Early Favorites to Make Team USA For The 2014 Sochi Olympics

As some of you may know, the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics are less than a year away and all eyes will soon be on Russia within the next few months.

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been three years since the 2010 Vancouver Olympics which saw many athletes become household names. Team USA lead the overall team medal count with 37 medals, 9 of which were Gold. However, Team Canada led the way with 14 Gold medals, but only 26 overall medals.

The most important competition leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics had to be Men’s Ice Hockey.

There was tremendous pressure for the Canadian team to come away with the Gold, but the USA team looked poised to steal it off their necks. However, no one will ever forget the heroics by Sidney Crosby in the Gold medal match which saw him score the game winning goal in overtime.

It will be 4 years since that crushing defeat for Team USA, and this up and coming team will look to once again foil another hockey power house in their own soil, Russia.

As I researched and looked around the NHL for players that will most likely be on this team, I found myself saying similar names to last Olympics team.

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Kovalev, Mueller and Huberdeau Look To Add Much Needed Scoring

It’s easy to say that Jonathan Huberdeau had a game that he will remember for the rest of his life. I’m not exactly sure what the greatest debut in NHL history was, but I’d say that a goal and two assists has to be one of the best we’ve seen in a long time.  How many players can say they scored their first NHL goal on their first NHL shot on their second NHL shift?  Not too many I’d assume.

Throughout the Saturday night’s game, Huberdeau was constantly looking for chances to either score or set up a teammate to score. His no look pass to set up Scottie Upshall was a move you’d espect from a veteran, not from a player in his first ever NHL game.  No matter how you look at it, the 2nd line of Alex Kovalev, Peter Mueller and Jonathan Huberdeau stood out more than any other group of forwards in the game.

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Dmitry Kulikov Signs A 2 Year Deal With The Florida Panthers

I don’t know about you, but Saturday can’t come fast enough. Just knowing hockey is right around the corner gives me that extra boost in my day. Maybe that’s just me, but either way I’m sure there are others out there who feel the same as I do.

As most of you know, the Florida Panthers have been trying to add a little more offense to this squad. After finishing 27th in the league last year in scoring, the Panthers have kept most of their core together, but have added a little more depth to the mix. One thing is for sure, last year’s defense provided some offense. Brian Campbell finished tied for 2nd in the league with points by a defenseman. Jason Garrison who is now in Vancouver was 3rd among defenseman in goals scored. Although those two were the main offensive contributors throughout the season, a young Russian has the potential to be among the league leaders this season.

Dmitry Kulikov, who came into this season as a Restricted Free Agent has been reported to have signed a 2 year contract with the Florida Panthers about 24 hours ago. Details on the financial side have still not been released due to the fact that Kulikov has not passed a physical examination by the team doctors. Kulikov spent most of the lockout period in Russia playing for his original junior team Lokomotiv. The former 1st round pick although a little sloppy at times on the defensive side of the puck has all the tools to be top defenseman in the league.

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Five Florida Panther Home Games You Cannot Miss This Season!

It’s been a few days since the new NHL schedule has been released and we have all had some time to look it over and see what games are must sees across the NHL. NBC and NBCSN have been doing their best to get the top games on their networks every night. Even if that means leaving the only two franchises without a primetime game, (Florida and Carolina) out of the picture. After looking at the schedule I highlighted the top 5 games that are a must see at the newly named BB&T Center.

Obviously one of the cannot miss games is opening night on January 19th.

The Panthers welcome the Carolina Hurricanes on a historic night where Sunrise, Florida will witness it’s first banner rising since the 1995-1996 Eastern Conference Champion banner. The first division championship banner will be risen high above the ice and placed in the rafters for everyone to see. It os predicted that it will also be the first ever NHL game for Jonathan Huberdeau, who is projected by some people to be a Calder Trophy finalist. The Carolina Hurricanes however won’t be a pushover by any means. After acquiring Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin, Carolina has high hopes of their own in their quest to raise their own banner next season. This opening night game has been long anticipated, and will carry significant meaning to the Florida Panther fan base, especially to those that attend in person.  If you have never seen a ceremony like this in person, I can tell you that it promises to be a moment in this teams’ history that you’ll want to be a part of.

Another game that should be highlighted is the February 12th game versus the Washington Capitals.

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Players To Look Out For In The Southeast Division

It’s great to be back and writing again. I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I think I speak for most of you when I say, Thank God the lockout is over! Finally we get to watch the sport we love and adore, and finally cheer on our favorite team.

Lately there have been a number of season previews and predictions surfacing, and here’s my outlook on players to keep your eyes on in the Southeast Division. I’ll be focusing on one player from each team in this division that will be counted on to be the “leader” or prime player for their respective team.

Although it seems like a distant memory, each team in the Southeast division has made some pretty significant moves. Many people see this division as either Washington’s or Carolina’s, however one thing for sure, each team is looking to snatch the crown off the Florida Panthers head.  The Panthers who made some of their own changes additionally, will have to rise to the challenge of “defending” their crown.

With the lockout finally over, the NHL has a planned schedule of 48 games for each team, with all games played in conference.  A slow start, is not what any team can afford to deal with, and cannot be used as an excuse since everyone has the same amount of time to prepare.  Those players who did nothing to stay in shape or who were even moderatly training will be behind the eight ball. There just is not enough time to fall down and get back up again. Also, with such a short time frame to play 48 games, teams will have to deal with fatigue, injuries, and slumps in a different manner  compared to an 82 game schedule.  Again, all 30 teams have this issue.

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Some Florida Panthers Have Taken Their Game To Europe.

Dmitry Kulikov and me, David Rodriguez

With the lockout seemingly in full force, and more games expected to be cancelled within the week, we’re left wondering if there is any hope for any games this year.

We can see many players going overseas to play in Europe, most notably names like Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Claude Giroux and Alex Ovechkin. There have been rumblings all around Twitter and Facebook that a deal is far from being settled, giving the impression that it’s going to be awhile before any games are played.

Since the lockout is in full effect I wanted to update the readers on how some of our beloved Florida Panther players are doing overseas. Many players have been seen working out at the Saveology Ice Plex over the last couple of weeks; some of those names have included Roberto Luongo, Tomas Vokoun and P.K. Subban.

As for former Panthers, I just so happened to stumble upon Nathan Horton at La Fitness in Coconut Creek last week. I asked him a couple of questions and he responded with what seemed like a hopeless look on his face when asked if they were going to get back to work anytime soon. I also asked if he was enjoying Boston and he gave me a hesitated answer which was, yes, but replied “You have to love the Florida weather though”.

So giving some updates to you guys.

According to Eurohockey.com:

Tomas Kopecky has signed with the Slovakian Club Dulka Trencin on October 15th. Looks like Kopecky is going to be at home for a while.

 Jack Skille signed with the club Rosenberg IHK from Norway on October 14th.

Brian Foster of the Cincinnati Cyclones from the ECHL (affiliated with the Florida Panthers) has signed with GKS Katowice in Poland.

None of the above mentioned players have appeared in a game yet.

Some players that have already played are Marcel Goc, Sean Bergenheim, and Dmitry Kulikov

Marcel Goc has been red hot in the German league. Playing alongside his brother Nikolai Goc, Marcel has 2 goals and 5 assists in 8 games playing for the Adler Mannheim. Another notable NHLer on his team is former Panther Dennis Seidenberg. Marcel is native of Germany so he has to be considered one of the vocal leaders on his squad, and considered a prefect role model since he has played at the highest level and captained Team Germany at the 2012 World Championships.

Sean Bergenheim was one of the first Florida Panthers to head Europe. He signed with HIFK Helsinki in the SM-liiga league back in September. He has only played in two games and has one assist to show. He was playing along side former Florida Panther, Ville Peltonen. Peltonen spent 3 seasons with the Florida Panthers accumulating 88 points.  Bergenheim was injured in the second game that he appeared in, and has returned to the states to recover.

Dmitry Kulikov, the young Florida Panther defenseman is playing in his home country Russia for the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the KHL. Kulikov has appeared in 6 games and has 1 goal and 1 assist. Kulikov is playing with Artem Anisimov who was just traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in part of the Rick Nash deal to New York. Niklas Hagman a player drafted by the Florida Panthers in 1999, is also on Dmitry Kulikov’s squad. Also Semen (in Russian) Varlamov from the Colorado Avalanche is playing goalkeeper for Lokomotiv.

As we can see, there are a handful of players from the Panthers spending their time playing in the European leagues, due to the lockout. There are hundreds of other players throughout the league doing the same.

Most NHL players playing overseas:

Red Wings (10)

Bruins (9)

Flyers (9)

Islanders (9)

Blues (8)

Sharks (8)

Canadians (7)

There will probably be a little more movement if indeed if more games are cancelled so we’ll try to keep you up to date with all transfers involving any of the Florida Panthers.

Until next time.

Thank you for reading.

Make sure to like is on Facebook as well. Remember to also follow the entire Panther Parkway team on Twitter! 

Follow Me : @davidbub_2 Frank Rekas: @TheRatTrick David Lasseter: @davidlasseter Scott Mullin: @GreatScottsMan Paige Lewis: @RatTrickLewiz Gabrielle Kiger: @gabbykiger Chrissy Parente: @chrissaay44 Adam Reid: @AdamReid_Justen Rosenberg @justenrosenberg Kris Eberwein @kriseberwein Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530

God Bless.

Five Teams To Watch in 2012-2013

 

Taylor Hall. Source: Wikipedia Commons (Alesiaxx)

The lockout is happening, and there’s quite a bit of uncertainty about when the lockout will end. Both sides are wanting financial changes, but neither will give in enough to please the other. The ones suffering the most are us. The fans.

So I decided to write about something that might cheer you up or maybe just make you miss the game even more.

5 teams who I think will be better then they were last season. Lets begin.

1. Edmonton Oilers.

I think this is a team everyone expects to make an improvement from last season. The Oilers 32 wins were 3rd least in the NHL, but I expect that number to go up next year. Taylor Hall needs to stay healthy, and he is a player who could possibly be an All Star next year. I also expect him to have a HUGE year with Ryan Nugent Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. Adding the 1st overall pick Nail Yakupov will only make them better, and I expect this team to be a formidable threat in the West over the next decade. Edmonton already had a top 5 power play, so by adding Yakupov to their lineup, it will just increase the firepower.  [Read more...]

Man Down! Who Will Fill Erik Gudbranson’s Skates?

Erik Gudbranson.
Photo Source: Michael Miller/ Wikipedia Commons

Hello once again, hope everyone enjoyed the first week of the NFL season. Hopefully your team won! If you’re a Dolphin fan like me, well lets just say they did better then I thought they would. Also if you’re a Falcons fan like I am, our team looked pretty great on Sunday.

Anyway, I’m sure most of you have heard the terrible news about Erik Gudbranson. the 3rd overall pick back in 2010 who seems to have injured his shoulder during a training session last week. He had successful surgery and is expected to miss roughly four months of action.

This has to be a devastating blow to the Panthers plans for next season, but what is shocking to me was the fact that the Panthers were even thinking about starting Gudbranson in the AHL whether or not there was a lockout. To me this is kind of surprising and raises curiosity at the same time.  You’re going to send a young future star that played his best hockey of the year in the postseason to the AHL even if the regular season got under way? I’m personally trying to understand that, and while there may be good reasons for it, I don’t agree.

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Ready To Make The Jump? 5 Players Who Will Have Breakout Seasons

Dmitry Kulikov. Image source: Hockey Photography by Yuri Peralta.

Greetings everyone. I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the smooth transition to our new website, Panther Parkway. I’m excited for our team and what lies ahead. What I’m not excited about is a lockout, so lets continue to hope and pray that there isn’t a full season lockout looming.

Staying away from the that for while, I’d like to share my opinion on who will have breakout seasons; if we have a season. All 5 of these players are relatively young, and most are about to hit their prime age and break out, so it should make sense when you see my 5 guys.

There are plenty of players to choose from but first I’ll start with a player who had a great season last year, and I believe he can have an even better one.

That player is John Tavares. The former first overall pick of the 2009 NHL draft had a great season last year. His 81 points were a career high, and his 50 assists were among the top leaders in the league. Since he plays with the New York Islanders, his name isn’t in the headlines every night, but when people get to see him live, he is something special. With so much turmoil going on with the Islanders, Tavares has been a bright spot. Even though they lost P.A. Parenteau to free agency, Tavares should still thrive and I believe he’ll flirt with the 100 point range. He’s averaged 67 points a season in his first 3 NHL seasons, but I believe his 4th will be the best one he’s had thus far.

Second, I’ll go with a name that might not be a household one, but possibly could be. It’s a stretch but I’m going with Derrick Brassard. The 6th overall pick in the 2006 NHL draft has shown that he can play in the NHL. His 41 points last year were a step back from his 2010-2011 campaign where he tallied 47 points, but with Rick Nash gone; someone has to take the helm in Columbus. I believe Brassard will be that man. Although he had a slow start last year, in his final 32 games he totaled 25 points. His time on ice increased,  which resulted in more production. With Nash gone, Brassard will be one of the go to guys for Columbus. He’ll be in the neighborhood of 65-70 points.

Third I’ll go with a our very own, Dmitry Kulikov. Kulikov was lights out before he got injured. Night after night, he was tallying points on a consistent level. He was certainly on his way to shatter his career highs. Although he did surpass his career highs by 2 points, we didn’t get to see Kulikov thrive as much as we thought he would. Hampered by a leg injury, Kulikov missed 24 games. Although Kulikov finished with 28 points, he had 20 points in the first 38 games and was on pace for a 50 point season. If Kulikov can stay healthy, he’ll be on pace once again to get to that plateau. He’s had injury issues in his young NHL career, but if he wants to play for the Panthers organization for many years, he is going to have to prove that his injuries are a thing in the past.

Fourth, a player that isn’t as young as the rest of the field but seems to have found a steady place for awhile will be Curtis Glencross. The 29 year old player for the Calgary Flames had a terrific season last year even if he had some injury issues. He missed 15 games overall but still managed to score 26 goals on a mere 110 shots. Thats a 23.6% shooting percentage! What that means is that pretty much he’ll make one out of every four shots. That’s highest in the league as far as a player that’s played as many games as he did. Higher then Stamkos, Malkin, you name it. Glencross has talent, and I believe he has the potential to top 30 goals this year.

Lastly we have Taylor Hall. Another former first round draft pick was hampered last year with some injuries. He missed 21 games but still averaged about a point a game. Hall has seen top prospects coming left and right with Nugent Hopkins, Eberle and now Yakupov. It seems impossible to think that Hall won’t have a career year with these names playing with him every night. He should be somewhere around the 80-85 point range next year and I expect him and the Oilers to have one of the best offenses in the league for years to come.

Thank you for reading, Comments are appreciated !

Make sure to like is on Facebook as well. Remember to also follow the entire Rat Trick team on Twitter! 

Follow Me : @davidbub_2 Frank Rekas: @TheRatTrick David Lasseter: @davidlasseter Scott Mullin: @GreatScottsMan Paige Lewis: @RatTrickLewiz Gabrielle Kiger: @gabbykiger Chrissy Parente: @chrissaay44 Adam Reid: @AdamReid_Justen Rosenberg @justenrosenberg Kris Eberwein @kriseberwein Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530

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