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Florida Panthers Trying to 'Look at the Bright Side of Life' ... Dmitry Kulikov (McRibs) Out v. Lightning, Joe Callahan Up ... Darcy Hordichuk Not Thrilled

Spamalot Had you told Pete DeBoer last week that his team not only would have won three of its first five games in a very important six-game home stretch, but picked up eight of the possible 10 points, he would have been a very happy man.

The Panthers have done exactly that.

Yet based on the circumstances surrounding how the Panthers have gone about getting those points has left no one celebrating and the mood around the team wouldn't be considered even remotely jovial.

Florida opened its homestand with three straight wins. Then came two late meltdowns that resulted in two points in the standings – but two lost points as well.

“It's always tougher to swallow when you've lost games the way we have,'' DeBoer said. “If we had crappy starts and had been coming back in all these games, everyone would be patting us on the back talking about our great character. Instead, we can't finish but got eight of 10. We have to keep this in perspective.''

The Panthers led Atlanta, a team they are chasing for the final playoff spot, by two with two minutes left on Monday. The Thrashers got two quick goals then won in a shootout, their radio announcer giddily calling it “a miracle win.''

Wednesday, Columbus trailed 2-1 in the waning moments before Antoine Vermette Bjackets scored off a rebound to tie it, R.J. Umberger winning it for the Blue Jackets in overtime.

Their celebration – Columbus had lost seven of its past eight – looked like something out of the Stanley Cup playoffs and not a weekday game in front of a sparse crowd on the edge of the Florida Everglades.

(Photo credit: Lynne Sladky, Associated Press)

The prevailing theme around the Panthers is that they need to have a short memory, to put these two losses in the back of their minds and move on. Only these type of losses are happening almost on a nightly basis.

“It definitely hurts, we needed these couple of points,'' center Mike Santorelli said. “We played good enough to win. We just need to find a way, any way, to get through these last couple of minutes.''

Since Dec. 31, when the Panthers led Montreal 2-0 only to lose 3-2 in overtime, the Panthers have scored four goals just twice. Florida has held early two goal leads in games in seven of its past 11 games. Of those seven games, the Panthers have given up said lead six times – winning just twice under those circumstances.

Florida's problems late in games could be avoided if only the team were to score more earlier. In both the Atlanta and Columbus losses, Florida missed great scoring chances, be it missing empty nets (five against Atlanta) or missing out on close goals (the Panthers would have taken a 3-1 lead late against Columbus were it not for an odd and errant roll of a puck near the goal cage).

“It's the worst bounce I've ever seen. That puck was going into the net,'' DeBoer said. “We have to find a way to manufacture more goals. That's the bottom line. We can fix the last-minute stuff. That's just the by-product of the bigger problem and that's not getting more goals at the right time.''

Kulikov -- The Panthers played the second half of Wednesday's game a little shorthanded as two of their defensemen were slowed by injury.

Dmitry Kulikov (ribs) and Jason Garrison (groin) left the game but did return. Kulikov, who will miss Friday's game against Tampa Bay, was called for holding late in overtime – a penalty that led to Columbus' game-winning goal. “Sure, [the injury] affected him,'' DeBoer said.

Defenseman Joe Callahan has been called up from the Panthers AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y. If Garrison is unable to play, Clay Wilson will be summoned from Rochester as well.

-- Even though the Panthers appear to be fatigued late in games, DeBoer doesn't sound like he's ready to give Darcy Hordichuk any more playing time. Hordichuk seemed a little upset about his lack of playing time following Wednesday's loss as he had hoped to contribute more with the Panthers after being traded here before the start of the season.

Hordichuk played six shifts in the first Wednesday and fought on his third shift of the Darcy second. Hordichuk didn't leave the bench after serving his five minute penalty for fighting and totaled 5:45 on the ice – the most time he's seen in the past five games.

Hordichuk is averaging 4:22 per game this season.

“He's averaging for us about what he's averaged his whole career,'' DeBoer said. “When we got him, we weren't going to turn him from a five-minute player into a 10 or a 15 minute player.''

When, Where: 7:30 p.m.; BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise
TV/Radio: FSNF; WQAM 560
The series: Florida leads 51-33-10
The game: This is the third time these two rivals have met this season, with the Panthers winning the first two. The Panthers beat Tampa Bay 6-0 in their home opener on Oct. 16, then won in Tampa 4-3 on Stephen Weiss' shootout goal on Nov. 27. .-.-. This is the finale of Florida's six-game homestand. The Panthers are 3-0-2 so far. Tampa Bay will play at Atlanta on Thursday night and are 0-3 in the second game of a back-to-back set this month. The Lightning have been outscored 20-8 in those games. 


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We need to play 4 lines and no
Double shifting anyone. Horti isn't a liability he hits and that adds energy to the team.

I agree. As long he's not having bad turnovers or taking too many dumb penalties, which he's not, then he should play regularly.. It's not his fault, and maybe PDB should try benching Frolik, Olesz, Stillman, and Bernier a bit more, instead of rewarding Stillman with top-line PP minutes... Let's stop show-casing guys for trades, and play the skill and energy guys that will give a constant effort...

If it's the last 5 or 10 minutes of the game, I'd understand, but I think it ruins any flow and team chemistry because they're pressing for that 3rd goal that just doesn't come.. It's hard enough for us to get guys to come here, so let's not ruin it by disrupting team chemistry.. Hordy deserves his time with his linemates. Let him play...

Of course DeBoer won't play Darcy more, that's what happens when you have a minor league minded soft coach running a professional team. It is obvious Pete hates any type of physical hockey and that is why Darcy will only get 4 minutes a night. It's the same reason why other fighters before him got the same treatment.

The Bright side??? Kulikov being out?

haha wow this team is going to tank with McCabe and Kulikov out haha.

get a top 5 pick, we aren't going anywhere this season, it would be a waste to just keep on winning with this bum group.

So every coach that's every has hordy and contributed to his 5 min/gm average is soft, huh? Alrighty. Something certainly soft around here but it ain't the coach.

just fire the guy hes obviously lost the team...

How many successful coachs in Pro Sports have gone from Little League to Major League without serving as assistant coach or actually playing in the major leagues..? Come on he's a kids coach with a kids coach mentallity. Make Gord M. the head coach and lets move on without TVO PDB & JH.

Well, we have a Supreme Court Justice who never judged before, so why can't PDeB jump right into the bigs? OK, enough of that...

I agree with the above post...less Olesz and Bernier and more Hordichuk. What has Bernier and his $2M salary done for us lately? Tallon better not offer him a qualifying contract when the year is up. We should of kept Grabner and let Bernier go before the season began.

I'm still amazed how fans continue to blame the coach for this team losing--Take a look at the roster you bunch of knuckleheads. This team plays hard every night--which is more than they got out of JM and the parade of lousy guys this team has put behind the bench. I blame Bryan Murray for ruining this franchise over ten years ago--he put this team on a course to be ruined a long time--he has done this every place he has been==look what he is doing to Ottawa now. But cheer up you coach haters--Tallon will probably fire DeBoer and hire his own coach--and watch how fast DeBoer is grabbed up by another team

A lot of people around the league would like to see Pete DeBoer on the market. He wouldn't be out there long. I don't think Darcy was happy last night, but he's a pretty good teammate. There is no way Pete has lost this team. He has them ready to play -- with rare exception. Haven't heard the old Olli phrase "we left our game on the plane/bus" in quite some time...

I agree with George.The problem is not DeBoer.We have very little offensive talent.Maybe a change in power play coaches would be a good thing.I do think DeBoer is a little to conservative.Vokoun has let in 4 soft goals in critical games earlier to lose 4 games.We are to small both defensively (Weaver)and have little shot making ability.The passing is just atrocious compared to other teams.I dont think that is the coaches fault just a lack of talent.This has been a very gin remaining gritty motivated bunch unlike previous years.The refs have cost us 3 games with blown calls and that is another 3-6 pts.We still have an outside chance if we could beat tampa and get 4 of 6 pts in future games.I simply dont think that is possible with no offense but anything is possible in hockey

I hope your brain surgeon didn't just get a promotion because he was a good veterinarian. Of course with your logic on PBD's experience you probably wouldn't mind if the veterinarian had any human surgical experience either. Or for that matter your next airline pilot got his license because he flew a plane once. Yikes!!!! Obviously no respect for experience for the level of job you are performing. Hell I can fly an airplane-when is the next space shuttle flight? I'm qualified.

Well, this is going to be hard to rebound after the loss, without Kuli and possibly garrison. On the bright side, Deboer will be forced to play Ellerby more. I think Hordy should get some more time on the ice, he hits, which the other forwards lack.

Deboer has some issues. I was disappointed in his reactions on the non calls by the officials.

Having said that, Deboer had little to work with the last three years. I will be curious to see the results of next season with better players with Repik, Howden and Gudbranson possibly on the team next season. I could see Deboer getting a two year deal but not anything above a three year extension...

DeBoer's haters are just that but no substance.
He has taken Lemons and made pretty good lemonade.
This is the hardest working bunch of guys I've seen in many years, we had managed to score 2 or more goals in the first period in many games and that is with our anemic cast of forwards, in most the games we manage to dominate the game and we had many wins over better teams.
Loosing games in the last 2 minutes happens all the time in this league, for some odd reason it has been happening to us more often than other teams.
In those last 2 minutes the other team throws everything at us including the kitchen sink, strategy goes out the windows and survival mode takes over., and from there on luck plays a big role in the outcome.

Raise your hand if you have been a major league coach in any sport. ... ... ... No one?! In that case carry on with your back seat driving and misinformed opinions.

Some people think that firing the coach is always the answer. Maybe we can bring a very experienced Mike Keenan back. How well did that work for you last time? This team plays harder than any over the course of the last ten years..with all those experienced coaches!! Maybe we can bring back Toe Blake or Punch Imlach, oops sorry they are no longer with us. You coach haters probably don't know who they are.

it is not the coach it is the lack of talent, the lack of size and the lack of skill that hurts this team year after year.

This team is playing hard that is what the coach has to deal with, DeBoer is learning on the job and is a much better coach now than he was 2 years ago.

Talk around the league is what a great job DeBoer is doing with no talent. We have no all stars and we have no one that is near being an all star.

Yes it would be nice to trade players but look at the roster and those that we would be willing to trade no one would want.

We have a lot of expiring contracts that is when Tallon will have to do his thing. He came here late last year lets give him a chance to upgrade the roster.

Dont know whats more hilarious, guys who think you have to have been a coach to have an opinion on the ability of one ( gee ive never been president, guess i shhouldnt vote) Or those who say its not the coach he doesnt play (well then a coach should never be let go cause its never their fault rofl)

Anyone that follows the game knows PD was hired on the cheap from the Juniors handpicked by JM when he was moved to GM only. Hes a JM decipal, comatose behind the bench, inexperienced and ofending vets (see Boynton, vokun, wideman earlier this year, Horduchuk Allen etc.), and softer than a dairy queen cone. Horduchuk fights his brains out Wed. and his reward..benched! Tarnasky wants to come out after booth 2 and protect his teamate and his reward...benched!!!
Tallon will sooner or at end of year terminate this Junior coach and maybe with years of Assisting somewhere else he will mature. Its getting ugly at the arena where the real paying fans, not the internet stalkers from out of town who never attend and post here, started up the fire Peter chants. Tallon will get a major league coach with experience by next year to run an improving hockey team.

litespeedvb1. Size on D isn't the problem because Weaver can hit with the best of them, not to mention he is a BIG reason why our PK is 3rd best! He's a shot-blocking machine just like Seidenberg was. Allen is a big guy,but makes poor decisions. Allen has made some horrible, horrible mistakes the past few months and Deboer, once again, hasn't held Allen "ACCOUNTABLE" for his mistakes. Kulikov was benched, Santorelli was benched but not Allen. McCabe as well, horrible horrible play but no reprocusions. Coaching has everything to do with this team. I give Deboer credit for doing what he's done with this team and helping Weiss, Santorelli, and others become better players, but Deboer never seems interested in the game and doesn't show any kind of emotion.He always holds back our toughness and tough guys, just look wat happened to Belak,MacIntyre,Tarnasky, and now Hordichuk.Give me a good reason to play Hordichuk only 5 min a game? He has no down side. He was brought in to be a grinder, bruser,fighter, and energy builder and he does exactly that.Deboer needs to impliment a more aggressive style of play to our system so that way we hit more, play more aggressively and don't sit back on leads. We aren't offensively challenged either, we just don't have a coach who motivates his team. They throw everything other than the kitchen sink at the net but they just don't get rewarded with all the goals or lucky bounces. I admit that they need to work on the passes and confidence but I still don't think we're that offensively challenged. Vokoun may have let in soft goals in recent games, but he's also stood on his head and saved this teams arse many,many games. This is also where Deboer comes into play because he needs to show confidence in Vokoun and not bench him for three games after coming off a victory. Hulton does need to be fired though because our PP is disgusting.






The difference in this team this year is the coaching of Gord Murphy. Plain and simple.

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