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47 posts from November 2010

November 18, 2010

Boston's Jack Edwards: Move Panthers to Quebec City ... Dale Tallon Doesn't Agree

Nesn BOSTON -- Gots to give Donny over at Litter Box Cats credit for coming up with this video.

Apparently during the NESN (New England Sports Network) pregame show, announcer Jack Edwards blasted the Panthers, saying no one cares about the team -- either in South Florida nor leaguewide. 

Edwards, best known for his work on ESPN back in the day, also said the Panthers should move to Quebec.

I guess he isn't paying attention to what's going on in Columbus, Atlanta and Long Island, eh?

Mike Milbury, of course, was in the middle of all this as well.

Milbury, best known for his work as GM of the Islanders, probably won't say the Islanders need to move. Yet he always says the Panthers should.

Anyway, I wouldn't have posted this had not my email account just blown up with people asking me about it.

First off, the segment was called "Two Minutes for Instigating" and you had Edwards and Andy Brickley playing good cop/bad cop with Milbury 'moderating' the debate.

Someone had to blast the Panthers (yes, there is plenty of material there) and Edwards did it with his usual relish.

At the end of the day, who cares? The NHL has much bigger problems right now than the Florida Panthers.

Oh, and Quebec may be hockey-mad, but they have little corporate support and no arena. So this is really a non issue right now.

Now if Edwards wants to say the Panthers should move to Kansas City, well, we might want to start paying attention.

Of course, I doubt he or Milbury were advocating the Bruins move out of Boston when they were drawing flies leading up to and coming out of the lockout. How about the Penguins about five or six years ago? Couldn't give away their tickets. Same with Calgary and Edmonton not too long ago.

Winning sells my friends, and the Panthers haven't done it in so long few even remember what it was like. But for those of us who were around in the early days -- and even the early days in Sunrise -- we remember that a winning Panthers team was a hot ticket.

There's a reason why H. Wayne built that arena out in the Everglades as big as he did: Because he could sell tickets to it. Now with the team losing, well, there are tarps in the upper deck and free tickets at Sharpies sub shop.

But that doesn't mean it will be like this forever. If the Panthers start winning, their fans will follow.

Just like the fans came back in Pittsburgh, Calgary and Edmonton.

Oh, yeah, in Boston too.

-- Just ran into Dale Tallon and asked him his thoughts on this. I knew the answer. He was already sick of the 'when are the Panthers moving' storyline in August.

Tallon, you might recall, saw some pretty pathetic crowds during his three decades in Chicago. Lo and behold the team starts winning and United Center is now the place to be seen -- when the Blackhawks are playing.

"I think our fans have been through quite a bit over the years,'' Tallon said. "We have very loyal fans. And we'll get more of them, you watch. We have an up-and-coming team. We're fine.''



November 17, 2010

Florida Panthers Get Rare Road Win: Thanks Mr. Vokoun! Panthers 2, Thrashers 1



ATLANTA – Going into the final period clutching a tenuous one goal lead, the Panthers knew they were in for a wild ride. The Thrashers, after all, were thoroughly outplayed in the second period but were close enough to know they could get the better of their divisional rivals.

Only Tomas Vokoun wouldn't let the Thrashers beat him again.

Two weeks after Vokoun let in a pair of goals that allowed the Thrashers to escape Sunrise with an improbable win, the Florida goalie slammed the door shut as he threw back 18 shots down the stretch as the Panthers won 2-1 in front of an intimate gathering at Philips Arena.

“I thought we deserved to beat them the last time we played in Florida,'' coach Pete DeBoer said. “They controlled the third period, but it was two desperate teams battling for 60 minutes. You had desperation on both sides of the ice and the momentum shifted drastically both ways.''

Atlanta, which beat the Panthers despite being outshot 55-23 on Nov. 3, dominated the play in the third period but couldn't solve Vokoun. The Panthers held a 31-21 shot advantage going into the third; Atlanta ended up winning that 39-34.

The Panthers improved to 3-6-0 on the road with wins in four of six.

“I didn't have a good game the last time out. That was one we should have won and didn't,'' said Vokoun, who has surrendered one goal in each of his past three starts. “You always want to bounce back. We haven't had much success in this building so it's a big win. We have to get our confidence on the road. Hopefully this is a start.''

Vokoun let in a goal he would have loved to have back in the opening period as Zach Bogosian beat him as Atlanta went into the second up 1-0. But Stephen Weiss pulled the Panthers even as he took a pass from Cory Stillman, charged in on Ondrej Pavelec and backhanded the puck past him 1:13 into the period.

The Panthers then began peppering the shorthanded Thrashers as they played without defenseman Dustin Byfuglien after he was knocked out after being struck by a shot. Florida took 16 shots in the second period and kept the heat on as it kept the puck deep in the Atlanta zone. After three or four shifts of nothing but pressure on Pavelec, Florida finally broke through when Chris Higgins fed Radek Dvorak in the slot. The Panthers should have added more, but with Vokoun in a zone, the one goal lead would stand.

“Obviously Tomas kept us in it, but we did enough damage in the second to get us the win,'' Weiss said. “We've had a lot of interesting games in this building, a lot of weird stuff it seems like. We're definitely happy to get two points out of here.''

Florida's win did not come without some pain. Michael Frolik lost a tooth after being struck in the face with a stick during the third period.

Winger David Booth left the game in the final seconds after he was struck in the knee by a hard shot from Bogosian. Booth went down to the ice before finally getting up to try and play a little defense as the Thrashers went with an empty net. Booth limped into the training room. After the game he said the injury didn't appear to be serious.


The Panthers visit Boston for the first time this season on Thursday although the team was there not too long ago, beating the Bruins 3-2 in a shootout during the preseason. Florida was 2-0 against the Bruins during the exhibition season – and have been good in Boston the past few seasons.

Florida won both games at TD Garden last season and have won seven of the past 10 there.

The Panthers will reacquaint themselves with Nathan Horton (8 goals, 6 assists) and Gregory Campbell (1-3) as they face their former team for the first time. Both were drafted by Florida but traded away in the summer.

-- Even though Vokoun is playing so well, the Panthers could go with Scott Clemmensen against the Bruins based on his past. Not only did he stop Boston in the preseason, but he's 5-3-0 against the Bs all-time with two shutouts.

When/Where: 7 p.m.; TD Garden, Boston
TV/Radio: FSNF; 560-WQAM
The series: Panthers lead 30-27-6
The game: The Bruins snapped a two-game losing streak by beating the Devils on Monday night. The Bruins played the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday; Boston is 1-2 in the second game of a back-to-back series. The Panthers are 0-3 in such situations. .-.-. The Bruins haven't been very good at home this season. Boston's 3-4-1 home record is ranked 24th in the league. Coming into Wednesday, the Panthers two road wins were tied for fewest in the league.

Florida Panthers Notebook: Light Crowd in the ATL ... Boston Next

Atlupper ATLANTA -- The Panthers set a franchise record earlier this month when they fired off 55 shots at the Thrashers in what was a 4-3 loss.

Wednesday in the ATL, they could be part of another franchise record.

By the looks of things, the Thrashers will set an all-time low for announced attendance.

By my count, there are 35 people in the lower section right behind the Panthers goal. There are less than 100 people in the five (yes, FIVE) sections of the 300 level behind the Thrashers goal. There might be a couple hundred in the six sections of the other end zone behind Tomas Vokoun.

Atllower If a swarm of conventioners don't show up to take up some of these empties, the Thrashers would eclipse the previous low of 8,461 announced when the Blue Jackets were here not too long ago. Also, this would be the third time this season the Thrashers would set that dubious record (Buffalo, 8820).

The Panthers don't draw all that well either, so save the angry e-mails Atlanta fans. This, however, is depressing. As one scribe just said, it's so empty in here, we could tell that one heckler has a lisp. This is like a Marlins afternoon game in September against the Brewers.

And like the Panthers, the Thrashers have covered up portions of the upper deck. They use curtains here, not sponsored tarps, however.


The Panthers visit Boston for the first time this season on Thursday although the team was there not too long ago, beating the Bruins 3-2 in a shootout during the preseason. Florida was 2-0 against the Bruins during the exhibition season – and have been good against Boston the past few seasons.

Florida won both games at TD Garden last season and have won seven of the past 10 games there.

The Panthers will also reacquaint themselves with Nathan Horton (8 goals, 6 assists) and Gregory Campbell (1-3). Those two face their former team for the first time when it counts. Both were drafted by Florida but were traded away this past summer.

-- With the Panthers playing goalie Tomas Vokoun on Wednesday in Atlanta, backup Scott Clemmensen could play against the Bruins. Not only did he stop them in the preseason, but in his career, he's 5-3-0 against the Bruins with two shutouts. One of those shutouts came on April 1 in Boston.

When/Where: 7 p.m.; TD Garden, Boston
TV/Radio: FSNF; 560-WQAM
The series: Panthers lead 30-27-6
The game: The Bruins snapped a two-game losing streak by beating the Devils on Monday night. The Bruins played the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday; Boston is 1-2 in the second game of a back-to-back series. The Panthers are 0-3 in such situations. .-.-. The Bruins haven't been very good at home this season. Boston's 3-4-1 home record is ranked 24th in the league. Coming into Wednesday, the Panthers two road wins were tied for fewest in the league.

November 16, 2010

Michal Repik Back with Florida Panthers ... Byron Bitz on Mend ... A DeBoer-Capuano Connection

REPIK When Michal Repik was sent down to the minors out of training camp, the winger didn't pout or complain that he should have been with the Panthers instead.

“To get back here, you can't be grumpy when they send you down,'' Repik said on Tuesday.

“I didn't want to be negative. I play my best when I'm happy so I kept the right attitude and worked with this goal in mind. I wanted to be in Florida, but to get there, I had to play my way back. Being mad wouldn't do anything good for me.''

He was right. Repik kept things positive and worked hard to make sure his stint in Rochester, N.Y., was as short as possible. In 17 minor league games with the Americans, Repik scored four goals with 18 assists – putting tied for second among scoring leaders in the American Hockey League.

On Monday, Repik's strong play was rewarded as he was called up by the Panthers. Repik will be in the lineup Wednesday when the team visits Atlanta for the first time this season.

“He deserves to be up here. He handled the demotion the right way,'' said coach Pete DeBoer. “That's not easy to do, it sounds like a given but it's not. It's everyone's dream to play in the NHL and he had a pretty good year in the AHL last year. He didn't have a great camp but he handled it the way you should.''

Repik is replacing the injured Steve Bernier, who is likely out for a month after having surgery to repair a fractured orbital bone suffered in a fight last Friday night. Repik is being placed on the Panthers fourth line, but DeBoer says that line isn't being pigeonholed as a fourth line. Both center Shawn Matthias and winger Steven Reinprecht have scored of late, and by adding Repik, DeBoer feels that this combination should be able to create some offense and kick in some goals.

“I like that as a line,'' DeBoer said. “We have to be a four line team and be able to play all four lines. That's a line that shouldn't have issues defensively and should create some offense. Repik's an offensive player. Hopefully they'll get some chemistry going.''


Winger Byron Bitz missed the end of last season with an elbow injury and has been on the shelf since training camp after needing sports hernia surgery. But Bitz has been skating for about two weeks now and says he is close to being ready to begin practicing with the team. Since arriving from Boston at last season's trade deadline, Bitz has played in just seven games with the Panthers.

“It's coming along. I'm getting there,'' said Bitz. “It's been a long haul and I want to get back. We're at the point where I can see light at the end of the tunnel. I've had a string of bad luck and there's nothing you can do about it. Hopefully it's behind me.''


DeBoer will be reunited with former teammate Jack Capuano when the Panthers visit the Islanders on Saturday. Capuano was named the new coach of the Islanders after the team fired Scott Gordon on Monday. DeBoer and Capuano played minor league hockey for the Milwaukee Admirals of the defunct International Hockey League.

“I've kept in touch with him over the years,'' DeBoer said. “It's nice to see him get a chance.''

Gordon was fired as the beat-up Islanders suffered through a 10-game losing streak in which they only picked up one point in the standings. Capuano coached the Islanders' AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, R.I.

“It's an elite club, there's only 30 of these jobs, and sometimes you don't get to pick and choose the circumstance,'' DeBoer said. “You just have to go in and do a good job. I feel for Scott. He had a lot of things lined up against them with the injuries they had to key people. We all know as a non-cap team, you get key injuries to elite players – like David Booth last year – it's tough to overcome.''

When, Where: 7 p.m.; Philips Arena, Atlanta
TV/Radio: FSNF; 560-WQAM
The series: Atlanta leads 34-24-5
The game: The Panthers set a franchise record with 55 shots in the previous meeting between the two teams, but Atlanta – outshot by 32 – still won 4-3. The Thrashers have lost two straight. The Thrashers lead the Panthers by three points in the standings – but have played three more games. Florida center Marty Reasoner spent the past two seasons in Atlanta and didn't record a point when the two teams met  earlier this month. In nine career games against the Thrashers, Reasoner has zero goals and three assists.

Michal Repik in Coral Springs

Michal Repik has made it to Panthers practice and is on the fourth line with Shawn Matthias and Steven Reinprecht. Jason Garrison is in; Keaton Ellerby is back in Rochester.

November 15, 2010

Michal Repik Recalled by Panthers

Word out of Rochester is that Michal Repik -- second in the AHL in scoring -- has been recalled by the Florida Panthers in time for Wednesday's game at Atlanta.

Florida Panthers Learning Rules of the Road ... Rochester Callup Coming ... Jason Garrison Looking Better

Roadtrip Panthers coach Pete DeBoer remembers a time when his team had one of the best road records in the league.

Problem was, that team couldn't win at home.

It's still early in the season, but DeBoer now faces a similar predicament. The Panthers have played well at home, winning five of their first seven in Sunrise. Wins have been hard to come by away from South Florida, however. The Panthers are just 2-6 on enemy ice.

"It's like fingers in the dike: Plug one hole up and another one pops open,'' DeBoer said with a laugh. "That's coaching. You get one thing fixed and another thing needs to be looked at.''

Although the record doesn't reflect strong road play, the Panthers have been pretty good on the road.

Florida went 1-2 in its opening trip to western Canada and very well could have had an additional win. Same goes for the 1-2 trip to eastern Canada late last month.

"The last couple of games have been back-to-backs and we didn't get the game we wanted,'' said center Stephen Weiss. "We're going to get wins on the road. We have a lot of time to get this fixed. We've played some good hockey on the road. Now we just have to get the results.''

The Panthers are in the midst of a four-game road trip, although it feels much shorter since the team returned home from Philadelphia on Sunday morning and won't leave for Atlanta until Tuesday afternoon.

Florida has some challenges on this trip as they play Atlanta and Boston on consecutive nights before visiting a very desperate Islanders team on Saturday. Things will not get easier as the Panthers play 12 of their next 18 on the road.

"As coaches we look at the weekly picture, we have three games and need two of three wins,'' said DeBoer. "We need to find some points on the road. We haven't been good enough at that so far. Now's the time we fix the problem and get through the tough stretch OK.''


The Panthers haven't announced who is coming up from their AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., but with Steve Bernier out a month with a broken orbital bone, it's apparent someone is.

The Panthers could go for the skill of winger Michal Repik, whose four goals and 18 assists have him tied for second in the AHL. Kenndal McArdle was the last cut from the team and could be brought up to take Bernier's spot on the fourth line.

General manager Dale Tallon will likely make the call-up Tuesday night in order to have the player in Atlanta for Wednesday's morning skate.

"I think you want to reward the guys doing well down there,'' said DeBoer. "We'll plug them in where they fit.''

-- Defenseman Jason Garrison looks to be healthy enough to play on Wednesday which means the Panthers will likely send Keaton Ellerby back to Rochester.

November 13, 2010

Florida Panthers Coverage, Old-School Edition: Flyers Pound Cats 5-2

Davidj First off, thanks to David J. Neal for covering for me in Philadelphia tonight so I could attend the first birthday of my twin nieces Elizabeth and Addison out in the Pines.

I try not to miss too many games, but family is family.

And I thought it would be a nice treat for you all to get a taste of Panthers hockey a la David J. Neal.

It's definitely cool to read David's take on hockey in The Herald once again. As some of you all may recall, David was The Herald's first hockey writer, covering the Cats from their inception up until he handed it over to me in 2004.

Once football season is over, I'm sure we'll see Mr. Neal back here a little more often. Especially if he wants to take that Ottawa/Newark trip from me. Just kidding. I wouldn't do that to him.

Anywho, here's his take on Saturday's game in Philly.

I'll be back on the beat come Monday.

Sorry 'bout that.


PHILADELPHIA -- The situation wasn't ideal for the Panthers -- getting in at 2:30 a.m. after Friday's win against Minnesota, playing their third game in four nights, and trudging in against a Philadelphia team that had won five in a row in what is now the Wells Fargo Center.

Still, all was going well for the Panthers on Saturday night until Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky kicked out a long rebound just past the midway point of the first period. Soon after, a swarm of speed and talent that would've embarrassed locusts destroyed the Panthers 5-2.

Mike Richards, who opened the scoring on the rush after the long rebound, scored twice, as did Claude Giroux. Scott Hartnell added a first-period tap-in goal. By the time the Panthers got a couple of garbage-time goals by Cory Stillman and Mike Santorelli, the big question among the crowd in this boxing town was where to watch the Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito fight.

``They got one [goal] there and all of a sudden it looks like we start standing around a bit,'' Panthers center Stephen Weiss said. ``Once you do that against that team, they'll pick you apart. Whether they score first or we score first, we've got to stick to the plan. And we didn't do that.''

Weiss threatened twice to put the Panthers ahead early, on a late deflection and a wrister of a loose puck in the right circle. The Panthers had an 8-7 shots advantage after 10 minutes, a similarly small advantage in scoring chances and their defensemen were extending their offensive-zone time with some nifty keep-ins at the blue line.

But no goals or even power plays resulted. Then that long rebound of a Dennis Wideman blue line drive launched a rush that Richards finished by beating goalie Scott Clemmensen glove side for a 1-0 lead 12:14 into the first.

Clearing another shot off the line provided the Panthers with brief relief. David Booth and Rostislav Olesz of the Panthers failed to get a loose puck one foot inside the Panthers' zone over the line. A few seconds later, Ville Leino fed Hartnell for his tap-in at 15:38.

A Booth hooking penalty off a neutral-zone draw and a Bryan McCabe crosschecking call on the penalty kill gave the Flyers a 40-second five-on-three advantage. That was a 25-second surplus: Richards' rip from the right circle made it 3-0. With McCabe still in the box, Giroux knocked in his first of the night and eighth of the season through a goalmouth scramble.

That made it 4-0 and Giroux ended the competitive phase of the game off a breakaway after a Wideman turnover and wipeout.

``We have to learn to have enough composure on the road, as a young team, to handle that situation and settle things down and not hurt ourselves,'' Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said.


Panthers right wing Steve Bernier will likely miss a few weeks after undergoing surgery for his fractured right orbital bone, DeBoer said.

DeBoer said he would talk with Panthers general manager Dale Tallon about if or when the Panthers would consider bringing up minor-league help for nights they don't need a tough guy, such as Saturday's replacement Darcy Hordichuk.

Minnesota defenseman Brent Burns got a two-game suspension from the NHL for the left hook with a butt end that did the damage to Bernier in Friday's 2-1 Panthers win. Bernier checked Burns hard against the boards as Burns fired a desperation shot toward the Panthers goal in the game's final seconds. In the ensuing pushing and shoving, Burns caught Bernier with the shot.

Burns told The Star-Tribune of Minneapolis that he tried to contact Bernier to apologize throughout Saturday.

``What I went through the last two years with injuries, I don't want to hurt anybody,'' Burns told The Star-Tribune. ``I think I play the game pretty hard, but I love to play hockey and I don't want to hurt anybody. At the end of the day, it's a game. To know he was hurt, I felt pretty bad and still do.''

DeBoer, who coached Burns in international competition, said, He's a pretty straight shooter kid. That's not typical of him. You have responsibility to control your stick, so I think the punishment fits, but I don't think there was intent to hurt Steve Bernier.


The Flyers signed center Jeff Carter to an 11-year, $58 million deal, putting another key forward under contract for a long while. It's similar to what Pittsburgh has done, although general manager Paul Holmgren denied the Penguins motivated the Flyers.

``I didn't think that much about other teams,'' Holmgren said. ``Getting Jeff done [Saturday] and Claude [Giroux] done two days ago are big signings for us.''

Bernier Needs Surgery; Burns Suspended

This just in: Steve Bernier has a fractured orbital bone and will undergo surgery on Saturday. He'll be out for a few weeks at least.

Brent Burns, the Wild player who fractured said orbital bone, was suspended for two games without pay for the incident.

What's Next for Brent Burns? ... Video of the "Minnesota Punch" Courtesy of Puck Daddy/Fox Sports

Steve Bernier likely has a broken cheekbone after Friday night's cheap shot from Minnesota's Brent Burns.

Burns, to his credit, was contrite afterward and said he apologized. Still, he cracked Bernier with the business end of his stick. This is probably going to draw the ire of NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell.

Dale Tallon was completely cheesed off as he watched the replay from his box atop the arena and was likely texting Campbell as we rode down the elevator to the event level.

So what kind of suspension is this going to garner from Campbell.

I think it's safe to say there is a minimum one game suspension coming. Should it be more? Two? Three? More than that?

If Bernier has a fracture cheekbone, he's probably out for a couple of weeks -- meaning we'll likely see Michal Repik sooner than later (Darcy Hordichuk would probably have found his way into the lineup on Saturday anyways what with the Panthers playing the Flyers and all).

Truth is, Bernier's injury could have been really serious (and for all I know, he has a fractured orbital bone and is out for a while). You can't pop a guy in the face with the base of your hockey stick. That's quite a weapon you have right there.

Burns may feel really, really bad about doing this and really, really bad about the pain he caused. He probably knows how dangerous that hit was.

I don't think he'll pull that again.

Bluesbros -- Special thanks to Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy for the video.

Good move by pulling in video from both Fox Sports Florida and Minnesota (we have both kinds of music: Country and Western!)

To read his take on all this, please pop on this link. Always good stuff.



November 12, 2010

Florida Panthers Take Down Wild 2-1 ... Minnesota's Brent Burns Takes Out Steve Bernier with a Wild 1-2



With the Minnesota Wild completely down on itself after an embarrassing showing the previous night in Atlanta, it looked like the Panthers were going to have an easy game after scoring a pair of goals within a one minute span early in the first.

Minnesota coach Todd Richards promptly called a timeout, settled things down, and the Wild were definitely no pushover the rest of the way.

In fact, had defenseman Dennis Wideman not dove into the goal cage and saved a goal, it could have been a bad night for Florida. Wideman's one save – and the 22 from usual goalie Tomas Vokoun – helped the Panthers hold on for a 2-1 victory in Sunrise.

The game ended on a ugly note as the two teams fought as Steve Bernier hit the ice after being hit in the face by Minnesota's Brett Burns – while Burns was still clutching his stick.

Bernier is feared to have a broken cheekbone as he was taken by ambulance to Cleveland Clinic in Weston. Bernier, dressed in street clothes, was alert and drinking bottled water as he was carted from the Panthers dressing room to the Sunrise Fire & Rescue ambulance outside the arena.

Burns was given two penalties after the game. Cal Clutterbuck picked up five for fighting. Florida's Bryan Allen was assessed a penalty for cross-checking.

“It's disrespect for the game,'' said Mike Weaver. “Why do you need that? A player needs to respect another player.''

Said Burns: “I don’t know how it happened. I don’t know. It happened. I said sorry. I just saw he was bleeding there. I didn’t mean to do that. He just came at me, and I think it was my glove got him. I don’t know.''

What happpened was, Bernier checked Burns at the end of the game. Burns then facewashed Bernier with his right hand and then hit him with the butt-end of his stick with the left.

Florida came after the Wild from the start, peppering goalie Jose Theodore with seven shots in the first five minutes. Theodore didn't get much help on Florida's first goal as Chris Higgins swept in a rebound as a scrum broke out in front of the net and Theodore was blocked out of the fray by his own teammate.

Higgins' goal came at 6:53 of the first period. On the ensuing shift, Rostislav Olesz and Mike Santorelli broke loose on a 2-on-1 chance with Olesz sending a nice pass to his running mate for a 2-0 lead at the 7:46 mark.

“It was a quick start and we played our game and moved our feet,'' said Santorelli. “Things tightened up out there. It was a battle. They're a great team, a well-coached team and they are fast. They were battling hard. It was real competitive out there.''

Wideman had perhaps the play of the night a few minutes later. Cal Clutterbuck fired on Vokoun and it looked like he had squeezed the puck. Only it trickled out and headed toward the back of the net. Minnesota's Casey Wellman barely missed getting his outstretched stick on it as Wideman crashed through, covered up the puck and pushed it back.

“I was just right there and the shot squeaked through. He didn't get a stick on it so I had to keep it out of the crease,'' said Wideman, who chased after a loose puck that slipped through Vokoun's skates and kept it from crossing the goal line. “It never crossed. It didn't even touch the line.''

Clutterbuck ended up getting Minnesota's only goal late in the first as he fired a shot past Vokoun's paddle with 22 seconds left on a power play.

The win was Florida's second straight and third in four games as the team embarks on a tough four-game roadtrip with stops in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Boston and Long Island.

-- Winger Radek Dvorak set the franchise record for most games played as he passed friend and former teammate Robert Svehla.


When winger Cory Stillman went down with a shoulder injury on just his second shift of the night last Friday, the Panthers understandably feared the worst. After being examined on Saturday, it looked like Stillman might be out a month. A few days later, he was practicing.

Stillman missed just a week with his shoulder injury, returning to the lineup – and his spot with linemates Marty Reasoner and Dvorak – on Friday night against the Wild.

With Stillman back, Chris Higgins slid down to the fourth line and Darcy Hordichuk was a healthy scratch.

-- Defenseman Jason Garrison knew a bunch of friends from college would be watching Friday's game but he was forced to miss it because of his lingering groin injury. Garrison, an undrafted free agent signed out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, has now missed four straight games with the injury. He's not expected to be in the lineup Saturday against Philadelphia, either.

-- Gulf War veteran and Panthers season ticket holder Andy Rubenstein dropped the ceremonial first puck Friday as the team celebrated Veterans Day. Rubenstein, from Davie, was joined by crew members from the USS Jason Dunham at center ice.

When, Where: 7 p.m.; Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
TV/Radio: FSNF; WQAM-560
The series: Philadelphia leads 37-25-7
The game: The defending Eastern Conference champions play their first game at home in 10 games and come in with two straight wins – including an 8-1 thrashing of host Carolina on Thursday as Jeff Carter recorded a hat trick. The Panthers have played pretty well in Philadelphia of late, winning five of the past eight games. Florida took three of four against the Flyers last year, the only loss coming on Oct. 24 when David Booth got knocked out on an open-ice hit by Mike Richards.

Florida Panthers Steve Bernier Appears OK After Cheap Shot ... Taken by Ambulance to Local Hospital

Bernier Florida Panthers winger Steve Bernier was alert and drinking bottled water as he was put into a Sunrise Fire & Rescue ambulance apparently headed to Cleveland Clinic in Weston.

Bernier had a nasty cut under his right eye as the Panthers fear he has a broken cheekbone.

Bernier was hit in the face by Minnesota's Brent Burns after play had ended in Florida's 2-1 win over the Wild at BankAtlantic Center. Burns took the last shot of the game and was shoved/checked by Bernier; Burns took exception, turned and popped Bernier in the face while holding his stick.

The first punch was a facewash with Burn's right hand. Then he slugged Bernier with his left -- hitting him square in the face with the business end of his stick. That's what did the damage.

“It's disrespect for the game,'' said Florida defenseman Mike Weaver. “Why do you need that? A player needs to respect another player.''

Said Burns: “I don’t know how it happened. I don’t know. It happened. I said sorry. I just saw he was bleeding there. I didn’t mean to do that. He just came at me, and I think it was my glove got him. I don’t know.''

Burns was given five minutes for fighting and a 10-minute game misconduct after the game. Cal Clutterbuck was also given five for fighting. Florida's Bryan Allen was charged for cross-checking.

Photo courtesy of Andy Slater/640 WFTL Sports

November 11, 2010

Bryan Allen: Mr. Offense ... Radek Dvorak Gets Franchise Record ... Panthers vs. Minnesota Russos on Friday

Bryanalleen Bryan Allen isn't exactly the Panthers secret weapon, but after scoring two goals with three assists in the past four games, Allen is enjoying the spotlight just a little bit.

“I've never been one for offense but it feels real good to be able to contribute,'' Florida's veteran defenseman said with a grin. “Sometimes these things come in bunches.''

Allen has not been one to be considered an offensive player during his 10-year NHL career, and his three assists in the win against Carolina last week was a career-high in points.

A strong shutdown defender, Allen has been counted on by the Panthers to help solidify Florida's defensive play – one that is much improved over the past couple of years. Shots against are down considerably – and, not surprisingly, so are goals scored against the Panthers.

Offense, however, remains a problem with the Panthers. So getting goals from an unlikely source like Allen is welcomed.

“We talked about how our defense is going to have to help our offense. When I said that, Bryan Allen's name wasn't the first to come to mind,'' coach Pete DeBoer said. “To his credit, he's shown his versatility. He's tough to play against. He's physical, but it's nice to see him add to things on the other end.''

Allen's goal on Wednesday against the Maple Leafs was a simple slapshot off a puck that all but landed on the tape of Allen's stick. Goalie Jonas Gustavsson went to clear the puck and fired it toward the side boards; it bounded off right to Allen who pulled back and fired. The puck zipped past Gustavsson and the Panthers had a 1-0 lead. Perhaps had Allen not been creating chances in the offensive zone as he has of late, he may have passed on the shot and sent it another direction.

“Maybe this has given me more confidence with the puck,'' Allen said. “Maybe I'm shooting more. I think a lot of this is timing and the chances I'm getting, it's going on. I'm getting opportunities. The key to our team is we don't have one or two guys to totally count on. We all have to chip in.''


Radek Dvorak will become the Panthers' all-time leader in games played Friday when Florida plays host to the Wild. Dvorak spent five seasons with the Panthers before being traded to the Rangers in 2000. He returned as a free agent in 2007 and is in the final season of a two-year deal signed in 2009.

Dvorak will play in his 574th game in a Panthers sweater, eclipsing Robert Svehla (1994-2002). Stephen Weiss, who has also spent nine seasons with the team, is eighth on the all-time games played list but moving up fast. At 493 games played, he sits just 13 behind Billy Lindsay for seventh and can move up to fourth if he stays healthy this season.

“This means a lot to me. It's something special,'' Dvorak said. “I've been with this organization since 1995 and it seems like it was yesterday. I have a lot of great memories and I hope to put a lot more games up on the board. [Svehla] is a legend here, one of the best defensemen in franchise history. He's my friend and passing him is special. It'll be nice to win tomorrow and celebrate this thing with a win.''

The Panthers will honor Dvorak with a pregame ceremony at their next home game on Nov. 22 against Pittsburgh.

-- Winger Cory Stillman (shoulder) and defenseman Jason Garrison (groin) practiced on Thursday and could play this weekend.

-- To commemorate Veterans Day, the Panthers will welcome Navy crew members of the USS Jason Dunham on Friday. The crew will attend the game and drop the ceremonial puck.

When/Where: 7:30 p.m.; BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise
TV/Radio: FSNF; 560-WQAM
The series: Minnesota leads 7-2-1
The game: The Wild had won three straight going into Thursday's game in Atlanta and are 1-2 in the second game of a back-to-back series. Minnesota is expected to start Jose Theodore (1-1-0) in net. Before beating the Wild in St. Paul last season, Florida had not defeated the Wild since its expansion season in 2001. That is also the last time the Panthers have beaten the Wild in Sunrise. Florida has won two of three.

November 10, 2010

Toronto Maple Leafs Lose Seventh Straight, Panthers Win 4-1 ... Cats Get TWO! Power Play Goals ... PK Kills Off Five



Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said he has fond memories of playing for Toronto coach Ron Wilson in the minor leagues back in the day, but that doesn't mean he was going to help take the heat off his former bench boss on Wednesday night.

DeBoer and the Panthers continued Toronto's misery as the Leafs continue to struggle. Florida's 4-1 win at BankAtlantic Center was Toronto's seventh straight loss.

Since winning four straight to start the season, the Leafs have won just one of their past 11. Their only win during that span was a disputed 3-1 victory over the Panthers on Oct. 26.

“We've been guilty in the past of not putting teams away,'' DeBoer said. “Give the Leafs credit, they played a hard game. We knew they would be desperate with all the things you hear like team meetings and the losing streak. They worked hard and made us work hard for a win.''

The Panthers put the heat on Toronto early on as the suddenly offensive-defenseman Bryan Allen scored by whipping a long slap shot past Jonas Gustavsson midway through the opening period. Allen, who came into the season with 10 goals in 231 games with the Panthers, has two goals and three assists in his past four games this season.

The Leafs, playing for the second straight night after losing 4-0 in Tampa on Tuesday, kept it close although the Panthers never were in much danger. In the seocnd, Steven Reinprecht scored the first of two power play goals for the Panthers. Florida came into the night with just three power play goals all year.

Florida all but put the game away in the third when Shawn Matthias – moved from center to wing on Tuesday – took a pass from Michael Frolik at center ice and walked in on Gustavsson and scored his third of the season. Matthias returned the favor later in the period as he fed Frolik from the slot and Frolik got his fourth of the season. It was the first time the Panthers had two power play goals in one game this season.

“We know each other a little bit and pass it a lot to each other,'' Frolik said. “He made a great play there, saw me out there. He's big and fast. We just have to keep this going.''

Florida's penalty kill units were strong again as the Panthers killed off five penalties and now sport a success rate of 90 percent.


Dale Tallon was born and raised in Quebec, but he's been more than Americanized. Drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in 1970, Tallon was traded to Chicago in 1973 and he has been a fixture in U.S. hockey ever since.

Tallon, who became an American citizen in 1993, was named to the national advisory committee for Team USA on Thursday. He joins American-born NHL executives Brian Burke, Paul Holmgren, Dean Lombardi, Ray Shero and Don Waddell. The group is in charge of selecting players for the U.S. national team. Tallon and Nashville general manager David Poile (Toronto) are the only Canadian-born members of the selection committee.

“I am excited. It's an honor and a privilege. It's a challenge, but it's going to be a lot of fun,'' said Tallon. “I'm an American. I have my citizenship and I'm proud to be an American. I'm thrilled they asked me and I can't wait to do it.''

-- Defenseman Dennis Wideman took a puck off his face on the opening shift and needed to be attended to. Wideman returned soon afterward.

-- Former Panthers goalie John Vanbiesbrouck was honored before Wednesday's game and signed autographs for fans in the Den of Honor during the first intermission. Vanbiesbrouck was inducted into the Broward County Sports Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday night.

Oddly enough, the two football players inducted – South Broward's Danny McManus and Nova's Autry Denson – played professionally in Canada. The hockey player did not. Vanbiesbrouck spent 18 seasons in the NHL and played for the Rangers, Panthers, Flyers, Islanders and Devils.

“How that worked out, only the Lord knows,'' Vanbiesbrouck said with a laugh.

November 09, 2010

Panthers Hall of Famers: Who's Next? Ciccarelli Feted in Toronto; Vanbiesbrouck Honored in Fort Lauderdale

Dino Dino Ciccarelli became the second player with ties to the Florida Panthers to be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Monday night in Toronto.

Ciccarelli ended his NHL career with the Panthers, playing in 42 games after GM Bryan Murray acquired him in a trade with the Lightning in January, 1998.

He had 11 goals and 12 assists in 42 games – including his 600th goal against Detroit on February 3, 1998.

Ciccarelli was just the ninth player in NHL history to reach that record.

“It was just one year, but all these guys are just the tops,'' said Radek Dvorak, who played with Ciccarelli with the Panthers in 1998.

“Dino scored so many goals in the league and was a great leader. He had 600 goals. I played with so many great players and Dino was one of them. He could score from anywhere. Anywhere. He would get in front of the net, tip the pucks with his stick. He was unbelievable. He accomplished great things. It's great to see him in the Hall of Fame.''

Igor Larionov – who, like Ciccarelli, played just part of one season with the Panthers – was inducted in 2008.

Soon, there could be a few more.

Joeniew Joe Nieuwendyk, who signed with the Panthers shortly after the lockout ended, retired with the Panthers in 2006 and was a finalist to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer this year. He could go in next year.

Belfour Ed Belfour, whose final NHL season was with the Panthers in 2006-07, becomes eligible to join the hallowed Hall in 2011.

Roger Neilson, the Panthers first coach who spent two seasons in Florida, was inducted into the Hall in 2002. Bill Torrey built the Panthers from scratch in 1992 and was inducted in 1995.

On Tuesday night in Fort Lauderdale, original goalie John Vanbiesbrouck will join a different hall as he is formally inducted into the Broward County Sports Hall of Fame. He joins such local football luminaries as Nova High star Autry Denson (Notre Dame, Dolphins) and South Broward's Danny McManus (FSU, Grey Cup MVP).

Beezer Vanbiesbrouck will be celebrated by the Panthers at Wednesday's game against the Maple Leafs.

“Not everyone gets this honor, so congratulations for him and I look forward to seeing him at the game,'' Dvorak said. “It's well deserved. When he played for us, he's the reason we won and why we went to the Stanley Cup Finals. Good for him.''

Dale Tallon on Coach Challenge: "It's Dead"

Flag Dale Tallon's proposal to have coaches have a chance for a video review like NFL coaches was on the agenda at Tuesday's GM meeting in Toronto. Only it didn't go far. 

According to the Canadian Press, the league's GMs turned it down.

"We had a lot of conversation about it but it's a dead issue," Tallon told the CP.

The stimulus for Tallon putting the issue on the table was Florida's loss in Toronto on Oct. 26 when Colton Orr collided with goalie Scott Clemmensen right as a shot was coming on net. The puck hit Orr as he and Clemmensen crashed to the ice and went in; it turned out to be the game-winning goal.

Game officials didn't call goalie interference although league VP Colin Campbell later said they should have.

On Monday, Leafs GM Brian Burke blasted Tallon's plan. Believe it or not, Tallon and Burke are friends.

“Talking about a coaching challenge in response to one goal is like killing a house fly with a bazooka,” Burke said. “All of a sudden, we’re talking about a rule change because of one goal. Our group gets paid to not panic on rule changes and not overreact. This, to me, seems like an overreaction of the highest magnitude.

"We think we have the best officials in the world and we don’t need to handcuff them with needless replays.”

November 08, 2010

Florida Panthers News: Chris Higgins Fitting In ... Cory Stillman Practices ... Darcy Hordichuk's A Player

Good afternoon hockey fans. I didn't cover the team today, but I'm back tomorrow. Today's coverage is from Didier Morais. Enjoy.


Chris Higgins is still adjusting to the constant shift in systems. Playing on his fourth team in just as many seasons, the Panthers forward said he remains in the process of breaking free from old tendencies in order to grasp to coach Pete DeBoer’s schemes.

But the results are slowly starting to come for Higgins – who previously played for Montreal, Calgary and New York. After sputtering through seven games without recording a single point, Higgins has rebounded by notching two goals and one assist in his last five games.

“It has been a challenge,” Higgins said of the system adjustment. “I’ve been with a bunch of different teams the last couple years and it takes a little bit to see exactly what the coach wants me to do. It’s got to become part of your instinct.”

Higgins, however, has managed to flourish despite being out of his element. When Cory Stillman was sidelined with a shoulder injury during Friday’s game against Carolina, Wiggins shifted down from Florida’s first line to the third line to fill the void.

And the move ultimately benefitted Higgins, considering he finished the night with one score and a season-high eight shots on goal.

“That's the game we're looking for from Higgy,” DeBoer said. “Sometimes when you come to a new team the details paralyze you a little bit, the system, where you're supposed to be.

“[Friday] he just played, used his instincts. He's becoming more comfortable. He's starting to play. It hasn't come easy for him. He looks like he's turning a corner.”

To get to that point, though, Higgins said he constantly consulted the team’s coaching staff and general manager Dale Tallon to gain a stronger grasp of the intricacies of the Panthers system.

“I wanted to get back to my gameplan, more of a relentless style,” Higgins said. “And when I have my best games its when I’m skating and being a dynamic player out there. Hopefully, I got all those things ironed out now.”

-- The Panthers received encouraging news Monday morning when Stillman returned to ice for practice.

After sustaining a shoulder injury during Friday night’s second shift, the winger looked to have suffered damage to his rotator cuff and was expected to miss up to a month for Florida.

But DeBoer was optimistic that the club wouldn’t have to call anyone from their AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y.

“It doesn’t look like it’s as bad as we thought,” DeBoer said after Monday’s practice. “I would still say he’s day-to-day. He’s doubtful for Wednesday and we’ll see how the rest of the week goes.”

-- Darcy Hordichuk knows the Panthers didn’t acquire him from Vancouver last month for his goal-scoring abilities.

Mired in a yearlong scoring drought, the winger – who had 18 career goals entering the season – could actually remember the manner in which he tallied his last score, which came on Nov. 5, 2009.

“It was a slap shot, high cheese against Minnesota,'' Hordichuk said, describing the goal.

But one year and one day after the anniversary of his last score, Hordichuk ended his scoring slump by firing a goal in the third period of Saturday’s 3-2 loss against Carolina.

“Great players make great plays,” Hordichuk joked after the game.

November 07, 2010

Panthers Talk Penalties With Special Guest, Charlestown Chiefs Goalie Denis Lemeiux and Jim Carr

RALEIGH, N.C. -- When Eric Staal scored the first of his two goals against the Panthers on Saturday night, it came with his Carolina Hurricanes holding a two-man advantage on the ice as Florida was forced to play shorthanded because of penalties.

A 5-on-3 advantage for a lengthy period of time is almost an automatic goal for the team with the edge, but this season, that hasn't always been the case for Florida's opponents.

On Friday night, the Panthers took successive penalties giving the Hurricanes a two-man advantage for the whole two minutes. Florida, thanks to smothering defense from the likes of Marty Reasoner, Dennis Wideman and Mike Weaver, killed it off. Reasoner drawing a penalty with 20 seconds remaining most definitely helped. But Florida's penalty killers have come up huge throughout the young season as the Panthers have the third-highest success rate in the league.

Coming into Sunday's games, Florida's four goals allowed on opposition's power plays is second-fewest in the league. Boston has surrendered three.

Clemm “Our kill has been good and has bailed us out at times,'' said goalie Scott Clemmensen, who faced down 10 power plays in two games against Carolina this weekend. “Look at guys like Reasoner and Weaver and Dvorak. They've been in the league for a while for a reason. Their hockey sense is so great.''

A big part of Florida's success on the penalty kill has been the team's propensity to stay out of the penalty box all together. The games against Carolina were an anomaly this year as the Hurricanes had 12 power play chances against the Panthers. Coming into Friday's game, the Panthers averaged 2.4 power plays allowed per game.

Even counting the games on Friday and Saturday, Florida's 36 penalty kill opportunities is fewest in the league. On the flip side, the Panthers have had the fewest power play chances in the league with 37 and are third-worst with a 8.1 percent success rate.

“It always seems with Carolina they have the edge on us on special teams for whatever reason,'' David Booth said. “This will win us and lose us games coming down the season. We'll go through some stretches when we draw some more penalties and we'll need to take advantage.''

Gordmurphy New assistant coach Gord Murphy – a defenseman for the Panthers from 1993-99 – took over the penalty kill duties from Mike Kitchen. Although players have raved about his new system since training camp, Murphy credits the additions of Weaver, Wideman and Reasoner for Florida's improvement.

“The guys bought in right from training camp and there's been exceptional attention to detail,'' assistant coach Gord Murphy said. “But the truth is, penalty killing is all about goaltending. And we've had that, had it since Day 1.''

-- The Panthers return to practice at their training facility in Coral Springs on Monday morning. Practice begins at 10 and is open to the public.

November 06, 2010

Florida Panthers Can't Do it Again: Carolina 3, Panthers 2 ... Hordichuk, Frolik Match Staal (2), Not Enough


RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Panthers and Hurricanes played twice this weekend. One game couldn't have been more different than the other.

On Friday, the Panthers scored seven goals off 50 shots in a wild shootout win in Sunrise. On Saturday night, it was the Hurricanes turn to do some offensive damage as captain Eric Staal scored twice and Carolina continued its dominance over the Panthers at RBC Center with a 3-2 victory.

Since the Hurricanes moved into this arena in 1999, they have won a staggering 25 of 32 against the Panthers.

“They always play good in this building,'' David Booth lamented. “They're a fast team and showed that [Saturday]. On the other hand, we weren't good enough. If we would have played the game we played [Friday], I think we would have been alright.''

The Panthers made franchise history by taking 105 shots in their previous two games. Not only did Florida take at least 50 shots in successive games for the first time, but their combined total was the most in the NHL since the New York Rangers had 107 in their Stanley Cup season of 1994.

Those who hoped for more offensive fireworks from the Panthers on Saturday were left disappointed. The Panthers were most definitely off as they spent most of the game playing defense on their end. Florida had just four shots in the opening period and five in the second as Cam Ward didn't have to do much in his second straight night in net.

The Panthers first goal came when enforcer Darcy Hordichuk pulled in a loose puck off a shot off the board from Mike Weaver and buried it. That came a minute after rookie Jeff Skinner, Carolina's first round pick last June, scored 2:21 into the third period to give the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead. Florida trailed 3-1 late, and with an empty net behind him, Michael Frolik scored with 42.2 seconds left to give the Panthers life. Alas, it wasn't to be as Florida ended with just 20 shots.

Coach Pete DeBoer decided to give Scott Clemmensen just his second start of the season on Saturday after Clemmensen came on in relief of starter Tomas Vokoun early in Friday's game. Clemmensen gave up two goals on Friday and kept the Panthers in the game throughout. After a scoreless first period, Carolina made it 1-0 on Staal's first goal – that coming when Carolina held a two-man advantage as Hordichuk and Mike Santorelli shared a bench in the penalty box.

“Give Carolina credit: They turned the tables on us,'' DeBoer said. “They obviously weren't happy with their game coming out of our building and they fixed some things. That said, it was a winnable game. We didn't win enough battles through the first two periods but because of our goaltender and our penalty kill, we were only down 1-0 on the road. That's not a bad position. .-.-. It was the deserved result, though. They were the more desperate team and fixed what was wrong with their game in Florida.''

The Panthers killed off a 5-on-3 situation Friday but couldn't do it two nights straight as Staal scored with 16 seconds left in the first penalty. The Florida penalty kill was 7-for-7 on Friday and 5-for-6 on Saturday.

“We were in it for the most part, we were right there,'' said Clemmensen, who made 26 saves. “This is nothing to hang our head about, although it's always disappointing not to get the win.''


Winger Cory Stillman injured a shoulder on his second shift of Friday night's game and didn't make the trip to North Carolina. DeBoer said Stillman was looked at in South Florida on Saturday and that the shoulder wouldn't need surgery. Stillman is still expected to miss up to a month.

The Panthers didn't call anyone up from their AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., however, opting to play Darcy Hordichuk. The Panthers are expected to make a move this week, however.

“There's no dislocation, just a rotator cuff,'' DeBoer said. “When he fell, he braced himself.''

Panthers Pregame Notes: Scott Clemmensen IN, Cory Stillman OUT ... Panthers 105 Shots Most Since '94 Rangers

Pack RALEIGH -- Tough day for the locals here as N.C. State loses a close one to Clemson in a game the Pack seemed to have. Sure some of them will be happy if UNC holds on to beat FSU.

Anyway, on to hockey.

Just got done speaking with Pete DeBoer and he's sticking with goalie Scott Clemmensen as expected.

Also, Cory Stillman got his shoulder checked out today in South Florida and DeBoer says surgery is not needed but he'll be out at least for a few weeks. DeBoer seems to think Stillman hurt his rotator cuff when he hit the ice after a hit. Stillman was hurt on his second and last shift of the game last night.

Higgins DeBoer is very happy with the play of Chris Higgins of late. "He's just playing right now,'' DeBoer said, explaining that perhaps Higgins was slow to fit in with his new teammates and the Panthers new system.

-- No word on when/whom the Panthers recall from Rochester to fill in for Stillman, but I would bet something happens Tuesday before the Leafs game. Or, Hordichuk stays in to make sure Colton Orr stays away from the Panthers net.

-- Some notes on Florida's 105 shots in the past two games compliments of STATS, Inc.

Keenanrangers The 105 shots are most by a single team in successive games since the '94 New York Rangers.

The 105 shots are third most since 1989-90 season.

The '94 Rangers had 54 shots vs. the Panthers, 53 vs. Calgary.

-- Panthers also lead the league in even strength goals, but that's what happens when all you score is, ahem, even strength goals.

Florida's three power play goals are tied for last in the league, although the Panthers only have 35 power play chances -- fewest in the league. Only Boston (39) is fairly close.

-- Panthers penalty kill (7-for-7 last night) is third in the league at 90.3 percent. Florida's only had to defend 31 kills -- also fewest in the league. Only Boston (38) is close.