OTTAWA – Not long after David Booth was traded to Vancouver on Saturday night, general manager Dale Tallon walked into a conference room at BankAtlantic Center with a scowl on his face.
Tallon didn't want to trade Booth on Saturday. Had Booth scored a handful of goals and had a handful of assists, he would probably be practicing with the Panthers on Wednesday.
Only he didn't.
“I felt I had to make a move and send a message to this team,'' Tallon said about the slumping Panthers. Prior to the trade, Florida had lost consecutive games by 3-0 scores. Tallon was obviously unhappy with what he had seen.
“Production is most important,'' Tallon added. “If you don’t perform, there’s a good chance you’re not going to stay here. I just had a feeling that based on what I’ve seen in the last year or so we needed to make the move to get our team better. .-.-. Play to the your capabilities. I don’t care who you are. I’m not going to sit tight and watch two performances like the last two games.”
Tallon's mood has brightened substantially since, wins improving his disposition. Hours after the Booth trade went down, the Panthers topped the Islanders 4-2. On Monday, rookie goalie Jacob Markstrom was strong again in making 40 saves as Florida beat the struggling Canadiens 2-1.
Scottie Upshall, who hadn't recorded a single point in Florida's first seven games, knocked down a shot from Dmitry Kulikov to score what became the game-winning goal in the third period.
“It was good timing for him, to say the least,'' coach Kevin Dineen said Tuesday afternoon. “He needed to get on track with his game and I'm not even saying it had to be on the scoreboard. But that was an extremely timely goal. Those are the kind of plays we're going to need.''
Upshall was playing on a new line with center Mike Santorelli playing in his first game of the season and Marco Sturm joining the team after coming over from Vancouver in Saturday's trade. Like Florida's other three lines Monday, everything seemed to click. Dineen and Tallon have often talked about how the Panthers need to roll four strong lines each game. On Monday, they did that.
The top line of Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg and Tomas Fleischmann was instrumental in getting the game-tying goal in the first period and created plenty of chances throughout the night. Florida's other two lines made their presence known as well.
“We have to have that,'' Dineen said. “I liked how every one of our players got at least 10 minutes. You feel good about your team when all four lines are going like that.''
Forward Ryan Carter was put on waivers on Tuesday. If Carter clears at noon Wednesday, it's thought that he will be assigned to Florida's AHL affiliate in San Antonio. Carter came to the Panthers at last season's trade deadline from Carolina for Cory Stillman.
Carter was Florida's only healthy forward who didn't play on Monday. With Santorelli back and Sturm joining the team, the Panthers have too many forwards.
The team will have more decisions next week when Sean Bergenheim and Mikael Samuelsson are expected to be back.
“I think he has the ability to play in this league,'' Dineen said. “Tim Kennedy came up from San Antonio and was given an opportunity. He has thrived. Now we're getting healthy. There's going to be some hard decisions.''
() As expected, Dineen wouldn't say who he will start in goal on Thursday against the Senators. Markstrom has stopped 58 of 59 shots over the past two games. Jose Theodore is healthy and ready to play.
“As a coach, you have hard decisions to make every day,'' Dineen said, “and Markstrom is putting a plateful on for me. But it's a great problem to have. Both guys are playing extremely well.''
() Dineen gave the team the day off after they traveled by train from Montreal to suburban Ottawa on Tuesday. Dineen said the Panthers will be in for a long, hard practice on Wednesday as he makes sure complacency doesn't set in.