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Florida Panthers Play Better but that "Doesn't Mean Crap" ... Kings Win Late 3-2 at Staples

La KINGS 3, PANTHERS 2

BY GEORGE RICHARDS
grichards@MiamiHerald.com

LOS ANGELES – As his teammates took off their equipment in silence, Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun muttered obscenities under his breath as he tore off his gear.

Vokoun ripped off his skates and threw them into his bag. He then pulled off his pads with such force one wondered if his shoulder was coming with it.

After dragging his gear into the hallway at Staples Center, Vokoun walked to the shower with a look on his face that would have made anyone in his way move. And quick.

Thursday was one of those nights for the Panthers.

Despite playing a strong game for much of the night, the Panthers gave up two goals in the third period – one early and one late – as the struggling Kings stormed back to beat the Panthers 3-2.

Anze Kopitar's shot with 2:43 remaining was the killer for the Panthers as they have dropped five of the past six and continue to lose ground in the standings. Florida is 8-2 this season when leading going into the third period – its other loss under such circumstances coming last Wednesday in Sunrise against the Bruins.

“After Thursday against Anaheim, we needed to bounce back and play solid hockey for 60 minutes,'' said Radek Dvorak, who had a number of key shots stopped by goalie Jonathan Quick, including one with less than nine minutes left in a tie game.

“We have to learn how to win close games. We played well, but at the end, it's 3-2 for them. It's a tough loss. We did a lot of good things like we have for a lot of the season. But we haven't won. It's real tough but we have to bounce back. Take the positive play from tonight and look forward to the next game. It has to start in Phoenix and that's the bottom line.''

After a disappointing performance in Anaheim Wednesday night, coach Pete DeBoer put his team on the ice for a rare day-after practice prior to the game. DeBoer said one reason he did so was to purge his players memory of that game and it seemed to work as the Panthers played a strong game against a Los Angeles team that had lost seven of eight and scored just four goals in its previous four games.

“It would have been nice to get at least a point out of that. It's deflating to say the least,'' Stephen Weiss said. “To put so much into the game against a good team like that and get scored on late, it hurts for sure. We just have to bounce back.''

The Kings, shut out in Anaheim on Monday, scored first as Jarred Stoll scored on Vokoun with a shot from the right circle midway through the first.

Florida was undeterred by the early deficit as Michal Repik made up for a minus-3 rating in Anaheim as he tapped in a loose puck that bounced right to him off the back boards just over three minutes later to tie the score.

David Booth's offensive struggles have been well documented as the Panthers left winger came into the night without a goal in his previous 12 games.

Booth, who led the Panthers in goals two seasons ago, gave Florida its first California lead since Bryan Allen beat the Sharks in overtime last spring when he whipped a shot from the circle to beat Jonathan Quick five hole.

Since becoming a regular with the Panthers, Booth's longest scoring drought was 11 games – that coming in the year he lead Florida with 31 goals. He scored four in the five games following that.

“It's good to see anyone score, but especially him,'' Weiss said. “He's a guy we need and has been struggling to just get one. Hopefully it keeps going.''

Florida led 2-1 at the second intermission but the lead didn't last. Florida put some pressure on Quick at the onset of the period but couldn't get anything through. The Kings tied it less than three minutes into the third when Peter Harrold fired off a slap shot from the slot.

“We played a good game but have said that before,'' Weiss said. “Playing good games doesn't mean crap in this league. Certainly everyone played their hearts out and left it out there. It wasn't good enough. That was one of our better games as far as that was.''

Said DeBoer: “We played the way we wanted to play, executed the game plan but their big guy Kopitar gets one at the right time. They got a couple key saves in the third to keep them in the game and their best player gets the winning goal. That was the story.''

-- The Panthers played without winger Chris Higgins because of a foot infection. DeBoer said Higgins somehow got a cut on his foot and it's infected enough that he was wearing a loose fitting tennis shoe with his suit as he limped around the arena on Thursday.

-- Florida concludes its west coast swing Saturday night against Phoenix. The team plans to hold an afternoon practice at the Coyotes arena in Glendale, Ariz., on Friday afternoon.


Comments

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Hey George, any sign that a coaching change is in the offing?

Earth to Coach DeBoer,
"We're still in the pack. We're still in the middle of New Jersey and Buffalo and Toronto, Carolina. That's a pack of teams people will probably say we should be in, but we have to separate ourselves and string some wins together here"

LOL

Coach DeBoer I know you are an optimist however, time for a reality check:

1. your leading scorer David Booth is 150th in the league in Scoring which means that when you take the ice the other team has 5 players with more points that you have.

2. you are 9 points out of a playoff spot already.

3. As an NHL coach you have never won more than 3 games in a row (the last time the panthers won more than 3 in a row was March 2-March 16, 2008 with 7 in a row).

4. the panthers never finished last in the division until last year and we now sit in last place again.

5. your team is 26th in a 30 team league.

6. you have no finishers

7. your team is not physical

8. Tampa and Atlanta are both improved so catching them is going to be hard.

9. Your team has to play a perfect game and get more breaks than the other team in order to win on most nights.

10. Time to trade your assets that you don't plan on having next year

11. Lottery here we come again 11 years in a row and counting!

I hope there is a new coach come next Tuesday! We need to try something before it is too late. I think he has lost this team, and we have no room for error!

Put Repik on line 1 or 2! Call up Dadanov(not sure I spelled it right), and let the kids that will be the future be the future now!

I have been a season ticket holder way to long!

They are having a Town Hall Meeting for season ticket holders..................I wonder how Dale will skirt the Coaching Change Question!

Deboer is a decent coach. I don't think that they really need a coaching change...yet. Coaching is not necessarily the problem when the team does not finish.

What the Panthers do need is another physical forward, defenseman, and scorer. These players were not available in the summer, minus a Byfuglien and Kovalchuk.

Yet, The trade market right now is still not that great, since teams are not desperate enough for journeyman. Thus, the Panthers are stuck with what they have right now. They could try calling up different guys from their AHL team.

Its hilarious how most comments start with how little talent we have on the team...we cant finish..we are soft..and then people expect DeBoer to will them to win? A coaching change wouldnt mean squat, the team has no talent. STH is right, they have to play a perfect game and they need Vokoun to make some big saves...if those 2 things dont happen we lose. Like last night. There will be no playoffs this year and maybe next. Tallon is looking forward to offloading McCabe/Stillman/Reinprecht/Vokoun etc for picks and prospects. Its another great draft year. Tallon doesnt care that it has been 11 years since the playoffs. He only cares about right NOW.

Wait,

They played better? What game were you guys watching? I saw a team that was lucky to have a 2-1 lead after 2 considering they couldn't get the puck out of their own end the entire period.

This is going to take a while but we have to live with a team that is not big enough or fast enough to win right now while waiting for Gudbranson, Markstrom, Howden and the other draft picks that are developing.

I don't think DeBoer should be fired. He can't be blamed for the players he has. Just wait until Vokoun, McCabe, Stillman, Dvorak etc. are traded at the deadline! Then we might as well be playing from Rochester.

A coaching change does nothing but cost us more $$ that they won't be able to spend on players... They need better decision-making.. I agree with Jeff as they were lucky to hang around and have a lead last night.. Too many mental mistakes starting with coverage in their own end, not getting out of their own end, and making the extra pass in their own end.. That's all in their own end, not to mention their lack of creativity in the other end...

Weiss, Frolik, Wideman, McCabe led the way with mental lapses. For the amount of ice time they log and money they make on a team that can't spend, they need much more from them.. I realize Tallon probably can only dump around the deadline the likes of McCabe, Stillman, Rhino if there's interest, so he should consider off-loading Weiss, Frolik before they lose too much value like Horton did...

Vokoun will likely have to be resigned as Markstrom's not ready. So Tallon should find out how much T-VO will demand. I'd offer him a 3year deal at about $5.5 mill/year... That should make him affordable to other teams if we have to deal him in the future... Unless San Jose, Ottawa, or Philly knocks your socks off with a deal, the best bet is to resign him....

It doesn't matter who is behind the bench this team lacks scoring and it has ever since they traded Pavel Bure. The premise that "scoring by committee" will win games has been proven to be false. Weiss and Booth are very good players, Santorelli and Dvorak are good supporting players but the team needs another goal scorer. This team just does not have the scoring punch to win games. The coach has them playing good but you can only do so much with what he has to work with. Time to trade a defesneman for a scoring forward. Take back some salary and get a scorer or get use to losing close games. Can't score than you can't win.

LOL all right--that someone who claims to be a "season ticket holder since day one" should know so little of the game!

LOL

Coach DeBoer I know you are an optimist however, time for a reality check:

1. your leading scorer David Booth is 150th in the league in Scoring which means that when you take the ice the other team has 5 players with more points that you have.

This is Pete DeBoer's fault?

2. you are 9 points out of a playoff spot already.

Wow, what appears to be a fair comment (soon to be shown to be unfair)

3. As an NHL coach you have never won more than 3 games in a row (the last time the panthers won more than 3 in a row was March 2-March 16, 2008 with 7 in a row).

Coaching a bad team which is taking the tried and proven method to get better: build draft picks, bring your young players along. It's called: patience.

4. the panthers never finished last in the division until last year and we now sit in last place again.

Which is no guarantee they will finish there.

5. your team is 26th in a 30 team league.

Same statement dressed in different clothing.

6. you have no finishers

This is the coach's fault? It's the GM that makes those decisions! He chooses the players to bring in.

7. your team is not physical

Again, the GM selects the players.

8. Tampa and Atlanta are both improved so catching them is going to be hard.

More repetition. Tampa's GM (that alien word again) and Atlanta's did a good job. Our GM (note the absence of the word 'coach') has built a treasure trove of young players and will do so again.

9. Your team has to play a perfect game and get more breaks than the other team in order to win on most nights.

Probably true for all but the best teams. Too broad a statement otherwise.

10. Time to trade your assets that you don't plan on having next year

Good advice for the...wait for it...GM. This has NOTHING to do with coach Pete DeBoer.

11. Lottery here we come again 11 years in a row and counting!

I assume you won't be doing any complaining when you see the results of those lottery picks. Important consideration: coach/GM. Next week we'll take on the super difficult concept of "icing.'

Ron

I was not blaming DeBoer it is more addressed to his comments

I have supported him because of a lack of talent

He has the team working hard and getting the most out of the talent

The reality check is that he says things that are unrealistic this team does not have the talent to make the playoffs

Stupid giveaway by Garrison late in game = LOSS

well i like pete he is a good coach. but i dont like how he preaches after the game well we gave a good effort and all this stuff like are you kidding me ? at the nhl level nothing is good if your not winning there is no positive out of losing like honestly your in the nhl and your guys are getting paid millions.

Firing the coach does little. I am sure Tallon will extend Deboer contract for one to two years until most of the 2010 draft picks are 20 yr olds and ready to play in the AHL or make the leap to the NHL. Then, goodbye to Deboer.

Unless you know a coach capable of turning water into wine, it would make zero difference. This team would need a miracle to make the playoffs from the day it was put together, so I'm not sure why everyone is so frustrated and pissed at DB. We knew going into this year it was TANK MODE!!! I am psyched we're dropping games because I'd rather get a top 3 pick this year than finish just outside the playoffs and get a #10 pick or something.

How many coaches in the NHL jumped directly from "little league" to the "major league" and were successful. Please give me some numbers. PDB doesn't understand how to coach players over 18 years old. He is not the whole problem but certainly is part of it.

No question a coaching change WOULD NOT improve things but in the absence of significant roster change, which is very hard to do during the season, it may be a good PR move and let Tallon bring in his own Coach which I think is inevitable. Personally, I think this season is more Tallon's fault than DeBoer when you compare his moves with the ones Dudley has made in Atlanta.

In a comparison of moves Tallon made vs Dudley has made. Tallon brought in offensive blueliner Dennis Wideman 2-10-12 and a -5 with a $3,937,500 per year salary and a first round draft pick at the cost of RW Nathan Horton 8-11-19 +14 $4,000,000 and C Greg Campbell 2-4-6 +2 $1,100,000. Dudley brought in offensive blueliner Dustin Byfuglien 10-17-27 and a +4 with a $3,000,000 per year salary, LW Ben Eager 3-3-6 +4 $965,000, D Brent Sopel 1-1-2 +4 $2,333,333 and a prospect at the cost of a first round draft pick, a second round draft pick, C Marty Reasoner 4-7-11 +5 $1,150,000 and RW Joey Crabb 0-1-1 +1 $585,000.

You guys wanna talk about accountability???? WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU CHANGE THE COACH?????

THAT WOULD BE THE MILLIONTH COACH IN THIS TEAMS SHORT SHORT SHORT HISTORY. THERE'S YOUR PROBLEM.

THIS TEAM STINKS, NO SKILL, NO TALENT, JUST A GROUP OF BUMS WITH BOOTH AND WEISS AT THE TOP.

Frolik is another 1st round shame of a pick. Kulikov is another one who has cost this team at least 4 games due to stupid turnovers and falling flat on his face. Kulikov and Ellerby were drafted by a moron in the first round. HOW ARE THEY 1ST ROUND TALENT? Quite simple, THEY'RE NOT!!!!

sell the team, or have Tallon make some F'ing moves already. 4 games under .500 = season over, start waiving ppl, start trading ppl and bring up the rest of the bums from amerks and actually be the worst team in the NHL for once. Let's get that 1st overall pick and actually do something with it.

You can't make a trade without a partner. GM Dudley was here in FLA...and was shipped out like the rest. Atlanta is different than the Panthers. Atlanta had better scorers already. They were winning more games than the Panthers were last year.

Rebuilding takes time, there has to be trading partners available and deals take time. The Caps-AVs trade was four years in the making last week. The Panthers also have a junior development program that was ransacked by the previous GMS. You can not be successful in the NHL without a good junior program. There is a lot to be done in Florida, it can not happen in one season.

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PDB will be smoked by the time they hit Ft. Lauderdale.

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