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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.

BY DAVID J. NEAL
dneal@MiamiHerald.com

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.

BERNIER OUT

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.

FLYERS SIGN CARTER

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.''


Comments

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David Neal is the best and quoting Mike Russo brings back the good old days.

As far as the game, this shows the talent difference between the panthers and the elite of the league; the effort was there but not the talent.

Around the league the panthers are considered a team with a great goalie and nothing else.

Keep up the effort and the wins will come against the 22-24 teams that are not in the elite status and rely on hard work and a few lucky bounces

sthsd1 you are right. and this team could obtain 90-95 points. they play hard enuf ro compensate for lack of talent. it will take dilligent coaching to succeed. while we rebuild, we can entertain and not alienate the few remaining paying customers.

"Around the league the panthers are considered a team with a great goalie and nothing else."

Pleaaaase, I agree with most of what you say, but you know that statement is not true. Don't insult our players like that

This was a game that the Panthers were in trouble before they got there. They don't have the talent to beat teams like the Flyers, and they need to put in 100% effort for the full 60 minutes. The Panthers were sleepwalking through the first period.

I worry about when the Panthers play the Caps a couple weeks. The forwards have to start finishing their shots or they are looking at several blowouts against the great teams in the East like the Caps and Flyers.

I think McArdle will get another shot with the team this week over Repik. Deboer has made it clear in the past that Repik is not to be called up.

Sorry Harry but that is the truth of this team. There isn't a finisher among them or a defensemen that scares other teams, we have a great goalie and no top players.

This is an expansion team and they have to outwork the other team to win games; until this year teams came in here and didn't have to work hard for wins, that is changing, once the attitude is changed then we can bring in players that can finish and defensemen that can move the puck.

This team is a lot better than the teams we had from Keenan, JM the GM and Sexton because the attitude is changing, unfortunately the talent level hasn't (Tallon would love to clean house but no one is knocking on the door for panther players).

I love the hard work but we have to realize that we lack talent to compete with the elite teams of this league and yes, when you listen to other teams announcers on XM radio you learn real quickly that when you play Florida you have to beat Vokoun to win and not worry as much about the forwards. or defensemen beating you

sthsd1, the " we are just vokun" is not true this year. on xmradio nhl they talk about how fast our fowards are, and how wuick our counter is. i have heard multiple opposing coaches speak to booth weiss amd santorelli etc.
whst is true is we have no sniper no finisher no one close to that. that is glaring.

the all star ballot is out and the only skater for the panthers out of 81 names is David Booth,

being fast doesn't mean anything if you can't finish, I am just saying we don't have the talent to compete and yes the only player teams worry about is Vokoun, as far as Booth, Weiss and Santorelli, I like the work effort of this team

I like this team 100 times more than last year's team, the effort is there, unfortunately the talent level is not,

I enjoy watching this team, last year was frustrating as the team didn't show up most of the time

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