And by doing that, I offer up an early afternoon post -- with said early feature.
It's on Marty Reasoner who has two goals and an assist in the past two games. The guy is a very quiet but solid contributor and is probably Florida's best defensive forward. So when he puts up some points, that's a nice little bonus.
Off to have some crab fries and see if I can get the Dolphins game on. Have a great day.
-- During the first few weeks of the season, Marty Reasoner found himself centering a pretty productive line.
Radek Dvorak joked that the forward trio probably had the most experience in the entire league. At the time, Reasoner – despite being in the NHL for this his 12th season – was the relative baby of the group. Dvorak has played in 1,077 games, Cory Stillman 980.
Only Dvorak and Stillman are injured, both missing at least the past five games for the Panthers.
Perhaps it is little coincidence, then, that Reasoner's production had fallen off as he was shuffled around lines and skating partners.
During his first 18 games – mostly played alongside Dvorak and Stillman – Reasoner had four goals and five assists, a marked improvement over last year's struggles in Atlanta.
Reasoner had a 10-game stretch in which he didn't record a single point.
That slide was broken when he assisted on Evgeny Dadonov's first NHL goal in last week's loss to Carolina. The Panthers hope Reasoner's troubles are past him after Friday's game, one in which he scored consecutive goals – his second eventually becoming the game-winner in a 6-2 victory over Buffalo.
“For me, it was one of those things where it's not the first time I've been through something like that,'' Reasoner said. “When the puck isn't going in, you just concentrate on doing the other things and not being a negative on the team. Win faceoffs, be good on the penalty kill. If you stay positive and keep making positive plays, eventually you'll get out of it.''
Said Shawn Matthias: “I told him before the game that I thought he was going to get a couple.''
Reasoner was a quiet acquisition over the summer, coming to Florida via Chicago. Reasoner never suited up for the defending Stanley Cup champions as Atlanta sent him to the Blackhawks in a multi-player deal before the draft.
Florida picked up the veteran center for center Jeff Taffe. If nothing else, it's a solid move as Reasoner has been a key component of Florida's much improved penalty kill.
“Look what he's done since coming here, just on the penalty kill,'' goalie Tomas Vokoun said. “It's not just about goals. It's about smart plays and sometimes people don't see that. As a player, you really appreciate watching him make the right play on defense almost every single time. He's playing for the team to win, not individual statistics. That means a lot to all of us.''
Reasoner's has been with his newest dance partners for a little bit now and chemistry is starting to show. Instead of being the youngster in the Stillman-Reasoner-Dvorak troika, Reasoner is now the older statesman of the group.
Reasoner sits between Matthias, a natural center who is playing wing right now in what is his second full-time season with the Panthers. On the other side is Dadonov who played in his ninth NHL game on Friday.
“I think we're starting to get it going,'' Reasoner said. “They have the young legs. I just kind of let them go.''
In the past two games, Reasoner has two goals and an assist; Dadonov has a goal with two assists and Matthias has three assists.
“We've been playing well as a line,'' Matthias said. “Marty is the brains of the group, he is such a smart player. He sees everything, helps us out between shifts. He's a pretty quiet guy, but if you ask him, he'll let you know what he thinks. I love playing with him and I really look up to him. Being able to sit next to him in the locker room is great. We just shoot the bull.''
In Friday's win against the Sabres, that trio was perhaps Florida's best.
“I thought Dadonov was outstanding, Matthias was physical,'' coach Pete DeBoer. “Marty brings the same game every night and it was good to see him finally get rewarded. He's always good defensively and is a key part to our penalty kill. But you could see it starting to get to him. He got off to such a good start, you always want to carry that through.''
MONDAY: PANTHERS AT FLYERS
When, Where: 7 p.m.; Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
TV/Radio: FSNF; 560-WQAM
The series: Flyers lead 38-25-7
The game: Philadelphia has the most points of any NHL team and have lost just two games this month. The Flyers come into the game riding a five-game winning streak in which they have outscored their opponents (Toronto, Boston, Pittsburgh, Montreal and New York Rangers) 18-8. The Flyers have won 12 of their 17 games on home ice. .-.-. The Panthers won three of four against the Flyers last year including the second meeting in Philly. Florida lost the previous meeting in Philadelphia 5-2 on Nov. 13.