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.