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2 posts from October 5, 2013

October 05, 2013

PANTHERS NOTEBOOK: Marcel Goc Digging New Role Uptown ...

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

ST. LOUIS -- Much was made of how the Panthers would replace Stephen Weiss as top line center when Weiss left to chase the Stanley Cup in Detroit over the summer.

It turns out Weiss' replacement may have been here all along.

With a lineup beset with injuries last year, Marcel Goc found himself in a different position as he was centering one of the top two lines. Goc has made a living as a grinding third line defensive player, although the Panthers liked the chemistry he seemed to have with Tomas Fleischmann.

When Florida kicked off Thursday in Dallas, Goc found himself a No. 1 center to start a season for the first time in his nine-year NHL career.

Goc, who still prides himself on his defensive play despite the playmakers surrounding him, scored two goals in Thursday's 4-2 win over the Stars.

Goc's first goal was the game-winner as he trailed the play and buried a beautiful feed from Fleischmann. His second came in the final minutes and went into an empty net.

"Last year I moved up and down the lines because of the injuries,'' said Goc, who had scored twice in a game only once before and not in his previous two seasons with the Panthers.

"I play the way I play and I try to do the same things every night. But now I have to keep up with the offensive stuff but I still have to be responsible defensively. But no question playing with these guys is fun.''

Fleischmann said he and Kris Versteeg appreciate the defensive prowess Goc brings to their line, one formerly centered by Weiss. Two seasons ago, the Weiss/Fleischmann/Versteeg trio was the most productive line in the league.

Last year, Weiss and Versteeg missed most of the season due to serious injuries.

"He's a similar player to me, he sees the ice very well and that may be why we play well together,'' Fleischmann said. "Last year we finished playing together and we find each other on the ice. I kind of know where he is and he knows where his wingers are.''

DAY 2 CHANGES

Coach Kevin Dineen is expected to continue tinkering with his lines in this early going of the season. Saturday saw some minor tweaking with Krys Barch replacing Drew Shore on the fourth line.

Barch played after sitting out Thursday in Dallas. Matt Gilroy and Joey Crabb joined Shore on the scratch line.

"It's early in the season and we've been blessed with the gift of extra bodies,'' Dineen said. "We're going to take advantage of it. This continues to be a work in progress in trying to find some symmetry. We'll go from there.''

-- The Panthers stayed in St. Louis after Saturday's game and plan on having an off day in the city on Sunday. The team will charter to Philadelphia on Monday morning and practice at the University of Pennsylvania later that day.

 

SMOKED IN ST. LOUIS: Panthers Beaten Down in 7-0 Loss to

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

ST. LOUIS -- The Panthers had to feel extremely fortunate to escape the first period of Saturday night's game down just one goal.

 

Their fortune changed for the worse in the second as things got so bad all the team wanted to do was flee the scene of this accident.

St. Louis tore open a once close game by scoring four times within a span of seven minutes to blow the Panthers out of the Scottrade Center 7-0.

Soon after the Blues scored twice in the opening 4:09 of the third, fights began breaking out all over the ice.

A total of 15 infractions involving 12 players were called with most of the players given penalties with more time on them then on the clock. Those players would be considered the lucky ones as they got to head to the locker room early and avoid watching the end of this dreadful contest.

A few vocal fans near the Florida bench and tunnel were also sent home early by the authorities. Again, they would be considered fortunate.

"We were hanging on for dear life and got outplayed in every aspect of the game,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. "We didn't rise to the occassion.''

Florida was outplayed by the Blues from the start of the night with Tim Thomas keeping his new team in it.

Thomas made 13 saves in the opening period although he couldn't find a shot from Brenden Morrow with 6:02 left in the period.

Florida had deftly killed off a 5-on-3 power play chance with Scott Gomez and Shawn Matthias in the box, yet with seven ticks left on the Matthias penalty, Morrow followed up a shot from Derek Roy and put it into the back of the net for the lone score of the period.

"You don't like to se a 7-0 score and it's all our fault,'' Jonathan Huberdeau said. "We had a few scores like that last year and we don't want any of that this year. We're better than this. We just have to work harder. It was only 1-0 in the first and into the second. We didn't have a good start or a good game. We need to step up.''

The Panthers came out in the second and things looked markedly different. Florida began dictating the flow of the game.

The Panthers' biggest scoring chance come with 12:45 left when Brad Boyes and Aleksander Barkov charged goalie Jaroslav Halak on a rush with Boyes keeping the shot. Unfortunately for the Panthers, Boyes' wrister rang off the right post and the Blues kept their one goal advantage.

Instead of being in a tie game, the Panthers suddenly found themselves sliding downhill. A few minutes after Boyes' shot, Vladimir Tarasenko took advantage of a three-Panther pileup in front of the cage and put the puck through for a 2-0 lead.

Less than three minutes later it was 3-0 after Florida's Tom Gilbert gave up the puck behind his net. St. Louis' Vlad Sobotka fired it to Jaden Schwartz who flicked it past Thomas for a 3-0 advantage.

Derek Roy made it 4-0 with 3:48 left in the period with Alex Steen polishing things off by scoring on a penalty shot with 57 seconds remaining after being dragged to the ice on a break by Alex Gudbranson.

"It went downhill and snowballed quick,'' Thomas said. "As a team you have to find a way to break that momentum and we weren't able to do it for a long period of time. It wasn't just a couple minutes.''

Although Thomas (23 saves on 28 shots) stayed in through the end of the second, he didn't make it past that. Jacob Markstrom came in to start the third but couldn't staunch the bleeding.

The Blues scored twice off their first four shots to open the third and turn a rout into a true laugher.

Markstrom ended with four saves on six shots in the final 20 minutes of play. The NHL, unfortunately, doesn't have a mercy rule and allow a running clock in situations Florida found itself in Saturday night.

"We have to be better,'' Dineen said. "There is still work to do. There was ugliness here [Saturday].''