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79 posts from September 2011

September 30, 2011

Florida Panthers Ready to Put Preseason Behind, Look Foward to 2011-12 Opener ... Stephen Weiss Ailing

Dineen Despite losing their fourth straight preseason game the night before in Dallas, the Panthers mood was upbeat at Friday's practice.

With the season opener just a week away, the Panthers are ready to put a 1-4-1 exhibition record in the rear view as they spend the coming days gearing up for the start of the real season.

The Panthers open Oct. 8 against the host New York Islanders.

“I think the players are very excited,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. “There's nothing like the real thing and we're going to get some quality time on and off the ice. We're going to hit the ground running. We want to continue to work on our system, finalize our lines and name our leadership group. We have some time to work and six games to rely on and get feedback for what we need to work on.''

Dineen admitted that there were few bright spots in Thursday's 7-1 loss to the Stars, with starting goalie Jose Theodore giving up seven goals on the final 23 shots he faced. Dineen said after the game that he had concerns about Theodore's preseason – he gave up five goals in his other loss to the Lightning – but adds that with a week to go, Theodore has plenty of time to get ready.

"At the end of the day, a lot of our success early is going to ride on him,'' Dineen said Thursday. “He's a guy who has been down these roads before. I believe in him. He can right this. This hasn't been fun for him, these past two games. Now he has to put on his work boots over the next eight games to get ready for opening night. .-.-. The one that counts is the next one.''

Theodore took the blame for Thursday's defeat although he did look sharp early on as the two teams went into the first break in a scoreless tie. Then Dallas scored three goals in the second period and really opened it up in a sloppy third.

"It's not a great way to end it,'' Theodore said. “Personally, i have to be better. It's as simple as that. I've been around long enough to know I need to be better. .-.-. I'm pretty confident. I will work hard and work ethic overcomes many things. I'm confident for the start of the season. We just need a big week of practices. I expect more out of myself.''


Center Stephen Weiss stayed off the ice for the fourth straight day as he battles what is believed to be a minor groin injury. Weiss isn't expected to practice Saturday but said he'll definitely be back Monday in preparation for the season opener.

“I'm doing off-ice drills to get this stronger so it doesn't happen any more,'' Weiss said. “I've been trying to back on the ice the past couple of days, but [trainer Dave Zenobi] isn't having it. We just want to make sure it's 100 percent before we get going next week. It's never easy to sit out, but I realize how it felt a few days ago. I'm not going to be stupid. I'll rest and be ready for next week.''

Weiss wasn't the only one out on Friday; Sean Bergenheim and Scottie Upshall missed as well.

“A healthy Stephen Weiss makes us a heck of a lot better hockey team,'' Dineen said. “For him to practice when he's a little nicked up doesn't help us long term.''


The Panthers only have a few roster spots left after putting forward Tim Kennedy on waivers on Friday in order to assign him to their AHL affiliate in San Antonio.

Kennedy, who was informed of the decision by Dale Tallon after Thursday's game, spent most of last season in the AHL because both the Rangers and Panthers were afraid of losing him through the waiver process.

Kennedy was traded to the Panthers in the Bryan McCabe deal in February and ended up playing in six games with Florida at the end of the year.



September 29, 2011

Florida Panthers, Jose Theodore Limp into Opener, Lose 7-1 to Dallas Stars ... Tim Kennedy sent to AHL San Antonio


Dallas 7, Florida 1: The Panthers (1-4-1) ended their preseason with a listless loss as the Stars got second period goals from Mike Ribiero, Alex Goligoski and Stephane Robidas.

Florida tied the score at 1 early in the second when rookie Jonathan Huberdeau knocked in a long pass from Dmitry Kulikov.

Jose Theodore stopped his first 11 shots before giving up seven on his final 26.

"There were numerous things structurally that broke down,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. "We didn't have a lot of will. It adds up into exactly what happened: A pretty good tail kicking.''

On Theodore: "That's a tough training camp for him but that's why we have it. He needs to feel the puck, our systems. At the end of the day, a lot of our success early is going to ride on him.

"He's a guy who has been down these roads before. I believe in him. He can right this. This hasn't been fun for him, these past two games. Now he has to put on his work boots over the next eight games to get ready for opening night.

"That's what you do. When you are off, you go off, work and figure it out. The one that counts is the next one.''


"It's not a great way to end it. Personally, i have to be better. It's as simple as that. I've been around long enough to know I need to be better.

"It's funny to look at the result. I made some good saves but there were goals I should have had. You have to take the postitives out of the game. There were some big saves out there. I have to focus and play well for 60 minutes for these guys.

"I'm pretty confident. I will work hard and work ethic overcomes many things. I'm confident for the start of the season. We just need a big week of practices. I expect more out of myself.''

-- The Panthers announced that Tim Kennedy has been sent to AHL San Antonio, the only cut of the night excluding Tyler Plante.

Kennedy will have to clear waivers to make it to San Antonio. One reason he spent most of last season in the AHL was the Rangers -- and then the Panthers -- were afraid he would be lost in the waiver process.

We'll see what happens this time around.


Rocco Grimaldi's Tweets Getting Plenty of, Ahem, Exposure

Rocco1 DALLAS -- Rocco Grimaldi seemed to have some spare time on his hands last night as he took to Twitter to espouse some of his thoughts regarding relations between men and women.

Grimaldi, as many Florida fans already know, is very vocal about his faith. He has said he plans on being a pastor some day and hopes to lead his own congregation. 

On Thursday, Grimaldi went into his virtual pulpit and his 12 tweet night is getting some national attention led by Yahoo's popular hockey site Puck Daddy

By the way, if you would like to follow Rocco -- whom the Panthers took in the second round of the 2011 draft -- you can do so at twitter.com/@rgrimaldi23

Here are some of the highlights that have some up in arms (and Grimaldi wrote he would not be apologetic for these in his first post):

-- Ladies, you can help us guys out big time. Put your boobs away and everything else that is hanging out. Guys have a hard enough time with that temptation without u helping it along. When did being a Rocco beautiful girl become dressing with the least amount of clothes on?

-- When did what u wear become a competition? Before you dress ask, “Does this outfit honor God, does it honor my body, does it help serve/love my brothers? If it’s a no to any of those questions, then u shouldn’t wear that outfit #ThinkBeforeYouDress

-- Guys, when did sleeping with every girl u can make u a man? Anyone can lay with a woman. And don’t blame the women for how they dress. Don’t say it’s because they want attention. Don’t blame ur “curiosity” or that u just wanted a little taste of what it would be like...

-- Women are not an object for playing with. Sex is a gift from God. We have made it idolatry by how we use it. We blame the women for what glorify ourselves.

-- WE are the men and WE are to blame. God put US in charge of this earth so WE are the ones who need to man up and lay down our lust. Don’t fall into that temptation. If you don’t do this, you may be a boy for the rest of ur life #ManUp

So there you have it.

Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy reported at the draft that some teams were scared away from Grimaldi because of his religious reverence.

He has used Twitter and Facebook to deliver his message and intersperces scripture during almost all Rocco2 of his interviews.

Panthers GM Dale Tallon said he was happy to see Grimaldi available when Florida took him early in the second day of the draft.

Whether it was Grimaldi's overtly vocal religious views or the fact the kid is only 5-foot-6, Tallon still seems very happy to have the North Dakota freshman within the Panthers organization.

When I asked Tallon if the Panthers were going to ask Grimaldi to tone things down, he rolled his eyes. It should also be noted that Panthers president Michael Yormark and Grimaldi are Twitter buddies.

That's doing your homework right there kids.

"Hey, I don't control him. He's free to say what he needs to say,'' Tallon said. "I'm only concerned with what kind of a player he is. What kind of a person he is. So there's no concern there.

"I don't tell my players what to say, what to do. I don't have a problem with this. If this is the way you feel, this is the way you feel.''

Tallon says any thoughts that teammates are going to be turned off by Grimaldi's vocal religious views disappeared at the rookie camp this summer. Grimaldi was the hit of the camp with fans and teammates alike. He was the most popular guy there. They all seemed to dig this kid.

And for those complaining to me about a hockey player "shoving their religious views down my neck" as Sioux one wrote in an email, hey, it's his Twitter account. He can write anything he wants on it. Don't like it? Unfollow him. It's the easiest thing to do in the world.

-- Grimaldi's words about women covering up did have some joking on Thursday.

One quipped: "He's in North Dakota. The women are already wearing parkas up there. He wants 'em covered up, they're covered up.''

Theo2 -- Oh, wonder what Rocco thinks of Jose Theodore's mask?



LIVE! Chat Tonight: Florida Panthers 1 at Dallas Stars 7 FINAL

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Jacob Markstrom Backup Goalie for Florida Panthers ... Markstrom: 'I Want to Play.' ... Plante and Clemmensen Talk


DALLAS – Jacob Markstrom isn't used to backing up anyone. The Panthers rookie goalie has been a starter since taking over for Brynas of the Swedish Elite League at just 18.

Now 21, Markstrom will start this season as Florida's backup to Jose Theodore, although it sounds like this job isn't anything he aspires to. It is, however, a start.

“I want to play every game and every goalie has that mindset. You need to have that mindset. You don't want to sit on the bench,'' said Markstrom, who was named the Panthers second goalie on Thursday.

“I'm not going to get anything for free. It's up to me. It hasn't happened yet. It's a good thing to be up here.''

Markstrom didn't start Thursday's exhibition finale at AmericanAirlines Center against the Stars as Theodore got his second start of the preseason.

The Panthers have been grooming Markstrom for the NHL every since they nabbed him with the first pick of the second round in 2008. Only Florida doesn't want to rush Markstrom and didn't want him with the big squad so soon. They would rather he spend more time in the minor leagues honing his skills and getting lots of starts.

Yet with Scott Clemmensen out for a few weeks after having meniscus surgery on his left knee on Monday, the Panthers needed someone else to mind the net.

“It's good news for me, but I have to work hard and continue doing what I do so I can stay around here as long as possible,'' Markstrom said. “For now it's great news. I'm here to play and this is great experience for me. I need to improve my game and show everyone I earned it.''

Coach Kevin Dineen said Markstrom's designation as Florida's 'goalie of the future' didn't play a part in this decision.

"He earned the roster spot,'' Dineen said. "At the end, it was performance based. It wasn't potential based for me. We're not here to sell the future. Guys who perform on the ice are going to earn their way onto the lineup.''

Markstrom beat out Tyler Plante for the job. Plante was placed on waivers on Thursday so he could be assigned to Florida's AHL affiliate in San Antonio. Plante flew with the team to Dallas but will stay behind, joining his new team for Friday's game in nearby Austin.

Plante, the only inactive Florida player on Thursday, definitely hurt his position with a shaky performance against the Stars on Tuesday. Markstrom started the game and handed Plante a 1-0 lead after stopping 10 shots during the first 30-plus minutes. Markstrom promptly gave up two quick goals and Dallas eventually won 4-3 in overtime.

After the game, Plante was seen slumped down in his locker, his head bowed. It was an opportunity to show the Panthers he was ready to make the next step, only that didn't happen. Markstrom made his NHL debut in a relief role against the Devils last season; Plante has yet to play in an NHL game.

“It's just hockey. There was one open spot,'' Plante said. “I couldn't fill the void right now so I have to focus on going down and playing a big role in San Antonio. .-.-. Game to game is always a different story. You can't look at a half game blowing your career. You have to keep pushing forward, working hard.''

As much as Markstrom wants to make the Florida starting job his own, this backup gig probably won't last all that long. Clemmensen's knee surgery was minor in scale, and he's expected back sometime in October. When he comes back, Markstrom will likely be sent down and join Plante in Texas.

Clemmensen was at the Panthers training facility on Thursday, walking around on crutches with a small bandage on his left knee.

“How it happened is still a mystery, but something did and we had to take care of it,'' Clemmensen said. “I went through Friday's practice with no symptoms. Then it swelled up and there was a clicking sound. I knew there was something amiss. I think athletes have come back from this in two, three weeks. Each person and sport is different. Being a goalie is tough on your knees. I don't know the exact time table; three weeks or five to six. We'll take it as it comes.''

-- Don't forget, LIVE! chat during tonight's Panthers-Stars game from high atop the AmericanAirlines Center starting around 8 p.m. Miami Time.

No radio, television or streaming.

Just me.

September 28, 2011

Trick or Treat with the Florida Panthers: Kids See Winnipeg Jets for Free on Halloween

Thrasher The Panthers want you and your kids to celebrate Halloween in Sunrise. At a hockey game, naturally.

So, when the Winnipeg Jets come 'a calling on Oct. 31, the Panthers are letting kids in free.

I'm planning on dressing up as an 'Atlanta Thrasher.'

Here's the official release:

Sunrise Sports & Entertainment announced today that Party City Presents The Biggest Halloween Party In South Florida is headed to the BankAtlantic for the Florida Panthers-Winnipeg Jets game on Halloween Night, Monday, Oct. 31 at 7:30 p.m.

Children with costumes, ages 12-and-under and accompanied by a parent or guardian will be given free admission to the game.

Halloween All the action starts at 6:30 p.m. 

The BankAtlanticCenter will be the perfect place for safe trick-or-treating for the whole family featuring a costume contest, live music, Halloween-themed game presentation, interactive games and activities, and more.

“With all the safe, family-friendly activities we have planned, there’s no better place to celebrate Halloween in South Florida than the BankAtlanticCenter,” said Panthers president & COO Michael R.Yormark.

“Kids and families should be marking their calendars now for Party City Presents The Biggest Halloween Party In South Florida.” 

Puck drop for the Panthers-Jets game is 7:30 p.m. with festivities beginning at 6:30 p.m.


Florida Panthers Lose Mike Santorelli to Shoulder Injury ... Return: 'Between the Opener and Halloween'

Santo (2) Panthers center Mike Santorelli injured a shoulder in Tuesday's preseason loss to Dallas and will miss the opening few weeks of the season.

Santorelli had a breakout season with the Panthers last season after coming to the team in a trade with Nashville. Santorelli scored a career-high 20 goals after playing in all 82 games for Florida last season.

“He certainly won't be ready for the start of the season,'' Dineen said. “We'll say he's a couple weeks to start and we'll go from there. This is not long term. He's pretty tender and we'll expect to see him between the start of the season and Halloween.''

With Santorelli out, a opening night roster spot just opened up. Matthias, Ryan Carter and Evgeny Dadonov are battling for it as is rookie Jonathan Huberdeau.

The third overall pick of the June 2011 draft, Huberdeau is tied for the team preseason lead with two goals and has enjoyed a strong camp. Florida would need to sign him to an entry level contract by Monday if he was to be able to play for the Panthers this season. 

If Huberdeau doesn't sign, he would return to his junior team in Quebec and wouldn't be available to the Panthers except in an emergency call-up or after his junior team is eliminated from postseason play.

“He has done a very good job of showing everything he can at camp to make a statement for his case,'' Dineen said. “He's showing his skill set, his work ethic. He's very respectful of the veterans. He has a real quiet confidence and we think the world of him as a player and a person. The business will take care of itself. He's doing his part. He's a skilled player. You always get excited about a skilled player in your lineup.''


Florida Panthers Coming Together ... Jose Theodore to Start vs. Stars on Thursday

Dodgeball The downside in completely remaking a roster is the time it takes for a team to become a cohesive unit. Players need to get to know each other, know their tendencies. 

When asked how quickly the Panthers would come together early in the preseason, general manager Dale Tallon had no concrete answer. Because he couldn't have had one. How quickly a bunch of players become a team depends on many variables.

Florida went a long way into becoming a true team during the third period of Tuesday night's preseason loss to Dallas. With less than eight minutes left in regulation, Dallas' Ryan Garbutt rammed Tim Kennedy into the boards, the Florida winger leaving the ice with blood streaming down his face as his forehead was cut from the blow.

The Panthers on the ice quickly sprung into action with the referees pulling Kennedy from under a pile of bodies. Punches were thrown as rookie Erik Gudbranson jumped into the fray, then Shawn Matthias took on Brenden Dillon. 

Kennedy appreciated the quickness in which his teammates stood up for him. 

“That's what you hope for, having teammates like that,'' Kennedy said, adding his slashed forehead needed a handful of stitches. “We haven't been playing together too long, but that shows you the kind of guys we have here in this locker room.''

Kris Versteeg, one of Florida's many newcomers, echoed Tallon's statement Tuesday that the Panthers are a group “who give a damn about one another.'' Versteeg, who is with his third team since winning the Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010, says the Panthers are coming together.

“Sticking up for each other and having toughness is the No. 1 thing you need,'' Versteeg said. “This is a great locker room, everyone gets along. A lot of us know each other from other teams; [Ed] Jovanovski and [Scottie] Upshall played together in Phoenix, like that. That makes the transition a little easier.''

Said Matthias: “We have a close group and it's going to get closer. We have a good bunch. This is as tight a group as we've had since I've been here.''

New coach Kevin Dineen says talking about coming together and sticking up for each other is great. But seeing it actually happen is what you really want.

“Those are not things you can teach,'' he said. “It wasn't premeditated. It was a care, they care for each other. You see their personality a little bit. I think that's a good sign.''

-- Forwards Stephen Weiss and Scottie Upshall also missed practice with minor bumps and bruises. Neither is expected to play Thursday.

-- Even though the battle for who will be the backup goalie continues, starter Jose Theodore will start and likely play the entire game Thursday in Dallas. Tyler Plante and Jacob Markstrom are vying to replace Scott Clemmensen – who had minor knee surgery on Monday – on the opening night roster

-- Steven Reinprecht cleared waivers on Tuesday and didn't play against the Stars. But he was back on the ice on Wednesday and could play in Dallas. Tallon said Tuesday that he's trying to find Reinprecht “an NHL home” via a trade.

Reinprecht could also be picked up by another team on re-entry waivers, meaning the Panthers and that team would split his $2 million contract.


When, Where: 8:30 p.m.; AmericanAirlines Center, Dallas

TV/Radio: None.

September 27, 2011

Florida Panthers Rally, Lose 4-3 in OT to Dallas Stars ... Teams Combine for 24 Penalties

A day after goalie Scott Clemmensen underwent a minor knee surgery, all eyes were on the rookies who are vying to replace him on the Panthers roster on Tuesday. 

Jacob Markstrom decisively won this battle although the Florida brass will be looking at more than just a preseason performance in deciding who ends up backing up Jose Theodore for the first month of the season.

Markstrom stopped all 10 shots he faced in the first half of Florida's exhibition game against Dallas on Tuesday night, turning the net over to Tyler Plante with a lead midway through the second. The Stars scored three goals in a seven minute span of the second against Plante and ended up getting a fourth in overtime to beat Florida 4-3 in overtime at BankAtlantic Center. 

Down 3-1 in a chippy third period that featured 12 penalties – including two game misconducts – between the two teams, the Panthers got goals from rookie Jonathan Huberdeau and third-year defenseman Dmitry Kulikov within a 35 second span late in the period to force overtime.

Michael Ryder won it off a 2-on-1 break with 1:11 remaining in the extra frame.

Plante gave up a goal on the first and fourth shots he saw on Tuesday as the Stars quickly turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead. Plante, who gave up one goal in a half game against Nashville last week, stopped 12 of 16 shots in 30:09 of work. 

The Panthers are 1-3-1 this preseason with their exhibition finale coming Thursday at AmericanAirlines Center in Dallas.

Markstrom looked shaky in Florida's 5-2 loss at Tampa Bay on Friday but was strong on Tuesday as he kept his movement to a minimum and made some nice stops on the Stars. Barring a trade, Florida will keep either Plante or Markstrom to start the season. The other will go to the Panthers' AHL affiliate in San Antonio.

“The only thing I can do is play my best. We'll see what happens,'' Markstrom said. “It's always good to stop them all when they come at you quick like they did. I've been waiting for the opportunity to play again. This was my first game at BankAtlantic Center. That's always fun.''

The game was marred by a slew of penalties as the two teams combined for 24 penalties worth 79 minutes. “This game was about special teams,'' coach Kevin Dineen said.

The Panthers were playing without a handful of regulars on Tuesday, including Stephen Weiss, Matt Bradley (flu-like virus) and Ryan Carter (groin). Evgeny Dadonov and Keaton Ellerby, who are both expected to make the Panthers roster, were held out so the Panthers could look at younger players. Mike Santorelli left the game with an unknown injury. “He's going to be sore for sure in the morning,'' Dineen said.


Michal Repik and Steven Reinprecht both cleared waivers on Tuesday, with Repik being sent to the Panthers AHL camp in San Antonio. 

Reinprecht remains with the Panthers, although his future in South Florida is most likely over. Reinprecht was signed to a three-year deal by then-GM Randy Sexton in 2009 and was Florida's leading scorer early in the 2009-10 season. But he was benched for the first three games of last season and ended up being waived by the Panthers and loaned to a pro team in Germany midway through the 2010-11 campaign.

General manager Dale Tallon said that Reinprecht will have some say in where he ends up although it could be San Antonio if Tallon can't find an NHL home for the veteran center. Reinprecht will make just over $2 million this season regardless of where he plays. 

“It's a matter of numbers. Steven has to be a top six forward to be successful with us and we feel we have a lot of those,'' Tallon said. “He came into camp ready and played hard. It was just a numbers game at this time.''

(-) Quinton Howden, the 25th overall pick of the 2010 draft, was sent back to his junior team in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, on Tuesday after missing all of training camp with what the Panthers say is a minor neck injury. Howden participated in rookie camp but was knocked out of the first rookie game against Nashville by a strong hit. 

“I'm disappointed for him that he got hurt,'' Tallon said. “But we know who he is. It's better to have him at 26 than at 18 or 19. We're high on him. He's a great kid. It's just unfortunate for him. We have a lot of NHL players and he didn't have the time to show his wares. We're in this together for a long time with him.''

(-) If the Panthers want rookie Jonathan Huberdeau to start this season with the big club, he needs to be signed to an entry level deal by Monday. The Panthers were unable to come to an agreement with defenseman Erik Gudbranson by last year's deadline and he was returned to his Canadian junior team.

“We spoke [with agent] briefly on Monday,'' Tallon said of Huberdeau, the third overall pick this past summer.

“We're really going to wait until Friday. If he makes our team, we're going to try and get something done.''

LIVE! Chat: #FlaPanthers v Dallas #Stars, 7:30

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OnFrozenFilm: Kevin Dineen; Dallas Stars Pregame

September 26, 2011

Florida Panthers Waive Steven Reinprecht, Michal Repik

Reino The Panthers waived forwards Steven Reinprecht and Michal Repik on Monday; they have until Tuesday to clear.

The two will likely be reassigned to AHL San Antonio once they do.

Reinprecht is in the final year of a three-year deal he signed with the Panthers in 2009. He has a one-way contract, meaning he will be paid more than $2 million whether he plays in Florida or San Antonio.

Reinprecht cleared waivers last season but was loaned to a team in Germany instead of the AHL.  


Florida Panthers Coach Kevin Dineen: Scott Clemmensen Should Return in a Month ... Plante, Markstrom Battle for Backup Gig

Clem Scott Clemmensen's strong training camp was derailed Monday when the Panthers goalie had what the team described as minor knee surgery.

Clemmensen, who had the surgery at Doctors Hospital in Miami, is expected to miss four to six weeks. Coach Kevin Dineen says he had a similar procedure done three weeks ago and said his knee feels great.

The Panthers open the regular season Oct. 8 against the host New York Islanders. Clemmensen, the backup to Tomas Vokoun the past two seasons, was playing well enough that he was thought to be the frontrunner to start over Jose Theodore. 

The competition for Florida's starting goalie is over. For now.

Clemmensen had work done on his other knee earlier this summer and had an MRI done Sunday. Clemmensen led the Panthers to a 4-3 win over Nashville last week. Florida is 1-3 this preseason.

“There's amazing medical technology right now so I'm very encouraged that he'll come back 100 percent healthy,'' Dineen said. “As far as a timetable goes, it could be as long as a month. People heal at different rates. We'll see how he is when he comes out of this. .-.-. I know he's disappointed right now, but the month of October will slide right by and he'll be back before we know it.''

With Clemmensen out for at least the first few games, the Panthers need to find a backup to Theodore.

Plante Rookies Tyler Plante and Jacob Markstrom will get the chance. Both goalies were expected to start the season with Florida's AHL affiliate in San Antonio, although this recent development means things have changed.

“Mr. Opportunity is knocking on the door,'' Dineen said. “They have to scratch and claw and try to earn the right to stay here with the Panthers for the next stretch.''

Plante could start Tuesday's home exhibition finale against the Dallas Stars as Clemmensen was scheduled to start that game. Plante started Florida's preseason opener against Nashville, giving up one goal. 

If Plante is selected, he would likely make his NHL debut sometime in October. 

“I don't think this changes anyone's mindset,'' Plante said on Monday. “Every player comes to camp with the hopes and aspirations of making the big club. Everyone in this room has the same hopes and dreams. It's definitely something that sits in the back of your mind but you can't think about it too much. It can work a reverse effect. 

“Every day you're here is a special day. Every day you don't get a plane ticket down is a day with a smile on your face. No complaints from me.''

Markstrom, Florida's 'goalie of the future,' struggled at times during Florida's loss to Tampa Bay on Friday night. Markstrom, who made his NHL debut last year in New Jersey after replacing Clemmensen, had season-ending knee surgery in March last year.

Markstrom Markstrom got off to a rough start for Florida's then-AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., last season but was playing strong when he was injured. The Panthers would really like him to get in a groove early and want him to play.

Markstrom will get the opportunity to play every night in San Antonio, an opportunity that wouldn't be there if he's backing up Theodore for the first month. 

In Friday's loss to the Lightning, Markstrom gave up five goals on 33 shots. 

“Since the first day I came here, when rookie camp started, my main goal was to play here,'' Markstrom said. “I can't help it if someone gets hurt, I don't affect that. But I just focus on my game, my job and play as well as I can. Sometimes this happens, and it's unfortunate for Scott. But I want to play here, that's what I'm here for.''

Robak (-) The Panthers sent defenseman Colby Robak to the Rampage AHL camp in San Antonio on Monday, trimming the roster to 30 (counting Clemmensen being on injured reserve). Florida is expected to carry 22 when the season starts. 

(-) Florida will play its final home exhibition game of the preseason Tuesday at 7:30 against the Dallas Stars. Dineen didn't want to reveal his lineup, Stars but expect most of the remaining prospects to get playing time as Florida's evaluation time is coming to a close.

“We're almost there,'' Dineen said.

The Panthers are expected to be close to finalizing their regular season roster after playing in Dallas on Thursday.

OnFrozenFilm: Kevin Dineen Talks Scott Clemmensen, Florida Panthers Goalie Situation

Florida Panthers Goalie Scott Clemmensen Injured; Has Knee Surgery Monday

Clemm2 Florida goalie Scott Clemmensen missed practice on Monday after having his knee checked out this weekend. 

According to the Panthers, Clemmensen needed to have a 'minor procedure at Doctors Hospital in Miami.

As of yesterday, I heard Clemmensen could miss at least the first few games of the regular season. That was before he had another surgery.

Clemmensen was supposed to start Tuesday against the Dallas Stars but now it looks like Tyler Plante will get that look. 

So, with the Panthers going into the season with Clemmensen out, don't be surprised if it is Plante who stays and Jacob Markstrom who heads down to the AHL.

Or, if the Panthers think Clemmensen will miss significant time, they could look around and try and find an experienced backup.

The Panthers really want Markstrom to get a lot of playing time in San Antonio; Plante wouldn't likely see much playing time with the Panthers as Jose Theodore could carry the load until Clemmensen returns.

Clemmensen has had a few surgeries on the knee – he missed two games with a sore knee last year – and reportedly had a procedure on it this offseason. 

Will have more, including lineups for the Dallas home preseason finale, later on today.

September 24, 2011

Tampa Bay Lightning Score Late and Score Often, Beat Panthers 5-3 ... Cats Make Cuts

They may not have been wearing their new red jerseys, but the new-look Florida Panthers were, for the most part, finally on the ice together under game conditions on Saturday night.

The Panthers, who are saving their new duds for the Oct. 15 home opener, played most of their expected starters in the fourth exhibition game of the preseason.

Despite playing against a watered-down Tampa Bay team, the Panthers gave up three goals in the third period and lost 5-3 at BankAtlantic Center. 

With the score tied 3-3, Tampa Bay scored twice within a span of nine seconds to put the game away with just over five minutes remaining.

“We had half a dozen bodies in which that was their first game,'' first-year coach Kevin Dineen said. “I'm not big on making excuses, but fatigue played a factor. We also had a little chemistry issues. When things got frantic, we failed to settle down and right things.''

Making their preseason debut for the Panthers: Goalie Jose Theodore, defenseman Ed Jovanovski, winger Kris Versteeg, center Stephen Weiss, winger Tomas Fleischmann and winger Tomas Kopecky.

The Lightning had emerging superstar Steven Stamkos in the lineup for the second straight night (the Lightning beat Florida's 'B-squad' 5-2 in Tampa on Friday) but that was about it.

For Jovanovski, it was his first game at the Sunrise representing the Panthers since Florida beat the visiting Islanders 1-0 on January 16, 1999. Jovanovski was traded to Vancouver the following day as part of the blockbuster Pavel Bure deal.

“It was good, good to get into a game,'' said Jovanovski, whom Florida made the first pick of the 1994 draft.

Theodore, who hadn't taken a shot under a game situation since April 10 as a member of the Minnesota Wild, gave up a quick goal to Pavel Kubina 1:29 into the game. Kubina whipped off a shot from 25 feet away, the puck getting under Theodore's arm for a 1-0 Lightning lead. Weiss was in the penalty box for goalie interference just 32 seconds in. 

Although he seemed to settle in, the third period was not good for Theodore as Tom Pyatt, Mattias Ritola and Teddy Purcell all scored. Purcell's goal, which came moments after Ritola gave Tampa Bay the lead, clipped Theodore in the helmet and bounced into the net. 

Theodore, who signed a two-year deal with the Panthers worth $3 million on July 1, gave up three goals on 12 third period shots. 

Florida is 1-3 this preseason with two games against Dallas remaining.

“I thought he played some pretty good hockey,'' Dineen said of Theodore, who enters his 15th NHL season after stints with Montreal, Colorado, Washington and Minnesota.

“He didn't have a shot at a few of those. There were some coverage issues as we went down the stretch. He's not happy when he gives up five goals, but for the first time playing in five months, it was OK.''

The Panthers got two quick goals in the second, with Versteeg and Kopecky scoring less than a minute apart to give Florida a 3-1 lead early in the period. Tampa Bay came back, scoring on a 5-on-3 opportunity when Brett Connolly camped out in front of the net and took a nice feed from Ryan Shannon for the easy goal midway through the period. 

Tampa Bay failed to tie the score later in the period when Carter Ashton's penalty shot hit the crossbar. Rookie Erik Gudbranson, who was cooling his heels in the penalty box with Jovanovski during the Lightning's 5-on-3 chance, was called for tripping Ashton on the breakaway.


The Panthers made a number of cuts on Saturday, sending 13 players to their AHL training camp in San Antonio. Among the players moved: Mark Cullen, Roman Derlyuk, Angelo Esposito, Jonathan Hazen, Keith Seabrook, Eric Selleck, Tyson Strachan, Scott Timmins and Nolan Yonkman.

Florida now has 32 players in camp; the team could make a few moves after Tuesday's preseason game although most of the cuts will be made after the exhibition finale on Thursday. The Panthers are expected to carry 22 players when the season starts Oct. 8.

Cullen, Kearns, Strachan and Yonkman have to clear through waivers before they can join the Rampage for Monday's workout in San Antonio. 

“We don't have a football roster so we can't carry 53,'' general manager Dale Tallon said. “It's getting tougher every year. There are some good kids. .-.-. This is a matter of experience. They need to start their pro careers and work their way up the ladder.''

(-) The Panthers kept both of their minor league goalies and will likely hold onto at least one through the end of the exhibition schedule. 

Scott Clemmensen is expected to start Tuesday's preseason game against the Stars with Theodore playing Thursday in Dallas. San Antonio doesn't play until Friday in Austin, Tex., so both goalies could stay with the Panthers and fly to Texas with the team on Thursday. 

(-) Of the players sent to AHL camp on Saturday, only Scott Timmins played with the Panthers last season. Timmins played in 19 NHL games (scoring a goal) with Florida last year in his first professional season. Timmins suffered a concussion in a game on March 10 at Ottawa and missed the rest of the season. He said he has had no symptoms in some time.

“I think he needs to go down and play and be a well-rounded player, get offense and get comfortable,'' Tallon said. “He came up [last year]; we had a lot of injuries, made a lot of trades. I think it's important he goes down and get some confidence. We know he's a real good two-way player.'' 

(-) Dineen is expected to name the team's newest captain in the coming days. Weiss, Jovanovski and Kopecky were Saturday's alternate captains.


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September 23, 2011

FRIDAY PRESEASON GAME 3: Tampa Bay Lightning 5, Florida Panthers 2 FINAL

TAMPA – Like a lot of goalies, Jacob Markstrom wants to stop every puck he sees. It doesn't matter if it's in practice, while warming up against teammates or in a preseason game.

Markstrom is an extreme competitor who isn't very democratic. He wants to win every game he plays in by shutout. 

So, after Friday's 5-2 loss to the Lightning, you can guess the kind of mood Markstrom was in. The Panthers were down 4-0 early in the third period before Jack Skille and Michal Repik scored.

“I don't want to let goals in. That's why I'm in net,'' Markstrom said shortly. “It's always fun to play against the big boys, but it's never fun to lose. I want to win. We didn't do that.''

The Panthers didn't exactly send their top lineup to Tampa, instead saving a good number of their veterans for Saturday night's exhibition against the Lightning in Sunrise. 

Markstrom, like many of his teammates on Friday, will start this season in the minors at Florida's new AHL affiliate in San Antonio.   

And with only three exhibition games left – Jose Theodore will start Saturday with the plan to give him a full game – Markstrom may have seen his last action of the preseason.

Markstrom could be sent to AHL camp in San Antonio on Sunday, although the Panthers may let him remain in NHL camp and join the Rampage in Austin, Texas, following the Panthers' final preseason game in Dallas on Thursday.

Despite the number of goals Markstrom gave up to a Tampa Bay team dressing most of its veterans from last year's run to the Eastern Conference finals, it wasn't a complete wash.

Two of the first four goals Markstrom gave up weren't really his fault as Florida's defense broke down in front covering on a power play. The fourth goal, however, Markstrom would love to get back. 

With the Panthers trailing 3-0 going into the third, Tampa winger Carter Ashton charged up the right side and flung the puck toward the net. The soft shot somehow skipped on the ice and slipped through Markstrom's pads. 

Vinny Lecavalier ended the scoring when he knocked in a rebound with just over a minute left.

“I think there is good and not so much bad to take out of this,'' goalie coach Robb Tallas said. “He needs to get in a 60 game season, see pucks every day. He needs to know that his size is valuable. Out here if you overmove, you're going to be exposed. He's looked good in camp, had a strong camp. There's always room for improvement, but he's going to get game experience. This is going to be a big year for him.''

Florida trailed 1-0 in the opening period after Mattias Ritola grabbed a rebound on a power play, spun around and lofted a backhanded shot over Matthias' shoulder. 
In the second, the Lightning tagged on a pair of goals, the first coming after Florida's Tyson Strachan was serving the second of his roughing penalties within a three-minute span. Ryan Shannon got both of the Lighting goals during the second.

The Panthers got their lone goal of the night with 15:40 left in the game when Jack Skille banged a puck past Dwayne Roloson on Florida's 21st shot of the night.

“Everything is condensed right now,'' Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. “In the evaluation stage, guys are getting their games. Tonight was [Markstrom's] game. I'm sure he'd like to have a few of those back.''

Skille, acquired from Chicago for Michael Frolik last season, is having a strong camp and is expected to be in the lineup when Florida opens its season Oct. 8 against the host New York Islanders. Strachan was a long shot to crack the Panthers seven-man defensive unit as it was. 

“There's a lot of competition in this training camp,'' said Skille, who missed a good portion of time last year with an ankle injury. “I may not feel pressure, but I want to make a statement in camp. I want to make some noise.''


As surprising player still in the hunt for a roster spot with the Lightning is 21-year-old Cory Conacher. Undrafted out of Canisius College, Conacher is signed to a minor league deal but scored in Tampa's preseason game in Orlando earlier in the week and has seemingly impressed coach Guy Boucher. 

Conacher wasn't highly regarded by scouts mainly because of his size. Conacher is listed as being 6-foot. But he's a lot closer to Martin St. Louis' 5-foot-8. And despite his lack of height, St. Louis has done just fine with the Lightning.

-- The Lightning asked fans to 'pardon our dust' as the $40 million renovation to the 15-year-old arena hasn't been completed. The aggressive work to the arena – which includes new seats throughout the building, a new plaza entrance, the removal of two sections for a stage and gigantic pipe organ as well  – is expected to be finished by the home opener next month. 

The addition fans will notice most is the addition of Tesla coils that will shoot lightning bolts an estimated 25 feet. 

The Lightning and new owner Jeff Vinik financed the entire renovation even though the arena, like BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, is owned by its home county. 

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September 22, 2011

David Booth: USA Hockey Cover Boy

Mrsunshine When David Booth came out of the locker room today, he was rocking a Miami Dolphins cap.

I joked that he was becoming 'Mr. Miami.'

I guess that nickname is shot.

Mr. Sunshine it is.