As they approach their 20th season in the NHL, the Florida Panthers were treated to a franchise-first achievement on Saturday night as rookie sensation Jonathan Huberdeau was announced as this season’s Calder Trophy winner – the first time a Florida Panther has received this honor. Although their 2012-2013 season was marred by injuries and uninspired play, the Panthers found solace in the exceptional and exciting exploits of Huberdeau.
Even though the season is almost reached its’ merciful end, there are still a lot of Panthers’ updates to be announced. Below, I have compiled a list of the most recent Florida Panthers’ updates as well as a few other Panthers’ related tidbits – Enjoy!
- Head Coach Kevin Dineen has confirmed that defenseman Dmitry Kulikov will miss the remainder of the season after suffering an upper-body injury against the Boston Bruins on Sunday.
- Both defenseman Erik Gudbranson and Tyson Strachan might not participate in Tuesday’s game against the New York Rangers.
- Defenseman Colby Robak has once again been recalled from San Antonio in order to help the Panthers’ wounded defensive unit.
- Forward Tomas Kopecky and Peter Mueller returned to practice and reportedly will be available Tuesday night against the Rangers.
FLORIDA PANTHERS: 13-22-6 (32 PTS.) vs. NEW YORK ISLANDERS: 21-16-5 (47 PTS.)
GAMEDAY SONG: Radioactive (Imagine Dragons)
The Florida Panthers begin a four game road trip tonight, and look to play the role of spoiler as the balance of the season creeps to a close. This evening’s opponent, the New York Islanders are fighting to make the post season for the first time since 2006-2007. As they make their post season push the Islanders have been an impressive 5-0-2 in their past seven games, and own one of the league’s best road records at 12-5-2. Should they finish anywhere from 5th to 8th in the Eastern Conference which seems likely, their road record should provide them confidence in at least their opening round series, and possibly longer should they survive and advance to the next round.
Tonight’s game is the final home game of the year as they will play their remaining five games on the road. Their home record this year is 9-11-3, however they’re 4-0-1 at home in their last five, which has been one of the reasons they’re in the position that they are. The Islanders currently have a one point lead over the New York Rangers who were early season favorites to challenge for the Stanley Cup. The two teams played on Saturday going scoreless until Dan Girardi of the Rangers scored the overtime winner to give the Rangers the much needed two points. The Islanders have been playing in front of some spirited crowds lately as mentioned by Travis Harmonic:
“I’ve been here three years, and that’s the loudest crowd I’ve heard,” defenseman Travis Hamonic said. “You could really feel the energy. It makes you want to get (to the playoffs). I’m sure it would be even crazier.”
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“I want to get a feel for what the NHL is like,” Panthers’ rookie Nick Bjugstad said upon his arrival in South Florida on Thursday afternoon. Well, after what seemed liked a guaranteed blowout early on – Nick Bjugstad got more than a “feel” for the game as he saw first hand just how unpredictable NHL action can be as the Panthers’ clawed their way back from the gutter to make the Saturday night’s game compelling down to the final seconds.
In an almost ceremonial fashion, Bjugstad’s first steps onto the ice were greeted with loud applause as fans welcomed their newest Panther to the BB&T Center. Like he had hinted in earlier interviews, Head Coach Dineen wasn’t quick to rush Bjugstad into action as the promising young forward only saw 2:53 of ice time during the first period of play. Although he was only given minimal minutes early on, Bjugstad still showed off his physical play style while dishing out two good checks on Capitals’ skaters.
Throughout the rest of the game, Bjugstad saw his minutes rise each period until finally playing a grand total of 5:20 during the 3rd period – the highest single period total in his debut. Sadly for Bjugstad, the Panthers’ constant stream of penalties throughout the night kept him from seeing greater minutes as the team was forced to lean on their penalty killing unit for much for the game.
Happy Easter hockey fans! While many of you will find Easter baskets filled with chocolate and scratch off lottery tickets waiting for your this morning, we here at Panther Parkway decided to give you a new kind of Easter Egg. For this special holiday, we have put together a list of fun Florida Panthers’ Easter Eggs for you to enjoy. Everything from fun stats to interesting facts about the Panthers’ season are listed below, enjoy!
*Statistics shown are correct as of March 30, 2013.
- Between Stephen Weiss, Sean Bergenheim, Ed Jovanovski, Kris Versteeg, and Jose Theodore, the Panthers currently have $15,875,000 worth of salary out for the remainder of the 2013 season.
- The Florida Panthers are heading towards being the first Southeast Division champion to miss the playoffs the following year since the Atlanta Thrashers failed to reach the playoffs during the 2007-2008 season.
- Panthers’ rookie forward Drew Shore and Head Coach Kevin Dineen both played college hockey for the University of Denver.
- Forward George Parros needs just 21 PIM’s to reach 1000 for his career.
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NEW YORK ISLANDERS: 12-12-3 (27 PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS: 7-15-6 (20 PTS.)
GAME DAY SONG: SWEATER WEATHER BY THE NEIGHBOURHOOD
Wash, rinse, repeat. We’ve seen the same thing over and over in recent games for the Florida Panthers, and at the beginning of each game we continue to hope the trend stops. This trend I’m referring to is giving up the first goal of the game, which has happened in the last nine of the last 11. Adding insult to injury, in the past five consecutive games it’s happened within the first three minutes. A very dubious statistic that brings no fame and only shame. Starting out in the hole this much can make a team fragile and nervous. Which can really be two very similar states of mind. Again, something else we’ve said about this team recently as well. Coach Kevin Dineen feels that the team is pushing hard, but just not getting the results they want:
“We’ve got to find a way to get some puck luck and get that first goal,” coach Kevin Dineen told the team’s official website. “Just keep searching for the answers and obviously there’s a lot of try right now. I think these guys are pushing as hard as they can and that’s the answer to our problems right now.”
The Panthers will try to avoid their sixth consecutive loss tonight when they take on the New York Islanders at home here in Sunrise in a building that hasn’t given them any comfort as their 4-7-5 record shows. During this recent tailspin that the Panthers are in, they’ve gone 1-13-4 when the opponent scores first, and are giving up a league leading 3.7 goals per game. The Panthers have also been outscored 22-8 during the past five games, with only an 0-4-1 record to show for it as they have maintained sole possession of last place in the NHL.
WINNIPEG JETS: 11-11-1 (23 PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS: 7-12-5 (19 PTS.)
Game Day Song: Brilliant Disguise
The Florida Panthers played a complete game in their victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday beating their divisional rival 4-1 by getting goals from four different players. Last night against the Washington Capitals the Panthers completely forgot to show up as both goalies combined to give up seven goals to what now appears to be a surging Captials team. You know what happened, so I don’t need to rehash it. With the split personality that this team seems to have you can on wish that tonight will be different. However in the song The Wish from Bruce Springsteen he sings, “With every wish, there comes a curse”.
The Florida Panthers now sit dead last in the NHL after the Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Vancouver Canucks last night 2-1. There’s nothing wrong with your computer. You read that correctly. Which Panther team shows up tonight? Absolutely no idea with this team with two faces. As I type this early in the morning, my guess is that Jacob Markstrom will be back in goal after getting the quick hook from last night’s game which saw him give up two goals on two shots. My ploy might have been to call a timeout and leave him in to see if he could have recovered. He has to learn somehow. That’s likely why I have a day job though, and we leave those decisions up to Kevin Dineen.
Shortly after Scott Clemmensen surrendered the second goal of the first period against the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday night, the boos began to rain down from the stands. A chant of “We want Markstrom” formed shortly after. It appeared that the Panthers crowd finally lost all patience with the veteran backstop, and for good reason: Clemmensen’s stats this year are simply subpar to say the least, and four crappy periods against the division rival Hurricanes would sink his numbers even further.
At intermission, the venom spewed in Clemmensen’s direction was reaching an all-time high: fans on Twitter demanded that Clemmensen be subbed out in favor of the young Jacob Markstrom, who was totally not in a position to play after not practicing for days and just getting his pads at around the time the puck dropped. At least a couple fans even maintained that they would refuse to renew their season tickets if Dineen didn’t pull Clemmensen. And maybe the Panthers coach might’ve consideredswitching the struggling netminder out in favor of the potentialed Swede, if he thought it would make any difference.
CAROLINA HURRICANES: 11-8-1 (23 PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS: 6-10-5 (17 PTS.)
Someone once told me that” it’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it”.
Not much to say in today’s preview, but that statement will may not more meaning than it does tonight when the Florida Panthers try to avenge themselves for last night’s beating at the hands of division leading rival Carolina Hurricanes. The Panthers who were chewed out by coach Kevin Dineen, and rightfully so for their slow start, and poor preparation, fell further behind the division lead in what could be their only hope for a playoff birth this season:
“You can blame it on injuries but that’s the ultimate cop out. It was a big game against the divisional leader and we could have reeled them in. We weren’t prepared from the drop of the puck. And that leads to injury. If you don’t have your game face, well, it’s a man’s game out there.”
During last season’s 82 game schedule the Florida Panthers lost over 320 man games to injury en route to their first ever division championship. Fortunately it was the depth of the organization and the play of the entire team behind the coaching of Kevin Dineen, that allowed Panthers to overcome the constant and lenghty trips to the injured list. Scottie Upshall, Dmitry Kulikov, Sean Bergenheim, and Marcel Goc were among the players that missed significant time, with many others having spent time injured as well. Collectively the Florida Panthers were able to hold their own as the leaders of their division.
This year, the trend seems to be continuing, however with vastly different results. Scottie Upshall who missed 56 games last season will be out approximately a month with an ankle injury. Sean Bergenheim was hurt playing in Europe, and there’s no timetable for his return. Captain Ed Jovanovski has been out of action since taking a knee on knee hit from Tampa’s BJ Crombeen on January 29th. Jovo is expected to be out another two weeks, although he did skate with the team at practice on Friday. He is expected to miss an additional two weeks.
Adding to that list, Kris Versteeg, last season’s spark plug hasn’t been healthy from the beginning of the season, and is now day to day after taking a hit from behind by Alex Ovechkin. Versteeg missed Thursday night’s game against Montreal, and is expected to miss Saturday’s game against Tampa. Lastly, Stephen Weiss who has been a ghost of himself is apparently nursing a groin injury, which might explain his somewhat lackluster play.