Game Day Preview: Penguins vs. Panthers. I Walk The Way I Wanna Walk.


GAME DAY SONG:  Out In The Street. Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band

Since Kevin Dineen was fired back on November 8th, the Florida Panthers have gone 4-5-1 in the 9 games that interim coach Peter Horachek has coached.  The worst loss of those games came Wednesday night, a game before Thanksgiving, and it looked as though the Panthers had turkey on their minds from the puck drop.  The game besides being a dull, boring affair, proved that the Panthers still have some work to do in spite of some recent success.  Let’s not forget that Florida has the second fewest wins in the NHL, and their overall record is third worst in the league.

Yet it’s not all doom and gloom, as Florida has come a long way since the coaching move, as two other changes that took place may have sent a strong message to the team.  Goaltender Jacob Markstrom was sent to San Antonio to work on his consistency.  Not at all a bad idea for a goaltender who seemed to be fighting some sort of demon this season.  The second move was the trade of forward Kris Versteeg back to the Chicago Blackhawks for defenceman Dylan Olsen and forward Jimmy Hayes.  A move that Versteeg may have played himself into, but on the bright side, the chemistry that Olsen and defensive partner Erik Gudbranson seem to have is uncanny.  Gudbranson looks like a new player, and has played with more confidence and intelligence.  This could be a result of the coaching change as well, but regardless, the Panthers need their defence to tighten up, and for the most part they seem as though they have.

Tim Thomas who has been a workhorse since returning from injury has been one of the most consistent players on the team this year.  Despite his record of 6-8-1, it’s Thomas who has kept the games closer than they should have been.  A familiar story over the past few seasons here in Florida, where goaltending has usually been better than predicted, yet something that can’t be relied on 100%.  Scoring remains to be an issue as the Panthers have scored only 58 goals in 26 games.  Not nearly enough, and that has to improve.

Playing the Penguins tonight, Florida can reflect on a 6-3 victory the last time these two teams met here in Sunrise.  It was their best performance of the season at that time under Kevin Dineen.  Nevermind it was against goaltender Jeff Zatkoff who was making his NHL debut.  Zatkoff who relieved Marc-Andre Fleury on Wednesday, could be in the nets again for this one. In that previous game rookie Aleksander Barkov had his only multi-point game of the season when he scored a goal and added two assists.

The Panthers will need to play a smart game and be aware of all the offensive firepower that the Penguins have. Sidney Crosby is tied on the Penguins in goals with 13 and leads the league in points with 36.  However there’s also Evgeni Malkin (31 points), Chris Kunitz (26 points), James Neal and Jussi Jokinen to keep their eyes on.

While the Panthers now play a more uptempo game, it’s going to be important not to get into a run and gun game with Pittsburgh. The Penguins have too many weapons offensively, and Florida can’t afford to be caught with more than a hand full of odd man rushes against, as well as do their best to stay out of the penalty box.  Mistakes must also be kept to a minimum, and those have been coming from the defence all season.  Since Horachek took over, there have been less, but they are still evident.

This will be game three of the five game homestand, and a victory would certainly put a different outlook on things as the Cats continue to turn this season around.

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.

Game Day Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Florida Panthers



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. 

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The Top 25 Most Obvious And Best Fantasy Players By Position- Part I: Centers

Part I: Centers

Lets just say for arguments sake the owners and players quit their whining and come up with a new CBA agreement around December, therefore giving us at least half a season. Although this may or may not be the case, lets just make pretend for a moment.

Besides the excitement of going to games, wearing your favorite players jersey, and screaming your heads off, we all look forward to something else come NHL season.  Something that is a little more in our control yet can drive a man mad (or girl).

Yes. I’m talking about Fantasy Hockey.

Whether you’re in a paid league, unpaid league, Yahoo Fantasy, CBS Fantasy, or you’re just in it for the money or love and statistical side of the game, the bottom line is, if you’re a hockey fan, odds are, you’re a Fantasy Hockey fan too.

Unfortunately for us, without a hockey season, there will be no Fantasy Hockey, which means no gaining or losing money, no pulling out your hair when you find out your best player is ruled-out with a concussion, and no draft parties. Total buzz kill.

But just in case the NHL and NHLPA decide to grow up and come to an agreement, here is my list of the top 25 best and OBVIOUS players by position IF and WHEN there is a 2012-2013 season. Over the course of the next 5 days, I will be posting an article giving you the top 5 best players from each position.

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