« REMEMBERING ROGER: Panthers Honor First Coach, Name Press Box After Neilson | Main | IN PROGRESS: Ed Jovanovski Continues Working Way Back »

GETTING DEFENSIVE: Tim Thomas Getting Some Help

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

The Panthers defensive play has most definitely picked up over the past couple of weeks with most of the credit going to goalie Tim Thomas being back between the pipes.

Although Thomas is carrying most of the load, he is getting some help on the defensive side.

In Monday's 3-1 win over Philadelphia, Florida was credited with 17 blocked shots -- including a game-high three from Mike Weaver.

The addition of Weaver, who missed four games with a serious case of the flu, and newcomer Dylan Olsen helped frustrate the Flyers.

"They were solid defensively,'' coach Peter Horachek said. "Having Olsen and Weaver in the lineup allowed us to play a better team game down low in our zone.''

Philadelphia came strong at Thomas and the Panthers in the third period on Monday, scoring its lone goal off a season-high 20 shots in the period. Thomas made 38 saves to stop Philadelphia's five-game winning streak at Sunrise.

"They're not a slouch team,'' Horachek said. "They were pushing hard. They have some top-end players. It wasn't about the number of shots, it was about the quality and the mistakes we made. Twenty shots is a lot, but overall, the second effort was there. We did a good things. It's the end result.''

Olsen, who came to the Panthers in the Kris Versteeg deal earlier this month, was recalled from the minors on Sunday and played in his first game with Florida. Olsen made quite an impression, using his big frame in the corners. Olsen was officially credited with three hits and two blocked shots.

“Playing rough, that’s what they want,'' Olsen said before the game. "They want guys to shut down other teams’ top lines, be physical with them. I’m just going to go out there and do what I can to help the team win. .-.-. Coming here is a great opportunity for me to get my foot in the door and start establishing myself in the NHL and making a career out of it.”

-- Tomas Kopecky, placed on the injured reserve list on Monday, was spotted walking around the training complex on Tuesday without a cast on what is thought to be an injured wrist or hand.

Kopecky is eligible to come off the IR for Saturday's game against the Penguins. He said he hopes to be able to play.

-- The Rangers are the first team that Horachek and his new coaching staff will see for the second time. The Panthers lost in New York 4-3 in Horachek's second game on Nov. 10.

"It helps to have a little familiarity, you know what to expect from certain lines,'' he said. "When you played those teams early on, I had no idea what kind of match-ups, what we were capable of in different situations. You start getting a better feel for your players as well as theirs. It's good to be getting to that place.''



When, Where: 7:30 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise

TV/Radio: FSNF; WQAM-560

The series: New York leads 43-32-6

Scouting report: The Rangers are 2-1 on their five-game road trip but got beat 5-0 by the Lightning on Monday. The Rangers have won at least once in Sunrise in each of the past five seasons. New York returns on New Year's Eve.


PHOTO: JOE RIMKUS JR./Miami Herald Staff