans here know, we used our farm team players an awful lot last year. They had a lot of NHL caliber players last year and I think that's going to be the case again this year.''
The Panthers are bringing some goodwill with them on this trip as the team appears ready to patch things up with the storied AHL franchise.
The Amerks were the affiliate of the nearby Buffalo Sabres for 29 years before the two broke up in 2008 because of finances. The Panthers have been the lone parent team ever since – and there have been rumblings that this might be the last season the two are together. It will be decided in November whether the two teams continue their agreement.
Newly signed enforcer Andrew Peters is one who hopes the Panthers and Amerks keep working together. Recent reports seem to indicate there has been a thaw and the affiliation will continue.
Peters, who will likely start this upcoming season with the Amerks, played parts of three seasons in Rochester while part of the Buffalo organization. His wife is from the Buffalo area, and he owns a home in the area. One reason Peters signed with the Panthers was he knew playing in the minors was a distinct possibility after the Devils bought out his contract over the summer.
“There's no better place to play in the minors than Rochester,'' said Peters. “The fans here are great. The facility and practice facility are first class. It says a lot about the organization that they're connected. One of the reasons I signed with Florida was because if I had to go to the minors, it was the best worst-case scenario out there.''
One of the big complaints coming from Rochester was the man behind the bench. After the Amerks opening round playoff loss to Abbotsford last spring, the unpopular Benoit Groulx resigned and returned to the Canadian junior leagues. Chuck Weber, who won two of the past three ECHL titles in Cincinnati, was brought in. Weber, like Peters, has ties to the Buffalo area. He went to high school and college in western New York and is excited about the challenge of make the Panthers popular here.
“I try to bring a positive attitude, have fun with the players and the fans,'' said Weber, who went to high school in Lockport and the University of Albany. “I grew up 45 minutes outside of Rochester, so that's fortunate for me. It's not very often you get to coach in your backyard.''
-- A group of Panthers with ties to the Rochester area spent part of Wednesday afternoon visiting a local children's hospital. The players brought gifts and played video games with the youngsters. “You can't say no to the kids,'' Peters said. “These visits mean so much.''
Peters was joined by Kenndal McArdle, Jacob Markstrom, Tristan Grant and Nathan Paetsch.
-- Tomas Vokoun will start Thursday night against Nathan Horton and the Bruins as Florida rolls out a veteran lineup. Erik Gudbranson, who scored a goal with an assist in Tuesday's 4-1 win at Carolina, is one of a few players who will play in both games.
-- The lineup for Thursday:
Boston vs. Panthers at Rochester, N.Y., 7 p.m.
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Panthers forward Evgeni Dadonov caused quite a stir this summer when he reportedly told a Russian media source that if he wasn't playing in the NHL this coming season, he would play in Europe.
Dadonov is currently in training camp with the Panthers and could indeed be sent back to Florida's AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y. The 21-year-old forward is having a strong preseason, however, and just might make the big squad.
Either way, Dadonov says he will do whatever the Panthers think is best.
“They were asking me what I was going to do,'' Dadonov said. “All I said was 'maybe Florida sends me back to Russia.' It's not my option. Whatever Florida tells me to do, I'll do. They say go back to Rochester, that's where I'll go. I'd like to be in Florida. I think I'm ready to play in the NHL, but as a forward, I have to score.''
Coach Pete DeBoer has been impressed with Dadonov's work this camp. During last week's rookie games against Nashville, Dadonov was Florida's best offensive threat.
In his first year in Rochester last season after playing three years in his native Russia, Dadonov scored 17 goals with 23 assists. The Panthers didn't call him up until late in the season and he only appeared in four games. Dadonov was held without a point in those four games.
“He's in that big mix and one thing he has is skill,'' said DeBoer. “He has a dynamic element to his game and I give him a lot of credit. He wasn't the best conditioned guy last year, but he's lost a lot of weight, a lot of baby fat. He's made a real statement to me real far that he's serious about being an NHL player. He's not a big guy but finds a way to get to the net.''
The Panthers like the way Dadonov plays. Not only is his offensive talent apparent, but he also plays a gritty game and isn't afraid to battle in the corner for pucks or drop back and play defense. It's a two-way game that may come into play when the Panthers are going through final cuts in the coming weeks.
''I think he's really developed his offensive game,'' Rochester coach Chuck Weber said. “He wants to be a pro here in North America. You see some mistakes, but his general game is impressive. He's going through the process, going up the ladder. He'll appreciate it when he makes it.''
Mark Cullen's training camp ended before it started after he ruptured an Achilles heel during agility workouts during physicals last Friday morning. The Panthers hoped it was only an ankle injury, but Cullen underwent surgery on Tuesday at Doctors Hospital in Coral Gables.
Cullen, brother to Minnesota center Matt Cullen, was expected to start the season in Rochester although he was hoping to have a strong camp and be with the Panthers at the onset.
“I feel bad for the kid. We were looking forward to seeing him and he was looking forward to showing us his stuff,'' said DeBoer. “He trained all summer for this. It was a fluke thing.''
-- Carolina signed Mike Skinner, the seventh overall pick of the 2010 Draft, before Tuesday's game. The Panthers still need to sign 18-year-old defenseman Erik Gudbranson (third overall pick) if it wants to keep him around for a nine-game tryout this season.
RALEIGH, N.C. -- It was easy to take a look at the Panthers lineup on Tuesday night and deduct that coach Pete DeBoer was playing guys he wants to take a long hard look at.
After Tuesday's performance against the host Hurricanes, DeBoer is going to continue to give this group a real shot in making the team.
Why not. Four players fighting to make the opening night roster each scored goals in Tuesday's 4-1 exhibition opener in front of 5,839 at RBC Center.
Before the game, DeBoer said that he didn't need to see players like Stephen Weiss or Bryan McCabe much in the preseason, instead, he would like to see more of guys like Mike Santorelli, Erik Gudbranson, Scott Timmins and Nathan Paetsch. When the Panthers play the Bruins on Thursday in western New York, all four could be back in the lineup.
“We're carrying a big roster and won't go with the same lineup,'' DeBoer said afterward. “I'm sure some of them will double up and play in Rochester.''
The Panthers have rarely had much success in Raleigh, but Florida didn't exactly play the 2006 Stanley Cup champs on Tuesday night either.
Carolina coach Paul Maurice, a long-time friend of DeBoer's, also ran out a young lineup with an eye on the future. One player who wasn't a greenhorn was veteran goalie Cam Ward – the MVP of Carolina's Cup run in 2006.
The Panthers youngsters and newcomers took aim at Ward, scoring three goals within a two-minute span in the opening period.
Gudbranson, the big defenseman Florida made the third overall pick in last June's draft, scored on one of his first shifts in a Panthers sweater when he knocked in a puck 3:45 into the game.
“I was all hyped up on adrenaline, was excited and had a good game,'' said Gudbranson, 18. “It was fun, but I can't give enough credit to the guys. It was a team effort, an all-around good game for the Panthers.''
Gudbranson also assisted on Florida's second goal and was named the first star of the game.
“He told me afterward not to get used to that,'' DeBoer joked. “It may never happen again. But what a debut for him. I liked the way he played. He played with authority. He's a hard guy to play against and makes you pay a price. He's kind of like [Carolina's] Tim Gleason. He's a hard-nosed guy. We need that in our defense.''
The Panthers kept coming at Ward with Santorelli – who hopes to be one of Florida's four starting centers next month – whipping one past at 4:56. Timmins also has hopes of being with the Cats this season, and he made his mark at 5:39 when he scored off a pass from Evgeny Dadonov.
Dadonov, who played in four games for the Panthers last year, had two assists.
The Panthers played solid defense against the Hurricanes and got strong goaltending. Scott Clemmensen, Florida's everyday backup, didn't have much work to do early on but ended with 16 saves in 32 minutes of work.
Then came Jacob Markstrom, Florida's goalie-of-the-future. Markstrom, the 20-year-old who has already spent three seasons playing professionally in Sweden, made a number of sweeping saves and didn't surrender a goal in his 28 minutes of action. Markstrom made four saves at the end of the second period, then held off an onslaught of shots as Carolina outshot Florida 13-2.
One of Florida's two shots in the third hit pay dirt as Paetsch put the puck past Justin Pogge at 9:44 of the final period.
“I felt good out there and thought we played a really good game,'' said Markstrom, who gave up five goals to rookies from Nashville last Thursday afternoon. “You have bad games and good games. It's more exciting to be out here with the big boys. I was trying to enjoy every chance I got. I hope to play some more.''