Monthly Archives: February 2013
BUFFALO SABRES: 7-12-1 (15 PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS: 6-9-4 (16 PTS.)
The Buffalo Sabres come to town with new head coach Ron Rolston’s first victory finally under his belt. The Sabres beat the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday by a score of 2-1, which saw them tighten up their defence after being outscored 7-1 in their two previous losses under their new leader. Rolston replaces Lindy Ruff who was fired on February 20th was happy for his first win which ended a four game losing streak:
“It was great, especially the way it was done,” Rolston said. “Just the battle level and the competitive nature we had tonight was outstanding. You could just feel it on the bench, the guys, how dialed in they were. I’m really happy for our team. We’ve seen a lot of really good signs, and we just needed something to keep us moving in the right direction.”
This will be the second meeting of the season between the two clubs, and the Sabres are likely out to turn the tables from the previous game which saw them lose a 3-1 lead to a hard fighting Panthers team by a final score of 4-3. That game started out as the Tomas Vanek show, who scored twice, but it wasn’t enough as Florida settled down after a rough first period to come away with the victory. Vanek who started out on fire has 12 goals on the year, but has only scored once in his last eight games. He leads the Sabres in points with 27, but the next closest player is Cody Hodgson with 17, followed by Jason Pominville with 15. They truly seem to be a one line team, and if you can hold that trio at bay, you’ll likely have a good opportunity to come out with a victory.
When Dale Tallon took over as general manager of the Florida Panthers, one of his prime objectives was to acquire and develop players that would make the Panthers difficult to play against. In his quest to put together a team that would work hard, agitate just enough, and give a solid effort, Tallon went right to the well of familiarity and pulled up Tomas Kopecky from the Chicago Blackhawks. Kopecky and his rights were acquired for a 7th round draft pick on June 27th of 2011, and shortly thereafter was signed to a four year deal with the Panthers, and has quietly been one of Tallon’s best moves.
Kopecky brought with him a winning attitude, a dedicated work ethic, and a lot of heart. Not known as much for his talent or skill as a player in the NHL, Kopecky certainly may be one of the most under appreciated. That was until Tuesday night, when Kopecky and his four points, including his first career hat trick, vaulted the Panthers to a 6-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in one of the more exciting games that’s been played at the BB & T Center this season. It was Kopecky’s willingness to go to the “dirty” areas, and do what he does best with his grinding style that proved to be the winning recipe to prevent the Panthers from losing their sixth consecutive game at home.
The life of a 4th line center in the National Hockey League isn’t exactly one of glamour. You don’t get a lot of ice time and when you do, it’s generally to kill penalties, throw your body around or ‘provide energy.’ You don’t pile up the points because the wingers on your line aren’t exactly Patrick Kane or Thomas Vanek. Reporters aren’t flocked around your dressing stall after every game, wanting your input on just happened. In spite of that, it doesn’t diminish the value they add to a team. Case in point: Florida Panthers 4th line center Jerred Smithson.
Read the rest of this entry
Coming into Tuesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Florida Panthers had a few of things going against them. They had lost their past five games in the confines of the BB&T Center with a 2-4-3 home record on the season. Their power play, a key ingredient in last year’s success, had only produced one goal since February 7th. And, in the Pens net was former Cat Tomas Vokoun, who won all three starts against them last season as a member of the Washington Capitals. The good news is that Vokoun would finish his night on the Pittsburgh bench as Florida rode a Tomas Kopecky hat trick to a 6-4 win over the team that beat them this past Friday.
Read the rest of this entry
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS: 13-6-0 (26 PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS: 5-9-4 (14 PTS.)
Tonight the Florida Panthers will host the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second game of a three game homestand against a team that has enjoyed a great deal of success on the road. The Penguins currently are 8-2-0 away from the Consol Energy Center, while the Panthers are stuggling with a 2-4-3 record in Sunrise. Don’t let the fact that the Penguins, who will be without the services of Evgeni Malkin fool you into thinking that this could be a game the Panthers can win easily. Pittsburgh has shown in the past that when one of their stars goes down, they have not only the depth, but the mental capacity to overcome such a stumbling block. Tonight should prove to be no different for a team with a number of offensive threats in their lineup.
Malkin will be out of the lineup, and is not on the current three game road trip that the Penguins are on following a hit from Panthers defenceman Erik Gudbranson in their game last Friday night. Malkin left the game after the play, and Gudbranson was neither penalized nor suspended for the incident. Malkin is suffering from short term memory loss and was diagnosed with a concussion, but his situation has improved since Friday. Proof that Pittsburgh can win without one of their star players shows in the 108 games they played without the services of Sidney Crosby who was lost for that time due to a concussion himself. The Penguins went 63-36-9 during that time, which included the playoffs.
Perhaps the Florida Panthers would be better suited for a long road trip than another home stand. Although, with the number of fans in black and gold hockey sweaters in the Boston Bruins 4-1 win over the Cats, they may have thought they were on the road. First period goals from Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara put Florida in a hole they couldn’t dig their way out of en route to their fifth straight home defeat.
Read the rest of this entry
BOSTON BRUINS: 10-2-2 (22 PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS: 5-8-4 (14 PTS.)
The Florida Panthers begin a three game home stand this afternoon when the Boston Bruins roll into town for an afternoon matinee. The Bruins fresh off a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, hopefully have been enjoying a little too much of the Florida sunshine, and maybe just maybe the Florida Panthers can catch them off guard. Ex-Panther Nathan Horton scored twice in Thursday night’s game, giving him six goals on the season so far, as he appears to be fully recovered from concussion symptoms that caused him to miss 36 game and the playoffs last season. Horton is second in goals scored behind Brad Marchand who has nine, which puts him on pace for 33 which would eclipse his total of 28 from last season. David Kreci is the overall points leader for Boston with four goals and eight assists for 12 points, as the Bruins feature a balanced scoring punch.
Boston is 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, and are 6-1-1 on the road, and have the league’s best penalty kill at 94.4 percent. This does not bode well for the Panthers who were unable to score a power play goal on their most recent four game home stand, going 0 for 13. Adding to that the Bruins have been able to kill the last 15 man advantages against, covering five games. The high powered offence of Tampa was 0 for 3 Thursday.
After playing in the shadows of Cory Conacher and Vladimir Tarasenko for the first month of the 2013 NHL season, has Jonathan Huberdeau’s recent success made him the new favorite to win this season’s Calder Memorial Trohpy?
Through 17 games played this season, Huberdeau has been able to compile 13 points, including 5 in his last 4 games. His 8 goals on the season are good enough to lead all rookie scorers and his 13 total points are only 2nd to Tampa Bay Lightning rookie Cory Conacher who currently has 15.
Bad news this past week for the St. Louis Blues has thinned out Huberdeau’s competition as St. Louis Blues’ rookie forward Vladamir Tarasenko has been ruled out indefinitely after suffering a concussion against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday. Just as injuries de-railed Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Calder campaign last season, it looks as if once again the injury bug will rob another rookie front runner of some very special hardware.
With Tarasenko out for an undisclosed amount of time, Huberdeau’s greatest threats to overthrow him for rookie of the year will be the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Cory Conacher and the Montreal Canadiens’ Alex Galchenyuk. As it was previously stated, Conacher currently leads all rookie scorers with 15 points and Galchenyuk isn’t too far behind with 12 points of his own. Although players like Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz could also make a run for this year’s trophy, I believe that in the end the trio of Huberdeau, Galchenyuk and Conacher will rise to the top.
The Florida Panthers announced Saturday evening that they have recalled defenseman Colby Robak from San Antonio of the American Hockey League. The 22 year-old Robak played three games for Florida last February when injuries decimated their defensive corps, the first games of his National Hockey League career.
Read the rest of this entry
The San Antonio Rampage completed the most recent leg of their Rodeo Road Trip last weekend with three games against the Milwaukee Admirals, Peoria Rivermen, and the Chicago Wolves. Friday night, the Rampage took the ice against the Admirals at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Early in the opening period of play, Quinton Howden netted his 10th goal of the season with the game’s first goal. Mattias Ekholm scored the equalizer for Milwaukee later on in the period, but Mike Santorelli regained San Antonio’s lead with a power play goal a couple of minutes after that. With one minute remaining in the first period, Jed Ortmeyer tallied the Rampage’s second power play goal of the period to give the team a 3-1 lead heading into the first intermission. Taylor Beck and the Admirals scored the lone goal of the second period to cut the silver and black’s lead in half. Midway through the third, Garrett Wilson made the score 4-2 in favor of San Antonio. However, two back-to-back goals during the final minute of play by Chris Mueller tied the game and sent the two teams to overtime where halfway though the extra five minutes of play the Admirals picked up the extra point with a goal from Mike Moore.
Following the game in Milwaukee, the Rampage headed to Illinois to take on the Peoria Rivermen on Saturday. Peoria tallied the first goal midway though the first when the Rampage were short handed. Jared Gomes netted the Rampage’s first goal of the evening shortly before Zach Hamill added a power play goal for San Antonio to give the Rampage the lead. Before the buzzer ended the second, Derek Nesbitt got the puck past Dov Grumet-Morris to even the score heading into the final period of play. Hamill and Nesbitt both recorded their second goals of the tilt during the final 20 minutes of the game to send the two teams into over time. After a scoreless overtime period, the teams headed to a shootout where San Antonio emerged the victors after Santorelli and Hamill netted the only two goals of the shootout. Read the rest of this entry