« September 2010 | Main | November 2010 »

68 posts from October 2010

October 30, 2010

Florida Panthers Get Rare Win in Montreal, Beat Canadiens 3-1


MONTREAL – Saturday was a day of redemption for the Panthers.

Michael Frolik was benched on Thursday, scores the first goal on Saturday. Shawn Matthias? He was benched Tuesday in Toronto – only to score Saturday's game-clinching goal. Even David Booth found the pine as coach Pete DeBoer sat him down during the third period of the Ottawa loss.

All Booth did was score the game-winning goal on a penalty shot.

Florida, which hadn't won in Montreal in almost three years, played perhaps its best game of the season as the Panthers stunned the host Canadiens 3-1 at Bell Center. Florida snapped its losing streak at two while ending Montreal's four-game winning streak.

“I would think it's a 360. Obviously it was a much better performance,'' said DeBoer, 0-4 all-time in Montreal before Saturday's win. “We did what we had to do, got good goaltending. That's a great team that comes at you with a lot of speed. They throw a lot out at you. We got the response we wanted after the Ottawa game, that's for sure.''

On Saturday, the Panthers did all the things they didn't do in Ottawa. Things like crashing the net, dropping down to block shots, grinding the puck out of the corner, winning faceoffs. Florida ended up winning 52 percent of the drops on Saturday and had 20 hits. During a lengthy 5-on-3 penalty kill (one Montreal's worse-than-Florida's power play failed to score on), Bryan McCabe dropped to the ice to block a shot.

Later, defenseman Dennis Wideman jumped into the net to help goalie Tomas Vokoun (40 saves) keep the puck from going in. “Sometimes as a goalie,'' Vokoun said, “you need a little luck.''

Frolik, Booth and Matthias may have gotten the glory for their goals, but Saturday's win involved all 19 players who saw the ice.

“Some guys who have struggled the past couple of games really picked it up,'' Wideman said. “We need everyone going if we're going to win. We were more focused tonight – everyone was. Vokoun had to make some big saves and we need to tighten up there, but I think we're learning, we're coming together as the year goes on.''

Frolik started the Panthers off by following up his own rebound by scoring with 7:50 left in the first period. After Montreal tied it early in the second, Booth got loose on a breakaway but was stopped cold by Carey Price on successive shots. Moments later, Booth would get dragged down by Jaroslav Spacek – the same player who ended Booth's 2009-10 season with a concussion-causing hit. Booth took beat Price this time on Florida's first penalty shot of the season.

“I was just trying to get going, I didn't care who it was, I was just trying to keep my feet moving,'' Booth said. “I don't look into [Spacek] too much. That was more of an accident than anything else. That's all behind me. It's a new year.''

Matthias later scored the clinching goal after Stephen Reinprecht (who was benched for the first three games of the season) stole a puck at center ice and drove in on Price. The Habs goalie stopped Reinprecht's shot – but couldn't stop Matthias' follow up.

“We didn't have a good game in Ottawa and this was a big game for us because we didn't want to go home 0-3,'' Vokoun said. “We played solid. We worked well around the net, got some rebound goals around the net. That's what's been missing. We didn't get those the last couple of games. We did tonight.''


The Panthers played without top line center Stephen Weiss after he rolled his ankle warming up for Saturday's morning skate. Weiss was playing a form of soccer in the Bell Center hallway with hallway with some teammates when he was injured.

The warm-up soccer game, in which players line up in a circle and try to knock each other other until there is only one standing, is common in NHL arenas. But, there have been players hurt during such games. Two seasons ago, Minnesota star forward Marian Gaborik pulled a groin while playing such a game at BankAtlantic Center before the Wild played the Panthers. Gaborik, now with the Rangers, was lost for most of the season because of the injury.

“He's in a little bit of pain. It was a fluke thing you can't do anything about,'' DeBoer said. “You can't bubblewrap these guys. Those kind of things happen during a long season and you deal with it. Someone else gets the opportunity.''

October 29, 2010

Fox Sports and Dish Network Cool Once Again, Hockey and Hoops Return

Fsfla MONTREAL -- Well, it looks like everyone is going to get what they pay for as Fox Sports and Dish Network have come to an agreement. For sports fans, that means the Fox regional networks return to Dish.

For hockey fans without Dish -- but who have the Center Ice package -- that means the blackout is over. If you recall, Fox was blacking out games from out of town markets (that they didn't cover) that involved the home team.

For instance, those Panthers fans living in South Florida who wanted to watch the Panthers play the Islanders on Saturday (FS Florida wasn't covering but MSG was) couldn't. If you lived outside the Florida territory (which is like anything north of Jupiter I've heard) you were cool. 

Anyway, it was a lot of nonsense that has been worked out -- as it always does.

Your friends at FS Florida are covering the next bunch of games, with the non-local broadcast not coming until Nov. 20 at Long Island. I would guess that MSG broadcast will be allowed to be shown in South Florida, but one never knows about these things. Will make sure once we are closer to game time on that one.

Might see Goldie and Billy tonight. Will send them everyone's best.

Florida Panthers Take to the Field, Stay off Montreal Ice

CrashersMONTREAL – After Thursday's lackluster performance in Ottawa, one might expect Panthers coach Pete DeBoer to put his team through the paces, perhaps use the so-called 'bag skate' to send a message.

DeBoer went the other way on Friday morning.

Instead of lacing up the skates and going through a hard workout, the Panthers took advantage of the artificial turf soccer field inside the Canadiens practice facility.

The team held a friendly game of soccer to work off Thursday's frustrations while others tossed a football around. DeBoer and some of his assistant coaches also took part in the Panthers 'field day'.

Soccer “A coach, on a day like this, would like to go out and fix everything that went wrong by battling them, have them bash heads,'' DeBoer said afterward.

“But, sometimes you have to look at the big picture and what's going to make us the best team against Montreal. We just felt we'd do some video, purge last night and have some fun.''

The Panthers have lost two straight games and three of the past four, and its apparent DeBoer doesn't want his players to tune him out so early in the season. The Panthers have no excuse for not coming out fresh Saturday against the host Canadiens as they took Friday off while Montreal played in New York against the Islanders.

Florida hasn't played an opponent coming in the second game of a back-to-back set this season. The Panthers are 0-1 in the second game of such a game themselves.

“We have to play our game and we didn't do that the other night in Ottawa,'' DeBoer said. “They were better in the things we need to do, be on the forecheck, pin teams in. That has to be our game and we need to get back to that. The reality of an 82-game schedule is you don't get that desperation every night, but we have to find a way to get some points. We were up 1-0 at the end of the first. At that point, you manage the puck and find a way to stick around.''

As for the soccer game, Rostislav Olesz won it in a shootout.

“The European players dominated,'' DeBoer joked.


If there were any highlights from Florida's 5-3 loss in Ottawa on Thursday, it was that all three goals were scored by players who had yet to net one this season. Bryan McCabe, Chris Higgins and Mike Santorelli all scored for the first time this season.

Higgins, for one, can only hope his goal Thursday gets his game going. Higgins scored 84 goals with the Canadiens from 2005-09, but only has nine in the two seasons since leaving.

Gudbranblood -- DeBoer said enforcer Darcy Hordichuk would be in the lineup Saturday but said a decision had not been made on who would sit against Montreal.

Hordichuk, who fought for the first time this season on Thursday, could drop the gloves again on Saturday.

During the preseason, Montreal's Travis Moen took a cheap shot at Florida rookie Erik Gudbranson by punching him while he was wrapped up by the referees.

Where, When: Bell Center, Montreal; 7 p.m.
TV/Radio: FS Florida; 560-AM
The series: Panthers lead 29-28-6
The game: Montreal, coached by former Florida bench boss and GM Jacques Martin, had won three straight going into Friday's game against the Islanders. Montreal is 1-0 Jmandolli in the second game of a back-to-back this season. Tomas Vokoun returns to defend the Florida net. Montreal counters with Carey Price. Florida and Buffalo are the only NHL franchises with winning records against the Canadiens.

October 28, 2010

Florida Panthers lose 5-3 in Ottawa ... Pete DeBoer: "We Weren't Ready to Play'' ... McCabe, Higgins, Santorelli Score 1st of Year


OTTAWA – Panthers coach Pete DeBoer benched winger Michael Frolik on Thursday in a desperate attempt to get his sputtering offense going. During Thursday's 5-3 loss to the Senators at Scotiabank Place, DeBoer was likely thinking about others he would like to have sat down.

The Panthers were sloppy, slow and didn't have much going at all against an Ottawa team that started slow but has won two straight. By the time the Panthers got anything going, it was way too late. Struggling forwards Chris Higgins and Mike Santorelli each scored their first goals of the season – after Ottawa held a 5-1 lead early in the third.

Florida has lost two straight and three of four.

“It was obviously much worse than the score indicated,'' DeBoer said. “We weren't ready to play. At the start of the game, their best players were better than ours. We lost all the key areas of the game: The faceoff circle, the puck battles on the board. You're not going to win in this league if you're not ready to compete. We lost all the races for the puck, all the battles for the puck. They were the hungrier team. There's no excuse for that.''

The Panthers took a 1-0 lead in a first period during which they took all of five shots. Florida wasn't as fortunate in the second as Ottawa opened it up by scoring three times – including two goals within a span of 91 seconds. Ottawa then scored twice in the first four minutes of the third to put things out of reach.

“I was terrible and that's not how I want to play. We were a step behind all night,'' defenseman Dennis Wideman said. “We were sloppy with the puck, made bad decisions. Do that against that team and they're going to score.''

The listless Panthers were boxed into their end for much of the opening period before Ottawa's Nick Foligno was charged with goalie interference after taking out Tomas Vokoun.

Referee Stephen Walkom, who worked Tuesday's controversial game in Toronto in which an obvious goalie interference call wasn't made, was assigned Thursday's game as well. But he didn't make this call either as Tim Peel did the honors. Regardless, the Panthers took advantage as Bryan McCabe got his first goal of the season from outside the left circle.

“We were getting outplayed but had the lead thanks to Caber's nice shot,'' Higgins said. “We thought we would be able to turn it around in the second. We talked about coming out with a good start. We beat ourselves tonight. The turnovers in the neutral zone really set us back.''

Milan Michalek got the Sens on the board 5:20 into the second when Florida turned the puck over in the neutral zone and he buried a pretty pass from Chris Kelly. That marked the first shorthanded goal the Panthers had surrendered this season. 

Mike Fisher gave Ottawa its first lead at 13:18 of the second when he hammered a rebound that McCabe couldn't clear. Just 91 seconds later, Zack Smith charged in on Vokoun and snuck the puck past him shortside to make it 3-1.


In just a matter of weeks, Frolik has gone from being on the Panthers top line to sitting in the press box. Frolik has no goals and two assists through the first seven games.

"We need more out of him,'' DeBoer said. "He has some character, some pride. I think he'll respond the right way. It's not all production. For me, the opportunities have slowed to a trickle. That's the symptom I'm concerned about and have to fix.''

Said Frolik: "Obviously it's hard. We lost and the coaches need to make some changes. They expect goals from me and I haven't scored. The season is long. Hopefully I'll be back in the lineup and be good for this team.''

-- The Panthers could be looking for a new AHL affiliate as the team president of the Rochester, N.Y., Americans said Thursday that their team is officially looking for a new deal – be it with Florida or another NHL team.

“As of today, Rochester has informed Dale Tallon, general manager of the Florida Panthers, that we would not be renewing/extending the existing affiliation with Florida,'' Rochester president Lewis Staats said in a statement.

“We are continuing to build and improve the Amerks from a business perspective and will be very diligent in our search for an NHL partner who we believe will help us achieve our goals both on and off the ice.”

Tallon declined to comment on the matter.

Florida Panthers and Rochester Americans Getting Divorce? Just Seperated for Now

Breakup OTTAWA -- The Rochester Americans said on Thursday that the club won't extend its current agreement with the Panthers past this season.

That doesn't mean the two have severed ties and Florida won't return. Basically, the Amerks told the Panthers it's OK to start dating other people. If it works out, cool. If not, hey, thanks for the memories.

The two franchises have been together three years.

“When we negotiated this agreement with Florida, it was agreed we would put a ‘re-negotiation date’ in it to ensure that both organizations had time to either investigate extending the terms of the agreement or provided sufficient time to explore other options,” said Rochester team president Lewis Staats.

“November 1, 2010 was the agreed upon date, and as of today, Rochester has informed Dale Tallon, general manager of the Florida Panthers, that we would not be renewing/extending the existing affiliation with Florida.

Rochesterplayers "We will explore all the options that are available to us in terms of an NHL parent club going forward at the conclusion of the 2010-11 season when our existing agreement with Florida expires. We are continuing to build and improve the Amerks from a business perspective and will be very diligent in our search for an NHL partner who we believe will help us achieve our goals both on and off the ice.”

According to Kevin Oklobzija of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, the Amerks have too much pride to just be a farm team for the Panthers; they want to have more control of the roster so they can try and make a serious run at the Calder Cup.

Of course, to do that, money must be spent. The Panthers want the Amerks to be successful on and off the ice, but they really don't want to bankroll it. They have enough problems at home.

Roch To read all of Kevin's stuff, check out his blog here.

One possible landing point for the Panthers next year is Orlando. Nah, just kidding. But Cleveland might be nice. I would go and cover Lake Erie Monster playoff games no problem.

Lebronbrowns Can you just hear Dale Tallon now?

"The Florida Panthers are taking their talent to Lake Erie.''

Florida Panthers Notes: Michael Frolik Benched vs. Senators, Others on Notice ... Tomas Vokoun Returns ... Denis Potvin Returns Home

FrolikboOTTAWA -- Pete DeBoer is sitting the struggling Michael Frolik in his latest effort to try and get more out of his sputtering offense.

Despite starting the season on the top line, Frolik has just two assists.

"We need more out of him,'' DeBoer said. "We can't wait 30 games. It's been seven and I think he's had a couple good ones. He's not alone in that group. You have to start somewhere and we need him to be better.''

A kick in the rear, Pete?

"You would hope so,'' he said. "That's the message. He has some character, some pride. I think he'll respond the right way. It's not all production; I can live with lack of production if you are creating opportunities and they aren't going in. For me, the opportunities have slowed to a trickle. That's the symptom I'm concerned about and have to fix.''

A Deboer2 s far as Frolik going from the top line to the fourth line to the press box, DeBoer explained it as a process.

"It's stages,'' he said. "You can't complain about opportunity.''

Said Frolik: "Obviously it's hard. We lost and the coaches need to make some changes. I've tried to play hard and do the things I need to. Sometimes I didn't score. They expect goals from me and I haven't scored. I just have to play hard, try hard. The season is long. Hopefully I'll get a bounce and be back in the lineup and be good for this team. Hopefully it's going to come.''

Obviously, as DeBoer says, Frolik isn't alone.

Chris Higgins has zero points despite having plenty of chances on the top lines. Stephen Weiss has a goal and two helpers. Mike Santorelli has two assists.

"It's been a tough start,'' said Higgins. "I'm more concerned with the other aspects of my game than the statisitics. Those will come. I just have to sharpen up other parts of my game and go from there.''

Matthias Shawn Matthias, who a goal and an assist, was healthy enough to play Tuesday in Toronto. DeBoer confirmed that Matthias was held out of the lineup because of his play and not his injury. I think the foot injury did have something to do with it, and another day off it didn't hurt anything.

"The message to him today at the skate was 'you were out of the lineup in Toronto for a reason','' DeBoer said.

DeBoer also pointed out that players like Frolik and Higgins haven't responded despite their opportunity on the higher lines. Rostislav Olesz, now on No. 1 with Booth and Weiss, has.

"He's moved his way back up while others have moved down or out,'' DeBoer said. "I think the message is pretty clear. Take advantage of your opportunity and make it so you can't come out of the lineup.''

-- Tomas Vokoun is back in net for the Panthers after sitting out Tuesday's game in T.O.

Denis -- Former Panthers television voice Denis Potvin sends his best. He looks good and is happy. For all the grief everyone gave Michael Yormark and the Panthers for letting him go two years ago, you know what? It all worked out.

Denis says he couldn't be happier.

"I'm home, finally,'' he said.

Potvin grew up around here and has seen many old friends since returning. He seems to be really enjoying himself. The sad part: Potvin's mother died in March. Potvin got the Sens gig in July.

"She would have really loved this,'' Potvin said.

Nflflag -- DeBoer would like a coach to have the opportunity to challenge a call and have them reviewed, but knows the NFL approach to having a coach throw a red flag probably won't work because a hockey game usually doesn't stop for that opportunity.

"You have to back the clock to the last stoppage and then look at what happened in between,'' DeBoer said. "It's not as easy as saying lets just throw a rule in.''

(Above picture shows what it might look like for a 'Panthers' coach to throw in a challenge flag during a game.)

October 27, 2010

Panthers Notebook from the Canadian Capital: Campbell Recap, Power Play and the Gudbransons (Not Erik)


KANATA, Ontario – Colin Campbell, the NHL's vice president of operations, said on Wednesday that the  Maple Leafs should not have been awarded what turned into the winning goal in Tuesday's game against the Panthers.

With the score tied at 1, Florida goalie Scott Clemmensen was run over by Toronto's Colton Orr in front of the net just as Tim Brant's long shot was coming in. The puck hit Orr and into the empty net as both he and Clemmensen were on the ice.

Clemmensen complained that interference should be called, but neither Francis Charron nor Stephen Walkom made the call. Toronto took a 2-1 lead in the third and added one from Phil Kessel to win 3-1.

“It's quite obvious if they had the chance to see it again, you would hope the call would be made that it was interference on a goaltender,'' Campbell said. “This happens. It doesn't happen often, but it's certainly a call you wish was made differently.''

General manager Dale Tallon, coach Pete DeBoer, Clemmensen and captain Bryan McCabe were the most vocal about the non-call after the game. Even Toronto coach Ron Wilson said the goal shouldn't have been allowed – although he wasn't advocating giving it back. A play such as interference on a goalie isn't reviewable by NHL rules.
“Unfortunately, everything was in place to go against Florida last night,'' Campbell said. “It happened late, went in there net and they had hardly any chance to come back. It could have been a no-goal and a power play chance for Florida. It was a tough situation for our referees. .-.-. They probably would like that call back if they had the opportunity.''

Tallon and DeBoer wouldn't comment on the disputed goal on the record Wednesday, but Campbell expressed he knows what the Panthers are feeling. Campbell, whose son Gregory spent five seasons (2005-10) with the Panthers, also knows every point is important.

“It's not March, it's not the playoffs,'' Campbell said. “But, still, two points is two points. Florida's been in position before where one point made the difference of being in the playoffs or not.''


The Panthers got just their second power play goal of the season Tuesday when Dennis Wideman tied the game at 1 during the second. Florida's power play came into Wednesday ranked 27th in the league (2-for-26). Assistant coach Jim Hulton knows the stats are ugly, but says production will come.

“The power play has to produce,'' said Hulton, who coaches the power play. “Finally we had the tenacity and work ethic to match the talent out there. It looks like they are getting comfortable. I thought early on we showed a lot of tentativeness.''

Glauchester -- The Panthers practiced at the SensPlex in suburban Kanata, Ontario, on Wednesday with DeBoer sticking around afterward to help run a practice for the Blackhawks' minor bantam team from nearby Glaucester.

The coach of the Blackhawks? Wayne Gudbranson, father of Florida prospect Erik. Dennis Gudbranson, the youngest of three hockey-playing brothers, also plays on the team.

Erik Gudbranson, the third overall pick in the 2010 draft, was sent back to his junior team after a contract agreement between he and the Panthers wasn't reached at the end of training camp. Alex Gudbranson is playing with Erik for Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League.

“Mr. Gudbranson asked me during training camp when we came through Montreal if we could run a practice for his younger team,'' said DeBoer. “He's heavily involved in junior hockey here.''

Where, When: Scotiabank Place, Kanata, Ont.; 7 p.m.
TV/Radio: FS Florida; 560-AM
The series: Senators lead 35-26-3
The game: The Senators have won two of their past three after losing five of six to start the season. Brian Elliott is 3-3 and is the only Ottawa goalie with a win this season. Florida went 2-0 here in 2008-09, but have won just three of eight since 2006-07. These two teams do not play again until Florida returns on Feb. 23.
The Projected Lineup:

David Booth-Stephen Weiss-Rostislav Olesz
Chris Higgins-Shawn Matthias-Steve Bernier
Cory Stillman-Marty Reasoner-Radek Dvorak
Steven Reinprecht-Mike Santorelli-Michael Frolik

--Bryan McCabe, Dmitry Kulikov
--Bryan Allen, Dennis Wideman
--Jason Garrison, Mike Weaver

Tomas Vokoun/Scott Clemmensen

Colin Campbell to Florida Panthers: We Made a Mistake, Would Like that one Back

Colin OTTAWA -- Spoke with NHL discipline czar Colin Campbell this afternoon regarding the Colton Orr goal in the third period of Toronto's eventual 3-1 win over the Panthers on Tuesday night.

Campbell, who also supervises the officiating in the league, basically said it's pretty apparent that in watchng the tape that Orr should have been called for interfering with Florida's Scott Clemmensen.

Not only should that game-winning goal (which bounced off Orr as he was going to the ice with Clemmensen) not have counted, but the Panthers should have been on the power play.

"It doesn't happen often, but it's certainly a call you wish was made differently,'' Campbell said.

Orrclemm Definitely could have gone a different way, but, the Panthers had their chances throughout the game and only solved Jean-Sebastien Giguere once. Need to do a little more than that.

[Photo courtesy Globe&Mail]

Anyway, it was a bad call and it probably cost the Panthers a point. The way they were playing (safe) at the time, going to overtime was just fine by them.

Campbell, the father of former Panthers winger Gregory, said rookie ref Francis Charron was the one who didn't make the call.

Former director of officiating Stephen Walkom (who has returned to the game as an on-ice official) was up and apparently blocked. They just missed the call. It happens. And, no, you can't review it.

Sounds like Sunday at the Dolphins game, eh?

Here's what Mr. Campbell had to say:

"We had a rookie referee [Francis Charron] in the game, right by the net. Some might say, well he's a rookie, look what happened? Well, we had one of our most veterans, one who did the Finals in Stephen Walkom out high.

"When I examined the tape, there are a few players between Stephen Walkom and its quite obvious if they had the chance to see it again, you would hope the call would be made that it was interference on a goaltender. This happens. It doesn't happen often, but it's certainly a call you wish was made differently.''

As far as this potentially costing the Panthers a point or two early in the year, Campbell knows exactly what a point meant to the Cats back in 2009 when they lost the final playoff spot to Montreal by a point.

"You look at its not March, it's not the playoffs. But, still, two points is two points. Florida's been in position before where one point made the difference of being in the playoffs or not. It's tough anytime you get caught in a situation like this where a penalty appears to be obvious, and in this case, it led to a goal being scored.

And perhaps, on this play – and I don't want to put words in the referee's mouth – it would have been a two-minute penalty assessed as well.''

As far as coaches wanting something like this reviewed, Campbell pretty much feels that if you review plays like this, you might as well review everything. And then the game takes six hours to play.

"It's not reviewable and sometimes teams have asked should this be included in the review process. At the managers meeting last year, we asked if hockey operations could review a four-minute penalty on high-sticking because sometimes it is called and the video shows it was his teammate's own stick that cut him in the quick foray that happened.

"We told managers this is a tough, tough call and it could be a two-goal turnaround.

"The officials are trying to do it right, but on further video review, sometimes you say 'man that's wrong.' We understand, we're going to have to live with it. Where do you stop?

"Other people have asked if there should be one coach's challenge? Where do you stop, what do you allow them to challenge?

As far as the Panthers go, tough cookies. The Cats are 0-for-2 on controversial, game-winning goals. In the season opener, Edmonton's Shawn Horcoff appeared to kick the puck past Tomas Vokoun. That play went to Toronto for review and it was determined Horcoff directed the puck with his foot but didn't use a 'distinct kicking motion.' Dale Tallon was pretty cheesed about that one as well.

"Unfortunately everything was in place to go against Florida last night. It happened late, went in there net and they had hardly any chance to come back. It could have been a no-goal and a power play chance for Florida. It was a tough situation for our referees.

"Terry Gregson, our director of officiating, was at the game and he spoke with both referees after the game. They probably would like that call back if they had the opportunity.

"Florida may say they had a call go against them in Edmonton and we have another tough call, we're not catching up, we're getting behind.

So what if something like this happened in the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals?

"I would go on a long vacation the next day. And quickly.

"You can't review it, no. That would be a real tough situation and you wouldn't want it to happen. You don't want it to happen at all. There's no way to review that. It was a mistake.

"I told Dale, I remember a play last year where a puck was shot in from about 80 feet and it skipped by Vokoun into the net. Players make mistakes, coaches make mistakes, managers make mistakes. A mistake was made here where a young referee probably wants that call back or Stephen Walkom would like a better view. It's unfortunate.''

Thanks to Colin Campbell for taking time out of his day to talk to us.

ALCOA Presents 'You Make the Call: Colton Orr Edition'

And, then there's this:

October 26, 2010

Florida Panthers Angry After 3-1 Loss to Toronto

TORONTO – Scott Clemmensen made his first start of the season on Tuesday, and had he not collided with Toronto's Colton Orr during the third period, he might have come away with a win or at least a point.

Instead, Orr knocked Clemmensen to the ground before the puck slid by giving the host Maple Leafs a lead they would later extend as Toronto ended a three-game losing streak by beating the Panthers 3-1 at Air Canada Center.

Clemmensen argued with the officials to no avail; he said he was told that because he was out of the crease, he wasn't interfered with.

The Panthers saw things just a touch differently.

“It's obvious I don't know what goalie interference is,'' coach Pete DeBoer said. “I don't know what hitting from behind is, I don't know what interference is. I need to call the league and get myself a tutorial on what those penalties are because, if those aren't hits from behind in the first period on Kulikov and then goalie interference in the third period, then I obviously don't understand the description of the rules. I don't make that call.''

Said captain Bryan McCabe: “We all saw it was interference. Refs make mistakes once in a while and they missed the call. Obviously it's a game changer. It was a 1-1 game, probably going to overtime. They missed a call, blatant interference. Clemmer had no chance to stop that puck. What are you going to do.''

Toronto held a 1-0 lead after scoring on a Tyler Bozak goal late in the first period, but tied it up when defenseman Dennis Wideman fired a long shot from the top of the slot on a power play to beat Jean-Sebastien Giguere with 5:03 left in the second to tie things up.

Florida seemed to be getting the better of the Leafs in the third, putting a lot of pressure on Giguere, but with 8:58 left, the Leafs were able to keep the puck deep in the Florida zone and get the lead back. Fredrik Sjostrom dug the puck out off the back boards and sent it back to Tim Brent in the slot. His long shot hit Orr's skate as he and Clemmensen were tangled up, the puck going into the empty net.

“I don't believe it was a legitimate goal and I'm not going to sit here and embarrass anyone, but it should have been disallowed,'' said Clemmensen, who made 24 saves. “He tackles me to the ground then the puck goes into the open net. The replay clearly shows that. It changes the outlook of the game with eight minutes to play. Now we have to press and they end up scoring the third. It was a momentum changer. It's one thing to lose. It's another to lose like that.''

The Leafs made it 3-1 with 2:24 left when Phil Kessel picked off a loose puck at center ice as Wideman and the rest of the Panthers were pinching in deep. The Panthers argued that Cory Stillman was interfered with by Giguere, but, again, no call. Kessel got in front of Wideman, drove in on Clemmensen and shot high, beating the Florida goalie top shelf. And that was that.

“It is frustrating in a close game like that, but I've never been one to blame the refs,'' David Booth said. “Maybe there's something we could have done to prevent it. .-.-. Refs miss calls all the time. It's just unfortunate they missed that one.''


Stephen Weiss had to visit a dentist before the team left South Florida on Monday after he had one of his front teeth knocked out after being struck by a puck during the team's win against the Islanders on Saturday.

Weiss is knocked some of his other teeth loose and had to have them repaired temporarily. On Tuesday, Weiss was wearing a small, clear plastic cage on his helmet that resembled a quarterback's face mask. He wasn't sure if he was going to wear the cage for the entire game but he did.

“I don't want something small like a face-wash to knock the loose ones out,'' said Weiss. “I think they can save them. I have to go back Monday and be in the chair for a few more hours. I can eat, not a huge steak or anything, but I can get by.''

-- With defenseman Jason Garrison back from a groin injury, Keaton Ellerby was sent back to the minors after playing in two games. Shawn Matthias (foot) was back at practice on Monday, but he was scratched on Tuesday.

“He needs to play instead of sitting in the stands here,'' DeBoer said regarding Ellerby. “He looks like a full time NHL player. He will be soon. You need depth at defense. This is short term. He'll be back here sooner than later.''

LIVE! FOX Sports Blackout Special: Panthers at Leafs

Wade2 TORONTO -- With the Panthers game blacked out courtesy of FOX Sports (yes, even if you paid big bucks for the NHL Center Ice package and have DirecTV, FOX says you can't watch tonight's game), I figured we could go LIVE! for this one.

Plus, you all can keep me updated on what's happening with the Heat in Boston. Apparently I'm the only Miami Herald employee NOT in Boston for that game. Even our delivery guys are up there.

Feel free to jump on in...


Florida Panthers at Toronto Maple Leafs (NO TV) ... A Trip to the Hall

IMG_0768 TORONTO --Just got back from a little trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Always a good time. Got to see an old friend name Stanley and see a bunch of other stuff.

The Panthers exhibit isn't too up-to-date, however.

Not only is the main picture of Olli IMG_0791 Jokinen (traded to Phoenix in 2008), but the secondary photo is of Nathan Horton (traded to Boston in 2010). The third photo of a Panthers player is Jay Bouwmeester (traded/FA Calgary 2009).

Also, the jersey in the case belongs to famed Florida defenseman Jamie Rivers -- who played in all of one game during the 2002-03 season.

I think that's pretty good.

IMG_0792 -- Now, when you walk into the Hall, you see Bryan McCabe's Helsinki jersey (photo at top) in the Southeast Division exhibit.

McCabe's gloves from his 1,000th NHL game are also on display.

-- Back to tonight's game: First off, Scott Clemmensen gets his first start of the season. He's pretty happy about it, and it seems like Tomas Vokoun is happy to have a day off.

-- Shawn Matthias is a scratch, so the fourth line of Hordichuk-Reinprecht-Bernier returns for a second straight game.

-- Those who sent me an email today regarding the link to tonight's game (which is blacked out in South Florida courtesy of FOX): When I get it, you'll get it.

IMG_0787 -- Also, the NHL refused comment on the FOX blackout story. "These are two independent companies - with each of whom the NHL has a relationship,'' the email read.

So there you go...

-- If you could watch tonight's game, you would see Stephen Weiss and his new mask.

Weiss took a puck to the mouth in the first period of Saturday's game against the Islanders and lost a front tooth -- and has a couple other loose ones. He says the dentist fixed him up a bit on Monday, but he's going to need more work.

Weiss isn't wearing a full mask, but what I would call a quarter mask. Looks like he's going out on the BMX tour.

October 25, 2010

Blame Canada? Blame FOX: Florida Panthers Blacked Out in South Florida ... LeBron James and Miami Heat Open in Boston on Tuesday

Foxnews2 TORONTO -- Those of you who live in South Florida and paid good money for the NHL's Center Ice package should be able to watch Tuesday's Florida-Maple Leafs game despite Fox Sports Florida choosing not to broadcast it in South Florida.

Only Fox is making sure you will not be able to watch the game.

According to the Panthers, Fox is taking its dispute with DISH Network out on people who have nothing to do with DISH Network -- or even have DISH Network.

Because Fox owns the rights to the Florida Panthers coverage area, it apparently has the right to decide whether games involving the Panthers from another market can be seen in South Florida. This hasn't been an issue before, but it is now.

Fox is not allowing Center Ice to pick up tomorrow's Maple Leafs broadcast in South Florida. This is the reason Saturday's MSG broadcast of the Islanders game was blacked out as well.

This is affecting ALL teams with a Fox affiliation, including Phoenix and Dallas.

Unfortunately for Florida fans, FS Florida decided to not cover two straight games (who knows why they didn't show Saturday's game but Tuesday was unavailable to them because of the idiotic Versus blackout), thereby meaning the other team's feed cannot be shown in our market.

Just gives everyone yet another excuse to watch the Heat, eh?

Says the Panthers: "Sunrise Sports & Entertainment announced today that due to the ongoing dispute between FOX and the Dish Network, tomorrow’s Florida Panthers game against the Toronto Maple Leafs will be completely blacked out in South Florida.

Due to the current dispute, FOX will not lift the blackout rule allowing subscribers of the “NHL Center Ice” programming package to watch their local team through another market’s feed.''

So, if you have DirecTV and bought the NHL package to get those dozen games FS Florida doesn't show, too bad for you. Same goes for Comcast subscribers and whoever else has cable rights in South Florida.

Here's the email I recieved from Fox Sports Florida:

Fans in South Florida can see 72 Panthers games this season on FOX Sports Florida, as well as hundreds of other teams’ games offered by the NHL’s Center Ice package.
Unfortunately, the decision by another provider, Dish Network, to drop FOX Sports Florida has impacted the availability of some Panthers games on NHL Center Ice for all other distributors, including DirecTV and cable providers.

Funny that FOX has been funding those "get what you pay for" ads in their dispute with DISH and others, yet are basically taking away what viewers have actually paid for.

I'm sure there will be an illegal feed for this game tomorrow. I won't be able to share that with you here, sorry.

(Between the two of us, just send me an email tomorrow and I'll get it to you. Don't tell anyone though. This will be our little secret.)

Also trying to get someone on the line from the NHL to talk about this.

Stay tuned.

-- Remember when DirecTV had its dispute with Versus last year? I remember hockey fans who were upset about not seeing hockey were given the Center Ice package for free.

Might be worth a call, you know, to your local cable or satellite provider.

-- Speaking of the Heat, it opens another season Tuesday at Boston (TNT). Not a lot of expectations for the Heaters this season, however, after last year's quick playoff exit at the hands of the Celtics.

The team did, however, sign LeBron James this past summer. Didn't know if you had heard.

Here's his new Nike video. I like it.

Hi Chuck.


October 24, 2010

Radek Dvorak: Still Bringing It For Florida Panthers

Dvo96 Radek Dvorak never wanted to leave the Panthers, and had the team not needed a goalie so desperately, it's possible he may not have been moved all those years ago.

Dvorak was drafted by the Panthers in 1995, was part of the team that went to the Stanley Cup Finals and spent parts of five seasons with Florida before he was sent to the Rangers during the 1999-2000 season. The Panthers had just lost goalie Trevor Kidd to a shoulder injury, and to get veteran netminder Mike Vernon, Florida general manager Bryan Murray had to give up Dvorak.

Even though he spent seven years away from the Panthers, he always had a soft spot for the team. So, when then-general manager Jacques Martin called with an offer to the free agent in the summer of 2007, Dvorak jumped at the chance to come home. Dvorak signed another two-year deal in 2009.

On Tuesday in Toronto, Dvorak will tie Olli Jokinen for second on the franchise all-time list when he plays in his 567th game as a Panther. Dvorak will then be seven games away from passing Robert Svehla (1994-2002) to become the all-time leader.

Aside from playing with the Panthers and Rangers, Dvorak also spent time in Edmonton and St. Louis. He helped the Oilers reach the Cup Finals in 2006.

“Nine years, right? Time flies,'' Dvorak said. “There have been some ups and downs, but this year has been good so far. We've been playing hard, lets hope it continues. When I was traded for the first time, I hoped right then I could come back. The first few months after I left, I really wanted to come back. Then you just deal with it.''

Of the current players with playoff experience, Dvorak is the only one to experience the postseason with the Panthers.

“Making the playoffs here was unbelievable. We really did own this place,'' Dvorak said, smiling widely. “The fans, the attention. We were playing good hockey and it was great. We made it the next year and the same thing. It was special. It's something I'll never forget. This town can go crazy for hockey. This was the best place in hockey during the playoffs. I loved those rats. They gave us so much energy.''

Dvorak has shown he's a lot more than a living history lesson of Panthers hockey. Dvorak seems to be recharged this season, his three goals tied for the team lead. Two of those goals were the difference-makers in wins against Calgary and the Islanders.

In his previous three seasons with the Panthers, Dvorak has hit five game-winning goals in 224 games. Dvorak's career-high in game-winning goals is five. That came in his rookie season in 1995-96 when he helped the Panthers advance to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

“He's a consummate professional,'' coach Pete DeBoer said. “Like Bryan McCabe, he still loves the game, comes to the rink with a smile on his face. After that many years in the league, he understands his role and is accepting of it. To me, he's still one of the best third line guys in the league. He has the wheels, kills penalties, scores some big goals.''

Torrey's Banner

Torrey's Banner

October 23, 2010

Torrey's Banner Takes Its Place

Torrey's Banner Takes Its Place

Florida Panthers Bounce Back, Beat Islanders 4-3


[email protected]

It was more than fitting for Radek Dvorak to be the hero on the night the Panthers honored franchise founding father Bill Torrey.

Dvorak, drafted by the Panthers in 1995 when Torrey was Florida's team president, stole the spotlight away from the Islanders' John Tavares as he scored off a long rebound late in the third period to give the Panthers a hard-fought 4-3 victory at BankAtlantic Center.

“It was a big win for us, we bounced back from a game in which we didn't play well,'' said Dvorak, who joked Friday he would wear a bow tie during warm ups as a homage to Torrey. “It was a nice ending to Mr. Torrey night. We had a great start and this thanked him for everything he's done for us.''

Tavares, the first pick of the 2009 Draft, recorded his first hat trick as he answered Florida goals with one of his own as the Panthers never built more than a one goal lead. Tavares didn't match Dvorak's goal, however, as the Panthers leave for another Canadian road trip after winning two of three in their first homestand of the season.

The Panthers set a franchise record by beating the Islanders for the eighth straight time on home ice.

“[Dvorak] speaks very highly of Bill Torrey an has found memories of being drafted when Bill was in charge here,'' said coach Pete DeBoer, whose team is 3-3-0.

The Panthers were beaten soundly in their last outing on Thursday, but Saturday was a different story. Florida came out with a nice jump, taking a 1-0 lead when Mike Weaver got his first goal of his Florida career. The defenseman misfired on a puck on Thursday, but Saturday, he fired a long shot from the right circle to beat Rick DiPietro at 4:58 of the opening period.

“We needed that. You have you off games, but we had to stop it at one,'' said Weaver. “Everyone knew what they had to do. .-.-. It took me 180 games to get my first one in St. Louis. It was nice to contribute in that department.''

Florida came into the night as the only team in the league to not surrender a power play goal. The Panthers had been good with the refs, taking just 10 penalties in five games. On Saturday, the Panthers were called for five infractions – and Tavares made the Panthers penalty kill pay for it. Tavares first goal came with David Booth in the box. His second came with Bryan McCabe serving a slashing penalty.

Tavares' third goal was a beauty as he fell down in front of the net but was able to shovel the puck past Tomas Vokoun. That goal tied the game 3-3.

“You try to key on him and he brought his game up,'' Weaver said of Tavares. “That was a nice goal, but we got the win. Great goal for him.''

David Booth gave the Panthers a 3-2 lead in the second after jumping on a loose puck DiPietro lost off a Weaver shot. Booth crashed into and dislodged the cage, prompting officials to review the play in Toronto. It counted.


Torrey was honored by the team before Saturday night's game as a large banner was raised to the rafters. Torrey's banner has his name and the No. 93 – representing the franchise's first season. That number has been retired in honor of Torrey.

Special guests for the pregame ceremony included former owner H. Wayne Huizenga, former broadcaster Jiggs McDonald and Hall of Famers Emile Francis, Bob Pulford, Harry Sindin, Lou Nanne and Jim Gregory. Members of Torrey's family also attended.

The team gave Torrey a vacation at a golf resort in Oregon, a three-year lease on a Lexus and will place a bronze plaque in their Den of Honor.

Said Torrey: “My family has been my blessing. They've supported me and gave me the inspiration to try and succeed in every endeavor. I bow my head to them.''

-- Michael Grabner faced his former team Saturday – although his stay in South Florida was short and completely forgettable. Grabner, whom Florida acquired in the summer, was waived after a poor training camp. Grabner was picked up by the Islanders and had two goals and an assist through six games.

Florida had room to keep Grabner, but the Panthers felt center Mike Santorelli won a roster spot making Grabner expendable.

“Good for him. Some guys are better fits in other places,'' said DeBoer. “The bottom line was we came into camp with an open competition concept and we stuck to it.''

-- Matthias took a puck off a skate during Friday's practice and missed Saturday's game. Jason Garrison (groin) missed his second straight game. Both could return Tuesday.


Panthers Honor Torrey with Banner, Gifts ... Team Also Retires No. 93 ... Grabner Back in Town

Torreybannerfla1 Alternate governor Bill Torrey was honored by the team before Saturday night's game as a large banner was raised to the rafters.

It becomes the fifth hockey-related banner at the arena joining ones representing the 1996 Eastern Conference championship, the record-setting inaugural season, the 2001 NHL Draft and 2003 All-Star Game.

Torrey's banner, which does not have a bow tie on it, simply reads Torrey 93 with the Panthers logo and the franchise's red, blue and gold color scheme.

Special guests for the pregame ceremony included former owner H. Wayne Huizenga, former broadcaster Jiggs McDonald and Hall of Famers Emile Francis, Bob Pulford, Harry Sindin, Lou Nanne and Jim Gregory.

The team gave Torrey a vacation at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon, a three-year lease on a Lexus and will place a bronze plaque in their Den of Honor.

The Panthers also retired the No. 93 in honor of Torrey. The 93 represents the franchise's first season. The Panthers aren't the only local team to honor a team executive with a retired number. The Marlins retired No. 5 in honor of late president Carl Barger in 1993.

Glenn Stanley C. Panther is now wearing double-zero.

Said Torrey: “My family has been my blessing. They've supported me and gave me the inspiration to try and succeed in every endeavor. I bow my head to them.''

-- Michael Grabner faced his former team Saturday – although his stay in South Florida was short and completely forgettable.

Grabner, whom Florida acquired in the Keith Ballard trade with Vancouver over the summer, was waived after a poor training camp. Grabner was picked up by the Islanders and has two goals and an assist through the first six games.

Grabner's three points would have tied him for fifth on the Panthers in scoring coming into Saturday's game and his two goals would tie for the Florida lead.

Torreygift Florida had plenty of room on its roster to keep Grabner with Byron Bitz needing sports hernia surgery and Keaton Ellerby going back to the minors. But the Panthers felt center Mike Santorelli won a roster spot making Grabner expendable.

(Photo at left courtesy of ERIN BROWN)

“Good for him. Some guys are better fits in other places,'' said DeBoer. “The bottom line was we came into camp with an open competition concept and we stuck to it. I give [GM] Dale Tallon credit. He got beat out of a job by Santorelli and [Shawn] Matthias and those type of guys. They were better in preseason. It's great he landed on his feet. I wish him all the best.''

-- Matthias took a puck off a skate during Friday's practice and was unable to go Saturday. DeBoer said he hopes to have Matthias back Tuesday in Toronto. Jason Garrison (groin) missed his second straight game but could also return Tuesday.

With Matthias out, Steven Reinprecht centered the fourth line with Darcy Hordichuk getting into his third game – first since Oct. 11.

-- PHOTO: Panthers website and social media skipper Glenn Odebralski Twitters or Facebooks or puts up video while honoring Bill Torrey by wearing a bow tie -- one dude learned how to tie himself. Now that's a skill! Seriously, I'm impressed.

Odebralski is one of a number of team staffers sporting the bow tie.

October 22, 2010

Miami Heat in Tampa, Not Playing Hoops -- Game Cancelled

Heattampa The Miami Heat are in a place usually its hockey cousins visit quite frequently.

Tonight's preseason game between the Heat and the Orlando Van Gundys was supposed to be held at the Forum in downtown Tampa -- the home of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Only the game has been cancelled because the court is said to be unsafe.

During today's morning skate, err, shootaround, a number of Orlando players -- and Stan Van Gundy -- complained about condensation on the court. They said it was slippery and some suggested it was unsafe for NBA players to compete on.

According to an arena spokesman, the slippery court had nothing to do with the ice beneath it but to a rouge cleaning agent.

"We believe an improper cleaning agent was previously applied to the floor,"  Bill Wickett said. "We've worked throughout the day utilizing a vinegar and water solution to remove that cleaning agent."

-- Said Van Gundy this morning: "The court's not playable in the condition it's in right now. We're not going to put people out there to get hurt."

-- Said Vince Carter: "It's like playing on ice right now. Literally.''

-- The Heat didn't bother shooting around. They did a walkthrough in their hotel instead.

-- At least the Magic don't have to go far to get back home. I guess the Heat don't, either.

-- I'm sure those NBA players are going to enjoy that bus ride back to Orlando. Love that I-4 traffic. Maybe they will stop in Lakeland.


Bill Torrey Gets Another Banner: Panthers to honor Team Founding Father

Torreybanner Bill Torrey figured he was out of hockey for at least a little while.

After being forced out by a New York Islanders franchise he helped create and built into greatness, Torrey took up residence in Palm Beach County, ready to live the life of leisure.

Then came H. Wayne Huizenga and his plan to bring hockey to South Florida. Just like that, Torrey was back in the game.

“I decided it was time to take a break and have some fun,'' said Torrey, who has helped build three NHL franchises. “I was here eight or nine days when I got a call from Wayne inviting me down to a football game. We sat in the box and he told me he was thinking of bringing hockey down here. My first reaction was 'are you kidding?' .-.-. He said get a little golf in and then we're getting to work.''

93panthers The Panthers will honor their founding father Saturday night before the team plays the Islanders at BankAtlantic Center. Now the team's alternate governor, Torrey will have a commemorative banner raised in the rafters, becoming the only individual so  honored by the Panthers. Florida's other banners commemorate the 1996 Eastern Championship, the 1993-94 inaugural season, the 2001 Draft and the 2003 All-Star Game.

“Wayne wanted to surround himself with good people and he went to the top of the chain in hockey by bringing in Bill Torrey,'' said goalie John Vanbiesbrouck, the first pick of the 1993 expansion draft.

“Hockey and Florida didn't match up. He did an unbelievable job building a hockey environment for hockey people where there wasn't a lot of hockey roots. Bill and the rest of the people there accomplished a lot in a short period of time. He's good for the game.''

Ducks Torrey had his work cut out for him when he took Huizenga's offer and started building the team from scratch. Huizenga was awarded an NHL franchise on Dec. 10, 1992; the Panthers and Disney's Anaheim entry began play less than a year later.

Torrey hired Philadelphia Hall of Famer Bobby Clarke to be the team's first general manager, and the two brought in experienced players through a stocked expansion draft. Florida selected players who became cornerstones of the franchise – one that set the league record for most points (83) and wins (33) by a first-year team. Three seasons in, Florida beat the Penguins to claim the Eastern Conference championship.

“The rules of the expansion draft were the best we had seen,'' said Torrey. “There were bona-fide players available and we were able to get a bunch of them. That made a big difference.''

Beezer Players selected by Torrey and Clarke (who went back to Philadelphia after one year) included Vanbiesbrouck, Paul Laus, Gord Murphy, Tom Fitzgerald, Scott Mellanby, Brian Skrudland, Mike Hough, Dave Lowry and Bill Lindsay. Murphy (assistant coach), Skrudland (player development) and Lindsay (television) continue to work for the team.

The expansion draft came in June, just six months after the Panthers came into existence.

“Thank goodness Wayne Huizenga had a lot of people working for him,'' Torrey said. “He just had an expansion baseball team and I was able to borrow, beg and steal people from the baseball staff to help us get going.''

The Panthers are the second team to honor Torrey with a banner. At the Nassau Colisieum, the Islanders have a banner with his name and the words “The Architect” next to that of coach Al Arbour. Torrey's Islanders banner has a bow tie on it.

Seals Torrey, known as 'Bow Tie Bill,' took over the Islanders in 1972 after leaving the troubled California Golden Seals the year before. In 1980, the Islanders won the first of what would be four consecutive Stanley Cup championships. Torrey worked for the Islanders for 20 years. He's been tied to the Panthers for 18. Huizenga sold the Panthers to a group led by Alan Cohen in 2000 and Torrey 'retired' in 2001.

Torrey was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 1995. Torrey's hockey career started in the 1960s when he worked for the Pittsburgh Hornets of the AHL before he moved on to work for the doomed Seals in Oakland.

Pose In Florida, Torrey fought off suggestions the Panthers should share the teal-and-black color scheme of the freshly minted Florida Marlins – which Huizenga also started.

“The only real difference I had with Mr. and Mrs. [Marti] Huizenga was regarding the uniform,'' Torrey said. “She loved the Marlins uniform and it had been well received. I tried to convince her a baseball uniform isn't quite what a hockey player pulls over his shoulder. We had some long discussions, but when we opened in Chicago wearing that red jersey, she came to me that night and said 'I love that uniform'.''

The fact the Panthers have jettisoned the original road jersey has not been lost on Torrey. “We'll get 'em back,'' he said.

Where, When: BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise; 7 p.m.
TV: No local television
Radio: TBA (640-AM or 850-AM depending on Yankees)
The series: Panthers lead 34-28-8
The game: The surprising Islanders came into Friday with 10 points – tied for most in the Eastern Conference. Since losing to Pittsburgh last Friday, the Islanders have won three straight. .-.-. Michael Grabner, waived by the Panthers at the end of training camp, has two goals and an assist for the Isles. Grabner came to Florida in the Keith Ballard trade last June. .-.-. Tomas Vokoun will make his sixth straight start for the Panthers (2-3-0) after being benched for the third period of Thursday's 4-1 loss to Dallas. Fans are asked to arrive early for the Bill Torrey banner ceremony.