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PANTHERS CONFIDENT IN GOALTENDING: Dale Tallon, Panthers teammates Praise Tim Thomas ... Florida Penalty Killers Bringing It

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

Dale Tallon knew he was going to see the best of Tim Thomas on Saturday night. The day before, Tallon spoke with his goalie and got a feel for where he was mentally.

"He told me he was sick of losing,'' Tallon said Saturday night, moments after Thomas' 31-save performance in a 2-1 shootout win over Minnesota.

"He's not used to this. And let me tell you something, this guy is a winner. When we talked to him in the summer, that's the first thing that jumped out. He wants to win and he battles. He's a difference maker and he gives our guys some confidence out there. He's a champion. He's what we need.''

Thomas was Florida's biggest offseason acquisition, although technically he signed during training camp.

A Stanley Cup champion with Boston two years ago, Thomas appears to be hitting his stride.

After giving up two goals in the first period against the Bruins on Thursday night, Thomas has surrendered two goals in the next 112-plus minutes off 63 credited shots on goal.

Thomas also stopped both shots faced in the shootout as the Wild went 0-for-2.

"I'm feeling more comfortable there, feeling progressively better,'' said Thomas, who missed a week after injuring his groin Oct. 8 in Philadelphia but returned to face his former teammates.

"I thought I was felt good through the preseason and even [the opener] in Dallas. Then I had a couple of rough games there and I had my little injury. Now, I can feel my movement getting better. There's nothing like a game. You can practice all you want. You need games.''

Although there was a report in Sunday's Ottawa Sun saying Tallon was willing to deal veteran players, that wouldn't come until the Panthers are out of playoff contention.

Florida may spin off players, sure, but it won't come until the trade deadline -- if at all.

Thomas, with a one-year deal, could be an attractive addition to a team in contention come the deadline if the Panthers are out of it. The Panthers, and Tallon, aren't thinking about that right now. If the Panthers are to crawl out of this early hole, Thomas can help.

"He's only played four or five games in the past 18 months,'' goalie coach Robb Tallas said. "It takes some time to settle in but he's doing it. He comes to the rink every night believing he's going to win. That gives our guys confidence. They know he's going to make that timely save. They can do what they need to do.''

-- One thing the Panthers have been really good at this season has been killing penalties. Minnesota went 1-for-5 on the power play Saturday with its lone goal of the game coming when a shot hit Jesse WInchester's stick and went past Thomas.

"Thomas' calm attitude sure helps things,'' Winchester said. "Their power play goal went off my stick. I went back to the net and he said 'no worries.' That's refreshing. I apologized after the period and he told me it was just a hockey play. You move on, get the next one. That's key for a growing team. It was nice to see.''

Winchester has been a nice addition to the Panthers penalty kill. When Florida was killing off a long 5-on-3 disadvantage in the third, Winchester was on the ice for a good portion of it as was Mike Weaver.

"It's great to have a goalie who can make the key saves for if not, you're not killing it off,'' said Weaver, who played 2:19 of Florida's 2:41 shorthanded time in the third Saturday. "I thought we played pretty tight in our zone and made the simple plays, sacrificed our bodies.''

Florida's penalty kill came into Sunday ranked 19th in the league after finishing dead last with a franchise-record low success rate last year. Florida has been successful on 81 percent of its penalty kills.

"The penalty killing was stupendous,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. "We had two 5-on-3s and they made big plays. .-.-. We had to do that part of the game and it's something we're taking a lot of pride in.''

-- Florida's power play finally got something going as it got the team's first goal in four games. The Panthers are 24th in the league scoring at a 12 percent clip.

"We got a power play goal, we killed off some penalties,'' Jonathan Huberdeau said. "We did everything [Saturday]. That's how we got the two points.''

-- The shootout goal scored by Brad Boyes on Saturday moved him into a tie for second on the active skater list, not first as was reported in the Miami Herald. Boyes has 32 goals in 71 shootout attempts; he's tied with Minnesota's Zach Parise and one back of Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk.

 

Comments

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A little early to be thinking about trading players in that vein no??

Thomas, gomez, and gilroy have been good. I'd rather see versteeg go; he has talent, but reminds me of a mix between weiss and horton -- didnt like either of them.

The Panthers have no trading power and all there veteran players are has been. Thomas, Barkov and Huberdeau are the core. Get rid of the Jovanovski, what a leech sucking money out of the Panthers while sitting pretty at his Boca Raton home. Be a man Jovanovski and retire!

Ottawa Sun should look at the Senators, they are only 2 points ahead of Panthers maybe the Sens will be willing to deal veteran players they re not doing that great themselves. Spezza anyone?

Thomas is not a core player mam, he's 40 yrs old

Huberdeau, barkov, bjugstad, gudbranson -- good enough to lead a cup run in the future? Missing a solid (uninjured) goaltender.

Whatever tallin does, hope he hangs on to weaver -- that guys the best D on the team. Campbell had a great season alongside garrison, but not so mich anymore.

Said it before: trade versteeg for anything

Tallon*

The upside is that they will have a good, long look at Markstrom if Thomas' old muscles and tendons and joints cant stay healthy. Florida has looked real bad in those few blowouts but aside from those, had they been able to score, they'd be a .500 team, maybe a game or two over. They look real good at times but that same old inability to score is really getting old. Thomas was keeping them in games, Markstrom hasn't shown a consistent ability to do the same. But you do get the occasional great game from the kid. He may not ever be able to put it together consistently, but if he can ... This season will tell a lot if Thomas cant stay healthy.

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