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58 posts from October 2011

October 31, 2011

Winnipeg Jets a Bird of an Atlanta Thrasher: Jets Keep on Winning Against Florida Panthers, Get 4-3 Win in Shootout

Jets3Nothing against Winnipeg, but the Panthers won't be sad to see the Jets leave their division next season. 

Florida lost eight of its previous 12 games to the Atlanta Thrashers before the re-tooled Jets came into BankAtlantic Center on Monday and scored a controversial third period goal and later won 4-3 in a shootout. 

The Panthers were vying to win their second straight and get off to one of their top starts in franchise history. A win would have given the Panthers 14 points in the opening 11 games, something that's only happened three other times. Those three teams all made the playoffs. 

On Monday, Florida led 3-2 in the third thanks to a pair of goals from Tomas Fleischmann. But Evander Kane scored with 49.1 seconds left after the goal was initially waved off for a high stick from Kyle Wellwood. Hockey Central in Toronto reviewed the play and ruled it a goal for all but force overtime.

The Jets scored on two of their three shootout shots with Florida's Kris Versteeg and Mike Santorelli being stopped. 

“When you get it waved off so emphatically, you have the assumption it's a no goal,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. “It's a shame, but I think some people learned from that. There was a mistake made on the ice and it cost us a point, a very expensive point.''

The Panthers trailed going into the third period despite dominating play against a scrappy Winnipeg team in the midst of a seven game road trip that takes the Jets through Philadelphia, Florida, the New York metro area and Buffalo. The Jets had lost seven of their first 10 games this season.

With the sale and relocation of the Thrashers happening after the conclusion of the 2010-11 season, the NHL kept the Winnipeg franchise in the Southeast Division for one final season. The league will realign its team for next season; that means the former Thrashers get five more chances to beat the Panthers before the two part, their meetings becoming more infrequent after this season.

On Monday, the Jets jumped out to a 2-0 lead despite Florida getting many more offensive chances against goalie Ondrej Pavelec (39 saves). Kyle Wellwood put the Jets up by scoring on Winnipeg's initial offering against Jose Theodore (4-2-1, 28 saves).

At the midway point of the opening period, Kane made it 2-0 by scoring on the Jets' sixth shot of the night. 

“We have to get some goals and learn how to hold the lead,'' Versteeg said. “We played a great game, completely out played them the entire game. Their goals were all pretty lucky bounces. We'll go back to work tomorrow. It was our game to win and we need to learn how to do that.''

The Panthers cut the deficit in half late in the first as defenseman Jason Garrison continued his hot streak by blasting a shot from 52 feet away. Garrison, who had five goals last season, has four in his first 11 this season including one in each of Florida's past three games. 

Garrison, who as usual came up strong on the defensive side of the ice, got a shot off during Florida's four-minute power play that came at the end of the second and leaked into the third. The Panthers failed to score with Dustin Byfuglien in the box for jumping Jack Skille, but would tie it at 2 when Fleischmann followed up a long rebound off a Stephen Weiss shot with 16:47 left in the third.

Fleischmann gave Florida a 3-2 lead with his second of the night, but the Jets tied it late and handed Florida its first shootout loss of the season.

“Again, we let them score a late goal and that can't happen,'' Fleischmann said. 


Panthers assistant coach Craig Ramsay knows a little bit about the Winnipeg Jets. Last year, Ramsay was head coach of the Atlanta Thrashers but was let go when the team was sold and relocated to Manitoba. 

There are definitely more Thrashers playing for the Jets right now than players who were with the Panthers last season. 

Ramsay, who has been an assistant coach in Buffalo, Ottawa, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay, says he holds no ill will toward his former charges. After all, he goes down in the record books at the last coach of the Thrashers.

“I did get a chance to chat with some of the guys,'' Ramsay said Monday morning. “They’re great people. I wish them well other than tonight. I wish the players success. .-.-. I haven’t buried many teams before. I’ve moved around to teams but this is the first time I had the team move. Whatever happens after a team decides to sell and move is beyond my control.’’

Ramsay isn't the only member of the Panthers staff with ties to Atlanta. Assistant athletic trainer Tommy Alva joined the Panthers this summer after spending the past three with the Thrashers. 

Former Florida first round pick Kenndal McArdle (2005) is now with the Jets and came into the night scoreless in three games. The Panthers traded him to Winnipeg in July for Angelo Esposito.

-- The Panthers had two familiar faces at Monday's morning skate as goalie Scott Clemmensen and winger Sean Bergenheim joined their teammates for the first time in a while.

Clemmensen has been working on his own the past few weeks after having knee surgery in September; Bergenheim has missed the past seven games with what's believed to be a groin injury. 

October 30, 2011

Trick-or-Treat: Here Come the Atlanta Thrashers Dressed Up as Winnipeg Jets

BallardvokounWHO DAT?

The Panthers will celebrate Halloween at the BankAtlantic Center on Monday as children 15 and younger who dress up will get free tickets to the game.

Florida will be playing host to an old friend on Monday although those Atlanta Thrashers – who won 37 of the 68 games between the two over the past decade – may not be too recognizable in their costume. 

Thrash1Yes, the Thrashers are no more as they became the Winnipeg Jets during the offseason.

Because the move was made after the 2010-11 season, the Jets/Thrashers remain in the Southeast Division with the Panthers through this season.

Florida makes its first visit to Winnipeg since March 7, 1996, next week and will visit Manitoba three times this season. 

For more information on the Panthers holiday special, visit floridapanthers.com.


When, Where: 7:30 p.m.; BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise

TV/Radio: FSN; WQAM-560

The series: Atlanta Thrashers went 37-26-5 v. Jets2
Florida from 1999-2011

The game: The Jets have struggled out of the gate, winning three of their first 10 games. Winnipeg will spend just one season in the Southeast Division before the league realigns next season; so far, the Jets3Jets are 1-1-0 against divisional foes after losing 1-0 at Tampa Bay on Saturday. Aside from scoring nine goals in a wild win over the Flyers last Thursday, the Jets have struggled to score. 



Florida Panthers Jacob Markstrom Has Mentor in Jose Theodore

MarkstromhabsBUFFALO – Jose Theodore watched Jacob Markstrom from one of the best seats in the building. Sitting on the Panthers bench right near the ice, the Panthers elder statesman in goal took in what Florida's youngster was doing.

And no one was rooting harder for the kid to have success. 

“What a character guy. He's been awesome in the room to everyone, but what a positive influence on Jacob,'' Stephen Weiss said of the relationship between the 35-year-old Theodore and the 21-year-old Markstrom. 

“No one is happier for Markstrom than Theo was. Theo is a class act, has been great since he's been here. He's great for Markstrom although he has a confidence about him where he's comfortable in his own shoes and does his own thing. But it doesn't hurt to have Theo right there beside him.''

Markstrom appeared to have taken away the starter's job from Theodore with his play in the past week. Last week, Theodore faced 10 shots in the first 40 minutes of Florida's home game against the Islanders before cramping up. Theodore thought it would be best if Markstrom came on in relief and he excelled, stopping all 18 shots he faced as Florida rallied to win 4-2. 

Two days later, it was Markstrom – not native son Theodore – getting the start for the Panthers in Montreal. Markstrom was impressive, stopping 40 shots in a 2-1 win. After that, Markstrom had to start in Ottawa. 

After Florida lost 4-2 to the Senators, however, coach Kevin Dineen put Theodore back in. In Saturday's night's thrilling 3-2 win over the Sabres, Theodore was sharp throughout as he stopped 26 shots to get Florida to 6-4-0. 

“We have two guys playing extremely well,'' Dineen said. “Jose had a couple of days off and that's not the worst thing for him. When his time came to play, he answered the bell.''

Theodore said he was anxious to get back in the net and help the team rebound from the Ottawa loss. 

“I was so happy to see Jacob get in there and do so well,'' he said. “One of my jobs here is to help him and try to mentor him the best I can. I was really excited to see him do so well. It was great to see. He played great under some tough circumstances.''

Dineen said the most impressive thing he's noticed about Theodore is his work ethic. Whether he's starting or not, he's usually the first player on the ice. “And then I have to drag him off,'' Dineen said. Markstrom has obviously noticed as he seemingly has the same ideals when it comes to doing the work on the ice. If Theodore is on the ice first, Markstrom isn't far behind. Sometimes the kid makes it out there first. 

“I don't know if it bugs me yet, but he almost works too hard,'' Dineen said. “He went three or four games in a row and he was still out there all the time. He's not a big man, so I worry a little about his workload. But it's early in the season and he's not concerned. He's in bring-it mode right now. He definitely puts the work in and things follow from there.''

-- Panthers forward Tim Kennedy played in his hometown Saturday for the first time since he was let go by the Sabres after scoring 10 goals with 16 assists as a rookie in 2009-10.

Kennedy did play in nearby Rochester for a short period last season after Florida acquired him in a trade with the New York Rangers in February.

“It’s nice,'' Kennedy said of returning to Buffalo. “It just happened to work out that it’s on the schedule, but I think that’s where it ends. You get to see your family and friends, and that’s where it ends because this is my job and I want to stay here so I’m going to prove to them that I have what it takes.''

October 29, 2011

Florida Panthers Rally with Two Goals in Final Four Minutes to Trump Sabres 3-2

BUFFALO – A few nights after watching the Senators steal a victory from them, the Panthers got one back against the Sabres. 

Florida trailed with just over seven minutes remaining Saturday but goals from Tomas Fleischmann and Jason Garrison handed Buffalo a 3-2 defeat at First Niagara Center. 

On Thursday, the Panthers and Senators were tied before Ottawa scored the game-winning goal with 2.5 seconds left. As hard as Buffalo charged on Saturday, Florida goalie Jose Theodore – making his first start in a week – wouldn't let the Sabres pull another fast one on the Panthers. 

“We talked a lot about new personnel we have. You can do all the team bonding stuff you want but it's games like this that make a difference for us,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. “It turned into a good road trip. Could have been a great road trip. You have to like the bounce back game.''

The Panthers end up winning two of three on their road trip, taking four of the available six points. Florida didn't let the lost point(s) in Ottawa come back to haunt them again.

Buffalo is now 1-3 on home ice, its only win here coming Thursday against the struggling Blue Jackets.

“We stuck with the plan and played a really good game,'' center Stephen Weiss said. “We kept chipping away. We knew what happened last game and knew we could do the same thing. We got some really big goals. But know we're kicking ourselves a little bit. We know we were two seconds away from getting at least five of six points on this trip. But that's this game we play. Anything can happen.''

Florida trailed 2-1 with 7:07 left when Jason Pominville scored on a shot from outside the left circle. 

Then Marco Sturm put the Panthers in what could have been a major disadvantage when he received a five minute penalty for boarding and a 10-minute game misconduct.

The Sabres helped the Panthers cause, however, with Drew Stafford taking a penalty for roughing and Nathan Gerbe following that up with a minor for tripping Dmitry Kulikov and another for unsportsmanlike conduct with 5:19 left.

Instead of having to kill off three minutes of penalties with Sturm out, the Panthers were able to play with a 4-on-3 advantage for a little bit before going back to 4-on-4 play when Stafford came back out. 

“We got lucky there for sure,'' Weiss said. “They took some pressure off of us because we didn't have to kill penalties.''

Florida tied the score on 4-on-4 play when Fleischmann took a feed from Tomas Kopecky (who assisted on all three goals) after Kopecky failed to score in front of the net. Fleischmann made a nice play by backhanding the puck from the left side of the net past Ryan Miller (33 saves) with 3:58 left.

“This was a huge game for us, to win on our last night on the road and to do it with six minutes left in their building,'' Fleischmann said. “We proved we could come back and that is a really good feeling for us.''

With 1:43 remaining, Garrison whipped a shot from almost 50 feet out to give the Panthers their first lead since Marcel Goc made it 1-0 at 6:48 of the second period. Garrison, who had five goals last season, scored his fourth on Saturday. Garrison is an unrestricted free agent after this season; Panthers GM Dale Tallon said Saturday that he has spoken to Garrison's agent about a potential deal although nothing is eminent.

“He can bring the rain,'' Dineen said. “He really hammers that thing. He's not a stop and feel it out. I don't think anyone in hockey could stop that. It was in and out before [Miller] could react. It was a bomb.''  

-- Dineen confirmed that Mikael Samuelsson will not be joining the Panthers lineup in the near future as he tries to strengthen up after complications from sports hernia surgery last May. Samuelsson came to the Panthers in last week's trade with Vancouver and will be evaluated this week in South Florida.

--Yaroslav Kosov, Florida's fifth round pick in 2011, was injured in a car accident in Russia. The 18-year-old suffered a concussion and a slipped disc, but the Panthers say he should recover. 

-- Defenseman Erik Gudbranson played in his 10th game on Saturday, meaning he is now in the first year of his entry level contract with the Panthers.

Dineen told Gudbranson, 19, on Thursday that he would remain with the Panthers this season although by playing in Saturday's game it all became official.

October 28, 2011

Florida Panthers Get Back to Basics in Buffalo ... Welcome Back Mikael Samuelsson (Sorta)

Buffalopost1BUFFALO – A day after a late meltdown cost the Panthers at least one point in the standings and potentially a three-game winning streak, coach Kevin Dineen went back to the basics. 

Dineen's practice on Friday stressed his system and how he wanted the Panthers to use it. Just nine games into a season with virtually an entire new team, Dineen figured it was time to stress how important it was for the Panthers to stay within their game plan.

With two new players in Marco Sturm and Mikael Samuelsson coming over from Vancouver, Dineen felt the need to go over some things. 

“We revisited some of our system things,'' Dineen said after Friday's workout at First Niagara Center, the re-named home arena of the Sabres. Florida plays Buffalo on Saturday. “With Marco and Samuelsson here now, we thought it was important to go through some of our systems and continue to work on that area on the ice. .-.-. We just worked on strong execution and think we accomplished that.''

In Thursday's 4-3 loss to the host Senators, the Panthers were not active on the boards and failed to clear pucks left by goalie Jacob Markstrom at inopportune times.

Ottawa scored the game-winning goal with 2.5 seconds left Thursday as Nick Folgino picked up a loose puck in the slot, worked around a Florida defense that looked to be standing still and popped the puck into the net.

Not the birthday present Dineen was looking for, that's for sure. The Panthers' first-year coach celebrated his 48th on Friday. 

Thursday's loss was extremely disappointing not only because of the end result – but what led to it.

The Panthers held one-goal leads on the Senators two different times, once off Jason Garrison's initial goal then off the one Stephen Weiss nicked in off a Tomas Fleischmann shot in the second. With the score tied at 2, the Senators took a late lead after Colin Greening scored with 2:07 remaining. 

Only the Panthers found new life in the final minute.

With Markstrom on the bench, Florida took full advantage of its extra attacker as Kris Versteeg found Billshimself all alone on the left side of the net as he scored with 47.1 seconds remaining to tie the score and, for all intent and purpose, force overtime to give the Panthers a nice road point at the very least. 

Things just didn't work out as planned. 

The Panthers must now put that loss in the rear view as they get ready for a tough opponent. The Sabres beat Florida 3-0 in Sunrise last Thursday and have won six of their past nine games – but are just 1-2-0 at home. Thursday's win over the visiting Blue Jackets was Buffalo's first home win of the season. 

“We talked about walking by and moving on from last night,'' Dineen said. “In saying that, shame on us for losing a couple of points.''


Mikael Samuelsson doesn't have the greatest memory of his one season with the Panthers as he was injured for most of the 2003-04 campaign. 

“If I'm going to be honest, I had a kind of crappy year,'' Samuelsson said with a smile. “I was injured a lot; I broke my jaw and had problems with the thumb too. So what [Florida fans] know about me is like 'OK I’m hurt all the time.' But that’s not really the case. Since I was in Florida the last time, I've been with Detroit and Vancouver and had decent years.''

Samuelsson is back with the Panthers after being acquired from Vancouver in the David Booth trade last Saturday. He joined the team Thursday in Ottawa and will be flying back to Florida with the team after Saturday night's game. Samuelsson didn't practice on Friday as he is having complications from sports hernia surgery he underwent last May.  

The Panthers do not have a timetable for his return.

Samuelsson played in Vancouver's first six games and scored a goal with two assists. Samuelsson said he was “on the right track” and “should be fine.'' The soreness came gradually, he said. 

Being traded so early in the season, he said, was a surprise. 

“I'm excited they have something good going here,'' Samuelsson said. “My first reaction was 'oh really, I'm traded?' It's one thing to get dealt over the summer and another thing in the season like this. I’m missing the city of Vancouver and friends so it's a little tough. But at the same time, I'm excited about joining Florida with what they got going here right now.''


When, Where: 7 p.m.; First Niagara Center, Buffalo

TV/Radio: No local TV; WQAM-560

The series: Sabres lead 41-24-4

BigbuffThe game: The Panthers finish off their three-game road trip in Buffalo after beating Montreal 2-1 on Monday and losing 4-3 at Ottawa on Thursday. The Panthers may start rookie Jacob Markstrom in net again Saturday as Jose Theodore was on the losing end of last week's 3-0 decision to the Sabres. Markstrom is fourth in the league with a 95 percent save success rate and 14th with a 2.11 goals-against average. Buffalo's Ryan Miller, who shut out the Panthers, is 10th in saves and 14th in GAA.

October 27, 2011

Ottawa Senators Win Wild One, Beat #FlaPanthers 4-3 in Final Seconds

OttawaOTTAWA – One really didn't need to see the final outcome to know how the Panthers fared Thursday night. All you had to do was look at Jack Skille sitting at his stall, head in hands.

The host Senators scored with 2.5 seconds remaining on Thursday to pull out a 4-3 win in a game that was almost certainly headed toward overtime.

Nick Foligno corralled a rebound off a Daniel Alfredsson shot, circled his way to the net and put the puck in. 

It's a point the Panthers may regret giving up. Florida had trailed 3-2 going into the final minute before Kris Versteeg tied things up with 47.1 seconds left. 

Rookie goalie Jacob Markstrom made 34 saves in the game and was, for the most part, outstanding once more. Ottawa outshot the Panthers 15-6 in the final period and 38-25 overall. 

“We can't give up points in this league, especially right then,'' Versteeg said. “They controlled the walls most of the game and we can't win that way. We have to get back to the way we played in Montreal. We left [Markstrom] out to dry all night. That's junk. You can't expect the goalie to win for you every night.''

Said coach Kevin Dineen: “When you end up on the wrong side of those ones, it has a lot of sting. There are some lessons to be learned. It was sloppy play by us. But I don't think that's the defining moment for our season. But it's a tough loss.''

Markstrom, vying for his and the Panthers third straight win, was strong throughout the game. Ottawa trailed 1-0 after Jason Garrison scored his third of the season in the opening period and didn't score until Alfredsson roofed a puck against Markstrom on the 16th shot of the night. 

Until that goal, Markstrom had stopped 82 of the previous 83 shots faced dating to the third period of his game against Washington on Oct. 18.

With the score tied at 2 going into the third, the two teams traded shots and chances with former Panthers goalie Craig Anderson looking strong as he led the Sens to their fourth straight win. 

Ottawa appeared to take the win late in the third when Colin Greening scored with 2:07 left. 

But the Panthers came right back as Versteeg took a cross-ice pass from Weiss – who scored Florida's second goal on a tip of a Tomas Fleischmann shot – and buried into an empty net. Anderson was stuck on the other side of the cage and couldn't recover.

Only the Sens took all the momentum away as Foligno snared the game-winner.

“They put a lot of pressure on net and I thought we stood up pretty good,'' Markstrom said.

“Unfortunately they made it 3-2 with two minutes left. We stood up as a team and worked hard to make it 3-3. The last goal can't happen in those tight road games. We had an opportunity to get points, to win a game. We need to take them.''


At the end of Thursday's morning skate, Dineen called the team into one corner of the ice and gathered them close. Rookie Erik Gudbranson, Dineen said, would be staying with the Panthers after his nine-game tryout was completed later that night.

Teammates celebrated by banging their sticks on the ice and taking turns giving the 19-year-old a hug. Wayne Gudbranson, Erik's father, watched from the stands. He was in tears and couldn't speak when offered congratulations.

“Definitely knowing I'm part of this team now and staying for the year is just awesome,'' said Erik, who hails from the Ottawa area. 

Said Dineen: “I thought it was the right call to let him know, and let him know in front of his teammates. It's great news not only for Erik, but this is a reflection on his family. Nothing is given at this level; you have to earn it. And he has through the past eight games.''

-- Winger Mikael Samuelsson, acquired last Saturday in the David Booth deal, joined the Panthers in Ottawa and will travel with the team to Buffalo before returning to South Florida.

Samuelsson said he had no timetable for his return to the ice as he is rehabbing after complications from his sports hernia surgery from last May. 

OnFrozenFilm: Denis Potvin Talks #FlaPanthers

OTTAWA -- Hall of Fame defenseman Denis Potvin was the Panthers television analyst from their first game in 1993 until the team let him go after the 2008-09 season.

Now the TV voice of his hometown Ottawa Senators, Denis gives us his take on the new-look Panthers. This interview took place during the second intermission of the Sens-Cats game on Oct. 27, 2011.


OnFrozenPhone: #FlaPanthers Mikael Samuelsson Meets the Media

OnFrozenPhone: #FlaPanthers Kevin Dineen Talks Erik Gudbranson, Jacob Markstrom

OTTAWA -- At the end of Thursday's morning skate, Dineen called the team into one corner of the ice and gathered them close.

Rookie Erik Gudbranson, Dineen said, would be staying with the Panthers after his nine-game tryout was completed later that night.

Teammates celebrated by banging their sticks on the ice and taking turns putting the 19-year-old in good-natured headlocks. Wayne Gudbranson, Erik's father, watched from the stands. When some came up to congratulate him, the elder Gudbranson couldn't speak, his eyes welling with tears.

More than 25 friends and relatives were expected to attend Thursday's game. 

“Definitely knowing I'm part of this team now and staying for the year is just awesome,'' said Erik, who hails from the Ottawa area. 

General manager Dale Tallon said Wednesday that it was likely that Gudbranson would remain with the Panthers. Florida could have sent him back to his junior team after Thursday's game and the first year of his NHL entry level contract would remain intact. 

“I thought it was the right call to let him know, and let him know in front of his teammates,'' Dineen said. “It's great news not only for Erik, but this is a reflection on his family. Nothing is given at this level; you have to earn it. And he has through the past eight games.''

-- Dineen also told us he was going with Jacob Markstrom against the Sens.

And why not?


Erik Gudbranson Officially with #FlaPanthers (Video); Markstrom in Net

Ok, quick post. Kevin Dineen tells Panthers on ice that Erik Gudbranson is staying up.

Jacob Markstrom in net.

Here is Kevin Dineen talking to the media:


October 26, 2011

Rookie D Erik Gudbranson Likely to Stay with #FlaPanthers ... Ryan Carter Claimed by DeBoer's #Devils

Guds (3)OTTAWA – Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said Wednesday that rookie defenseman Erik Gudbranson would likely stay with the team after his so-called nine game tryout.

Gudbranson, who is from the Ottawa area, will play in his ninth game Thursday against the Senators at ScotiaBank Place. 

If the Panthers were to send the 19-year-old back to his junior team in Kingston, Ontario, after Thursday's game, the team wouldn't lose the first year of Gudbranson's entry level contract. If he stays, he can become a free agent a year sooner.

The Panthers could still send him back to juniors after his 10th game played, but that rarely happens since the first year is burned up anyway.

Florida could, however, loan Gudbranson back to his junior team in December allowing him to participate in the two-week World Junior tournament for Team Canada. That decision will be made at a later date. 

“He's played well enough and it's a positive that he stays here,'' Tallon said while watching the Panthers work out on Wednesday morning. “We'll decide on Friday. But there's a good chance – we're leaning toward keeping him. What's best for his future, for him totally is what's important. Is it best for him to stay here? At this time, I would probably say it is. He's been fine. I think he has a presence out there. He hasn't been a negative for him. He's been a positive. It'll probably be better for him once we make this decision.''

As the Panthers packed up for the day, Gudbranson stayed behind at the Senators training complex to help his father Wayne run a youth practice. Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen and video coach P.J. DeLuca also worked with the Blackburn Wild after Florida's workout finished up. 

Erik Gudbranson thought it would be neat to work with the kids – his younger brother Dennis aplays for the Wild – while wearing his Panthers gear.

Knowing it's likely he's going to be sticking around with the big club made the day even sweeter. 

“The big thing is to keep playing and make plays,'' Gudbranson said. “I feel very comfortable here. This is good news. .-.-. That will be some stress off my shoulders, but I think I've been good at keeping that in the back of my mind. But even after Game 10, I can still be sent back. The biggest thing I've learned here is you have to play well to stay here. I'm excited to be here. This is where I want to be. This is my team.''

Said Dineen: “When you feel like you are here on a try-out, the intensity level is high every day. If and when Erik is a full-time NHLer, he'll be a good one for a long time. As a member of the organization, you're always looking at long term development .-.-. When you get here, we respect development, but he's going to have to continue to play at an extremely high level to stay in the six-man rotation.''

Gudbranson has played in all eight of the Panthers games so far, and although his statistics aren't overwhelming, he has been solid. Gudbranson has yet to point a point on the board and is a minus-4, but doesn't carry himself like your typical 19-year-old. Gudbranson stuck up for his teammate in fighting Steve Downie earlier in the season and has yet to back down from a challenge. 

“He works hard and you can see that he's getting his confidence. He looks like an NHL player,'' teammate Mike Weaver said. “He carries himself well. Even when he's been stuck in his zone, there's no panic on his face, he's in control of things. He's a rookie, yes, but he holds himself well. He fits in well. He sure isn't out of place. He just has to realize that in the NHL it's easy to make it sometimes, but it's real tough to stay.''

In 2010, Gudbranson apparently made the team out of training camp but the two sides couldn't come to a contract agreement and the Panthers sent him back to his junior team. The Panthers weren't all that keen on keeping Gudbranson last year knowing that the team likely wasn't going to fare too well and the environment may not be conducive to a young player trying to find his way. The Panthers don't think that's the case anymore.

“He has a good cast around him,'' Tallon said. “[Dineen] has handled him just right.''

Gudbranson was a little upset about going back in 2010, but now says he learned and experienced a lot. 

“I was able to work on my offensive skill and I had a physical year, that brought me along,'' he said. “Playing in juniors was huge. Those are all learning experiences. The extra year was good.''

-- The Panthers lost winger Ryan Carter when New Jersey made a waiver claim on Wednesday.

Carter joined the Panthers last February when Florida traded Cory Stillman to Carolina for him. Carter played in 12 games for the Panthers under current Devils coach Pete DeBoer, scoring two goals with and assist.

Carter was scoreless in seven games for Florida this season and was a healthy scratch Monday at Montreal.


When, Where: 7:30 p.m.; ScotiaBank Place, Ottawa

TV/Radio: FSN; WFTL-640

The series: Senators lead 39-26-3

The game: After a tough start, the Senators have won three straight. Ottawa led 2-0 at Carolina on Tuesday before the Hurricanes scored two quick ones late in the third, but former Panthers goalie Craig Anderson held Carolina there as Ottawa won 3-2 in a shootout. .-.-. Anderson is expected to be in net for the Sens. Florida hasn't announced a starting goalie, but rookie Jacob Markstrom has been outstanding, stopping 58 of his past 59 shots as he has led the Panthers to consecutive wins. 

OnFrozenPhone: #FlaPanthers D Erik Gudbranson Talks about Staying With Team

OTTAWA -- Panthers GM Dale Tallon says it looks like rookie defenseman Erik Gudbranson is staying with the team after playing in his ninth game in Ottawa on Thursday.

Here's what the 2010 third-overall pick had to say about it:


OnFrozenPhone: #FlaPanthers coach Kevin Dineen talks Erik Gudbranson

OTTAWA -- Dale Tallon said today that it's very likely Erik Gudbranson will remain with the team after playing his ninth game of the season Thursday in Ottawa.

Here's what coach Kevin Dineen had to say about it:


October 25, 2011

Florida Panthers Hope to Keep Winning in Canada ... Ryan Carter Loses Numbers Game, Waived ... Who's in Goal?

OTTAWA – Not long after David Booth was traded to Vancouver on Saturday night, general manager Dale Tallon walked into a conference room at BankAtlantic Center with a scowl on his face.

Tallon didn't want to trade Booth on Saturday. Had Booth scored a handful of goals and had a handful of assists, he would probably be practicing with the Panthers on Wednesday. 

Only he didn't.

“I felt I had to make a move and send a message to this team,'' Tallon said about the slumping Panthers. Prior to the trade, Florida had lost consecutive games by 3-0 scores. Tallon was obviously unhappy with what he had seen.

“Production is most important,'' Tallon added. “If you don’t perform, there’s a good chance you’re not going to stay here. I just had a feeling that based on what I’ve seen in the last year or so we needed to make the move to get our team better. .-.-. Play to the your capabilities. I don’t care who you are. I’m not going to sit tight and watch two performances like the last two games.”

Tallon's mood has brightened substantially since, wins improving his disposition. Hours after the Booth trade went down, the Panthers topped the Islanders 4-2. On Monday, rookie goalie Jacob Markstrom was strong again in making 40 saves as Florida beat the struggling Canadiens 2-1. 

Scottie Upshall, who hadn't recorded a single point in Florida's first seven games, knocked down a shot from Dmitry Kulikov to score what became the game-winning goal in the third period. 

“It was good timing for him, to say the least,'' coach Kevin Dineen said Tuesday afternoon. “He needed to get on track with his game and I'm not even saying it had to be on the scoreboard. But that was an extremely timely goal. Those are the kind of plays we're going to need.''

Upshall was playing on a new line with center Mike Santorelli playing in his first game of the season and Marco Sturm joining the team after coming over from Vancouver in Saturday's trade. Like Florida's other three lines Monday, everything seemed to click. Dineen and Tallon have often talked about how the Panthers need to roll four strong lines each game. On Monday, they did that. 

The top line of Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg and Tomas Fleischmann was instrumental in getting the game-tying goal in the first period and created plenty of chances throughout the night. Florida's other two lines made their presence known as well. 

“We have to have that,'' Dineen said. “I liked how every one of our players got at least 10 minutes. You feel good about your team when all four lines are going like that.''


Forward Ryan Carter was put on waivers on Tuesday. If Carter clears at noon Wednesday, it's thought that he will be assigned to Florida's AHL affiliate in San Antonio. Carter came to the Panthers at last season's trade deadline from Carolina for Cory Stillman. 

Carter was Florida's only healthy forward who didn't play on Monday. With Santorelli back and Sturm joining the team, the Panthers have too many forwards.

The team will have more decisions next week when Sean Bergenheim and Mikael Samuelsson are expected to be back. 

“I think he has the ability to play in this league,'' Dineen said. “Tim Kennedy came up from San Antonio and was given an opportunity. He has thrived. Now we're getting healthy. There's going to be some hard decisions.''

() As expected, Dineen wouldn't say who he will start in goal on Thursday against the Senators. Markstrom has stopped 58 of  59 shots over the past two games. Jose Theodore is healthy and ready to play. 

“As a coach, you have hard decisions to make every day,'' Dineen said, “and Markstrom is putting a plateful on for me. But it's a great problem to have. Both guys are playing extremely well.''

() Dineen gave the team the day off after they traveled by train from Montreal to suburban Ottawa on Tuesday. Dineen said the Panthers will be in for a long, hard practice on Wednesday as he makes sure complacency doesn't set in. 


Florida Panthers Ease Into Ottawa, Waive Ryan Carter

OTTAWA -- Just got off the train and am in my hotel room waiting to speak with coach Kevin Dineen.

The Panthers got into town not too long ago, and after beating the Canadiens 2-1 on Monday, are taking the day off.

Florida will practice tomorrow in suburban Kanata before Thursday's game against the Sens.

Only real news today is that Ryan Carter was placed on waivers with the expectation that he'll be assigned to AHL San Antonio. Carter was the only healthy forward scratched last night.

More later...


October 24, 2011

Florida Panthers Not Making Life Better in Montreal, Beat Canadiens 2-1 ... Jacob Markstrom Makes 40 Saves in Win

YouppiThe remaking of the Panthers in just over one year under Dale Tallon is so thorough, David Booth said he recognized more faces in the Vancouver locker room after being traded there this past weekend than he did when he reported to training camp. 

One of the few players left with ties to former general manager Jacques Martin played a big role against the Martin-coached Canadiens on Monday. 

Jacob Markstrom's performance against Montreal didn't help Martin's cause in Montreal.

Markstrom, drafted by Martin in 2008, made his second career start and made 40 saves – many of the spectacular variety – as the Panthers added more misery to the beleaguered Martin as Florida escaped Bell Center with a 2-1 win. 

The Canadiens have now lost six straight – and made history on Monday by losing their first five home games for the first time in the franchise's storied history.

The Panthers don't really care that their old boss is in hot water, nor that the Canadiens are struggling. Florida is now 5-3-0 and have won two straight going into Thursday's game at Ottawa.

“Everyone played a very solid game starting in net and moving out,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. “It's nice to know we have such stability in net. What a difference it makes. It really gives you a hitch in your step.''

Markstrom may have supplanted Jose Theodore as Florida's starter after making 18 saves in relief to beat the Islanders on Saturday.

On Monday, Markstrom stood tall against the desperate Canadiens as he rejected one shot after another. 


The Panthers trailed 1-0 after Erik Cole – a Florida nemesis from his Carolina days – scored on a power play 3:08 into the game. 

But that was all the Habs would get. 

Florida tied the score on a power play goal of its own with 4:01 left in the first as Tomas Fleischmann streaked in front of the net and deflected a pass from Kris Versteeg past backup goalie Peter Budaj.

The Panthers broke out in front for the first – and last time – with 14:58 left when Dmitry Kulikov fired off a long shot and Scottie Upshall put a stick on it and deflected the puck past Budaj for a 2-1 lead.

Montreal came hard at the end, holding a two-man advantage in the final minute when Jason Garrison was called for hooking with 49.9 seconds left. 

Didn't matter. 

“It was absolutely great,'' said Markstrom, a gold championship fighting belt wrapped over his shoulder in the locker room. “It doesn't matter where you play, a win is a win. But it's great to get a road win. They threw a lot at the net. I was just trying to stay big and let the guys take care of the rebounds.''


Of the two players acquired in the Booth deal on Saturday, only Marco Sturm played on Monday. Mikael Samuelsson, who missed his final two games before the trade, stayed behind in Vancouver to continue to get healthy. Samuelsson is not expected to play for the Panthers until sometime next week at the earliest. 

“I wanted him to stay in Vancouver for a few days,'' Dineen said. “He has the opportunity to work with someone there that he feels will really strengthen his core for the season. I feel that's a priority, that he comes in feeling extremely good. Instead of throwing him in with new teammates, a new medical staff, I felt he should take care of his business in Vancouver and come here feeling good.''

Samuelsson had to have abductor tendon and sports hernia surgery last May during Vancouver's run to the Stanley Cup Finals. 

“I just want to make sure he continues to get the medical treatment he's been getting and is used to,'' Dineen said. “I felt it was more important for him to stay out there and keep doing that instead of rushing to get here for tonight's game. There's a small window and we'll see him soon enough.''

-- Center Mike Santorelli returned from his shoulder injury as Ryan Carter and Keaton Ellerby were scratched. 

-- Booth to the Vancouver media about being traded: “I know they’re turning around the organization. It takes some time. Dale [Tallon] has his idea and way of doing things. I wasn’t part of his plan. That's fine. You can't please everyone.''

OnFrozenPhone: Jacob Markstrom Makes 40 Saves, Beats Canadiens 2-1

Special Bonus Florida Panthers Notebook: Mike Santorelli Back for Canadiens; Marco Sturm Joins Team, Mikael Samuelsson Does Not

IMG_0029MONTREAL – Just a couple of quick notes after taking in the morning skate at Bell Center before heading back out to enjoy a spectacular fall Quebec afternoon.

The Big News: Mike Santorelli comes back from his shoulder injury and will play tonight as he makes his season debut. Ryan Carter will be scratched as will Keaton Ellerby. 

“I'm so excited so ready. I've been getting ready for this the past couple of weeks, ever since the season started,'' Santorelli said. “Physically, I have worked out hard on my skating with the trainers and I've gone through some tough practices. There will be a transition, but I'm up for the challenge.''

Now, on to the new guys:

First, Marco Sturm is here and will play tonight. He will wear No. 16 for the Panthers, the first to do so since, well, Darcy Hordichuk.


Secondly, Mikael Samuelsson is not with the team as IMG_0032coach Kevin Dineen says he was given permission to stay behind in Vancouver as he is “nicked up.'' Dineen says it was more beneficial for him to stay in Vancouver and work with his personal trainer to get stronger. 

“I wanted him to stay in Vancouver for a few days,'' Dineen said. “He has the opportunity to work with someone there that he feels will really strengthen his core for the season. I feel that's a priority, that he comes in feeling extremely good. Instead of throwing him in with new teammates, a new medical staff, I felt he should take care of his business in Vancouver and come here feeling good.''

The Panthers told me Sturm does not have Visa issues and can not only play in games in Canada but will be with the team when it goes to Buffalo this weekend.

No such guarantee for Samuelsson.

IMG_0027The Panthers told me he was going to get his Visa issues worked out while the team is in Ottawa, although it can be assumed he's working on that right now in Vancouver.

Dineen says it's not an issue.

Samuelsson had to have adductor tendon and sports hernia surgery last May during Vancouver's run to the Stanley Cup Finals. Getting him healthy -- although he has a goal and two assists in five games for the Canucks this season -- is the priority.

“I just want to make sure he continues to get the medical treatment he's been getting and is used to,'' Dineen said. “I felt it was more important for him to stay out there and keep doing that instead of rushing to get here for tonight's game. There's a small window and we'll see him soon enough.''

My thought: The Panthers have plenty of forward depth right now with Santorelli back and both Tim Kennedy and Shawn Matthias playing so well.

So if Samuelsson is banged up, why risk bringing him across Canada if you may not play him anyway?

Especially if his Visa issues aren't cleared up and he's stuck up here when the team goes to Buffalo? 

He'll be here soon enough.

-- Don't know who is starting in net tonight although I was told last night that it's very likely that Jacob 60Markstrom will get his second career start. Dude definitely deserves it.

That said, Jose Theodore looked good in warmups and has lots of friends and family here. If he starts, well, he's definitely earned it.

“Theo is healthy enough to play tonight,'' Dineen said. 

Will he, I asked?

“We'll play coy here. I'm going to think this one out this afternoon and decide closer to game time,'' Dineen said. “They're both workhorses, I have to kick both of them off the ice.''

-- Dineen on Shawn Matthias: “It's all performance based. The way he has played for us lately .-.-. he's becoming a valuable piece for what we're trying to do. The way he skates, made some patient plays. [Saturday] was a great game for him.''

Molls-- Fun with Numbers: Notable players to wear No. 16 for the Panthers include Len Barrie (former Tampa Bay Lightning co-owner was the first but only for two games in the expansion season), Randy Moller (had it second), Craig Ferguson* (before Drew FergusonCarey Show and Late, Late Night), Ivan Novoseltsev, Mike Sillinger, Kevyn Adams, Matt Cullen, Nathan Horton and Hordichuk.

Who has worn No. 26? Scott Levins, Jesse Belanger, Ray Sheppard, Dan Boyle, David Nemirovsky, Ivan Novoseltsev, Dan Boyle, Pierre Dagenais, Mike Van Ryn, Steve Bernier

(*) Yes, I know there is another Craig Ferguson out there. 

-- David Booth also met the media in Vancouver for the first time since being traded on Saturday night. 

Booth will wear No. 7 in Vancouver and I don't know why. No. 10 was available; he also wore No. 12 with Michigan State. 

A big Red Wings fan, could it be to honor Ted 'Don't Call Me Billy' Lindsay?

If I find out will post.

EDIT/UPDATE: Booth told the Vancouver media he is wearing No. 7 because his younger sister wears that number.

Boothvan-- Fun with Numbers II: Booth could have been the third player to wear No. 10 for both the Panthers and the Canucks.

The other two? Well, Pavel Bure is easy. The Tikksecond isn't. Give up?

Esa Tikkanen (who also wore No. 97 during his brief time in South Florida).

OnFrozenPhone: Marco Sturm Joins the Florida Panthers in Montreal

October 23, 2011

Monday Matchup: Florida Panthers at Montreal Canadiens, 7:30 p.m.


When, Where: 7:30 p.m.; Bell Center, Montreal

TV/Radio: FSN; WQAM-560

The series: Montreal leads 31-30-6

The game: The Panthers are 4-3-0 after beating the Islanders on Saturday; all four of Florida's wins have come against the Islanders and Lightning. Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm, acquired from Vancouver in the David Booth deal, are expected to join the team for morning skate and play later that night. .-.-. The Canadiens are struggling after losing in a shootout Saturday against Toronto. Montreal, which has dropped five straight, has yet to win at home this season.