Game Day Preview: Red Wings vs. Panthers. Triangles Are My Favorite Shape

DETROIT RED WINGS: 17-13-9 (43 PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS: 14-19-5 (33 PTS.)

TSN GAMEDAY

GAMEDAY SONG:  Let’s Tessellate, Alt-J

The Florida Panthers hope to get back on track after the Christmas break having not played since their 6-1 pasting at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night.  The Panthers who had a successful Canadian road trip with a 3-1-0 record, have now lost two in a row including a 5-2 loss in Winnipeg before the home loss to Tampa.  In Monday’s game the Panthers looked listless, and at times out of sorts in their first game back from the Canadian road swing.  Being outscored 11-3 in their past two games gives the indication that there’s still work to be done before this team can turn the corner.

It’s also not heling that the Panthers have lost defenceman Erik Gudbranson and forward Scottie Upshall to injuries.  Gudbranson underwent orbital bone suregery and could be out of action for 2-4 weeks depending on how quicklty he heals.  Making it worse is that Gudbranson was playing some of the best hockey of his young career since being paried with newly acquired Dylan Olsen.  Upshall left Monday’s game against Tampa after only seeing five minutes of ice time.  That’s the bad news.

The good news for the Panthers is that they have beaten the Red Wings twice this season, and have a chance to go 4-0 when the HBO 24/7 cameras are rolling.  Call it rising to the occassion, or raising the bar for prime time, the Panthers need another solid performance tonight to prevent the streak of losses from hitting three.  Prior to the recent two game skid the Panthers scored 15 goals during a five game winning streak, and had won seven of eight.  The Panthers are 7-3-0 in their past 10 games and had been playing some of their best hockey of the season under interim coach Peter Horachek.

With the injuries to both Gudbranson and Upshall, the Panthers have recalled defenceman Alex Petrovic and forward Drew Shore to take their place on the roster.  Both players will be looking to make an impression, and make a contribution any way that they can in an effort to get them noticed. In 28 games for the San Antonio Rampage, Shore has 15 points, all assists.  Petrovic has 11 points in 31 games and 46 penatly minutes.  With Gudbranson out of the lineup, “Petro” will need to play physically, yet will need to be smart about it.

The Red Wings have been battling some inconsistency of their own this season winning two in a row prior to a six game losing streak, with a 3-0 shutout against the New York Islanders on Monday.  Like the Panthers, the Red Wings have also had some trouble scoring this season, however their roster has been decimated with injuries.  Not to use injuries as an excuse, and you know that this writer would never make excuses for the Red Wings, but Detroit can point to those injuries for an explanation of their play.  When you have players like Johan Franzen, Henrik Zetterberg, Darrin Helm, Jimmy Howard, Justin Abdelkater, and oh yea, Stephen Weiss out of action, wins will be tough to come by.  Adding to that injury list will be the loss of defenceman Jonathan Ericsson who’ll miss 3-5 weeks with broken ribs.

Zetterberg is expected back in the lineup tonight for Detroit, and despite missing 11 games with a herniated disc in his back, he still leads the team in points with 30 and in a plus 12 in 28 games.  And Pavel Datysuk is second in team scoring with 29 points followed  by former Ottawa Senator Daniel Alfredsson with 28.

Detroit who has been off just as long as the Panthers (since Monday) won’t make this an easy task for Florida, and will likely come out a touch angry as they look to avoid two consecutive losses to two of the teams that are bringing up the rear of the NHL.  The Panthers will need to keep the puck away from Detroit as much as they can, and put a lot of shots on net against Jonas Gustavsson who’ll likely start tonight in goal.

The Panthers will need a quick start tonight, and will need to beat Detroit at their own game by holding on to the puck longer.  The defence will need to be sharp, and will need to clear rebounds, and players out of the crease to make their goaltenders job easier.

Notes:

* The Red Wings have an 11-3-3 record on the road, good enough for first in the NHL.

* Aleksander Barkov has four points in his last four games.

* Marcel Goc needs one assist to reach 100 in his career.

* The Panthers will play five straight at home. Tampa was on Monday, Detroit tonight, Montreal Sunday night, NY Rangers, and Nashville.

* The Red Wings have lost 145 man games to injury this season.

* Daniel Alfredsson has 58 points in 60 career games against the Panthers.

* Detroit had lost 6 consecutive shootouts this season, and 11 in a row dating back to last year before beating Toronto last Satruday night.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.

GameDay Preview: Panthers vs. Red Wings. Not Too Skinny, Not Too Fat.

FLORIDA PANTHERS: 8-16-5 (21 PTS.) vs. DETROIT RED WINGS: 15-8-7 (37 PTS.)

TSN GAMEDAY

GAMEDAY SONG: Detroit Medley. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

The Florida Panthers closed out their five game homestand with an offensive outburst by defeating the Winnipeg Jets 5-2 on Thursday night.  Five different players scored and Tim Thomas made 29 saves in what was his 13th start in a row, and I’ll bet he’ll be between the pipes again tonight.  The victory snapped a three game losing streak for Florida, and saw newly acquired defenceman Dylan Olsen score his first NHL goal, as well as add an assist for a two point night.

Hopefully the Panthers are able to build on that victory as their next three games are against Detroit, with the Chicago Blackhawks sandwiched in between.  It will also mark the first time that former long time Panthers Stephen Weiss will face his former team.  Weiss was allowed to explore free agency after 10 years with the Panthers and signed a four year deal with the Red Wings.  Weiss’s season has been a disappointment so far as he’s scored twice and has two assists giving him four points in 23 games.  As usual Weiss missed time this season with a groin injury, something that seems to happen every year.  If you’ve watched some Red Wings games this season, you’ll see some of the same play that infuriated this writer for so many seasons.

Panther killer Daniel Alfredsson is now a Red Wing, and will be someone the Panthers will need to contain, as he”s still a very dangerous player.  Despite the fact that both Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datysuk are out with injuries, good teams like Detroit still find ways to win.  Datysuk is slated to return when these two teams faceoff Tuesday in Sunrise. It also helps to have Mike Babcock behind the bench.  Babcock is one of the very best coach’s in the NHL, and always manages to get the most out of his players.  He manages his players well, has them prepared, and they love to play for him.

Some of Detroit’s players are quite pestilulent, and that includes Daniel Cleary.  A hard nosed player that is a prototypical third liner, Cleary is known for his hustle, agitation, and for scoring a timely goal when least expected.  Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson who is undefeated so far this season could be in goal for the Wings, provides a decent one-two punch with Jimmy Howard who appears to be struggling after a very solid season in 2012-2013.

Florida will need an exceptional effort from everyone, and will need to avoid mistakes.  Detroit likes to hold onto the puck and will test Florida’s patience by doing so.  The Panthers will have to play very smart hockey, and hope that they can catch the Wings off guard since they played last night in New Jersey.  No games in the NHL are easy, and this one along with the next two are perfect examples of that.

Growing up as a Chicagoan, and having seen the Red Wings more than I care to admit, it’s no secret that they aren’t on my Christmas card list.  My disdain for them is right up their with Vancouver, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.  However, as an organEYEzation, I respect what they’ve done, and how they operate their franchise.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.

Florida Panthers Need To Be More Physical

The above hit served up by Panther defenceman Dmitry Kulikov this afternoon have been few and far between on this Florida Panthers team.  While Erik Gudbranson has consistently been one of  the only players who is using his body to his advantage ( I don’t think he knows how strong he is), as a team there seems to be a complete lack of this type of play.  Credit the assist of getting Stephen Gionta out of the bench area to T.J. Brennan, who felt that Gionta needed a push on his way out.

Pasting a player into the bench isn’t exactly what we want to see on a nightly basis, but this team needs to play a tougher brand of hockey, and make the opposition earn their wins.  All too often the image that is presented isn’t one of toughness.  Next year the Florida Panthers will see the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings, in addition to the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning in their division. Physical play will be the norm between these opponents, and if Florida has any thoughts at all about being competitive, the grit and snarl part of their game needs to be addressed in the offseason.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: me @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Josh Luecht @eyesonsunrise, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, Scott Mullin @GreatScottsman,  Gabby Kiger @gabbykiger, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind

Quick Decisions Needed To Make A Quick Start For The Florida Panthers

The first five games of the season that we’ve all been waiting to start could tell us a great deal about this Florida Panthers team and their ability to not only reach the post season, but repeat as division champions as well.  It was confirmed on Saturday that the home opener will be against the Carolina Hurricanes and the “Staal Brothers” on Saturday January 19th in Sunrise at the BB & T Center.  Carolina has always been a difficult opponent for the Panthers in the past, and with their off season additions of Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin, this year promises to be more of the same.  We’ll delve more into the home opener later this week after each team has had a few days to round out their roster.  One glaring weakness that has always been an issue for the “Canes is their defence.  They rely way too much on goaltender Cam Ward to bail them out.  Ward has been a workhorse for Carolina and unfortunately for opponents he’s actually pretty good at keeping the Canes close in games that they should lose, and he’s been known to steal a few as well.

The Panthers who will play five games in eight nights will travel to Canada after the home opener to face the Ottawa Senators on January 21st and the Montreal Canadiens on January 22nd.  The  the Cats return home to face the Ottawa Senators again on January 24th and host the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday January 26th.  From all angles that’s a tough opening, however it will be a good measuring stick to start out the season.  If the Panthers can be 3-2-0 after these five games it will set a much needed positive start for their season.

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Happy Thanksgiving From Panther Parkway

Today is a day that we have many things to be thankful for, and we should all take a moment and appreciate what it is that we do have.  While things are not prefect for many, I’m sure we can each find at least one thing that we are grateful to have on this day.

Take today and enjoy your friends, families, and some good food and spirits.

I’m sure that I speak for all of us here at Panther Parkway when I say that we appreciate your loyalty to us, your following of our posts, and the fandom that we share.

Thank you for sticking with us, and while we have taken a few days to “regroup” and clear our heads, we will be back to normal shortly.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Follow the Rat Pack on Twitter: me @TheRatTrick , David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Josh Luecht@joshluecht, Patrick McLaughlin @PatrickRattrick, Scott Mullin @GreatScottsman, David Rodriguez @davidbub_2, Paige Lewis @RatTrickLewiz Gabby Kiger @gabbykiger, Adam Reid@AdamReid Chrissy Parente @chrissaay44, Justen Rosenberg @justenrosenberg, Kris Eberwein @RatTrickKris, Lori Carpenter @lmcangel13, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.

Why The Lockout Hurts The Florida Panthers

Hockeyarenas.com

With the announcement on Friday that the NHL is cancelling all NHL games for the month of November (over 300 games in all have now been cancelled),  it is beginning to sink in how devastating the lockout is going to be to a team like the Florida Panthers.  While not alone in this saga, the momentum that was created by last season’s division championship is beginning to lose it’s luster.  Don’t lie if you’re a Panther fan, you know this is true.

After not appearing in the playoffs for over a decade ( I am waiting to never have to say that again), the Florida Panthers finally tasted post season hockey, and did it by winning their first ever division championship.  The team which in previous years fought very hard to put fans in the building, and did it many times by virtually giving seats away (remember when you had to buy a Subway BLT sandwich to get a free ticket?), no longer was faced with such a challenge.  Last year’s season started out positively, and continued for the entire year as the Cats either flirted with or were in first place for the whole season.

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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.

When Your Team Has “It” The Rest Doesn’t Matter

As each new season approaches, we begin to look forward to that first moment when the games begin and count for real.  You circle the date on your calendar months in advance, and you might even put a reminder a week before in your cell phone.  Some of us get one of those countdown widgets too since we like to antagonize ourselves about how far away it is, yet get excited the closer it gets. No plans can be made on that date other than watching or being at that opening game.  Your team has a bright outlook to start out, and has high hopes to compete and perform better than the season before.  You too have the feeling that there might be something different about this year’s group that gives hope that it’s going to be a special year. Many teams begin their season having to deal with all the prognosticators announcing that fans have nothing to look forward to other than another season of ineptitude, broken hearts, or promises that will not be fulfilled.  Another year of high hopes, ending with shattered dreams, and I told you so’s.  There comes a time however when teams use that as a catalyst to have a season that no one saw coming.  Not even you.

You’ve seen it before I’m sure.  A team who is expected to finish last in their division or conference just seems to have “it” as the season begins, and doesn’t seem to lose “it” the longer the season goes.  New faces bring a fresh attitude, and an energy level that seemed to have been missing from seasons past.  Some of these players are wily veterans making one last go of it as they chase either their first, or one more championship.  Or they are journeymen who never had the chance to show what they can do if given the right opportunity in the right setting.  Something about them allows them to have their “career year” at just the right time.  Sprinkle in a few rookies to add that youthful feeling of not knowing any better, and before you know it, things seem to be looking up.

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NHL Cancels First Set Of Games

The inevitable has begun.  This afternoon the NHL announced that a total of 82 games have been cancelled from opening night through October 24th.  Your plans for seeing the Florida Panthers raise their first ever championship banner have been put on hold.  The announcement shouldn’t have come as a shock, however I question the date that was chosen.  Maybe I should be impressed that the 82 games actually symbolizes that an entire season could be cancelled.

Here’s a statement from NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly:

“We were extremely disappointed to have to make today’s announcement.
The game deserves better, the fans deserve better and the people who derive
income from their connection to the NHL deserve better.

“We remain committed to doing everything in our power to forge an
agreement that is fair to the players, fair to the teams and good for our
fans.

“This is not about ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ a negotiation. This is about
finding a solution that preserves the long-term health and stability of the
League and the game.

“We are committed to getting this done.”

Yes, Bill I’m sure you are.  (Insert sarcasm).

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Does The Lockout Finally Squash Roberto Luongo Rumors To Florida?

Roberto Luongo. Image source: Wikipedia commons, by Orlandkurtenbach

I have been trying for some time to see if there’s any silver lining in the black cloud of the NHL lockout.  Looking  for something, anything that would provide a moment of pleasure, or relief in knowing that something good just might come out of all this. As the NHL and NHLPA meander their way to a resolution, which doesn’t seem to be anywhere in sight at the moment, I have taken solace in determining that finally, the rumors of ex Florida Panther goaltender Roberto Luongo making a return to South Florida have not only been quieted, but hopefully “sqaushed, and possibly for good.

Removing himself from the Canadian hockey hot bed of Vancouver has admittedly been a desire of the netminder all summer, however in an article that appeared in the Vancouver Province by Jason Botchford it seems to indicate that Luongo may now feel otherwise.  It’s no secret that talks between clubs are now off limits, as no player trades can be made during the work stoppage.  Thankfully the current labor strife gives both sides (Vancouver and Florida) a rest period from the situation, and allows the Panthers to hold on to what they have, and not make a financial mistake.  I applaud Panther general manager Dale Tallon for sticking to his guns and not mortgaging the future for a goaltender that is likely on the way down, and looking for an “escape”.   Players need to know that coming to South Florida isn’t just about the weather, beaches and golf courses.  Dale Tallon is here to win hockey games, and each and every player who walks into that dressing room better be prepared to do the same.  The country club atmosphere is over.

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