Thursday, October 30, 2008

Senators 2 | Panthers 1

The Cats squandered a 1-0 lead tonight by giving up a pair of goals five minutes apart in the third to Dany Heatley and Chris Kelly.

Florida's power play, which has struggled this season, produced the Cats' lone goal early in the first period when Keith Ballard, with Olesz setting up a perfect screen, fired a shot stick side by Alex Auld. At the time, Ottawa was on the losing end of a 5-on-3 penalty kill.

Shots were tight through the first two periods, but the Panthers started to sit back and focus more on defense in the third. Penalties and turnovers followed and Ottawa took advantage, scoring first on the power play and again just a few minutes later.

Tonight's lines looked like this:


Bouwmeester - Skrastins
Ballard - Boynton
Welch - Belak

Stillman - Horton - Olesz
Booth - McLean - Zednik
Peltonen - Kreps - Dvorak
Frolik - Matthias - Stewart

Olesz was reunited with Cory Stillman and Nathan Horton on the top line and they had a great game. This line needs to stay together for a while.

I really liked the line of Frolik, Matthias and Stewart. Whether I think that Matthias or Frolik should be here just yet doesn't change the fact that the three of them played a very energetic game - despite limited time. Matthias had a nice steal, Stewart had a big hit on Volchenkov and Frolik was making some nifty passes.

Between the first and second period, Jacques Martin was interviewed and asked about a few things, largely Jassen Cullimore, injuries and his expectations with Matthias:
We'll get production. I like kid. I think this kid is going to be a real good player for our organization for many years. It's a matter of playing in Rochester. He's getting an opportunity to play the power play, penalty killing, even strength.. He's playing a major role, so I think he's getting a lot more development than maybe getting 6, 8 minutes here. So for the benefit of his career, I think the right move is to have Shawn Matthias in Rochester for now.

Matthias, disappointed in not making the Panthers, by his own admission said he hadn't been trying his hardest in Rochester. Obviously that's not a good thing. Hopefully his willingness to acknowledge that is a sign that he'll get over it and take advantage of the next level in his development.

If you're a fan of the Amerks, Martin didn't make any mention of a timeframe for Matthias' stint with the Panthers. Weiss and Campbell's injuries brought him up, and by what was said, when they're back, Matthias will be headed north. Of course, that could be a day, that could be a week. There were no hints of addressing anything in Rochester, although the question didn't really seek that sort of response.

JM also touched on the way things have been going for Anthony Stewart. Wasn't really any major revelation, but if you wondered, it's simply that there is still the belief that Stewart is going to be an impact player somewhere down the road for the Panthers, and that's a good thing. He is trying his hardest to make the most out of his shifts, limited though they've been.

Aside from the youth on the team, Martin alluded to wanting Jassen Cullimore here from the start of the season, but because of the number of defensemen on the roster, the only way was to move someone (Murphy on waivers). Unable to make anything happen, injuries opened up the door for Cullimore to come back, anyway. Immigration is slowing him down, though.

As for timeframes that were put out on those injures, Bryan McCabe is trying to get back and said he's hoping a week, but seemed pretty confident that at the latest, he'll be back sometime between one and two weeks. Cory Murphy's shoulder is strained. He's going to be out "at least" six weeks.

Matthias picked up 7:21 on nine shifts (one in the third), Frolik had 8:26 on eleven shifts (two in the third) and on the flipside, Jay Bouwmeester had another huge game - 31:35 in time on ice, with Keith Ballard getting 30:04.

Matthias Recalled

With still potentially lingering injuries to Gregory Campbell and Stephen Weiss, the Panthers recalled Shawn Matthias from Rochester.

Florida is playing the Senators tonight, while Rochester has the night off.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Wednesday

This afternoon, George Richards wrote that Greg Campbell left practice early for an MRI, while Stephen Weiss didn't do any on-ice practice. McCabe is getting closer to returning, which is good news.

Former Panther Alex Auld will start against the Cats tomorrow night. says Rory Fitzpatrick will be back in the lineup on Friday when the Amerks take on the Toronto Marlies and Peter Aston was practicing again, too.

That, along with this practice report from yesterday have painted a great picture of how coach Benoit Groulx is handling things. It looks like he knows how to coach a hockey team. Hopefully guys like Plante and the defense can step up and give the struggling offense a chance to give them more goals than the opposition.

Plus, is Curt Styres looking for options on the goal-scoring front? Someone to boost the offense would be a huge plus.

Over in Sweden, Jacob Markström has had a little bit of a rough go of it the last few games and Brynäs has fallen off the top spot, dropping to fifth. They're still only two points off the pace with just as many games as the teams ahead of them, so no need to worry just yet. He's only 18, and he has held up remarkably well to this point, so some stumbles ought to be expected.

Markström's past three games have yielded an 0-3 record with a 5.00 GAA and a save percentage slightly below .840 at around .838%.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Deja Vu for Cullimore

Cory Murphy will be out for at least a month with a shoulder injury, so as October draws to a close, the Cats have signed defenseman Jassen Cullimore. It's a one-year deal.

Murphy's injured shoulder is the same one that kept him out much of last year while it was "bruised".

Injuries already have sidelined Bryan McCabe (back) and Bryan Allen (knee), and while McCabe has been cleared to get back to skating again this week, Bryan Allen underwent surgery yesterday in Colorado, so don't expect him back any time in the immediate future.

Cullimore, 6'5", 245, may or may not make it in time to play Thursday due to immigration issues but when he does get here, he will be a welcome (re)addition.

Over 65 games last season, Cullimore averaged slightly over 18 minutes per game and led the team with a +21 rating. He chipped in with 13 points and three goals, as well.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jay Bouwmeester

From the moment Jay Bouwmeester was drafted first overall in the 1998 WHL Bantam Draft, people knew he was going to be a big player. Then a 14-year old and already 6'2" (175 pounds), Bouwmeester joined a Medicine Hat Tigers club coming off of the second-worst season in team history - at the time, a 28-year history.

He played a limited role with Medicine Hat the following season, appearing in only eight games but scored twice and added an assist. The Tigers struggled and finished the season with a 15-56-1 record, worse than the previous year and the worst they'd ever had.

When Bouwmeester played his first full season, Medicine Hat had nowhere to go but up, and slowly but surely, they started to improve. Now a 16-year-old, Bouwmeester was playing comfortably with the Tigers and, after 30 games, 7 goals and 11 assists, he was on his way to Sweden to represent Canada in the 2000 World Junior Championships. Along with Jason Spezza, Bouwmeester joined only Eric Lindros and Wayne Gretzky as 16-year olds making the national junior club. Canada won the bronze medal in the tournament and Bouwmeester, still only halfway through the '99-'00 WHL season and with two full seasons before becoming NHL draft eligible, was already being looked at as a potential #1 pick.

He improved over each of the next two seasons both defensively and offensively. With it, his point totals increased from 34 to 53 to 61 -- a point per game in his draft year -- and gradually, with help from future NHLers Joffrey Lupul and Ryan Hollweg, Medicine Hat inched closer to a return to the playoffs. Unfortunately, despite numerous returns to the Canadian junior team, Medicine Hat never got to taste the playoffs with the gifted blueliner on the roster. Still, the improvement was tremendous. They had missed the playoffs by 36 points when he was drafted out of bantam and by the time he was leaving as an 18-year-old to join the NHL's Florida Panthers, the Tigers had missed out by just six points. The next season, Medicine Hat broke through, and the following year, won the WHL's President's Cup. Nevertheless, Bouwmeester had three World Junior appearances -- and medals -- before it was time for the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.

Praised by scouts and admired by spectators for his flawless skating ability -- taught by his father that "the better you skate backward the better you skate forward,"
-- his big frame, puck possession abilities and tremendous vision, Bouwmeester had drawn comparisons to stars like Bobby Orr, Paul Coffey and Chris Pronger. Some scouts believing that the eighteen-year-old, now 6'4" and over 200 pounds, was already further along in his development than Pronger was at the same age. His play, improved upon with every season he spent in the WHL had earned him the honour of being the top ranked skater in North America.

It was a match made in heaven for the Florida Panthers who were coming off of a bleak 22-win season and held the top overall pick. Florida's defense was poor, and with defensemen like Robert Svehla, Bret Hedican and Dan Boyle no longer a part of the organization, Bouwmeester was exactly what the Panthers needed. But when draft day had arrived, Florida shocked the league by swapping the first overall pick with Columbus for the third overall selection. In doing so, the Jackets were able to surprise some people themselves by passing on the defenseman, selecting instead their top target - Rick Nash, but the Panthers, who could have taken Bouwmeester from the start, then sent a third round pick in the same draft and a fourth round pick in 2003 to Atlanta to ensure that the Thrashers, who already had their sights set on Kari Lehtonen, would also pass on Bouwmeester. Later, the young star shared his thoughts on the draft:
There was nothing I could do about it but watch how it unfolded. I went to the same place. I said all along it's just exciting to get drafted and have the opportunity to hopefully one day play.

That one day wasn't too far off.

After six games and two assists in the preseason with the Cats, Bouwmeester made the Panthers and his jump to the NHL was complete. His NHL debut followed and with it, he recorded his first career assist in a 3-4 overtime loss to Tampa.
The 19-year old would go on to play in all 82 games for Florida that season, scoring four goals and tallying twelve assists. But it was a ride that wasn't without bumps. Late in his rookie season, Bouwmeester had an uncharacteristc physical outburst after he was checked -- hard -- by then-teammate Kristian Huselius in a practice. Bouwmeester immediately struck Huselius in the face and later wondered why, if Huselius wasn't going to hit the opposition in games, he was going to do it to his teammates in practice.

While Florida improved in his rookie season, the team still finished low enough to once again win the draft lottery, and once again, the Cats traded the first overall pick, this time sending a first and third to Pittsburgh for a first and a second. The Panthers took Nathan Horton and Stefan Meyer with the picks. Horton joined the team and, much like in Medicine Hat, Florida had begun a gradual trend of slow, but steady improvement that was a direct result of a young core beginning to grow, improve and mature as a team, whether they were ready or not.

The NHL lockout followed and Bouwmeester joined the Panthers' former AHL affiliate in San Antonio. The Rampage struggled and before season's end, several Panthers' players were loaned to various AHL teams with playoffs on the horizon. Jay wound up in Chicago, playing with the Wolves through to their 4-0 series defeat in the Calder Cup final. To date, this has proven to be his only playoff experience.

Following the lockout, he had a career year and the Panthers improved significantly from their final pre-lockout season, missing the playoffs by seven points. Bouwmeester's assist totals declined as he developed an increased confidence in his own ability to put the puck into the net. In doing so, he more than doubled his goal total from the previous season in 2005-2006, and had skyrocketed from a +1 in the aforementioned campaign to a +23 in 2006-2007. Florida had again tasted a team point increase, a late run leaving them six points out of the playoffs.

His goals increased again in 2007-2008 to 15 on the year, and as he neared RFA status and what would clearly be the biggest contract of his young career, negotiations stalled. Florida had begun to lock up its young talent under new general manager Jacques Martin, but an uncertainty of the team's future kept Bouwmeester from signing long-term. And while this past summer has seen two more Panthers sign on for the long haul, a still undecided Jay Bouwmeester chose instead to sign a one-year deal that will make him a UFA at season's end. In doing so, he avoids going to arbtiration with the Panthers for the second time (the first time, with Mike Keenan) -- but rules in the current league CBA now state that the two sides can not begin negotiations on an extension until January, 2009.

A month ago, Bouwmeester turned 25 and now the defenseman is faced with the what could prove to be one of the biggest decisions of his career. For while there's little doubt that the Panthers are willing to pay Bouwmeester to keep him here, whether the star wants to stay is the true question. There might not be a more challenging player in the league to read through comments and interviews than Jay Bouwmeester. Shy, quiet and seemingly non-confrontational, yet still humble, will Florida be able to convince him that this we want him here, and that this is where he belongs? Removed from the WHL club he helped move forward one year before the team finally broke in to the playoffs, will he pass on that same opportunity now that it's his decision to make?

The Panthers now hold a group of long term investments and prospects that include Nathan Horton, Stephen Weiss, Rostislav Olesz, Keith Ballard, David Booth, Bryan Allen, Michael Frolik, Shawn Matthias, Michal Repik, Colby Robak and Jacob Markström
. Florida boasts a new coach and a new style, and as a fan, I can confidently say that the Panthers are closer than they've been in nearly decade to crossing that line. The question is, will Jay stay?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Amerks 3 | Bears 8

Rochester was outmatched badly yet again this evening, losing to the Hershey Bears, 8-3. The shots weren't impressive either, as Hershey outshot the Amerks 50-16.

Early on, the Amerks kept it close. Hershey scored first and Rochester answered back. Hershey reclaimed the lead and Rochester answered back, but that was about it. Hershey started rolling after that, scoring three goals in under five minutes. The Bears made it 6-2 a little while into the third, before Rochester scored again. Not long after, two more Hershey goals and it was officially over.

So anyway, Jason Garrison returned to the Amerks after getting a taste of the NHL in the Panthers' ugly 4-0 loss to St. Louis last night, adding an assist in his return to the AHL.

In goal, Tyler Plante got the start, and he stayed in for all eight Hershey goals. It sounded like he made some good saves, and facing fifty shots can't be fun, but giving up eight goals isn't so hot, either.

But there are still some things that are worth pulling from this at least for a Panthers' standpoint, I guess.

Mike Duco is just awesome. Kid's all heart and he's a talented, spirited, hardnosed player. He scored one of the Amerks' 3 goals, added an assist and fought. Twice.

Getting his first pro point was Keaton Ellerby, registering an assist on Duco's early goal. In the third, he got roughed up a bit by Keith Aucoin.

The Amerks brought in Jacob Micflikier and he had a point on each goal, scoring once and assisting on the two others. Micflikier, Brine and Duco were the only plus players for Rochester tonight.

Rochester needs a lot of help and even though there have been changes, being outscored 16-38 through your first eight games is probably a sign of a little more than just rookie mistakes. To their credit, they scored three goals without Meyer again and Sprukts was still out. Defensively, Fitzpatrick still hasn't returned.

With the exception of Quad City, Rochester has played tough teams. But they've only even been able to fight and keep it close, at times, for a few minutes at a time. Had they not been able to beat Quad City, this weekend would have been a total disaster. So they've got that going for them, and hopefully we'll see something start to happen here, and quickly.

I listened to Craig Schaller's postgame show tonight, too. I can't say I've become a fan of it from what I heard. I can't say I understand the purpose of having a call-in discussion show if you're not going to actually discuss anything. When one of the callers would present an opinion that was against his own, it deteriorated quickly and he'd call the person a moron and cut them off.

This is the third or fourth game I've listened to and the radio guy, Don Stevens, is just great.

Panthers 0 | Blues 4

Tonight was a bad night for the Panthers. Chalk it up to whatever excuse you'd like -- trip fatigue, injuries, bad ice, officiating conspiracy -- the Panthers came to a hockey game tonight, but not quite to play.

Ben Bishop even got hurt in the third period and the Blues had to resort to their fourth-string goaltender, but nary a puck passed the home team's goalies.

Stephen Weiss came out early and skated but was scratched with a groin injury close to game-time. Anthony Stewart was in and Kamil Kreps, who had been scratched prior to the game, was put back into the lineup.

So, maybe you can say it was ill-fated from the start.

Whatever the case, the Panthers have been extremely inconsistent thus far. I think that's both promising, and maybe a little unnerving. They have shown that when they play this new offensive style properly, they can be a great, exciting and fast team. When they don't, they've been downright ugly this year. In my mind, this is an indication that if they keep at it, they'll start bringing that game consistently and as that happens, everyone will improve.

Still, it's going to take a lot of hard work and the power play is a must. It's been simply terrible since the season opener. Nearly 30 opportunities since then and only one tally on the man advantage.

Practice, practice, practice. And let's hope for conditioning that carries the team through the tough back-to-back nights.

Anthony Stewart looked great. He had a ton of energy, skated hard, threw his weight around and took some shots. He found the penalty box, but I think he has earned (again) more ice time.


Rochester got hammered again tonight by Syracuse. It's a team they just can't beat. Shawn Matthias did add an assist on the Amerks' lone goal, while Duco fought -- and comfortably dropped -- Ryan Garlock and Emmerson and Mirasty squared up a couple times. Mirasty, despite being smaller than Godzilla, is a better fighter hands down, and he seems to have shown it tonight.

The final score on another poor outing from Chris Beckford-Tseu was 6-1 in favor of the Crunch.

Jason Garrison looked good for the Cats, I thought. He played with a ton of confidence and he was dropped right in on the power play. He kept the puck in a few times in his early shifts, made some passes and fired a shot that didn't make it on net. I imagine we'll still be seeing Cullimore or someone in the very near future, though. Garrison was the most available player to the Panthers with injuries, waiver status and the like.


David Shantz stopped 24 of 25 for Dayton tonight, helping the Bombers to a 3-1 win against Cincinnati. . . Colby Robak powered the Brandon Wheat Kings to a win against Kelowna scoring two of the three Brandon goals in a 3-2 victory. . . In the OHL, Adam Comrie scored a goal tonight for Saginaw, though the Spirit lost, 5-4. . .

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Panthers @ Blues | 8:30 EST

The Panthers were outshot badly last night 50-35, but still won 4-3, so beating a team like San Jose is a huge boost heading into this game. St. Louis is a pretty good team, but they have a few key injuries, so the Panthers have an opportunity to take advantage of it and go right back after two more points tonight.

Starting in net for St. Louis will likely be Ben Bishop. Bishop isn't exactly a tiny goalie -- he's 6'7" and surprisingly quick and agile. Last night, he appeared in his first career NHL game after Manny Legace went down with a knee injury and in forty minutes, allowed a pair of goals on seventeen shots. Chris Mason is still recovering from an appendectomy.

With Vokoun getting the start last night and Craig Anderson's strong performance Wednesday, it will be Anderson in net tonight.

Michael Frolik's ice time has been on the rise and his play has been alright, so I don't see him being pulled from the lineup tonight, but with games on consecutive nights, I'm not yet sure how DeBoer is going to approach that. I'm still hoping Anthony Stewart finds his way back onto the ice.

With Cory Murphy getting hurt last night, he will not play in tonight's game. So, Jason Garrison has indeed been recalled by the Panthers and should make his NHL debut tonight.

If St. Louis dresses David Koci, whom they recently claimed off waivers from Tampa, I'd expect to see Belak back in for the Panthers, regardless of whether Gregory Campbell is able to go tonight.

Rochester is also back at it at again tonight in Syracuse.

7:00PM: After losing Jason Garrison at least for the next day or two, Rochester takes another hit as Kevin Oklobzija is reporting that Janis Sprukts has a 'lower body injury' and will not play tonight.

8:00 PM: Stephen Weiss is out with a groin injury, so it wasn't exactly the way I wanted Stewart to get into the lineup, but he's in. Let's hope he can make it count.

Panthers Recall Jason Garrison

According to, the Panthers have recalled defenseman Jason Garrison from the Rochester Americans.

Earlier Friday, it was announced that Bryan Allen would undergo knee surgery and will be out indefinitely. While Martin has reportedly been in contact with Cullimore's agent numerous times, Garrison appears to be, at least for now, the short-term alternative.

Cory Murphy left the game in the second period and did not return, so this could have something to do with that, as well. If you follow the link, it's in the "Notes" at the bottom.

Through six games with Rochester, Garrison has a goal and three assists.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Night Recap

First things first. Bryan Allen's knee is definitely hinky and he won't be back anytime soon. He's going to have surgery on Monday, so he'll be out indefinitely. McCabe's closer to returning, and they've been playing without him, so roster moves may or may not be made, but Cullimore could still be a possibility.

Florida shocked the Sharks, thanks a lot to Tomas Vokoun. Turning aside 47 of 50 Sharks' shots, Vokoun and the Panthers skated to a 4-3 home win -- moving to 4-3 in the process. The Cats fired 35 shots on net themselves. But in a repeat of Wednesday night, the strong start was turned around as San Jose started to dominate, putting the Panthers on their heels. After a fast 3-1 lead, San Jose had erased the deficit thanks to a power play goal and a shorthanded goal, but not quite a minute later, Cory Stillman redirected a shot from Keith Ballard and the Panthers were back on top 4-3. This was easily the most exciting game they've played this season and at times, the pressure the Panthers applied was just tremendous.

Michael Frolik saw 12:01 tonight, but I'm still not sure what to think of him. He h
ad some strong shifts and a few where he was completely ineffective. Regardless, he's holding his own right now, so I don't think he's going anywhere anytime soon. Meanwhile, Keith Ballard and Cory Stillman had three points apiece. Stillman now has nine points through the first seven games and Ballard, with his three assists, has eight. Nick Boynton has five, and just if you're curious, Olli Jokinen has seven (1 goal, 6 assists) through six games in Phoenix.


The Rochester Americans won their first game of the season in exciting fashion, knocking off Quad City by a score of 5-4. There was a huge disparity between shots for and shots against (40-24), but the Amerks still got the goals they needed, and they got them when they needed them. For a team that has been struggling to score, a 5 goal night certainly helps morale.

So, who scored? Shawn Matthias got his first goal tonight and it ca
me when the Amerks were trailing 1-0. Not more than twenty seconds later, Drew Larman made it 2-1. The scoring was back and forth, and Quad City managed to get one back after they pulled Irving, but it wasn't enough. Mike Duco, Kenndal McArdle and Karl Stewart added goals for the Amerks as well. Larman, Glass, Stewart and McArdle each had two points on the night.


David Shantz had a 23-save shutout for Dayton tonight in his first game of the year.

Corey Syvret had a pair of assists for Guelph as they rolled over Owen Sound, 7-1. The 19-year old have five points now through fourteen games in what should be his final year of junior.

Brian Foster made 38 saves
for New Hampshire tonight as the Wildcats skated to a 1-1 tie against UMass.

Sharks @ Panthers Tonight

The Panthers are home for a game against the San Jose Sharks, who sit at the top of the Pacific division in the NHL's Western Conference.

San Jose is coming off of a high-scoring 7-6 shootout win against Philadelphia on Wednesday night, while the Panthers are coming off of a 3-1 win in Ottawa - a game in which the Panthers were clearly the better team in the first, before the Senators came on and dominated the final two periods, outshooting the Cats 39-10 in the latter two frames.

Despite Anderson's strong performance, Tomas Vokoun will be in net tonight. Vokoun needs to get comfortable in net and he needs to do it quickly, so let's hope he can handle the Sharks tonight.

Gregory Campbell is out with a hip flexor, and Belak is dressed in his place tonight, so that will bump McLean up to the Olesz line.

Stillman - Horton - Frolik
Booth - Weiss - Zednik
Olesz - McLean - Dvorak
Peltonen - Kreps - Belak

Skrastins - Bouwmeester
Ballard - Boynton
Welch - Murphy


The Rochester Americans are back in action tonight as well, playing their first game since acquiring Jacob Micflikier and Riley Emmerson. Emmerson is a scratch tonight, but Keaton Ellerby will finally make his AHL debut after missing several games with a hand injury.

Beyond Ellerby and Micflikier, Rory Fitzpatrick should be back sometime this weekend (concussion) and Karl Stewart should be good to go as well after having some immigration slowdowns. Lastly, Stefan Meyer is close to getting back, too.

James DeLory was cleared and added back to the Everblades roster during the week, but he's going to be out a little longer as he gets back into game shape. When he returns, he will be learning to play right wing.

In junior, DeLory was a defenseman.

Brynäs has lost a couple of games in a row, now. Most recently, Lindbäck was in net for a 3-1 loss. They play again tomorrow.

Oh, and my bad. Somehow, I forgot about Matt Bartkowski through all of this. Bartkowski was drafted in the seventh round last year from the USHL and has been playing with Ohio State this season.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Panthers 3 | Senators 1 --

OTTAWA (AP) -Craig Anderson held tough after the Florida Panthers staked the backup goalie to a quick two-goal lead.

Rostislav Olesz and Nathan Horton scored goals 48 seconds apart early in the first period and Florida beat the Ottawa Senators 3-1 on Wednesday night.

Cory Stillman assisted on Horton's goal that made it 2-0 in the first, then scored his third of the season midway through the second to restore the two-goal lead.

"We wanted to have a quick start, and the start won us the game," coach Peter DeBoer said.

Anderson made 41 saves - including 38 over the final 40 minutes - in his first start of the season.

"It's good to get the first one out of the way - first win, first start, I just wanted to go out there and battle for the guys and make sure that I gave them a chance to win," Anderson said. "We came out flying in the first and took it to them, I think, and we were able to get a good lead. After that, it was just holding down the fort."

Anderson, Tomas Vokoun's backup, stopped 26 shots in the third period alone, lunging to his left to make a glove save on Antoine Vermette's shot as Ottawa enjoyed a power-play for the final 3:05 of the third after David Booth was assessed a double minor for high-sticking. . . READ MORE

Michael Frolik had less than ten minutes again tonight, although he did start the game up top with Nathan Horton and Cory Stillman. Over twelve shifts, Frolik racked up 9:16. He created some chances, but he spent a lot of time being outmuscled and pushed down to the ice by stronger players going after the puck.

Anthony Stewart and Wade Belak were the healthy scratches last night.

Riley Emmerson and Jacob Micflikier were both sent to the Rochester Americans earlier this week. Emmerson is no Steve MacIntyre when the gloves come off, but he can still get the job done and at 6'8", 250 pounds, I'm sure his presence will be noted.

The Panthers are back in Florida Friday night against San Jose, Saturday night they'll be in St. Louis and then they're off again until next Thursday when they return home to host the Ottawa Senators before the five-game road trip.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Early Goalie Update

Excluding the goaltenders at the NHL level (Vokoun and Anderson) and Rochester's Chris Beckford-Tseu, there are six goaltenders that are currently Panthers' property spread over two continents and several different leagues.

In no particular order, a little summary of the start to which each goaltender has had:

Jacob Markström
2008: Round 2 (#31 overall)

LeagueTeamGPWLGAASv. %SO

There's no doubt that Markström is the Panthers' top prospect as a goaltender and up until Saturday night, he has been almost flawless. Markström's impressive start has drawn comparisons to Henrik Lundqvist a few years ago, and for good reason. Markström has carried a team with low expectations to the top of the Elitserien and through thirteen games, a three point lead of the second place team. Even more impressive is that despite giving up five goals to Färjestad on Saturday, Markström's numbers are among the best in the league.

Over ten games and with 314 shots faced in that time, Markström holds a 1.88 GAA and a save percentage of .940. Two of his ten starts have resulted in a shutout, and seven have resulted in a win (7-2-1) for Brynäs.


Brian Foster
2005: Round 5 (#161 Overall)

LeagueTeamGPWLGAASv. %SO
H.E.New Hampshire3300.67.9751

Foster has gotten off to a phenomenal start in New Hampshire and if he can keep it up, the Wildcats are going to continue to move up in the national rankings. UNH has moved from 6th to 3rd since the previous poll, and Brian Foster has had a huge hand in the team's early success.

After giving up only a goal to Wisconsin in the season opener ten days ago, Foster did himself one better by shutting out Rensselaer -- and then handed 3-0-0 Boston University their first loss of the season by stopping 31 of 32. During the second period, UNH found themselves on the short end of not one, but two Boston 5-on-3 chances, each over a minute long. Foster still turned aside all but one of the eighteen Boston University shots taken in the second period, handing the Terriers their first loss.


Tyler Plante
2005: Round 2 (#32 Overall)

LeagueTeamGPWLGAASv. %SO

When Tyler Plante was drafted in 2005, he was coming off of a 34 win rookie season with the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL. His numbers dropped considerably the following season, and he rebounded with a very strong final year in juniors.

Last season, Plante split time between the Rochester Americans and the Florida Everblades as he struggled to adapt to the pro game, although he had a strong save percentage in the ECHL. Still, Plante posted a 6-16-1 record with an Amerks team that didn't need any extra help losing games.

This year, Plante is expected to alternate starts with Chris Beckford-Tseu, and he's played in two of the Amerks' five games. His first game was awful, and he was pulled after allowing three goals on five shots. In his second start, he gave the Amerks a chance to win against Manitoba, stopping 26 of 28 and making a couple of big saves, but the offense was only able to score once and an empty net later, the Amerks had fallen 3-1.

Through only a game and a quarter, Tyler has allowed five goals on thirty-eight shots or, a 3.96 GAA and a meager .868%.


Marc Cheverie
2006: Round 7 (#193 Overall)

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Cheverie has been fortunate to have such a high-powered offense in front of him, as he hasn't assumed the starter's duties quite as smoothly as Brian Foster in UNH, but in spite of it all, the Pioneers are undefeated through three games and Cheverie has been able to build some confidence to move forward despite his inexperience at the collegiate level.

The Pioneers' netminder had a strong 23-save opener against Notre Dame but gave up nine goals in two games against Wisconsin this past weekend. Averaging a little under 32 shots against per game, his .884 save percentage is a good indication that Cheverie will need a little time to settle in, but as he gets more comfortable, with the offense the Denver Pioneers have generated -- yeah, Cheverie gave up nine goals in those two games against Wisconsin, but Denver scored 13 -- the now #2 team in the nation (#4 in the previous poll) could get even better.


David Shantz
2004: Round 2 (#37 Overall)

Still fairly young at 22 years of age, Shantz hasn't quite developed the way the Panthers had hoped when they selected him in between Rostislav Olesz and David Booth, but when the dust settled on his recall and subsequent loan to the ECHL's Dayton Bombers, it became evident that David was being put in a position to play a lot of games and really start to bring it all together.

As of right now, Shantz has yet to play in a game this season. However, the Bombers are welcoming him with open arms as his presence is one they hope will help the team's rookies adapt, and of course, take a little pressure off of Dayton's rookie goaltender Paul Drew.


Sergey Gayduchenko
2007: Round 7 (#202 Overall)

Gayduchenko may never see time playing in North America and as of now, the 6'5" goaltender is third string for Yaroslavl in the KHL. Because of this, he has yet to play in a game this season.

David Shantz to Dayton

After being recalled by the Panthers last week to be loaned elsewhere, Shantz has finally settled back on to a roster, now with the Dayton Bombers of the ECHL.

Shantz, three years removed from the OHL, will be given an opportunity to start a good portion of the Bombers' games this season, so this was a good move by the Panthers to get him somewhere where he won't ride the bench.

And is Riley Emmerson in Rochester? It looks like it..

Monday, October 20, 2008

What's Best for Frolik?

Recently, the Miami Herald ran an article whose key focus was on Michael Frolik, including a quote from head coach Peter DeBoer that may, or may not, be alarming to some Panthers fans -- and probably all Amerks fans.
If we get to the quarter mark of the season and he's not playing, obviously you start to weigh if this is detrimental to him or not.

This early, he's learning about the NHL; he's learning what it takes and is on the ice with NHL players every day.

And now, you know you've got to take DeBoer's words with an understanding that one of the best junior coaches in recent years knows what he's talking about with an NHL rookie. Because of this, as much as I'm frustrated by Frolik's lack of playing time, I'm definitely willing to give DeBoer the benefit of the doubt.

Here's a kid who, at 20 years old, had a decent preseason. He had a great first game in the preseason playing on a line with David Booth and Stephen Weiss, and then slowly trailed off, getting juggled onto different lines to look for chemistry. When all was said and done, it was centre Shawn Matthias, four NHL games to his credit last season, getting cut and sent to the AHL, while Frolik remained.

Frolik has gone now three games as a healthy scratch, playing in only one of the four games, earning 5:48 of ice time over nine shifts. He sat for the third period and overtime in the game, while the Panthers went on to knock off the Thrashers in the home opener.

Tonight, Michael is in the line-up for a big game against the Canadiens (4-0-1 through the first five games) and he will get his next opportunity to prove his readiness and prove the coach and general manager's decisions to be the right ones.

It's an approach that is hardly unfounded. One only needs to look back to Fabian Brunnström in Dallas last week. After going a healthy scratch for a couple games, practicing with the team and observing, he was inserted into the line-up when the coaches felt he was ready to get out there.

Brunnström scored a hat trick in his NHL debut, only the third player in league history to do such a thing. He was named the NHL's third star of the week last week for his four goal, three game efforts.

To compare Frolik to Brunnström wouldn't be fair, though. Michael has got tremendous NHL upside, and even has the experience of playing for Kladno in his native Czech Republic, but for the last two years, he's been playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with Rimouski. Moreover, his two seasons were shortened (52 games in '06-'07 and 45 games in '07-'08) by injuries. Brunnström, on the other hand, spent last year playing for Färjestad in the Swedish Elite League on a team that made it to the league semifinals.

Both players are coming from very, very different situations, so a similar approach may not be what Frolik needs. It may work. It's very possible, and I believe DeBoer is someone worth trusting on Michael's development, but it also may only be slowing that development.

Kevin Oklobzija posited that DeBoer's comments are an on-the-spot defense of general manager Jacques Martin's decision to keep Frolik here. This does seem a more likely scenario, and if JM doesn't want to send Frolik down, all we can do is trust DeBoer to do this to the best of his abilities.

It's not necessarily a good indicator of where the Panthers' organization stands on the developmental abilities in Rochester.

When the Panthers took over the sole affiliation responsibilities, they knew what they were getting in to. Rochester was coming off of one of the worst years in the team's history dating back to 1956 and no more impressive was the financial disarray and off-ice troubles the team was going through, but the sale of the Amerks to Curt Styres and the need for a development team was enough to get the Panthers on board.

So you go back to Michael Frolik and wonder, even if he will be okay getting eased in the way DeBoer has been doing this, at what point do the Panthers man up and take action to live up to their word of promising a good team and a goal of bringing the Calder Cup back to the city? Frolik can benefit from playing 20 minutes a game, too.

No matter what happens with Repik and Matthias, Michael Frolik would be the best player on that team. His upside is tremendous. If the veterans that are relied upon (Stewart and Sprukts for example) to help the team signings continue to put up zeroes, and the rookies continue slowly adjusting, people are going to stop going to the games. When that happens, what's stopping Curt Styres from terminating the agreement? More than that, what would stop him from taking the initiative before it gets too far?

As that parent club now, the Panthers should be obligated to help turn this slow start around. The Amerks are facing a start much worse than the current 0-5, and if we don't treat them right here, why would any team want to take on the Panthers as a parent club in the future?

Frolik might benefit here. He might benefit in Rochester, but Rochester could also benefit from Frolik, so why not change this? Why not show that commitment and trust by sending our bench-warming, yet top prospect, and trying to get things going. Matthias is off to a poor start, and Repik's not doing much better.

I know Rochester fans have been reading this, and we really haven't overvalued our prospects - Matthias, Repik.. these guys will be good players. But I agree with you; Rochester needs a spark NOW to show some promise, and if Frolik is going to benefit from 10 games played out of 20 possible with the Panthers, he's going to benefit from a top line in the AHL -- and if he can get it going right away, he's going to get his linemates going because we're clearly relying on guys like Matthias and Repik to be significant contributors and they're taking time.

He's dressed for tonight's game in Montreal. Wade Belak and Anthony Stewart (again) are scratches, which does mean that George Laraque is out for the Canadiens as well. As are -- I believe -- Andrei Kostitsyn and Chris Higgins.
The game will be on VS and RDS.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Islanders 0 | Panthers 2

Courtesy of the Panthers' website:
SUNRISE – Just in case you were wondering if this year’s Panthers and Tomas Vokoun could bounce back from a tough loss, the team left 16,087 at BankAtlantic Center with a parting gift Saturday evening before heading out on a two game road trip.

A solid 2-0 shutout of the Islanders.

Just 48 hours after a sloppy loss to Minnesota, the Panthers regrouped and put together a solid effort behind goals from Nick Boynton and Cory Stillman (power play) and a 31-save performance by Vokoun, who registered his 26th NHL shutout.

“It was a good effort,” said coach Peter DeBoer, who’s Panthers (2-2) hit the road Sunday for games Monday in Montreal and Wednesday in Ottawa. “I thought Tomas was real solid tonight. He was as disappointed if not more disappointed in his effort the other night than anyone.”

Bryan Allen sat out tonight with the knee injury. Still hoping it's not too serious..

Olesz played on the third line tonight with Campbell and Dvorak, while Belak and Kreps were in again -- meaning that, yes, Frolik and Stewart were once more healthy scratches.

As for Frolik being a scratch again, let's move over to Rochester. They were in Manitoba for the latter contest of a two-game weekend series and once again, the Amerks found themselves on the short end, falling by a score of 4-1.

Chris Beckford-Tseu got the start, despite Plante's good game yesterday, and BT allowed the four Moose goals. Rochester, however, allowed 41 shots to get through to Beckford-Tseu.

The lone Amerk goal came off the stick of Tanner Glass, with McArdle and Beaverson picking up assists on the tally.

Shawn Matthias remains scoreless and now, through five games, is a combined -6, but he played on a line with Janis Sprukts and Michal Repik and from what I've read, had a solid game.

And now, while he's hardly the intimidating presence the Amerks would love to have, Mike Duco continues to just stockpile penalty minutes. He racked up 19 more tonight thanks to an instigating misconduct, which moves him to 55 PIM through five games. This total does lead the whole of the American Hockey League.

Last but not least, Matt Rust, this season centering the Michigan Wolverines' top line as a sophomore, picked up two goals and an assist in a 5-3 Michigan win tonight. Through four games, Rust now has 2 goals and 4 assists. That number is good enough to put him in a tie for fifth in the CCHA - while the top four players are tied with 7 points. Kid's off to an awesome start.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Amerks @ Moose

Another Friday night, and yes. I'm home. And yes, I'm just listening to a game.

Rochester's in Winnipeg taking on the Manitoba Moose, both teams looking for their first win of the year. The game's available via radio stream at SportsRadio 1280 WHTK's website (On Air -- Listen Live).

The Amerks opening line-up:

David Brine - Drew Larman - Kenndal McArdle
Rory Fitzpatrick - Doug O'Brien
Tyler Plante

It's pretty much a crapshoot trying to figure out the lines, but I'm going to try.

Garrison is out with MacDonald on defense..
Glass, Matthias and Duco..
Brine, Larman, McArdle..
Fitzpatrick and O'Brien as a defense pair..
Caruso and Aston on a pair..
Calla.. Collins.. Sweetland?
Sprukts and Repik are out.. and Karl Stewart maybe?

I don't think that's quite right. The defense may be, but I'm not too sure about the forwards. They were all out together at some point, and Sprukts and Repik were out on a line regularly.

All in all, Plante played a good game. He earned another start, but the offense was abysmal again, scoring only one goal. Matthias is yet to put up a point, and Rochester, after a Moose empty net goal, fell by a score of 3-1. They're back in action again tonight, as are the Panthers.

Bryan Allen will be out for the Cats, and with what happened with Olesz and the Islanders' Chris Lee back in the preseason, I think Belak's going to be back in the lineup tonight, so unless someone else is a scratch, only one of Frolik or Stewart makes it in. If it's not Frolik, he seriously, unquestionably, needs to be sent to Rochester. We're supposed to be a better parent than the Sabres were last year, and a part of the turnaround from last season. They've yet to do this, and they're stuck idling by keeping Frolik off the ice here, and off the ice up there.

I haven't found anything about Shantz yet, either. He's going to be loaned to another ECHL team, but they don't seem to have anything done, yet. The ECHL season has just gotten underway, so something should be happening soon.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Tanner Glass Blogging + Matthias on Tape

Tanner Glass will be writing once a week for the Amerks' and Panthers' official websites throughout the season and his first entry went up this week over at the Rochester Americans' official site.
Things are pretty good here in Rochester. Winter isn’t as bad as I thought it would be at this time of year. Winter hasn’t started up quite yet, so that’s nice.

There’s an excitement right now around the team up here. There’s a new slogan, ‘It’s A New Day for a Rochester Tradition.’ There’s new ownership. They signed a couple of older guys to help the team. So there’s a lot of excitement around here and there’s a lot of excitement around the new coach. He’s come out of junior with a great record and he definitely has a great background. The guys are excited, too. We have a positive outlook on the season.

Last year, all those losses made for a long year. But it definitely feels like a new club, a new team, and a fresh start.

I felt I did pretty well in (Panthers’ training) camp this year. With the travel and everything I think it was tough to feel great at certain times. But I felt I played pretty well considering, and I had a chance to stay around after camp and practice with the guys. I feel comfortable at the NHL level and I think I’m close to playing there. . . READ MORE

The Amerks have also put out a nearly five-minute audio interview with Shawn Matthias, so just a couple of quotes that I pulled from it, which you can listen to in its entirety, here:
It was exciting to start my pro career. It was a little upsetting with how the weekend went, but we're still looking for that first win and I'm still trying to settle but I feel more comfortable as the days go by and I'm excited for this weekend and for all the rest of the games.

About being traded to Florida for Bertuzzi:
Yeah, they obviously wanted me and I'm excited to be here. I've enjoyed it since day one. They've treated me really well and they have from that day one. Hopefully I can help this team win and hopefully in the future, I can help Florida win.

Winning gold for Canada at the WJCs:
It was the best feeling I've ever had in my life. Since day one when we went to camp it was just a thrill. It was just overwhelming how many fans we have and it was just real exciting. You're playing with the best players at your age and guys that are going to be stars in the NHL one day and competing against them on a nightly basis was awesome, and brining the gold home for Canada was the best feeling I've had.

He goes on to talk about a number of things, including his spell with mono last season, ultimately winding up in the hospital to recover. Take a listen if you've got five minutes.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wild 6 | Panthers 2

Tonight's lines to start were:

McLean - Horton - Stillman
Booth - Weiss - Zednik
Olesz - Campbell - Dvorak
Peltonen - Kreps - Belak

Bouwmeester - Skrastins
Ballard - Boynton
Welch - Murphy


The Panthers played poorly, the Wild played well. Minnesota's defense was able to neutralize any Panthers' threat, and the two Cats goals, as a result, came from defensemen, one by a deflection and another just a hard shot.

Nick Boynton said after the game, "We just played a terrible game all around," and when asked about his mistake against Pouliout that led to a goal, his answer was straightforward and to the point: "It was stupid. I made a stupid play and you can't do that in this league."

Tomas Vokoun had an unimpressive start, and he most certainly did his part to contribute to this loss, but Anderson was no more effective when he came in to start the third. Maybe the bigger killer tonight was more a matter of Minnesota's strong passing, ability to capitalize on mistakes, and a strong power play.

As for that Minnesota power play, just to give you an idea, the Panthers took not one, but two too-many-men penalties in the third period. It was a meltdown all around, and Minnesota came to play.

Drawing positives here, Skrastins' return to the lineup was met with a goal. He said he feels good, and he played a solid game. Gregory Campbell showed what being a teammate is all about by immediately going after Erik Reitz for his knee on Olesz, and ultimately Belak playing his part by throwing down with Boogaard. It was a good fight and it set a good, early tone for the game, and guys like Nick Boynton aren't going to deflect responsibility. It's good to hear players acknowledging their own individual shortcomings in a game. That accountability is, at the least, something that this team needs to continue.

Peter DeBoer was interviewed a few minutes ago and gave a few thoughts on the game tonight. "We played a good first twenty minutes. We did a lot of good things, then they got a couple of goals and it all unraveled. It's a learning process, but it's only game three. We played a couple of good games and a good period, but you've got to do more than that in this league."

When asked if replacing Tomas Vokoun with Craig Anderson to start the third period was to send a message or just a solution to Vokoun's subpar performance, DeBoer said, "It was a little bit of both. This wasn't just Tomas. Everyone in there knows that."

David Shantz Leaving the Everblades?

Well, how's this for a random update? Courtesy of the Florida Everblades:
"Florida Everblades president and general manager Craig Brush along with head coach Malcolm Cameron announced today that goaltender David Shantz has been recalled to the Florida Panthers."

Originally, I thought maybe the Cats were going to dress him tonight as a backup, but George Richards is saying it looks like the Panthers are loaning Shantz to a different club, so the recall has nothing to do (apparently) with tonight's game.

Game 3: Minnesota Wild

Mike Russo's saying Marek Zidlicky is on IR for the Wild, while Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Owen Nolan are day-to-day with injuries and now you can add Marian Gaborik to the list, as well.

After the Wild's 4-2 win against Atlanta the other night, head coach Jacques Lemaire took a moment to call out a couple of his young players; think rookies Colton Gillies and Benoit Pouliout, saying, "The kids, they've got to play better. I don't want to put pressure on them. But this is not junior; it's not the minors. This is the N . . . H . . . L. Please."

So, along with Gillies and Pouliout, Minnesota's also got James Sheppard on the roster and now Cal Clutterbuck will pl
ay, grabbing a spot in the line-up due to these various injuries. You would think with guys like Bouchard, Nolan and Gaborik out for a game, the Wild would be in trouble, but they've got some very good young players each with something to prove that should make this a fun game.

And don't forget about the Wild's enforcer, Derek Boogaard. All 6'8", 257 pounds of him.. Does Wade (pictured) dance with the Boogeyman..? We'll see.

George Richards of the Miami Herald reports that Michael Frolik and Anthony Stewart are healthy scratches for the Panthers again tonight. Maybe DeBoer's shooting for the Brunnström effect by sitting these guys in the press box.

Whatever the case, GR also says Bryan Allen is out tonight with a knee injury, but Karlis Skrastins is back in for the Panthers.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Brandon Wheat Kings Win Memorial Cup Bid

The Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) have been selected to host the 2010 Memorial Cup.

The Memorial Cup is the top prize for North American junior hockey, and the tournament sees the league champion from each of the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, plus the host team, compete for the Canadian Hockey League championship.

Colby Robak, the Panthers' latter second-round pick from this summer's draft, is currently in his third year of junior hockey, and won't turn 19 until April. I believe that the rule that governs whether a player can play in the AHL or juniors is basically that, if you are North American and still have junior eligibility, you can't play in the AHL. It's NHL or back to your junior club.

Now I could be mistaken, though I'm pretty sure the rule generally falls within those lines, so unless Robak gets traded or makes the Panthers as a 19-year old, he would get a chance to play in the tournament.

His team could still win the WHL championship this year and qualify for the 2009 Memorial Cup, but no matter what, they're in for 2010.

Quiet Morning

Yesterday, Rochester released Neil Clark from his PTO. Clark, 6'2", 210 pounds picked up 10 PIM in his two games; two five-minute majors for fighting, each time against Jon Mirasty. The Amerks are still a couple of days from their next game.

Maybe this move is indicative of someone being brought in to play the heavyweight role..

Meanwhile, Duco's made a bit of an impression on the Crunch enforcer -- from the Syracuse Post-Standard writer Lindsay Kramer:
Duco and teammate Kenndal McArdle got into it with Mirasty and Syracuse's Tom Sestito on the benches at the end of Saturday's game.

Mirasty pointed to the dividing glass and then flexed his muscles at Duco. At the time, I didn't quite catch the significance of that gesture. Tuesday, Mirasty said he was signaling that Duco is a tough guy when he's protected by the divider.

"The little rat Duco started the whole thing. He was chirping our players and was swinging his stick," Mirasty said. "I think he was trying to be a little agitator out there. I couldn't allow that."

One of Duco's stick swipes caught Sestito on the visor. I checked with the league office on Tuesday, and they said the matter is still under investigation.

Moving down from Rochester to Florida's west coast, a little more info about James DeLory.

Apparently, DeLory suffered a concussion while he was with the Amerks and it seems affiliates cannot assign injured players. DeLory is already in Estero and the Everblades are a couple days from the start of the regular season, but DeLory is not on the roster. The 'Blades head coach, Malcolm Cameron does not want to cut a player who can play for one who can't play.

There's a little bit more information about it at the Naples News 'Blades Blog, which is here.

Would the Minnesota Wild loan Riley Emmerson to the Amerks? Please?

Over the weekend, Matt Rust centered the Wolverines' top line in both games. He picked up one assist in one game, and two assists in the other. The Wolverines are 2-0, while Rust has 3 points to start the season.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Rangers' Prospect Aleksei Cherepanov Passes Away

New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather regretfully announced today that forward Alexei Cherepanov passed away during a game in Russia on Monday evening. Cherepanov was 19 years old.

“We are extremely saddened by the tragic passing of Alexei,” said Sather. “On behalf of the New York Rangers organization, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to his family. Alexei was an intelligent, energetic young man, with tremendous talent and an extremely bright future.”

Cherepanov appeared in 14 games with Avangard Omsk of the Continental Hockey League (KHL) this season, registering seven goals and five assists for 12 points. He ranked second on the team in goals (seven) and fourth in points (12). He also ranked third on the team with a 24.1% shooting percentage.

Full Article at Rangers' Site.

Amerks Drop Third Straight

Attendance at tonight's Rochester game was very low, and I was able to count the number of people in specific sections during stoppages in play. Unfortunately, the people that didn't come to the game didn't miss a whole lot.

Rochester started out decent and saw a couple of early power play chances, but soon after, the Amerks got into penalty trouble, and then some, taking four penalties from the midway point of the first period through to the first intermission. Binghamton capitalized on their chances, scoring two power play goals in the opening frame.

Chris Beckford-Tseu played in goal and he was again nothing special. The first goal for the Senators was more of a defensive error than goalie mistake, as Ryan Shannon was left completely uncovered to the side of the net. A cross-ice pass to the open skater and Beckford-Tseu just couldn't get across in time. The second power play goal was, to a point, similar. Ilya Zubov was left unchallenged by the defenders in front of the net, but this time, Beckford-Tseu was able to cross the crease -- Zubov simply fired the puck past.

Binghamton scored again early in the second, and the score remained unchanged -- due in part to fewer penalties and a moderately better Amerks team than had played in the first period -- until late in the third period when Tanner Glass tipped a shot by Peter Aston past Senators goaltender Brian Elliott. Michael Caruso recorded an assist on the goal and it was the first point of his pro career. If only they could have played the way they did at the end of this game from the start..

This brings Michael Frolik into any discussion. What's going to happen with him? Right now, he's stagnant. He could already have three pro games under his belt with Rochester, but instead, he was a healthy scratch for Friday's season opener, and on Saturday night, he saw less than six minutes of total ice time and not a single shift in the third period or in overtime. Send him down. He needs to be playing, not sitting in the press box.

Now, I watched this game on AHL Live. If you've considered the service, I can't compare it to b2 as I never was able to watch a full game with b2 Networks. The price is still the same; $6 for a game, but although I definitely saw some flaws, I will definitely watch some more games this way.

One of the major problems was that the audio feed occasionally skipped ahead, and sometimes the speed changed. For the most part, the audio was slightly ahead of the video. This was only really a nuisance for goals. I could hear that it was a goal as the goal was being scored. It was close, far enough apart to be noticeable and for the money, something they should definitely try to fix, but it wasn't enough to really take away from anything.

The video quality for this game was good. Clear image, although the picture (maybe three times all game) slowed down and lagged, before skipping back ahead to where it should have been in the first place, AND the image quality got pretty rough as the action moved quickly from end to end. Again, this is something that I'm sure people will be unhappy with, but it didn't bother me enough to say I wouldn't go back and use it again. I do hope they can improve these things, though.


I'd said the other night that Foster and Cheverie each picked up wins in their debuts as starters. Significant was Cheverie's win against #4 Notre Dame. While Denver was ranked sixth overall in the preseason poll, Cheverie was thrown straight into fire against a tough opponent and came out strong.

Over in Sweden on Saturday, Markström shut out Södertälje, making 23 saves in the process. It's his second consecutive shutout, although he sat out a game in between the two.

This weekend also saw a four point night from Adam Comrie, scoring a goal and three assists in Sagniaw's 7-3 win over Kingston, while A.J. Jenks returned from injury, playing in all three games this weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), scoring a goal on Saturday.

One last note comes from Panthers head coach Peter DeBoer's former club, the Kitchener Rangers. Saturday night, two Rangers players were among five passengers in a car taken to hospital after being struck by a truck driving through an intersection at the same time. Fortunately, four of the passengers were treated for injuries and released while the fifth was transferred to another hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Panthers 3 | Thrashers 2 (OT)

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -David Booth became a fan-favorite in Florida last season, and he's doing his best to keep it that way.

Booth scored his second goal of the game with 1:06 left in overtime to give the Panthers a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday night.

"Speed, enthusiasm, the energy he plays with every night, he's a great player," said first-year Florida coach Peter DeBoer, who earned his first NHL victory. "Guys like that are almost the heartbeat of your team. They get over the boards and they can change the momentum with their energy and their work ethic. Those guys are easy to coach."

Drawing chants of "Booooth! Booooth!" at the BankAtlantic Center every time he touches the puck, he has three goals in two games. . . READ MORE

My seats are way up at the top of the arena, but they're still good seats. It was fun being there tonight, and while the Panthers looked better last night, they still looked solid tonight and aside from the penalties and some shoddy defense, they had another good game.

Up north, Rochester got hammered this evening. Tyler Plante started out well and quickly fell apart, before being pulled for Chris Beckford-Tseu. CBT fared no better, and the Crunch controlled the game 'til the end, cruising to a 6-1 victory.

It got ugly on the benches in the third with McArdle and Duco swinging their sticks across the bench at Mirasty and Sestito. All four players picked up misconducts.

McCabe's injury again, isn't what TSN initially reported. The MRI came back negative and McCabe is day-to-day.

I'll try to do an update of the games from earlier tonight in the afternoon, but I may just put them at the end of tomorrow night's entry, since I'll be able to listen to the Rochester game.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

McCabe Injury Update

Good news, Panthers fans. It's starting to look like the the crack medical staff at TSN jumped the gun this morning when they diagnosed Bryan McCabe with "at least one fractured vertebrae" in their TV examination.

The report came out early today, and was eventually written off by the Panthers, through George Richards, as "asbolute speculation".

TSN has since changed their tune, and now they have McCabe feeling fine, listed as day-to-day. ESPN says Jacques Martin has said Caber is probably out for two weeks with a lower back strain and a contusion.

While ESPN says the word came from Jacques Martin, I was hoping to hear an update from GR, but it looks like I'm going to leave for the game before that comes.

You can view his blog here.

Annd.. they're off!

Panthers dropped the season opener, 6-4 against Carolina with the sixth Cane goal coming on an empty net. The Panthers looked good, although McCabe was injured in the second period.

From the AP via the Panthers website:
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -Joni Pitkanen and Dan LaCouture found the perfect way to fit in with their new Carolina teammates: Lead them to a season-opening victory over the team that kept them out of the playoffs.

Both of the Hurricanes' newcomers scored in their debut Friday night, and Carolina beat the Florida Panthers 6-4 in the opener for both teams. . . READ MORE

It sounds like people are already pushing the panic button, reading posts at the Cats' official boards and over at Hockey's Future (, but I say give this time. The Panthers looked good. They were largely as advertised -- agressive, fast and they fought out an exciting game. Vokoun wasn't at his best, and if he were, the Panthers would have come away with a victory.

As it stands, there will be games where the offense doesn't do enough for their goaltender, and vice versa. I'm anxious to see if they will sustain the pressure with which they played tonight against the Thrashers.

The Amerks lost to Syracuse, 4-3. Janis Sprukts, Michal Repik and Andrew Sweetland scored for Rochester.

North Dakota lost, 5-1. Derrick LaPoint was a -3 with a tripping penalty in the third period. . . Ryan Watson did not play for Western Michigan, and Matt Duffy picked up an assist in Maine's 5-4 victory.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tonight's Lines

Per George Richards of the Miami Herald:

Stillman - Horton - Olesz
Zednik - Weiss - Booth
Belak - Kreps - Peltonen
Campbell - McLean - Dvorak

Allen - Bouwmeester
Ballard - Boynton
Murphy - McCabe


Murphy and McCabe should be an interesting pair. I suppose adding two offensive-minded defensemen is a good boost to lines that otherwise may not truly threaten much on their own, but their defensive abilities seem suspect.

Anyway, again, Frolik and Stewart are scratches along with Noah Welch. Hopefully Richard Zednik will be a good addition to playing with David Booth and Stephen Weiss. That's a very fast line now, and Booth fights for goals in front of the net, but hopefully the three of them will be able to finish.

Kreps and Peltonen staying together looks good, and Belak adds that much loved physical presence. The third and fourth lines could be flipped around, though. It's a bit weird seeing Belak on the third, after all.

Gameday! Panthers @ Hurricanes

After too many long months without hockey, tonight, the puck drops across the board, and while I'm still undecided on whether I want to spend the $6 to watch one Rochester game, the Panthers will be playing, too -- on the road at RBC Center.

Skrastins is still on IR, so Frolik remains with the team to fill the roster spot.

The Panthers crushed the Hurricanes' playoff aspirations last year, and in doing so, finally put to rest a long losing streak in Carolina, although the Canes still won the season series.

Florida, without Skrastins, still has seven defensemen on the roster, and it appears that Noah Welch will be the healthy scratch, along with -- yeah, these two are scratches -- Anthony Stewart and Michael Frolik.

Carolina will be without Scott Walker and Justin Williams, while Rod Brind'Amour will be in for the Canes.

The game will be on FSFL tonight in south Florida and on the radio,
790 the Ticket. Puck drops at 7PM.


Rochester opens their season at home against the Syracuse Crunch tonight, as well. This will be the first game in Amerks history as the Panthers sole affiliate and, short of Michael Frolik, many of the Panthers' top prospects will be going up against a very skilled, very physical Syracuse team. Over at's writeup about this morning's practice, Shawn Matthias, Michal Repik and Andrew Sweetland skated as a line while the defensemen were juggled quite a bit.

Rory Fitzpatrick will be wearing the 'C' for the Amerks, while Tanner Glass has earned an 'A'. Benoit Groulx hasn't decided who will get the third letter for Rochester just yet, and says that there are more than three leaders on his team.

Keaton Ellerby has an injury and probably will not play tonight. The opening face-off up north comes at 7:35 PM.


In college, the North Dakota Fighting Sioux and Derrick LaPoint take on Boston University at 7:30, while Western Michigan (Ryan Watson) plays host to Niagara at 7:00 and the Maine Black Bears and defenseman Matt Duffy open against New Brunswick at 6:00. All times, of course, PM.

The remaining teams; Denver, Michigan and New Hampshire, play tomorrow night.


Lastly, a little bit of news from the ECHL. James DeLory, who was cut from Amerks' camp and assigned to the Everblades, will spend the season learning a new position.

DeLory, undrafted and signed as a defenseman out of the Ontario Hockey League, will be learning to play right wing.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Matthias to Rochester

According to Kevin Oklobzija of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Shawn Matthias is on his way north and will be playing for the Amerks tomorrow night. This also means that one of David Booth or Stephen Weiss has been removed from injured reserve and is cleared to play in the season opener. Initially, Oklobzija had reported that Frolik was joining Matthias, but it appears that now, for the moment, Frolik will be sticking around with the Panthers for another day or two. We'll see what happens there.

To the OHL, A.J. Jenks has been out of the Plymouth lineup since suffering a knee injury in his first game of the season on September 26th against the Soo Greyhounds. He was listed day-to-day as of October 1st, but he could be good to go for Friday night's game against London.

Brynäs, leaders of the Elitserien, are trailing 5-2 as the third period winds down. Markström has the night off, and Skellefteå has scored five as-yet unanswered goals since falling behind initially 2-0.

Through six games of his own, Markström is fourth in overall standings for save percentage (.940), fourth in goals against average (2.00) and sixth in saves, having made 186 (31 shots per game) thus far. He also has a shutout, stopping all 35 shots against Linköpings on October 4th.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Roster Set

The full article, by Dave Joseph, is here.

"The Panthers announced their opening-night roster Wednesday and, due to some lingering injuries, Michael Frolik, Shawn Matthias and Cory Murphy were all on the list.

According to GM Jacques Martin nagging injuries to Stephen Weiss (groin), David Booth (back), Radek Dvorak (ribs) and Karlis Skrastins (neck) have kept them on the injured reserve list. All but Skrastins practiced Wednesday and Weiss, Booth and Dvorak can be cleared to play in Friday’s season-opener in Carolina as late as 5 p.m., that evening."

Final Roster

Forwards (12)
Wade Belak
Gregory Campbell
Michael Frolik
Nathan Horton
Kamil Kreps
Shawn Matthias
Brett McLean
Rostislav Olesz
Ville Peltonen
Anthony Stewart
Cory Stillman
Richard Zednik

Defenesman (7)
Bryan Allen
Keith Ballard
Jay Bouwmeester
Nick Boynton
Bryan McCabe
Cory Murphy
Noah Welch

Goaltenders (2)
Craig Anderson
Tomas Vokoun

Injured Reserve (4)
David Booth
Radek Dvorak
Karlis Skrastins
Stephen Weiss


There's a good article at Hockey's Future about Adam Comrie. I don't want to make this too long, so another link, if you please: Comrie Working Even Harder After Panthers Camp

And, lastly, Murphy cleared waivers, but according to Jacques Martin (you can see this in the roster article at the top of this entry) assigning Murphy to the AHL wasn't the motivation in waiving him in the first place.