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19 posts from November 2006

November 30, 2006

U-G-L-Y, you ain't got no ALIBI

Bkuglyduckling Sitting atop Scotiabank Place here in the lovely outskirts (outposts) of Ottawa, Ontario. It's Canada's Capital City, you know (did you? Awesome!)

The third period has just started and the Panthers trail the Senators 6-0.

Florida's scoreless clock is ticking. At the start of the third, the Panthers haven't scored a single goal in 3 hours, 1 minute and 21 seconds.

Ugly Duckling? Ugly Panthers.

-- Trivia question: Name the last team to be shutout in three straight games.


TimmysSitting here in Ottawa, drinking a fresh cup of coffee from Timmy's and contemplating the Panthers, ahem, tail of woe.

This team isn't bad, problem is, they're not very good either. JM was asking all to have some patience, but that's a tough thing to ask a Panthers fan to do. You see, while JM was living in the fast lane with the Sens, the Panthers were losing. And that hasn't changed.

The Panthers have problems offensively, with a good majority of their goals coming on junk from around the net. The team's pure scorers haven't been finding the net of late, and that's put a lot of pressure on the guys who should be in supporting roles to carry the load.

Who else but the Panthers would surrender one goal in a total of two games and not win either? Honestly, only the Panthers. It's like anytime someone goes, 'that couldn't happen,' it does. To the Panthers. In my opinion, wholesale changes are not needed. JM isn't going anywhere, he needs and deserves the chance to turn this thing around. The reason this franchise is in the state it is because of a lack of stability. As Olli said yesterday, this is Jacques team. The buck stops with him. And that's good.

The Panthers are playing OK right now, good enough to win a few games and start feeling good about themselves. But they need to start winning, and doing quite a bit of it.

THE NEWS: Joe Nieuwendyk missed practice again today and will not play against the Sens. Says his back is acting up on him again, and he hopes to be back Saturday against ATL. Drew Larman is en route from Rochester right now and plans to suit up tonight.

-- Alex Auld starts tonight, but you knew that, didn't you.

-- Gary Roberts didn't skate today, but according to JM, he's playing.

-- When asked what his thoughts were on Ottawa's slow start (they've since rectified things and are playing well), JM basically told the local reporter he had enough things to worry about in SoFla and didn't really care what happened up here. "I know they are one of the top teams in the league,'' Mr. Diplomat said.

-- Don't be surprised to see Auld having to defend himself a little today. Seems the Senators took offense with Florida crashing the net so much in Friday's win at CorporateSponsorship Arena in Sunrise. So, what's good for the goose is good for the Panther. Or something like that.

-- Sunday's conversation will center around defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. If you don't get the herald at home, check it out online on the Panthers page on Sunday. Stephen Weiss, the last player profiled, scored the night after talking to the herald. We'll see.

November 28, 2006


Boxing During the first period of Florida's game at Montreal on Tuesday, it appeared the Panthers may have won their first fight of the season. Bryan Allen and Garth Murray threw down, and both got in a bunch of good punches. But, this judge gives the win to Allen, Florida's first of the year.

Congrats, Bryan.

Montreal Steak

Youppi Good to be back in Montreal, have been here since Sunday afternoon and having a ball. Didn't have much to post here, so I haven't. Figured I would give you all a break.

Kind of uneventful day at Centre Bell, the two teams practicing and just generally enjoying the day.

Except for JM. I don't think he likes coming up to this part of the hockey world very much, especially with a hockey team much closer to last place in the East than eighth. Usually if someone asks the same question twice, JM will answer it twice. Not today. He was a little snippy with the local media, although he was cool with us. So that's good.

On the food front: had a famous smoked meat sandwich at Ruebens with Goldie, Denis and Brian X. Very nice. Denis also ordered up some gravy for our fries, and that was a veteran move on his part. Pretty good. I tried some Poutine yesterday and wasn't impressed. The place we went today, though, was money.

Going to try and get a picture with Youppi! tonight. The former mascot of the Expos (see above) has moved over and is the new mascot of the Habs. If I get a pic, will post here. They also have an Expos banner honoring the retired numbers of the late franchise. I think that's classy. Will get a pic of that too.Exposbanner

THE NEWS: Rositslav is back, said he had a good time down on the farm. Even said he went and saw Borat while in Rochester. He liked it, but added Eastern Europe is nothing like portrayed in the flick. He wanted to make sure we knew that.

Also said the offensive minded Americans there in Rochester did help his game. Said they believe the best defense is a good offense. Huh. Sounds like the Sabres. No wonder Rochester in in first place. Olesz actually said the game is a quicker pace down in the AHL because everyone is going full speed all the time. Take from that what you will....

-- Rob Globke was there for the latter part of the skate.  Mike Van Ryn is back, but still looks like he hasn't completely shaken the flu.

-- Alex Auld in net tonight.

-- It's freaking cold.

-- Off to Ottawa tomorrow. Told it's the capital of Canada, although I always thought that was Washington D.C. Whatever.

-- Jay Bouwmeester is second in voting for the All-Star Game among East defensemen. Seems like some of you are voting more than the recommended once a day allowence. I don't think Jay will snitch on you, so neither will I.

-- Panthers wearing their home blue jerseys tonight so Montreal can wear their old-school vintage whites.

-- Olli Jokinen only has four assists on the road this season. Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau says that doesn't mean anything. "He wasn't scoring the last time we saw him either,'' Carbonneau said. Oh yeah: last time these two met, Olli recorded a hat trick in a 4-1 win for Panther de Floride.

November 25, 2006

Georgia on their Mind

Raycharles The Panthers will try to fight through the hangover of Friday night's loss to Ottawa in a place that hasn't been real hospitable to them of late. Ever hear of southern hospitality? Well, when it comes to the Panthers, the Thrashers sure haven't. The Cats haven't won here since Michael Vick was in pre-K, and just after Scott Mellanby made his NHL debut. OK, it hasn't been that long. Just feels like it. The Panthers haven't won here since 2003 (are you kidding? we didn't even have cellphones back in 2003!)

Good thing the Thrashers aren't at their best right now, although that's never seemed to matter. The Panthers may just be Atlanta's magic elixir tonight.

We'll see. Dave and Denis on the call at 7; Goldie and Red Deer too.

THE NEWS: Mike Van Ryn is out once more tonight. Has the flu, although I didn't hear that was going around. PS: I feel much, much, better. Thanks. JM says Mike stayed home, should be on trip to Montreal.

-- Alex Auld in net tonight.

-- JM says Rostislav Olesz is definitely coming back Monday. Will meet the team in Montreal. Juraj Kolnik is still out, so Drew Larman and David Booth are still up with the big squad.

November 24, 2006

Safe, Sound and Sick

Thanks for those who posted and emailed me wondering if I was ok because of some incident down at One Herald Plaza today. As any of my editors will tell you, I'm never in the office, so I really had nothing to worry about. Still, kind of a scary situation and you hate to see colleagues and friends put through such things. And it all worked out, everyone is safe and back at work.

Except, of course, me. Watching the game from home tonight, fighting the flu.Flubug

If I was writing a story on me being sick, it might read like this:

This was the first game Richards missed because of an illness in his time on the beat; this was also the first time he missed a Florida game this season.

"It sucks to be out,'' Richards said. "But this will be a good opportunity for someone else to step up and do the job.''

And thanks to Kevin Baxter for stepping in. The dude is money.

Fly to Atlanta tomorrow, hope to post either in the morning or after the FSU-UF game. Good night.

-- For those who asked, our Panther feature for Sunday is on Stephen Weiss. Talks to the Herald on Friday morning, gets a goal that night. Got to love that.

November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving Eve

TurkeyHope you all had a Happy and joyous Thanksgiving Eve, the time where folks gather with their families and enjoy bountiful gifts and good food.

OK, I made all that junk up. Couldn't think of anything else. Weak, I know.

Anyways, Happy Thanksgiving -- the U.S. one -- to all those out there.

THE NEWS: Alex Auld in net tonight; JM says it's based off his strong night Monday in Boston as well as his 1-0 mark against the Bolts.

-- Juraj Kolnik is out, could be a groin injury, could be a shoulder. JM says its the former. Say hello to  Greg Jacina, the most recent Rochester American to join the Panthers. Kiwi and Jackman sit tonight.

November 20, 2006

Boston T-Party

Ruth1Greetings from Boston, home of the Big Dig and some baseball team that apparently wears red-colored socks. Don't get that one at all.

Finally spoke to JM about why Rostislav Olesz was sent down to the minors on Sunday. Says the 21-year-old needs to find confidence in his game, and he thinks that will happen in the great city of Rochester, N.Y. Well, unlike with the Panthers, at least Olesz will be around a winning team for a while.

The Americans are killing folks, and rolled Springfield 8-0 the other night. The Panthers go weeks without scoring eight goals, so, good for Rusty.

Joe Nieuwendyk isn't sure sending down Rusty is the answer, saying as his teammate (and friend) they failed him. He says when Olesz comes back next week (JM says he's meeting the team in Montreal on Monday) the team needs to do a better job of helping him out. Like to see a guy standing up for a teammate.

David Booth is the newest member of your Florida Panthers, called up from Rochester to take Olesz's place on Nieuwendyk's line. Booth, a recent Michigan State grad, is thrilled with the callup. With Olesz out until Monday, it looks like Booth gets a longer stay than recent callups Larman, Sprukts or Jacina have.

-- It's not very often fourth-line center Greg Campbell is in the spotlight, but he is today. At least on NHL.com. CLICK HERE TO READ YAH?

-- If you ever come up to Boston for a game at the Gahden, you got to have lunch/dinner/postgame at the Fours. It's a nice little sports bar with some of the best sports bar memorabilia I've seen south of Gretzky's joint in Toronto (they have Gerard Phelan's Cotton Bowl jersey from 1985 hanging over the front door. Phelan, if you remember, caught The Pass from Doug Flutie in the Orange Bowl way back when. And I still hate him/them for it.) Also, the Clam Chowdah is terrific. Went there for lunch today. Again, good times. 

November 19, 2006

Back in the Saddle

Pete_bw_2OK folks, I'm back and ready to blog baby!

Problem is, I'm sitting in Fort Lauderdale's cushy airport about to board a flight to Boston. That said, I don't have much to say (kinda like Ed Belfour!)

Tell you, it was freaky to watch Saturday night's loss to the Islanders. Blur the vison a little bit, and it was like watching Monday's Washington loss all over again. Not only was the score (4-1) and shots on goal (45/44) pretty much the same, but the pace of the game was the same too. Panthers trail 1-0, tie score; visitors take 2-1 lead; Panthers chase until late in the third when visitors score to make it 3-1. Then, the empty-netter.

It will be real interesting to see how this team bounces back in Boston. It was here where the team melted down around this time last year, forcing JM to put the team through a tough practice the following day in Raleigh. Shame of it is, the Panthers are playing pretty well on both sides of the ice; they're getting solid goaltending out of the Quiet One as well as Alex Auld.

Yet the wins aren't coming.

And it's probably going to cost them in the long run. This team isn't good enough nor has it built up enough wins to give up games like these. The Thrashers? Sure, they can lose games like this and chalk it up to not being their night. The Panthers can't. It's just more of the same.

November 14, 2006

Toothless in Seattle

DancingtoothJust got back from the dentist office where I had my wisdom teeth taken out. A special shoutout to my new friend 'Percocet.' Gee, I feel pretty nice right now. Kind of like I'm floating.

Any-who, I don't think your favorite hockey blog (at least the one pimped at miamherald.com) is going to be updated for a day at least. Feeling kinda funny.

Hate to see Drew Larman sent back today (sayeth the Florida Panthers email I got). He brought some nice energy to the game last night and is a pretty good example of how perseverance and hard work can get you places. Dude wasn't drafted, still worked hard and made it to the NHL. I don't think the 10 minutes he played last night is going to be his only time in the Show.

Talked to him a little last night after the game. Said he was very nervous before his big game, but that his new -- and apparently temporary -- teammates made him feel comfortable. I am guessing the Panthers sending Larman back means either Nieuwendyk or Weiss will be able to play on Thursday against Le Canadien. I missed practice today, so I don't know. I'm outta the loop as they say.

And kind of loopy too.

Nighty-night, y'all.

November 13, 2006

The Drew Larman Show

Drewcareyshow_1859Meet Drew Larman, the newest member of your Florida Panthers.

Larman is in South Florida ready to make his NHL debut, a night after scoring in Rochester's 7-3 win over Chicago. According to the Rochester Democrat & Chornicle, Larman put up the first $200 of the team's bar tab if they beat the Wolves. Looks like he'll fit right in with the Panthers, eh?

The Americans are now 12-1, and Larman is playing very well. He has five goals this season, and seven points in the past 11 games. He's going to play tonight. Why? Welllll...


-- Centers Stephen Weiss and Joe Nieuwendyk are out tonight against Washington. Weiss has a sprained knee and says he's going to take a couple days off. Says he hopes to play against Montreal on Thursday.

Nieuwendyk wasn't upbeat at all about his back problems that are continuing. He won't play tonight and will be back when he feels better about things. Says he is very frustrated. Weiss on the other hand, is relieved. He thought he has been seriously injured when he was driven to the ice in Jersey.

-- With Weiss and Nieuwendyk out, Joel Kwiatkowski gets another game on the fourth line.

-- Alex Auld is starting tonight in goal.

Will have more news, and quotes from Weiss, later on tonight...

November 12, 2006

New Jersey Heat

Sopranorutgers Back in Jersey again, another great trip to the swampland, another Florida loss.

The Panthers played their fifth back-to-back game here Saturday night, and the Panthers are 0-5 in such games. All five of their back-to-backers have come on the road, and this was the second time the Devils caught the Panthers playing a second game in as many nights.

A lot of the guys were talking about how tough it is to pull off as many back-to-backs as they've had to, and I'm sure its becoming a mental roadblock. "If we're on the road,'' one said, "we must be playing twice.'' The league -- and the Panthers bookkeepers -- want as many weekend games as they can get; to do that, you get this. Fair? Not really. Especially since Jersey has only played in two such games this year. But the thought is everyone has to go through it, and the Panthers are halfway through.

If they can stay within shouting distance of the playoffs, Florida will be happy to know that its almost over. From January on, the Panthers only have to play back-to-back games three times. Not bad.

-- The team is frustrated right now and rightfully so. They are getting penalties called at an alarming clip, almost twice as many as their opponents on many nights. Either the refs are picking on the Panthers, or they do some dumb stuff. Olli Jokinen says most of the penalties are right on, but he was ticked tonight so he might be retracting that one later on.

-- Had a rare South Florida doubleheader here this weekend. The Heat beat the Nets here Friday, then the Panthers played on Saturday. Many of the TVs inside the Meadowlands Racetrack had Calder on (got killed, thanks for asking) so all we needed was a visit by the Dolphins to make it an all-Dade/Broward sports weekend on the other side of the Hudson.

The Heat has had plenty of success against the Nets of late, and have played well here. After Friday's win, the Heat have won six straight overall, and have won seven of 11 -- including four playoff games -- at the Meadowlands.

Saturday, the Panthers completed the South Florida double-dip in Jersey, only they haven't been as successful here as their cousins from Dade County. After Saturday’s 4-2 loss, Florida has lost 23 of their past 28 games to the Devils (including the four-game sweep in the 2000 playoffs) and hadn't won in East Rutherford since Oct. 22, 2003.

Luckily for the Panthers, Saturday's game might have been their last at the 25-year-old arena. The Devils plan on moving into their new arena in Newark sometime during the 2007-08 season. Florida has won two of its past 12 here.

The Panthers sure won't miss the crummy visitors locker room, the one the size of a small classroom at Pembroke Lakes Elementary.Pemlakes

-- Patrik Elias owns the Panthers, anyone tell ya? Dude has 17 goals and 15 assists in 33 career games against the Cats. Jamie Langenbrunner, whom Joe Nieuwendyk tried to lure south this offseason, has eight goals and nine assists against the Panthers. Should have signed him.

November 10, 2006

More Good Stuff from Beefalo

Congratulations to Chris Gratton and his wife Stephanie. The family greeted a new member on Thursday, a little lady by the name of Caitlyn Elizabeth. She weighs in at 8 points, 10 ounces. Good stuff indeed.

-- With Ryan Miller out of the Buffalo lineup, Rochester goalie Adam Dennis was recalled to be the backup. Dennis has been splitting time in Rochester with Florida's Craig Anderson and Jean-Marc Pelletier.

With Dennis up, Pelletier is in net tonight for the Americans with Anderson out with a slight knee injury. According to Florida director of hockey ops Jack Birch, Anderson will be back practicing on Monday. The Rochester Americans -- which Buffalo and Florida share -- play two games this weekend.  Pelletier will probably be back in net Sunday too. The Amerks were 10-1 going into Friday's game.

-- Ric Jackman was Friday's healthy scratch.

-- The lines used in the first (w/ Gratton out): Roberts-Jokinen-Stumpel; Gelinas-Weiss-Horton; Kolnik-Nieuwendyk-Peltonen; Olesz-Campbell-Kiwi


Anchorbar Got to love November in Buffalo, or at least Friday. The sun was out, there was a slight breeze and the temp was peeking its head over 50 degrees. Nice. Of course its supposed to pour tonight and tomorrow, so it's back to normal.

General news and musings from Sabre Country:

-- Chris Gratton's wife had their second child on Thursday night, so we're told. Gratton will miss tonight's game, is expected to return tomorrow in Jersey.

-- Folks have told me the wings at Anchor Bar near downtown Buffalo are overrated, that the place that invented the chicken wing as we know it is nothing more than a tourist trap. Balderdash, I say. (you don't hear that word very often, do ya?) Me and some of the traveling crew (Goldie included) polished off a bucket of hots this afternoon and were very pleased. Tourist trap? Yep. Good wings? Uh-huh.

-- Sabres goalie Ryan Miller will miss tonight's game with what the team is calling a lower body injury but what others say is some sort of hip contusion. Martin Biron goes between the pipes tonight. And again, the Panthers face yet another backup goalie. Don't mean a thing to the Panthers.

"They have two excellent netminders,'' coach Jacques Martin said. "I think last year when Miller was injured, Biron had quite a streak, won some games. He’s established as a top goalie. They have excellent goaltending no matter who you face. ''

Added Olli Jokinen, no doubt upset by something he read: "I was just reading that us and Philly are two of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference, so it doesn't matter who we play. When you read the paper and see things like that, it gives you an extra boost.''

-- The new Sabres logo is starting to grow on me. Looking less like the U-C Santa Cruz Banana Slug and more like the Kent State Golden Flash. You decide.


vs. Kentstate

vs. Slug2

More From Keenan

Keenanfrolic Mike Keenan (pictured at left with 2006 first-round pick Michael Frolic) told Canada's TSN that Panthers captain Olli Jokinen had approached him about coaching Finland's national team in the 2008 World Cup in Quebec and 2010 Olympics held in Vancouver. Keenan also said former Panther Pavel Bure approached Keenan about coaching the Russian team.

Seems like old Mikey is selling his version of the truth. Shocking, I know.

Jokinen told the gathered media Friday in Buffalo that he hasn't talked to Keenan "since he was fired,'' and said speculation about Finland's new coach is swirling. One report quotes Bure as laughing at Keenan's notion about Team Russia. Again, no surprises there.

Here's more from Jokinen, who did add he would recommend Keenan for the job if the folks in Finland wanted his opinion. So, we may just see Iron Mike coaching the Finns after all.

"The Finnish national team is going to change the coach after this year, and there are a lot of candidates. I don't know if Mike is on their list or not,'' Jokinen said. "I haven't spoken to Mike. I know the Finnish media has contacted him and asked if he's interested.''


"It's good for Finnish hockey. There's a lot of young coaches over there, and they could learn from a guy like Keenan. There's other Canadian coaches in the Finnish League. With the Canadian coaches going there, the Finnish guys can learn from them. ButI haven't spoken to Mike, so I don't know what's going on. I just heard the news a couple days ago.''


"No one has contacted me from the federation, but I would give my vote for Keenan anyway.''

All-Star Ballot Announced

Allstarlogo Been a while since the league has held an All-Star Game, so its been a while since the league's fans could vote for an All-Star team.

Funny how that works, no?

Friday, the league announced its newest All-Star ballot. A few current Panthers (Jay Bo and Olli) on there as well as some former Panthers (surprise: Luongo is on there!). You can vote for your favorites on NHL.com.

Here's the ballot (** means it's that player's first time on an All-Star ballot):



Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils
Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins **
Olaf Kolzig, Washington Capitals
Kari Lehtonen, Atlanta Thrashers **
Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers **
Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres **
Andrew Raycroft, Toronto Maple Leafs **
Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes **


Jay Bouwmeester, Florida Panthers **
Dan Boyle, Tampa Bay Lightning
Brian Campbell, Buffalo Sabres **
Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
Tomas Kaberle, Toronto Maple Leafs
Bryan McCabe, Toronto Maple Leafs
Chris Phillips, Ottawa Senators
Brian Rafalski, New Jersey Devils
Wade Redden, Ottawa Senators
Sheldon Souray, Montreal Canadiens **
Henrik Tallinder, Buffalo Sabres **
Alexei Zhitnik, New York Islanders


Maxim Afinogenov, Buffalo Sabres **
Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins **
Daniel Briere, Buffalo Sabres **
Rod Brind'Amour, Carolina Hurricanes
Erik Cole, Carolina Hurricanes
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins **
Chris Drury, Buffalo Sabres
Patrik Elias, New Jersey Devils
Peter Forsberg, Philadelphia Flyers
Simon Gagne, Philadelphia Flyers
Brian Gionta, New Jersey Devils **
Scott Gomez, New Jersey Devils
Dany Heatley, Ottawa Senators
Marian Hossa, Atlanta Thrashers
Jaromir Jagr, New York Rangers
Olli Jokinen, Florida Panthers
Saku Koivu, Montreal Canadiens
Ilya Kovalchuk, Atlanta Thrashers
Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins **
Michael Nylander, New York Rangers **
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals **
Brad Richards, Tampa Bay Lightning
Miroslav Satan, New York Islanders
Brendan Shanahan, New York Rangers
Jason Spezza, Ottawa Senators **
Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning
Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes **
Mats Sundin, Toronto Maple Leafs



Manny Fernandez, Minnesota Wild
J.S. Giguere, Anaheim Ducks
Nikolai Khabibulin, Chicago Blackhawks
Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary Flames **
Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks
Dwayne Roloson, Edmonton Oilers
Marty Turco, Dallas Stars
Tomas Vokoun, Nashville Predators


Rob Blake, Los Angeles Kings
Scott Hannan, San Jose Sharks **
Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings
John-Michael Liles, Colorado Avalanche **
Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim Ducks
Mattias Ohlund, Vancouver Canucks
Dion Phaneuf, Calgary Flames **
Chris Pronger, Anaheim Ducks
Robyn Regehr, Calgary Flames
Mathieu Schneider, Detroit Red Wings
Lubomir Visnovsky, Los Angeles Kings **
Sergei Zubov, Dallas Stars


Jonathan Cheechoo, San Jose Sharks **
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings **
Pavol Demitra, Minnesota Wild
Shane Doan, Phoenix Coyotes
Marian Gaborik, Minnesota Wild
Martin Havlat, Chicago Blackhawks
Milan Hejduk, Colorado Avalanche
Ales Hemsky, Edmonton Oilers **
Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames
Paul Kariya, Nashville Predators
Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks
Andy McDonald, Anaheim Ducks **
Mike Modano, Dallas Stars
Brenden Morrow, Dallas Stars **
Ladislav Nagy, Phoenix Coyotes **
Rick Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets **
Markus Naslund, Vancouver Canucks
Brian Rolston, Minnesota Wild
Joe Sakic, Colorado Avalanche
Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks **
Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks **
Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks
Ryan Smyth, Edmonton Oilers
Steve Sullivan, Nashville Predators **
Petr Sykora, Edmonton Oilers
Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks
Keith Tkachuk, St. Louis Blues
Doug Weight, St. Louis Blues
Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings **
Nikolai Zherdev, Columbus Blue Jackets **

November 08, 2006

Happy Homecoming

FaberhomecomingIt seems like weeks since the Panthers have played, but alas, it's only been a few days. Feels longer.

Anyway, no parade through the streets of Sunrise for the Panthers just yet. (Seriously, what if the Panthers ever won the Cup? Where would the parade be? Through the Sawgrass Parking lot, around Bahama Breeze, to the arena? Would it be on the New River like the Marlins? Downtown Miami? How many sponsors would this parade have? Over/under is 20.)

OK, back to reality. The Rangers are in town and Florida needs two points. The time off has seen Florida sink in the standings and the team has a back-to-backer in Buffalo/Jersey forthcoming.
The News:

-- Ed Belfour will start tonight against the Blueshirts based on not only how well he played against them last time, but because its been almost a week since his last start. Don't want Eddie's wings to get rusty. By most reports in NY, Henrik Lundqvist is back in net after Kevin Weekes started the past three.

-- Todd Bertuzzi spoke to the assembled SoFla media today, says its way too early to give a timetable for his return just yet. Dude just started rehab yesterday, so we'll cut him a break.

-- Spoke with Martin Gelinas today after practice, he'll be the subject of Sunday's 'Catching up With' in the Miami Herald. In case you missed it, last week's subject was goalie Alex Auld. Fun guy to talk to. CLICK HERE IFYOUWANNA

-- Joe Nieuwendyk is back tonight, although he and Gary Roberts took off early today.

-- JM confirmed that he was working on a deal to send this beat writer to Ottawa at yesterday's GM meetings in Toronto. Glad the trade fell through. Ottawa's too cold for me, eh.

He also says he doesn't expect many major trades because so many teams are close to maxing out their cap number. He compared it to the NFL, where trades are rare because the money has to match on most of the trades to work. So, don't look for the Cats to make any deals just yet. Unless I go. That would be a minor deal tho....

November 05, 2006

Working Vacation

Marty_1_1 When Jacques is away, the Cats will play.

OK, not so much.

The Panthers were a loose bunch at practice on Sunday, signing plenty of autographs and sending a couple hundred bucks worth of sticks home with the little kids who were hanging out around the rink.

The team spent the entire practice working on special teams. The Panthers have played very well -- at times -- on both the PP and PK this year, but there is definitely room for improvement. They hope the special practice session is helpful. Teams don't get too much time off during the season to run such specialized practices.

So, where is JM? Some say he is hanging out at Walley World, but I say no. The Whippersnapper will have to wait. JM has work to do. With the schedule slowing, JM the coach gets to cram a bunch of GM stuff under his chapeau (that means cap in Canadian). Wally_1

Rumor has it JM spent last night scouting the Caps/Flyers game. Hmmm. While they probably won't make any deals with the Caps, the Flyers may be willing to deal. OK, they are READY to make a deal. Speculation is the Phils are trying to spin off Simon Gagne. Would Gags look great in a Florida sweater? Yeah. But are the budget-conscious Panthers ready to take on a five-year deal at $5.25 mil per? That's a lot of ads to sell, and looking around the arena, there ain't much left to peddle off. Up next: "The final 15 minutes of the first period are brought to you by Dominoes Pizza because we can get you a pie in 15 minutes or less!''

If Florida really gets things going, look for the Panthers to make some minor moves. I wouldn't bet on anything major happening just yet.

-- Some are wondering whether the Panthers got ripped off in the Todd Bertuzzi deal. Well, since the power forward was suffering some kind of back disorder last year w/ Vancouver, it's easy to say they may have.

My thought is when the Panthers made up their mind to deal Luongo -- and they made their mind up on that the week before the draft --- they should have shopped him a little more aggressively. But Keenan wanted/craved Bertuzzi. And any deal for Luongo had to have him in it. While we can't judge this trade just yet because Bert is hurt (that rhymes BTW), this deal still looks like a nice coup for the Canucks. Especially since there is a chance (a big one) that Bertuzzi isn't here next season. Luongo, on the other hand, signed for four more years in Vancouver. Florida could have had that deal too.

And now, the News:

-- Joe Nieuwendyk was working hard and late. He'll be back in the lineup Wednesday vs. the Rangers.

-- Gary Roberts seems bound and determined to work his way to the front of the net and get out of his offensive slump. Roberts is doing everything else he's always done, but the scoring hasn't come of late. He still has six points off two goals.

-- Joel Kwiatkowski's work of late hasn't been missed by the coaching staff. He drew raves from Guy Charron on Sunday. Read more Monday right here: CLICK HERE EH...

-- Stephen Weiss was on the scoreboard "Hot Seat" on Thursday. When asked which college team he liked, he shrugged and picked Miami over Florida and FSU. That drew cheers from an obvious pro-Cane crowd. Then Weiss drew laughs when the video kept rolling: "Seriously,'' he said, "what's the difference?'' Weiss said he didn't know the video crew was going to show that part of it. Funny stuff anyways.

November 02, 2006

Toronto Towne

Panpumpkin2 The Maple Leafs are in town, so that means the Panthers attendance is going to go up -- if only for the media that comes with the team. Goodness. It's was a mini-zoo out there today.

PS: the pic at left is from Tom, expressing his love for the Panthers by way of a pumpkin. Pretty cool what you can do with a pumpkin these days, no?

The news: Speaking of carving, Todd Bertuzzi had surgery this morning for his back problem. The Panthers hope to have him back within two months, but you never know with these kinds of things. The team called it 'minor' back surgery. Is there any such thing? They say yes, but I'm no doctor. I haven't even played one on tv.

-- Joe Nieuwendyk skated again today, says he is going to play Wednesday against the Rangers.

-- Ed Belfour plays tonight.

-- Need tickets for tonight? Visit Quarterdeck in Sunrise/Plantation across from Sawgrass Mills. They have vouchers for four 'free' tickets if you ask for them. Vouchers are for upper deck tickets, all you have to pay is an arena fee, which I believe is like $3 each to make up for the free parking. Can't beat that, no?