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73 posts from December 2011

December 10, 2011

Florida Panthers Have a Blast in Central Park as they Get Back to their Roots ... Evgenii Dadonov Sent Back to Texas ... Rangers NEXT

IMG_0354NEW YORK – Brian Campbell sat on the stanchions of the rink along with three of his teammates, his feet dangling over the edge over the ice as if he was a little kid once again.

On Saturday, Campbell wasn't alone in feeling like he had gone back in time. The entire Panthers team hopped into the past as they took to the open ice at the Lasker Rink in Central Park in Manhattan, playing childhood games on the small slab of ice more so than they did and real practicing in the early winter chill of the great outdoors.

The Panthers coaching staff got in on the fun as well. Head coach Kevin Dineen and crew donned colorful team practice jerseys and participated while wearing red ski caps with the New York Fire Department logo on the front.

Dineen said center Stephen Weiss picked out the different teams that skated and competed in feats of IMG_0355skill; Weiss also came up with the idea the coaches wear the 'FDNY' toques.

“There are a lot of smiles out here,'' Dineen said after the lighthearted hour long practice was almost finished. “The fun factor was very high.''

Dineen seems to have been pushing all the right buttons when it comes to his dealing with the Panthers in his first few months as head coach. 

After talking about the disappointment of losing 2-1 in overtime to Buffalo on Friday, Dineen became jovial when talk turned to the possibility of Saturday's 'pond practice' outdoors in Central Park.

IMG_0359“Oh yeah it's on,'' Dineen exclaimed when asked if the team would indeed skate Saturday.

The Panthers equipment staff were first to arrive at the outdoor facility around 11:30 on Saturday morning with the already-dressed team showing up on a charter bus a few minutes later. The players walked down a set of stone steps into the rink while wearing gym shoes, their skates hanging from their sticks as if they were meeting their friends at the municipal rink.

And, yes, they kind of were. The team started the day off by signing autographs for the crowd that gathered. On the ice, things were loose. Goalies Jose IMG_0361Theodore and Scott Clemmensen, like everyone else, left their pads at home. That's perhaps what Theodore loved most. 

“It was a lot of fun and I think I'm ready to play on the point [of the power play],'' Theodore said after putting a puck into the net. “It was the perfect weather, not too cold. We had a real good time out here that's for sure.''

When the skate was close to being done, the Panthers gathered at center ice for a team photo that included those who work at the rink and helped make Saturday happen. 

Although the Panthers haven't practiced outdoors in the past decade it's becoming a popular option for IMG_0365teams when they come to New York. With a lack of ice in the city, teams are looking at the outdoor rinks as an opportunity for team bonding as much as a chance to stay loose. The Toronto Maple Leafs practiced at Lasker last Sunday as part of their father's trip; the Philadelphia Flyers have worked outdoors as well.

This may not be the Panthers only trip here if Dineen has any say in it.

“It's been a hard schedule, there's a lot of time on the road,'' he said. “These are the ones that stick out at the end of the season. It was a good day for the IMG_0368Florida Panthers. It was a great day for all of us. We got back to our youth.''

() Rookie defenseman Erik Gudbranson will remain with the Panthers and will not be loaned to the Canadian national team for the upcoming world junior tournament. 

The 19-year-old played in his 23rd game with the Panthers on Friday and has played in nine consecutive games.

“He's a member of the Florida Panthers and has earned that right from the first day of training camp,'' assistant coach Gord Murphy said.

“Obviously it was a tough decision. Playing for Team Canada is a big deal but he's played in it already. We just look at it that he's a member of our team and an important member of our team. We don't want to lose players for any reason, although this is a big honor. He's a valued member of our team and we need him.''

() With Mikael Samuelsson ready to dive into the lineup full time and Marcel Goc and Matt Bradley gearing up for a return, Evgenii Dadonov was deemed expendable and sent back to AHL San Antonio on Saturday. Dadonov was given a prime spot on Florida's top line last week after Kris Versteeg was hurt; he disappointed and was scratched the next game.

“He had some real timely giveaways [Friday] so he needs to go to San Antonio and get his game in order,'' Dineen said. 


When, Where: 7:30 p.m.; Madison Square Garden, New York

TV/Radio: FSN; 560-WQAM

The series: Rangers lead 38-30-6

The game: The Panthers took the opening game of the series with a 2-1 win on Thanksgiving week. The Rangers played at Buffalo on Saturday night and sent out backup Martin Biron, meaning Henrik Lundqvist will likely go against Jose Theodore and the Panthers. Florida had its three-game winning streak snapped with a 2-1 overtime loss at Buffalo on Friday. The Panthers have won 10 away games this season.

OnFrozenFilm: Jose Theodore at Central Park

OnFrozenFilm: #FlaPanthers Occupy Central Park VI

OnFrozenPhoto: Florida Panthers Occupy Central Park Album II


OnFrozenFilm: Florida Panthers Occupy Central Park V

OnFrozenPhoto: Florida Panthers Occupy Central Park Album I

IMG_0352 IMG_0350 IMG_0349 IMG_0348 IMG_0346NEW YORK -- Here are a few shots I took with the old Minolta. 

OK, it's an iPhone.


OnFrozenFilm: Florida Panthers Occupy Central Park IV

OnFrozenFilm: Kevin Dineen Brings Panthers to Central Park

OnFrozenFilm: Florida Panthers Occupy Central Park III

OnFrozenFilm: Florida Panthers Occupy Central Park II

OnFrozenFilm: Florida Panthers Occupy Central Park I

December 09, 2011

Florida Panthers Central Park Practice Is a GO

CentralparkBUFFALO -- The Panthers will have a rare outdoor practice Saturday at the Central Park Lasker Rink in Manhattan.

Weather permitting, Florida is expected to start skating around 11:30 a.m.

For those in the city, admission is free and open to the public.

The Maple Leafs held a light practice at the Donald Trump-run rink last Sunday.

“It's going to be a little pond hockey,'' Dineen said. “We're going out in sweats and are going to enjoy. It'll be good. I'm looking forward to it.''

For Central Park Panthers updates on Saturday morning, follow here at 


Florida Panthers Pick Up Point in 2-1 OT loss to Sabres, 37 Points Tied for Most in East

BUFFALO – The Panthers were a little road weary Friday night after playing their second game in as many nights and sixth of their past seven away from the friendly confines of western Broward County.

The old Panthers would have taken the point in the standings they received after losing 2-1 to the Sabres in overtime with relish, headed on their merry way with smiles as wide as Buffalo's Peace Bridge.

Well, obviously, these aren't the Panthers most have become accustomed to.

“Losing in overtime has quite a bit of sting to it. There's quite a bit of disappointment,'' coach Kevin Dineen said moments after Jason Pominville won it for Buffalo on a breakaway 2:19 into the extra frame.

“We're proud of the fact we're playing stingy on defense, but we still have some things to clean up. There's disappointment in the room. There's a half-full look at the glass, we walked out with a point. But we're beyond that as a team.''

The point gained in the standings pulled Florida into a tie with Philadelphia atop the Eastern Conference standings. Although the Panthers are statistically still in second, only the Flyers and Florida can claim 37 points in the east. Philadelphia has one more win than the Panthers and two fewer games played.

Still, for a team that finished last in the 15 team division just a few months ago, that's called progress.

“It's too early to be looking at the standings, but it credits our hard work and how far we've come as a team,'' Jason Garrison said. His ninth goal of the season leads all NHL defenseman and tied the score in the second.

“This is definitely better than the alternative. We have a good mood, atmosphere here. We're all super-competitive and everyone is down right now. But we're coming back to work and finish this road trip strong.''

Neither the Sabres nor Panthers will enter Friday's game into a selection of NHL classic games as both teams struggled to create offensive chances. Buffalo took a 1-0 lead with 2:10 left in the first when Derek Roy broke free and scored. Florida countered with 4:12 left in the second as the Sabres had two players in the penalty box. The Panthers took advantage as Garrison whipped a shot from 35 feet out.

The score stayed 1-1 until Pominville got loose after former Panther Jordan Leopold got the puck deep in the Florida zone and sent it out. Pominville raced toward the net and shot one between Scott Clemmensen's legs to end it.

The Panthers once again failed to win a fourth consecutive game; Florida hasn't won more than three straight since Jacques Martin's final year behind the bench in 2008.


Florida Panthers/Buffalo Sabres Notebook: Dale Tallon OK After Boston Hospital Visit ... Panthers to Practice Outside at Central Park? ... Erik Gudbranson Staying with Cats, Not Off to Team Canada Jrs

TallonringBUFFALO -- General manager Dale Tallon didn't travel with the team to Buffalo after Thursday night's victory after visiting a Boston hospital on Thursday morning.

Tallon, 61, was not admitted and was resting at the team's hotel in Boston as of Friday.

Assistant general manager Mike Santos said Tallon was doing fine and could meet the team in New York for Sunday's game against the Rangers. 

() Goalie Jose Theodore took Friday off after stopping all 40 shots faced in Thursday's 2-0 shutout victory.

The game was Theodore's 600th in the NHL.

When asked what he received for playing in so many games, Theodore quipped “a tap on the back, a cup of coffee. That's it.''

() Rookie defenseman Erik Gudbranson is expected to remain with the Panthers and not be loaned to the Canadian national team for the upcoming world junior tournament.

The 19-year-old played in his 23rd game with the Panthers on Friday and has played in nine consecutive games. 

“He's a member of the Florida Panthers and has earned that right from the first day of training camp,'' assistant coach Gord Murphy said.

“Obviously it was a tough decision. Playing for Team Canada is a big deal but he's played in it already. We just look at it that he's a member of our team and an important member of our team. We don't want to lose players for any reason, although this is a big honor. He's a valued member of our team and we need him.''

Hockeycab() If the Panthers practice on Saturday, they will do so in a outdoor setting. Florida has reserved ice at the Central Park Lasker Rink in Manhattan from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday. 

Coach Kevin Dineen will not announce his decision to hold the informal workout until the team lands in New York early Saturday morning. The Maple Leafs held a light practice at the Donald Trump-run rink last Sunday.

“This seemed to be a much more romantic place to come and get back to your roots,” coach Ron Wilson told the Toronto Star. “Most of our guys, somewhere along the line, played hockey outdoors. This is a great opportunity.” 

For an update on the Panthers practice schedule, visit Twitter.com/OnFrozenPond or check back here.

() Dineen said before Thursday's game that he and his family considers themselves New Englanders after he spent a bulk of his career playing for the Hartford DineenwhaleWhalers and later coached the Portland, Maine, Pirates of the AHL. 

So beating the Bruins at the Garden on Thursday did take on some extra significance and meaning.

“At the end of the day,'' Dineen said, “it's always nice coming in here and getting a win. Whether I was wearing [Hartford] green-and-white or Pirate black-and-red into Providence, it's very enjoyable to me to beat these guys.''

() Mikael Samuelsson was not in the lineup Friday as Dineen said he would work him back in slowly. But not in the way he described Samuelsson's game on PorscheThursday in Boston: "He was more molasses than Porsche.''

Samuelsson was playing in his first game since Oct. 18 because of a groin injury stemming from last May's sports hernia surgery.

December 08, 2011

Florida Panthers Keep on Trucking, Beat Defending Stanley Cup Champion Bruins 2-0 ... Jose Theodore Holds Fort Before Tomas Kopecky Scores ... Next Up: Buffalo Sabres

BanditBOSTON – Not that the Bruins wish him any real harm, but they wouldn't have minded if the bug that kept Jose Theodore out of Monday's game lingered a couple days longer.

For if Theodore was ill on Monday, he was flat out sick on Thursday.

Theodore carried the Panthers in a meeting of division leaders for much of the night, his 40 saves and a Tomas Kopecky goal in the closing minutes being the difference in Florida's 2-0 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champions at the Garden.

Truckin“We have to keep this going. We're playing confident right now,'' Kopecky said after Florida's third straight win that gave it a seven-point cushion over second place Washington in the Southeast Division.

“We're trying to prove those people who never believed in us [wrong]. I think we're doing a pretty good job of it.''

Kopecky's goal came when he and Shawn Matthias crashed the net with Tim Thomas (28 saves) going down after stopping Matthias' shot. Kopecky pounced on the loose puck and shot high, tumbling over the 2011 postseason MVP in the process. Thomas wasn't around when Kris Versteeg got Florida's second goal by depositing the puck into an empty net with 42 seconds left.

“Our goaltending was stellar. It was impressive,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. “We had to find a way to Theocelebrateget some offensive pressure, it was so sporadic. We didn't have sustained pressure, just some snapshots here and there. For the most part, the ice leaned toward our end. When you find a way to win a game like that, it shows the confidence of your team. I think a little of that is built on what we've done so far.''

Theodore was felled by a bout of the stomach flu after the team came back from California. Theodore had the sweaty chills and estimated he may have lost 10 pounds off his lithe frame. You wouldn't have known that Thursday as Theodore was terrific in Boston once more, his game reminiscent of those classic battles against the Bruins when he backstopped rival Montreal.

The Bruins controlled play for the opening half of the first and third periods, but Theodore allowed the Panthers to stick right in there. Boston clanging the iron on a pair of first period shots definitely helped. But Theodore knew it was a fight between two goalies on Thursday, a battle he won.

“Actually I didn't feel too fresh, my energy level was a little low,'' Theodore said as he sat on a bench in the locker room draped in a white towel. “It was a game where I saw the puck well and knew it would be tough for them to score. When I am at the top of my game, I'm tough to beat. We played well, stuck with the game plan and didn't panic and got the win.''

It has been some time since the Bruins and Panthers played in a game of consequence, one those around the league had an eye on.

One may have to go back to the 1999-2000 season. That's when the Panthers last made the playoffs and current goalie coach Robb Tallas played 27 games for the Bruins that year. Or 1996, when winger-turned-TV voice Billy Lindsay's goal in Game 5 beat Boston in the opening round of the postseason.

Regardless, it has been a while since this match up mattered. Thursday's game definitely fit the bill.

A large media contingent awaited the Panthers after the morning skate as news is spreading about one of the league's biggest surprises this season.

The Panthers are tied with Philadelphia with a league-best 10 road wins as they go for their first four-game winning streak since 2007 at Buffalo on Friday night.

“We ground out a game and found a way to win. That's huge,'' Sean Bergenheim said. “We've showed many times we can hold leads or come back when we're down. We never panicked. We always knew we would get the one goal it would take. We don't care what people write or think about us. It's OK for us to fly under the radar right now. We're just doing our job quietly and see where it takes us.''


Newcomer Krys Barch made his presence known early as he knocked Boston's Daniel Paille out of the game on his first shift (and was called for charging) of the night then brawled with Shawn Thornton – again.

Barch, whom Florida acquired in a trade with Dallas on Wednesday, was called for a second minor in the second.

Florida also welcomed Mikael Samuelsson to the lineup for the first time this season. Samuelsson, who was injured for much of the 2003-04 season with the Panthers, hadn't played since Florida reacquired him in the David Booth deal on Oct. 22. Samuelsson played 17 shifts on Thursday.

() Florida was called for a number of penalties in the opening two periods but survived as Boston went 0-for-4 on the power play. The Panthers only got one power play chance.

“Usually we're the ones drawing the penalties,'' Dineen said. “[Thursday] we were taking them because of how they pushed us.''

() With Theodore starting Thursday after missing Monday's game against Washington, Dineen said it's very likely Scott Clemmensen gets the start Friday in Buffalo.  


When, Where: 7:30 p.m.; First Niagara Center, Buffalo

TV/Radio: FSN; WQAM-560

The series: Sabres lead 41-25-4

The game: Florida was riding a two-game winning streak going into Thursday's game at Boston. The Panthers will play three games in a span of four days. .-.-. Each team has won on road ice this season; Buffalo won 3-0 in Sunrise on Oct. 20 with the
BuffalokitchenPanthers winning in Buffalo 3-2 nine days later. .-.-. The Sabres have lost three of four – all of those losses coming at home. 

Thursday Afternoon Florida Panthers/Boston Bruins Pregame Notes

BOSTON -- Protesters are gathering outside the Boston Marriott and police and security guards are out en masse.

Hope they leave before 5. Don't want the hassle as I try and get a cab.

-- Jose Theodore says he had a case of the 48 hour flu but broke it and feels much, much better. 

He'll be in net tonight going against Tim Thomas.

-- The Panthers will have some new players in the lineup tonight as Mikael Samuelsson makes his much-anticipated return to the Panthers after coming over from Vancouver in the Oct. 22 David Booth deal.

Krys Barch, traded for just yesterday, seems happy to be here and will play alongside Samuelsson and Tim Kennedy on the 'no-longer San Antonio Express Line.' 

-- Have some video below from Nathan Horton, Dennis Seidenberg, Kevin Dineen and Barch.

-- I will be on NESN's pregame show tonight around 6:30. If you subscribe to a sports package, check it out, would ya?


OnFrozenFilm Boston: Krys Barch

OnFrozenFilm Boston: Kevin Dineen

OnFrozenFilm Boston: Nathan Horton

OnFrozenFilm Boston: Dennis Seidenberg