Sunday, November 30, 2008

Revenge is Sweet

Two days after falling to the Rangers in a shootout at home in front of a mixed crowd of Cats and Rangers fans, the Panthers took to the road and shut New York down, winning 4-0.

Craig Anderson started for the Cats but unlike Friday, the Rangers couldn't get off to as strong a start and the Panthers were able to take advantage and set their own pace. At times, the action was end-to-end, but nothing came of the chances for either side in the first period.

Ville Peltonen had a break in the second and as he cut across to Henrik Lundqvist's glove side, he threw the puck blocker side and Lundqvist knocked it down, but later in the period, Peltonen would get another chance and as Marc Staal fell down trying to turn around, Ville had a clean and uncontested break. This time, he simply threw a wrister past Lundqvist to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.

A little over six minutes later, Stephen Weiss went down to block a shot that caught him in the leg. Trying to play through the stinger, Weiss hobbled around in the defensive zone while the Rangers controlled the puck, but Brett McLean came across and deflected away a pass that cleared the puck and allowed Weiss to get off. A shift later, Weiss was back on the ice with Michael Frolik battling a pair of Rangers along the boards for the puck. Frolik knocked it loose and as the Rangers were unable to move the puck away, Weiss poked it through the defender's feet and with his next stride, fired a perfect backhander between Lundqvist's pad and the post.

What followed was supposed to be an energy shift with Radek Dvorak, Gregory Campbell and Ville Peltonen on the ice, but after Campbell dumped the puck, he skated hard at the net while Dvorak rushed in after it. A quick centering pass to Campbell resulted in a third shot past Lundqvist and only twelve seconds after Weiss's goal, the Panthers had added a third.

Stephen Valiquette came in to replace Lundqvist after the third goal but in the third period, the Cats would score their fourth goal of the game, this time off the stick of Michael Frolik -- the second of his career.

As Weiss carried the puck in to Valiquette's right, Frolik streaked in on his left with a defender in between. Weiss made a quick decision and threw the puck on net which Valiquette turned aside, but the puck came in front of Michael Frolik and despite being at a very difficult angle, the rookie backhanded the puck into the net.

In goal, Craig Anderson stopped all 37 shots while the Panthers' four goals came on 30 shots.

Jay Bouwmeester was a +4 in 21:43. . . Michael Frolik's two point game is the first multi-point game of his career. . . Anthony Stewart fought Aaron Voros in the third after throwing a high hit on Voros seconds earlier, but Stewie still had heavily reduced ice time. . . Keith Ballard and Karlis Skrastins blocked four shots each. . . Rostislav Olesz led the Panthers with five hits. . . Shawn Matthias had one shift on a power play and a little under nine minutes on the afternoon. . . David Booth hurt his shoulder and didn't return for the third period. Although it's minor, he's "questionable" for Tuesday. . .


The Amerks are in action right now (you can listen online at WHTK's website) and they're ahead of the Toronto Marlies through two periods, 3-2.

Michal Repik and Janis Sprukts each have a goal and an assist. For Repik, his goal count is at seven and with his two points so far tonight, he now has fifteen and that leads the team.

Rochester called up another player from the Florida Everblades, as well (due to injuries): Kevin Baker, a 29-year-old winger, joined the club after a hot start in the ECHL -- 13 goals, 25 points through 15 games was good enough for third in the league. Baker played last night, although he was unable to help the Amerks as they fell to Grand Rapids, 3-1. Baker has already been sent back.

Ultimately, the game went into a shootout tied at three. Repik scored in his first attempt and in his second, put the puck off both posts. After eight rounds, the Marlies prevalied.

I'll have the updates on the young guys this past week tomorrow.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Points All Around, More Moves

Tonight, the Panthers played a great game, especially when you consider they were without Cory Stillman, Nathan Horton and Richard Zednik.

Nick Tarnasky made his Panthers debut and Shawn Matthias was back after injuries forced a recall.

It was a rough start with two very, very quick Rangers goals (Zherdev and Fritsche), but Florida stayed on their game for most of the night and ultimately, Radek Dvorak and Jay Bouwmeester added goals to even things up.

Seven minutes into the third, Aaron Voros gave the Rangers the lead again, and it remained 3-2 until the 18:27 mark of the third period when David Booth came through with his twelfth goal of the year -- tying the game in the final two minutes for the second game in a row.

In the shootout, Rostislav Olesz made a great move and beat Lundqvist, but Anderson was beat five-hole each of the first two Rangers shooters (Naslund, Zherdev). With Weiss stopped between the two Rangers, the chance fell to Michael Frolik. Frolik missed the net after a deke and that was the end of it.

As for ice time, Jay Bouwmeester blew everyone away: 31:28. David Booth led the forwards with 23:23, and from one extreme to the other, Anthony Stewart wound up with a whopping 4:22.

Shawn Matthias had 5:42 and newcomer Nick Tarnasky had 5:36.

Speaking of Matthias -- the Rochester club that he left this week to join the Panthers has snapped their seven-game losing streak.

The Amerks took on Lake Erie and came out with their heads held high and a 2-1 victory. Scoring the goals for Rochester were Dan Collins (from Duco and Sweetland) and then Michal Repik (Meyer, Ellerby). Sweetland's assist is his first career point in the AHL.

Chris Beckford-Tseu stopped 27 of 28, and the Amerks are now 3-16-1.

Rochester added a new face to their roster this week, as well, acquiring Randall Gelech -- a winger -- from Grand Rapids via loan. In his Amerks debut this evening, Gelech put up three shots.

Additionally, the Amerks have reassigned Luke Beaverson to the Florida Everblades. Beaverson is in his first full pro season since leaving the University of Alaska-Anchorage last season.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Wade Belak Traded, Matthias Recalled

First, happy Thanksgiving. I was busy again so I'm way behind, here. Should be good next week, but through Sunday, I'm going to be away from a computer most all day.

The Panthers have traded Wade Belak to the Nashville Predators for Nick Tarnasky. You may remember Tarnasky from his days with the Lightning.

Florida gets much younger with this trade, although Nick is certainly not a fighter of Belak's caliber. Still, he's a big guy and he will fight. He's much more of a pest than Wade Belak is.

Is that a good thing? I don't know, but it definitely changes things a bit. Tarnasky can chip in offensively a little and his hockey ability is, overall, much better than Wade Belak.

Florida loses a guy with a great room personality and that's tough to replace, but when you're sitting at the bottom of the league, you've got to do what you've got to do.

You could wonder why Nashville didn't just claim Belak when they could have had him for nothing off waivers, but that would just take up another roster spot and add a salary. You don't want that, so the trade was the more feasible option for Nashville.

Tarnasky is only 24 and his 2008/2009 salary is $525k, whereas Wade Belak was at $650k. Next year, Tarnasky will make $550k, so the Panthers do save some money with this trade as well.

It's a shame to see Wade go, but unfortunately an enforcer that can't get anyone to fight him just isn't going to work out. Maybe he'll have better luck in Nashville. Hopefully.

Beyond that, Jacques has recalled Shawn Matthias. The 20-year-old will make his second trip to the Panthers already, despite his significant AHL struggles. Through 19 games, Shawn has 4 points, but is also a team-worst -19. He'd been dropped to the Amerks' fourth line for some time, so I guess it's a better decision to recall him than one of the players that has been producing lately since the Amerks really need any production that they can get.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Rochester Makes a Move, Panthers Lose

I've been busy, so I missed a few things (sorry!), and now I'm just tired, so I haven't got much at this point, either.. Though that isn't to say there has been a lull in activity..

Rochester has acquired Randall Gelech from the Grand Rapids Griffins via loan. Gelech is a 24-year-old right wing who was drafted into the NHL by Phoenix in 2003. Since then, the winger has played in 70+ games each of the past four AHL seasons (Utah, San Antonio, Grand Rapids).

Not a goal-scorer, but an upgrade over some of the roster depth for sure, Gelech will also add some experience and hopefully a little more stability. Kevin Oklobzija writes that the Panthers are also attempting to bring in a veteran, as well.

In that Q&A with Jack Birch the other day, I'd asked a question about Jacob Markström and what the Panthers are planning with his development. Birch's response actually seemed to add a modest hint of the possibility that the Panthers could try making an early move to bring the young goalie over, but there are quite a few factors (especially Craig Anderson) that would influence any kind of decision. The bottom line is that the Cats are very high on Markström, and so far, for good reason.

The Panthers lost tonight although Wade Belak was back for his first game post-waivers. Jay Bouwmeester finally broke through with his first goal of the season and David Booth scored his eleventh already.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Zednik Hurt, but Cats Win

So, another Panther is hurt. Cory Stillman's still recovering from a concussion, Nick Boynton suffered a concussion from his fight with Lucic and now Zednik hurt his arm tonight against Carolina and that apparently, it's a "substantial" injury with a down-time that's probably measured in weeks, not days.

Before I link the game recap, I thought it was worth reminding you that tomorrow at noon, Jack Birch will be doing that live Q&A at the Democrat and Chronicle website. You can probably check here for a direct link, if it isn't just done right there on Kevin O's blog.

Markström on Sweden's 2009 WJC Roster

Sweden's roster appears set for the upcoming WJC's in Ottawa, and at the top of the list is Florida Panthers' goaltender Jacob Markström.

Making it that much sweeter is that Markström recorded another shutout today, stopping all 40 Södertälje shots.

Markström will be joined by Sweden's star defense prospect Victor Hedman and forward Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson.

J-Bo Rumours Heating Up

The Panthers needed a shakeup; anything they could do to try to change the attitude in the locker room. No one wanted to see Belak waived, but it definitely stirred up emotions.

After all, here's a guy that everyone likes. He was brought in to protect his teammates and to fight when needed. The role of an enforcer is an important, but extremely limited role, yet the team's poor performance didn't push an underachieving forward to the waiver wire -- it was the well-liked, underplayed Wade Belak.

And it pissed off a lot of the players.

But just putting a good friend on the market and essentially giving him away as punishment to the rest of the team is likely only one of the moves that Martin has been keying in on the past couple of weeks. Especially if waiving Belak fails to ultimately yield positive results.

So let's get to the stuff that's out there.

790 the Ticket is reporting that Bouwmeester is quite literally about to get moved. Meaning, it could happen today. Before tonight's game, right after tonight's game.. during tonight's game. Who knows. Is there validity to that report? It's definitely possible.

Last week, Jack Birch told the Democrat & Chronicle that the Panthers have been actively exploring their options, and Martin admited to the Miami Herald that he's been talking to other general managers across the league.

And if the Cats don't have a good night tonight..?

I'm thinking that Belak getting waived was only a stop-gap move as Martin sets his sights on a larger deal with the hope that it might fire up the team a bit to carry them through the lull.

With Nathan Horton being moved back to wing, that leaves Stephen Weiss, Brett McLean and Kamil Kreps as the Panthers' top three centers. So the Panthers need to add some help down the middle, and that of course that brings back the fascination that Jacques has always had for Senators' center Antoine Vermette going back to Martin's days as coach of the Ottawa Senators.

The Ottawa Sun seems to agree, adding that Cristoph Schubert has been dangled as trade bait before for the Sens. But beyond that, the Sun claims that Radek Dvorak and Rostislav Olesz are up for grabs on the Panthers' end.

I really like Vermette, and he had a great year last year despite being stuck on the third line behind Jason Spezza and Mike Fisher. But there are a few other teams out there that could have quite a bit to offer the Panthers, as well.

Pittsburgh has an excess of centers with Malkin, Crosby and Staal and they've also got very good young defensive prospects (Letang, Goligoski) that are already playing regularly with injuries to Ryan Whitney and Sergei Gonchar. Jordan Staal has been playing in a similar situation as Antoine Vermette, but Staal only just turned 20 years old. The Flyers have been brought up in Bouwmeester rumours many times before and Jeff Carter's been rumoured, as well.

Still, this is Jacques Martin behind the wheel. He's proven to be extremely unpredictable thus far, so I might have a better chance explaining in perfect detail all aspects of dark matter than I would of guessing what JM's going to do.

Regardless, the writing is on the wall. Changes are coming.

Wade Belak Clears Waivers

Wade Belak has cleared waivers!

Don't know what's going to happen next, but hopefully he'll be playing with with some aggression because this team needs some serious attitude tonight against Carolina.

Prospects: Week of 11.17.08

Rochester had two games this week, hosting the Toronto Marlies on Wednesday and on Friday, the Manchester Monarchs.

Chris Beckford-Tseu has remained the Amerks' go-to guy thus far. Sometimes, I really wonder why they signed him to a two-year deal. But regardless, Tyler Plante hadn't been good enough to take the top spot away from him, and David Shantz hasn't really had a great opportunity, yet. Though it may be coming very soon.

Wednesday, Rochester buried themselves with two poor, early penalties that put them down two men and the Marlies quickly capitalized, jumping to a 1-0 lead. A goal later and the Marlies took the game into the first intermission on top, 2-0.

2 and-a-half minutes into the second, Stefan Meyer scored his fourth (Keaton Ellerby and Jordan Henry with assists) and put the Amerks to within one, but the momentum quickly died as Toronto scored two goals within 100 seconds -- only two minutes after Meyer had put the team to within a goal.

Rory Fitzpatrick scored a power play goal in the third -- his first goal of the year -- with Jason Garrison and Michal Repik getting assists, but Toronto had already added a fifth, and this one went final at 5-2 Marlies.

Friday night was the same. Early two-man advantage for the visiting team, early 1-0 deficit. Beckford-Tseu faced eighteen shots in the first fourteen minutes of the game and even made some good stops, but he allowed the Monarchs to jump out to a 2-0 lead on a weak shot from the blue line. Head coach Benoit Groulx pulled CBT and put David Shantz into the game before the team could be any more discouraged on this particular evening.

Dan Collins scored a pair of goals a little over two minutes apart in the second period to tie the game, although at the time, the first goal was credited to David Brine -- eventually, he was taken off the scoresheet for the tally and Jacob Micflikier and Franklin MacDonald ended up getting the assists. Brine did assist on the game tying goal, though.

Shantz faced two shots in his limited time in the first and six in the second, stopping the eight total, but he was beat when Manchester went on -- yes, another 5-on-3 power play. Manchester carried the 3-2 lead through the period until scoring a short-handed empty-net goal at the end to put the icing on the cake; 4-2 Monarchs.

David stopped 18 of 19, although through two games, he's allowed five goals. His goals-against-average is at 2.93 and his save percentage is at .906%.

One other note about Rochester is that they sent Jacob Micflikier back down to the Florida Everblades. Micflikier isn't Panthers' property, though. Still, I thought I'd sahre this: in his first game in Estero, Micflikier had two goals and four assists, while the 'Blades won, 12-0. There were 11 player ejections and a ton of fights and penalties, two line brawls, I believe.


Dayton played four games, winning two and losing two.
Tyler Plante played in two of those games, first on Friday against Gwinnett. Plante stopped 33 of 37, but the Bombers lost, 4-2. On Sunday, however, Tyler Plante was able to finally pick up his first win of the season. Still with limited offensive support, Plante managed to turn aside all but one of the 29 shots he faced. In the process, helping Dayton past Augusta, 2-1.

Plante is now 1-2 with a 2.69 GAA and a .914%.


Adam Comrie scored a goal in the first of three Saginaw games this week -- the second Spirit goal in a 3-2 victory against Owen Sound -- and was a +1 in each of the three Saginaw wins. With the 3-0 weekend, the Spirit are now 15-7-0-1, yet they're thirteen points behind division leading Windsor (22-2-0-0). . . James DeLory, the Panthers' potential future tough-guy got in to his first fight since being returned to the OHL on Friday with Kyle Neuber. Despite the size advantage for DeLory, Neuber is one of the OHL's toughest (remember that Hockey's Future Q&A with James? He mentions Neuber there). And Neuber shows us why he's got that reputation in the fight, while DeLory looks to have held his own well. But DeLory did more than just fight this weekend -- he scored his second goal of the season on Sunday, going +2 in a 4-3 loss. Meanwhile, DeLory's teammate, potential #1 draft pick John Tavares, may be headed to the already talented Windsor Spitfires. . . The Plymouth Whalers were scheduled to play two games this week, but conditions for travel were hampered by the weather, so the Friday game against Owen Sound was postponed, but they did play on Saturday, and A.J. Jenks added two assists (5) and even a fight in the second period. But despite Jenks' two points, he was a -2 in what proved to be a 5-4 overtime loss to Sault Ste. Marie. . . Corey Syvret was unable to help Guelph put anything past Barrie's Michael Hutchinson, who stopped all 36 shots, on Friday. The game was the only one the Storm played this week. The result, 1-0 Barrie. . . Brady Calla is back with the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL and in his return Wednesday, Calla picked up two assists as the Blazers skated to a 4-2 win against Prince George. He was kept off the board in Friday's 6-4 loss to Vancouver, and then on Saturday, scored the Blazers' only goal in a second straight loss to Vancouver, this time by a 6-1 score. . . Colby Robak injured his shoulder last week and didn't play in any of Brandon's three games. Fortunately, the defenseman is only day-to-day. . .


Matt Rust spent the weekend on the third line as #9 Michigan took on #7 Miami (Ohio). The Redhawks beat Michigan in both games (0-2, 1-2) and kept Rust off the board, although he's been playing on the Wolverines' penalty kill and they've been doing a great job. But Rust was assessed a five-minute major for checking from behind in the first period of Saturday's game, and with it, a game misconduct. . . This week, Ohio State was on the road to play Northern Michigan. Defenseman Matt Bartkowski was on the top pairing for the OSU Buckeyes for both games, firing five shots on goal over the weekend. None made it through, but Ohio State split the weekend series, losing 3-1 on Friday and winning 2-0 on Saturday. . . Ryan Watson and Western Michigan were off this week. . .


Derrick LaPoint played on the top pairing for North Dakota as the Sioux visited Minnesota-Duluth for two games. North Dakota played to a 2-2 tie on Friday and on Saturday, lost 3-1. The Sioux are now 4-7-1. . . Denver, ranked 10th in the nation, hosted #1 Minnesota for a two-game series and in the first game, the Pioneers were easily handed a 5-2 loss. Freshman defender John Lee was a -2, while goaltender Marc Cheverie gave up the five goals on twenty-two shots and was replaced in net in the third period. But Saturday was a MUCH different story. While John Lee added his second assist since moving to college, Marc Cheverie was absolutely unbeatable. Not only did he help carry Denver past the top team in the nation, he completely shut them down, making 34 saves on 34 shots for the first shutout of his career. So it was only fitting that the Chevy was the first star in Denver's 4-0 upset of Minnesota on Saturday night. . .

Hockey East

Maine hosted Merrimack, while
Matt Duffy played on the middle pairing Friday and the top pairing on Saturday. The Black Bears won 2-1 on Friday night and on Saturday, skated to a 1-1 tie. . . Brian Foster returned for the New Hampshire Wildcats and in his first game since the injury, turned aside 33 of 36 Northeastern shots, including a 17 shot second period in which he stopped them all. Still, the Wildcats lost the penalty-loaded game (12 penalties for each team, over 60 minutes in all) 3-2. On Saturday, Foster was back in the win column as he stopped 32 of 35 from Northeastern and helped snap UNH's 4-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory. . .


Everybody's favourite Swedish goalie played in all three games for Brynäs this week, and he's playing very well once again. On Tuesday,
Jacob Markström stopped 29 of 31 as Brynäs upended Djurgårdens, 4-2. Thursday, he stopped 24 of 26 in a 2-2 draw against Färjestad, and on Saturday, 25 of 28 in another deadlock, this time against Luleå, 3-3. That all adds up to a save percentage a little under 92% and just over 2 goals against per game over the last three outings.

Czech Republic

Martin Lojek has two goals (two points) with Havířovská hokejová společnost (HC Havirov) in fourteen games. . . Václav Nedorost played in two games this week and added one assist (11). . .

2008 ADT Canada-Russia Challenge

Sergey Gayduchenko has been in net for the Russian Selects during the 2008 ADT Canada-Russia Challenge, which began on Monday last week. Gayduchenko stopped 16 shots but allowed four goals in game one against Team QMJHL, while a fifth goal came with an empty-net in the third.

Game two, also against the QMJHL, was played on Wednesday. Gayduchenko faced 33 shots, stopping 30 as the Russians won the second game by a score of 4-3.

Thursday, the games moved to Ontario but Gayduchenko didn't play. The game was tied through two periods, but three unanswered goals for the OHL's best put the score at 6-3, and that's where it would end.

Game four is today, and then the focus shifts to the WHL for two games on Wednesday and Thursday. There are no Panthers' prospects playing on the Canadian side in the tournament.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Belak on Waivers

The Panthers waived Wade Belak today.

Belak has played in 14 games, with an average of 4:21 per game. He's only been able to drop the gloves once this year -- against Minnesota's Derek Boogaard. And Wade took away one of the Boogeyman's teeth.

Since then, no one has fought Wade.

I don't think there's a two-way clause in his contract, but apparently, money is not the issue.

The Panthers have been pretty bad lately, and this seems to be an attempt at a locker-room shakeup. Is it the right guy? I don't know. But, Wade is a well-liked player, and you would hope his (maybe former) teammates respond to this. JM has basically just told them that their lackluster performances have forced a good guy, and friend, off the team. I hope that means something to them.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Night Bites, Olesz a Healthy Scratch

Tonight, I predicted a 5-3 Bruins victory, but I was wrong. It was a 4-2 Bruins victory.

Jassen Cullimore's knee injury doesn't seem to be all that serious, and he was wearing a brace at the time, which no doubt helped him out. So that's good news. Cory Stillman didn't play either, but Kreps was back in.

Rostislav Olesz was the Cats' healthy scratch tonight. Said DeBoer, "
We're 17 games in, and I haven't seen enough yet. This is the next step to getting him to where we need him to be. I'm a big believer in giving an opportunity and then putting you on notice. This is the next step. This is the only tool a coach really has. He has to be better for us. He's a nice kid and a smart player. But we need more than that. We don't have the luxury to wait for guys like that for 15, 20 games. We just don't." DeBoer also said that, at least for now, the Nathan Horton experiment at center is over.

Anyway, Boston's a great team, and they're a physical team. Boston's a fun team. And tonight, it was "Ode to Slap Shot" night -- the movie -- so it was fitting that there was a fight. Midway through the second, Milan Lucic hit Michael Frolik and Nick Boynton immediately came to Frolik's defense. Lucic's a big guy, though, and it was a pretty decisive victory for the young Bruin while Boynton's face got cut up a bit.

Tonight's Panthers looked like a team that knew they were outmatched, and they responded as such. After an early Bruins goal on a Phil Kessel breakaway, David Booth shot in and fired a wrister so fast off the post that they had to review the shot to confirm that the post that it hit was in the back of the net. That was the end of the Panthers' competitiveness, though.

Patrice Bergeron scored for the Bruins not long after, redirecting a shot by Matt Hunwick past Tomas Vokoun, and then it pretty much went down hill from there.

In the second, the puck came up the boards to Keith Ballard, and Ballard fell forward while winding up to shoot the puck. The fall led to a 3-on-1 for Boston, Noah Welch being the Panthers' defenseman. Welch played the pass, and when it came across, he blocked the shot. Unfortunately, the puck bounced off Welch right to David Krejci who scored an easy goal. Soon after, a Bruins power play yielded a goal from Marc Savard, and the Panthers were done like dinner.

They fought back and Ville Peltonen picked up a goal off a rebound. It was his first of the season, by the way.

Peltonen actually had 16:51 tonight in ice time. 16:12 for Frolik. On the flipside, Wade Belak had 2:53, while Anthony Stewart had 7:10. Bryan McCabe had 28 minutes, which led the team, and Nathan Horton led the forwards with 18:31.

During the intermissions, I was listening to the Amerks game as they were hosting the Manchester Monarchs. Down 2-0, I tuned in just in time to hear David Brine score his first of the year. And then only a couple minutes later, Dan Collins scored -- with Brine picking up an assist. Eventually, the Brine goal was changed and credited to Collins, so it's a two-goal night for Dan.

Chris Beckford-Tseu had been pulled in the first after giving up two goals on eighteen shots, and Shantz held his own, allowing only one on nineteen shots as the Monarchs scored in the third, then iced it with an empty-netter at the end.

So if you came looking for good news, I'm sorry to disappoint you. In the end, it's just another tough night for the Panthers and their affiliate in Rochester. Both teams dropping their games, 4-2.

Matthias Article in the Democrat & Chronicle

If you've been following Rochester, or reading about Matthias here, or wherever, you probably know that he hasn't exactly been lighting it up with his 4 points and -17 rating. So, if you're interested, Kevin Oklobzija has an excellent article about Shawn on the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle website.

Here's the start of the article, and the rest is linked:
The Call to Duty and Halo showdowns between Shawn Matthias and Keaton Ellerby are quickly building from a casual, pass-the-day activity to true gamer rivalry.

"We have some good matches," Matthias said, "but I'm getting the best of him."

He wouldn't stoke the I'm-best fire, though. Trash talk is not Matthias' game.

Unless, of course, he's talking about himself. Then he'll beat himself up.

The Rochester Americans' first-year centerman has found the transition to pro hockey to be very difficult. He has gone from star in the Ontario Hockey League and overtime hero for Canada at the 2008 World Junior Championship to overshadowed, overwhelmed American Hockey League rookie.

And he knows it. No one needs to yell at him or criticize him. He's doing that all himself.

Through 17 games, he has scored just three goals, assisted on one and his plus/minus rating is a team-worst minus-17. . . READ MORE

With his slow start, people have already considered Matthias a bust, but it's way too early to think something like that. He has worked hard in juniors to get this far, and he will have to do it again, that's all.

There was a quote that Matthias didn't play as hard as he should have when he was dismissed from Panthers' camp, and it's earned him the label of being a 'primadonna'. I disagree wholeheartedly with that assessment, though. Rochester still is, but had been struggling badly at the time, and everyone knows that when things are bad, they only seem to get worse. So when that quote came along, people didn't see Matthias as an inexperienced kid who had a lot to learn. Instead, he was perhaps unfairly thrown under the bus as just another one of many negatives in this bleak Rochester season.

For now, though, waiting seems the only option as Matthias has a long way to go to become the NHLer he will someday be. However, the situation in Rochester is going to force him to grow up fast.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Panthers 1 | Devils 3

Well, you probably didn't enjoy the game, unless you're a fan of the Devils -- or at least a fan of Michael Frolik. Why? Yes! He finally scored! Actually, he got robbed earlier by Clemmensen, too.

Here's the early AP writeup on the game, because I honestly don't feel like writing anything about it right now.

Short summary.. they shut down the Devils shooters in the latter two periods, but some fancy passing and great teamwork made for some pretty easy looking New Jersey goals. Meanwhile, Cullimore was injured when Stephen Weiss came crashing down on to his leg. It looked awfully painful, and after a minute on the ice, Cullimore was helped off the ice, putting no pressure at all on the leg. Let's hope it's minor, but it didn't look to be that way.. and of course, Frolik's first goal. He deserved it, for sure. Anyway, here you go. Sorry it's not more lively tonight..
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -Patrik Elias and Brian Gionta each had a goal and an assist in the New Jersey Devils' 3-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.

Defenseman Paul Martin ignited a two-goal spurt in a 62-second span early in the third period, and Scott Clemmensen came within 11:18 of his first shutout in more than four years as the Devils won their second straight game after losing four in a row.

Clemmensen finished with 23 saves.

Michael Frolik, the 10th pick overall in the 2006 draft, spoiled Clemmensen's bid for a third career shutout, scoring his first NHL goal on a power play.

Elias and Gionta combined to break a scoreless tie at 6:47 of the second period on what turned out to be the Devils' only shot on Tomas Vokoun in the stanza. . . READ MORE

No, you didn't misread. They only had one shot on goal in the second. And it was IN the goal.

This should be fun..

Next Tuesday (November 25), Panthers' director of player personnel, Jack Birch, will join the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle for a live, one-hour open chat.

While I'm sure Panthers' questions would be welcomed, I don't expect any. Hell, I'm not even going to ask about the Panthers. Birch was quoted yesterday by as saying, "We spend $2 Million a year on scouting," when asked about free agents. So I'm thinking Amerks questions, and frustrations, are going to be in abundant supply.

Putting on his shoes for a moment, I can understand why he'd be aggravated when someone that "doesn't know" tries to tell him how to do his job. But it's not earning Jack Birch -- or the Panthers -- any fans, by giving a seemingly disinterested and arrogant response.

So this chat is a good about-face from that, and it will at least give fans something. There are so many questions to be asked. There's just so little time.

If you go ahead and jump in and participate, whether you like Birch or not (assuming you've dealt with him), the only encouragement I can give is that this is something that could be very interesting, and maybe it will provide some real, valuable insight into the situation. Maybe. So if you just want to rip the guy, consider saving it for the games. It may just take time away from someone that has a good question.

I'll write again the night before for a reminder in the off-chance you actually want to ask something about the Panthers (like about Frolik, for example). Otherwise, If I'm able to, I'll copy the stuff so you can read it all later. Depending on whether it gets reprinted or not, we'll see. I'll have to ask.

For now, the Panthers and Devils are seconds away from the opening faceoff, so enjoy the game.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Brady Calla Sent Back to Kamloops

Right winger Brady Calla was removed from the Rochester Americans' roster and returned to the Western Hockey League's Kamloops Blazers to play out the rest of the season.

Calla, 20, managed one assist in eight games with the Amerks. The decision will send him back to the WHL to let him further his development at a more practical level, and hopefully, bring him back next year having benefited from the experience.

At the end of last season, Calla did play in a handful of games for Rochester under then-coach Randy Cunneyworth (now an assistant with the Atlanta Thrashers), scoring two goals and two assist, however those six games came at the end of his junior season.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Panthers @ Lightning | 7:30 PM (No TV!)

Tonight's game is radio only. Even if you have Center Ice, the only way you're watching this game is if you're at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa. So, hopefully you're a fan of radio, because it's Moller and Lindsay tonight. Tune in or listen online at 790 The Ticket.

Even if you don't like radio, there are few things more entertaining (and random) than Randy Moller.

Stillman's had a recurrence of after-effects from his concussion, so he's not playing tonight. Likely not for the rest of the week, so DeBoer's just saying "indefinitely". Cory suffered the concussion on November 2nd against Atlanta, returned on the 12th and played in two games, though with no offensive production. When the symptoms returned, the organization chose to take the safe -- and smart -- route and give him ample time to make sure everything's going to be 100%.

Kreps might be back tonight. He skated with the team, but if they don't think he's good to go, it's just like with Stillman. Kreps, if you don't know, is recovering from a concussion of his own, so it's the same thing. Just have to be safe.

Brett McLean was, or maybe still is, down here dealing with a family matter, but he'll be with the team in time for the game.

With the injury to Stillman, Michael Frolik gets to move up and take another crack at the top line. So, expect to see (not really, since it's radio only) Frolik - Horton - Olesz up top tonight.

He was quoted on the Cats' site after being asked about his recent struggles and missed chances:
[It's] been hard. I just can’t put it in. I just have to play hard at practice, shoot more at practice and I have to think the right way and think it’s going to come.

He's got the right attitude, but if it doesn't come soon, at what point do the Panthers have to get worried about his confidence taking a major, major hit? Is he already getting down on himself? Maybe he can get that first goal tonight. I've wanted to see Frolik and Olesz on a line (for more than one or two shifts) for quite some time..

With that line and the recent production from the Booth - Weiss - Zednik line, that's likely line two. Noah Welch is the Cats' healthy scratch and Vokoun is in net.

So what else..?

Melrose is out, Tocchet's in for the Lightning, so I don't think we're going to see the same team that the Panthers beat 4-0 on Wednesday.

Steven Stamkos will be on the top line for Tampa with Lecavalier and St. Louis, and former Cats Chris Gratton and Gary Roberts will make up two-thirds of a rough, gritty fourth line. Ryan Craig is a healthy scratch, so no Boynton/Craig rematch, and Ryan Malone is out with a leg injury.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Prospects: Week of 11.10.08

It was another tough weekend to be an Amerk fan as the team not only lost all three games, but had great chances to win all three.

Friday night, the Amerks got goals from Michal Repik (3) and Stefan Meyer (4), and took the defending AHL champion Chicago Wolves into a shootout. Rochester went 0-for-5 in the shootout, while Chicago went 1-for-5, and skated off with a 3-2 win. Janis Sprukts had two assists and Jason Garrison and Rory Fitzpatrick each had one. Chris Beckford-Tseu stopped 32 of 34.

On Saturday, Rochester was in Ontario to play the Hamilton Bulldogs, and jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on a shorthanded goal from Sprukts (2) and a power play goal by Mike Duco (5). Hamilton pulled to within one, and then Meyer scored his third of the season early in the second. But only two minutes later, Hamilton again drew to within one, and fifteen seconds later, they had tied the game. It would stay tied until the 18:37 mark of the third, when, with a two-man advantage, Hamilton took a 4-3 lead. Beckford-Tseu stopped 27 of 31, and Kenndal McArdle, David Brine, Meyer and Sprukts each tallied assists.

Against Hamilton again on Sunday, the outcome was no better. David Shantz got his first start, and Rochester again claimed the lead in the first period off the stick of Jordan Henry (1). Hamilton tied the game -- shorthanded, and thirty-one seconds later, still on a power play, Repik scored his fourth to make it 2-1. Hamilton scored early in the third, and then scored two straight shorthanded goals 25 seconds apart, before cushioning their lead with an empty-net goal. 5-2 final. Fitzpatrick and Garrison assisted
on the Repik goal.


Tyler Plante didn't play for Dayton on Friday as he was still on standby for the Panthers, but he returned and played his first ECHL game of the year on Saturday night. The Bombers came in to the game winners of four straight with a 7-2-1 record, but Plante wasn't able to carry the team in his first start. Two power play goals against and one at even strength found Plante pulled for the extra attacker, but Johnstown iced it with an empty-net goal and went on to beat the Bombers, 4-1. Plante didn't play Sunday.


James DeLory, now a right wing, played for the first time since being returned to the Oshawa Generals and appeared in all three games this week. After going unnoticed on the scoresheet Wednesday, DeLory assisted on what proved to be the game winner, and on Sunday, he picked up his first goal of the year on the power play. John Tavares centered DeLory a bit this weekend. . . Adam Comrie was even in plus/minus and without points through two games, Saginaw falling in both. . . A.J. Jenks was blanked this week as Plymouth* finished with a win (5-1, vs. Saginaw) and a loss (6-2, vs. London). . . Corey Syvret was a -1 with 2 PIM as Guelph went 1-1 for the weekend. . . Colby Robak (pictured) had an assist and 2 PIM in a 6-2 win on Tuesday, but left Friday's game (2-1 loss to Calgary) in the first period with a shoulder injury. He didn't play Saturday, and is day-to-day. The Wheat Kings lost Saturday's game to Seattle, 5-4. . .

* Plymouth Whalers head coach Greg Stefan resigned last Monday, and took a position with the Carolina Hurricanes. Mike Vellucci, Plymouth's President and General Manger -- and winningest coach in franchise history -- has reclaimed the coaching duties. If you're interested, Carolina Hurricanes' owner Pete Karmanos also owns the Plymouth Whalers. And yes, he owns the Florida Everblades of the ECHL, too.


After going without points this weekend for Michigan,
Matt Rust now has only one in his last six games. The Wolverines dropped from #8 to #9 in the USA Today/USA Hockey poll. . . Matt Bartkowski had one of Ohio State's 17 shots on goal and was on the starting defense pairing in the Buckeyes' lone game this week: a 4-0 win against Robert Morris University (near Pittsburgh). Bartkowski also took two minor penalties, one for interference and the other for roughing. . . Ryan Watson (Western Michigan) did not play in either game this week. . .


Denver's John Lee was a +2 without points as the Pioneers were beaten in both games by St. Cloud State, with Marc Cheverie on the hook for both losses. Chevy stopped 29 of 33 in a 4-2 loss Friday, and 24 of 26 in a 2-1 loss on Saturday. The Pioneers fell from #4 to #10. . . North Dakota made it to #15 in the
USA Today/USA Hockey poll and Derrick LaPoint was on the ice to start both games, although he was unable to add any offense. North Dakota won the latter of the two games. . .

Hockey East

New Hampshire fell from #5 to #10 without Brian Foster, who suffered an ankle injury earlier in the week. The Wildcats gave up eight goals in each of their two games, and allowed a total of 72 shots on goal.
. . Maine swept Providence in their two-game weekend series, while defenseman Matt Duffy played on the top pairing for a night and the bottom pairing for the other. . .


Jacob Markström was back in the net for Brynäs on Thursday. In a road loss against Linköping, Markström let in three goals on only twenty shots, but he recovered nicely against Frölunda on Saturday, turning aside 25 of 26 as Brynäs won the game, 2-1.


Evgeny Dadonov has three goals and three assists for Chelyabinsk. In the Czech league, 26-year old Vaclav Nedorost has eight goals and eighteen points in twenty-three games. Martin Lojek, who returned to the Czech Republic, apparently was not impressive with Oceláři Třinec, and is currently playing for Havířovská hokejová společnost (HC Havirov Panthers) in the Czech first division.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

What's in the bag? It's Panthers swag!

As I'd written before, I won a Panthers/Puck Daddy contest, and with it, four tickets to the ADT Club for last night's game. The food and drinks in said section were free (and good) and I got a gift bag, as well.

First off, the bag. It was a nice bag that I can probably use to carry my skates around if I ever get sick of just hanging them off my shoulder.. I only took a couple of pictures, so you can't really tell. But it's a nice bag.

In the bag were two navy blue Florida Panthers hats with the Cats' logo on the front. I lost my last Panthers hat the last time I moved, so this is good. And now I have a spare..

There were also two wallet schedules, so added to the many that I've already gotten at games and that came with my season tickets, plus the ones that have been sitting around in piles at other random places, I could start distributing the things and still have too many. But, they are definitely useful, and no, I never take the whole pile when I see them lying around.

I put my Growl magazine in the bag after the game, and just pulled it out. So we'll pretend that was in there, too.

What else..? You know those goofy thundersticks? They threw a pair of those in there so if I ever get the urge to bring two large, inflatable noisemakers, the option is there. You just never know.

Refrigerator magnet schedules. Big ones. This is good. I've wanted to get one, and now I have two, so I'll have to find a place to put the other one so that I can see it by the computer.

I laughed when I pulled out the Panthers' sweater beer koozies. They're pretty neat, so even if I never really put them to use, they'll look good on display somewhere.

There's a box.. maybe a shirt or something? It's pretty heavy.

This is sytrofoam, so I doubt it's a shirt. Nope, it's definitely not a shirt. It's a Stanley C. Panther bobblehead! It's cool, although it looks a little creepy. My cat attacked it the first time I tried to take a picture of this stuff.

I was surprised at how heavy it was, though. It isn't some cheap, crap quality plastic bobblehead. But don't get me wrong, it's nifty, just surprisingly heavy.

And I've saved the best for last. Not only is it a puck, but it's an autographed puck. And they've outdone themselves. It's signed by Rostislav Olesz! If you'll note the banner image I made at the top of the page, you'll see that Olesz is there twice. This is pretty awesome because Olesz is pretty awesome.

So, a couple of pictures..

Panthers, Amerks Fall to Champs

Both the Panthers and the Amerks lost tough games tonight, each against the defending league champs.

In Florida, the Cats battled back from a 2-0 deficit against the Detroit Red Wings only to come up short when they were unable to apply the same pressure that had helped them through the first forty minutes -- especially during a stretch in the second period where the pace was just phenomenal at both ends.

After a Cullimore holding penalty, the Wings made it 3-2, and with only six shots on goal in the third, the Panthers fell by that same 3-2 score.

I thought, despite a few mistakes, that Michael Frolik played arguably his strongest NHL game to date. He's getting more confident with the puck, but he also managed to stay on his feet. Early on this season, Frolik has looked to be extremely easy to knock down and take out of the play. He's improved there quite a bit since the season started.

Craig Anderson was pulled after only two goals, the first of which was just a terrible goal to let in. Vokoun played well, and the team scored their two goals after the switch had lit the fire; first by Richard Zednik and the second by Stephen Weiss -- from Richard Zednik.

The loss doesn't help the Panthers in the standings, though. Despite having more wins than the Lightning (who just fired Barry Melrose.. seriously, already?) are a point behind, one point above the Islanders -- worst in the league.

Now, moving north, the Amerks played last year's AHL champions, the Chicago Wolves. Unfortunately, the eventual outcome was the same. But, the Amerks took it to a shootout.

Apparently Rochester had scored a goal in the first, which replays seemed to confirm, and referee Chris Brown signaled that it was, in fact, a goal. After the goal was contested by the Wolves' bench, Brown conferred with a linesman who was away from the play, and overturned the decision. Why? I have no idea.

In the second, the Amerks tied the game at one, this time without having the goal overturned, and it came on the power play off the stick of Michal Repik (Garrison and Sprukts with assists). Rochester peppered Wolves' goaltender Dan Turple with 18 shots in the period, but a potential backbreaker came with 22 seconds left in the second when Chicago reclaimed the lead.

With less than five minutes to play in the third and with Rochester on another power play, Stefan Meyer delivered the second game-tying goal (assisted by Janis Sprukts and Rory Fitzpatrick), and helped the Amerks send a game they may well have been winning, into overtime, ultimately to a shootout, which they lost 1-0. Repik, Meyer, Sprukts, Larman and Matthias were the shooters for the Amerks.

This was probably the Amerks' best game of the year, and they just can't catch any breaks. It's a shame. The players are working hard every night, and they deserve better.

Moving on, I read a rumour that a certain NHL team is in danger of not making payroll this week. From what I've heard, one station in New York speculated that it was the Florida Panthers, but the second, citing 'several sources' points to the Tampa Bay Lightning. And right now with the mess that they've got with Melrose getting fired and everything that has been going on, I guess it's possible. Don't know if there's anything there or not, so I guess we'll see.

As for Tyler Plante, he never did end up dressing for the Panthers. Vokoun, obviously, was good to go, so he was on the bench (and eventually in the game) tonight. Plante should be back in Dayton by now.

One last note, and it's not a good one, is an injury to New Hampshire goaltender Brian Foster. He hurt his ankle and is out 'indefinitely'. The Wildcats played without Foster against UMass-Lowell tonight and lost, badly. The final score favored Lowell, 8-3.

I'll write about the Panthers/Puck Daddy contest and what I got sometime tomorrow.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cheverie, Foster Earning Praises

Earlier this week, goalie prospect Marc Cheverie was named the WCHA's Defensive Player of the Week.
University of Denver goaltender Marc Cheverie, who backstopped the Pioneers to a two-game sweep over visiting league rival Minnesota Duluth last weekend, is the Red Baron® WCHA Defensive Player of the Week for November 11-17. . . FULL STORY.

But he's not the only one picking up the good word. Brian Foster was named Hockey East's goalie of the month for October, and last week, he found himself the subject of a College Hockey News feature, which is well worth the read in its entirety.
This season, Foster is making up for lost time. The athletic goalie from Pembroke, N.H., has helped lead New Hampshire to a 4-1-2 record and a 2-0-2 record in Hockey East going into this weekend's non-league games at Minnesota. In six games, Foster, a Florida Panthers draft pick, has gone 4-1-1 and has a 1.48 goals against average and a .951 save percentage.

"I wanted to come in have good year right from the start," Foster said. "But most importantly, I wanted to give my team a chance to win."

Foster is certainly doing that. The Junior has gotten wins against Wisconsin, Rensselaer, Boston University and Northeastern -- three of which are nationally ranked. But maybe even more encouraging for New Hampshire is the fact that Foster has stepped in perfectly and not allowed the team to miss a beat after the departure of Regan.

"He took the spot right over," New Hampshire coach Dick Umile said. "He's a No. 1 goaltender. He's proven that he's going to be a top goalie." . . . FULL STORY.

One extra note, still on the subject of goalies. Jacob Markström played in his first game since being struck in the neck by a puck on November 3rd.

Brynäs took on league-leading Linköpings on Thursday and despite outshooting their opponents 26-20, Markström and Brynäs fell, 3-1.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

One Step Forward and Two Steps Back?

Less than a week after being reassigned from the AHL's Rochester Americans to the Dayton Bombers of the ECHL, Panthers' prospect Tyler Plante has been recalled once again -- but this time, it appears he's coming to the NHL.

According to reports, Tomas Vokoun didn't pull a full practice on Wednesday, although the decision to start Craig Anderson had already been made.

It seems that the starter is suffering from back spasms and unlike against Tampa, the Panthers want to make sure they're able to put a healthy goaltender on the bench in the event that a goaltending swap has to be made.

So if indeed the Cats have recalled Tyler Plante, they elected not to use him against Tampa. He may not even dress for the game tomorrow against Detroit. Or, he may be reassigned by then, but for now, it seems he's around -- just in case.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Anderson Shuts Out Tampa

On Sunday, Craig Anderson stopped 44 of 45 shots and David Booth scored the first hat trick of his career to push the Panthers past Anaheim by a score of 3-1, ending a six game losing streak in the process.

DeBoer chose to ride the hot hand in net tonight and carry that momentum forward, and the decision paid off. Playing a much more inspired game, the Panthers held the Lightning to 24 shots, all of which Anderson was able to stop.

Early on, penalties were nil and at full strength throughout, Florida held Tampa to only four shots, adding eight of their own. One of which was Bryan McCabe firing a shot by Mike Smith to put the Cats ahead late in the first.

Thirty-five seconds in to the second, the Panthers went on the man advantage for the first time on the night. There, Nathan Horton stole away the puck on a backhanded clearing attempt, walked out in front and let fly a blistering wrister that found the back of the net.

Later in the period, the Panthers capitalized on the power play for the second time of the night. During a tangle behind the Tampa net, Horton emerged with the puck and passed it high to Jay Bouwmeester. Bouwmeester drifted back and looked to McCabe who was ready for a one-time opportunity, but Bouwmeester instead threw the puck on net, and Gregory Campbell was there -- on the power play -- to deflect the puck past Smith.

Still standing strong, although only having faced 13 shots through two periods, was Craig Anderson.

As the third period moved along, the physical play picked up and Florida continued attacking. Eventually, it was Gregory Campbell getting rewarded with another goal, and another assist from Jay Bouwmeester, this time on a rush.

Nick Boynton and Ryan Craig dropped the gloves not long after with Boynton looking to have the clear advantage in the short scrap, and the game was over.

Nathan Horton never returned for the third period, but I'm not sure what the problem is. Hopefully it's nothing too serious..

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Another Rochester Move

Rochester reassigned defenseman Doug O'Brien to the Florida Everblades (ECHL) earlier in the day. The move leaves the Amerks with eight active d-men, but it may only be the start of the changes ahead.

Moving O'Brien and bringing back Shantz don't seem like moves that will make a huge difference, if any difference at all, unless of course David Shantz has radically improved, but even then, the Amerks have struggled to score goals.

So, it's possible that these recent moves (and maybe more to come, as guys like Luke Beaverson, Brady Calla, Andrew Sweetland and Dan Collins have been ineffective) could signal something bigger up ahead, or maybe it's just a shakeup to try to change the culture. Either way, it's not like the team isn't working hard. By the time everyone comes of age, the team may be too far gone to turn this into a decent season. An addition would be something I think everyone wants to see.

Monday, November 10, 2008

David Shantz to Rochester

David Shantz has gone 4-2-1 since joining the Dayton Bombers and with Rochester's goaltenders struggling, he's getting another crack at the AHL after being recalled earlier this evening.

As written at, goaltender Tyler Plante packed up his gear after tonight's game against the Moose -- Plante did not play in the game -- and will be heading a bit southwest to tend the nets in Ohio.

Plante has appeared in six games this season, and as a starter has gone 0-5 with a 5.10 GAA and a save percentage right at .850%.

Shantz, through seven games, is 4-2-1 with a 2.35 GAA and a .914 save percentage.

Whether the move yields any significant improvement is a little questionable, as both Plante and Shantz struggled in the AHL last year, while both goaltenders were solid when they played for the Everblades last year.

Last week, Panthers goaltending coach Pierre Groulx went up north to Rochester, so whether this change is just a result of that, or a sign of things to come, we'll just have to wait and see.

Prospects: Week of 11-3-08

Rochester played two games over the weekend, first on Friday and again on Saturday. The Amerks lost 5-1 to Manitoba on Friday night, but rebounded and picked up their second win of the season by beating Houston 3-2 on Saturday.
Shawn Matthias led the way with two goals, while Kenndal McArdle had a goal and one assist. Stefan Meyer scored one goal, his first of the year, and Duco, Repik, Glass, Larman, Sprukts and Fitzpatrick each tallied one assist.

As for the rest of the North American players:

ECHL -- Dayton played Friday, Saturday and Sunday. David Shantz started the games on Saturday and Sunday, winning both. On Saturday, Shantz turned aside 25 of 26 shots and on Sunday, 28 of 30. For the weekend, the Bombers went 3-0, while Shantz pulled a save percentage of around .946%.

Juniors -- Adam Comrie scored a goal (his 5th) on Friday and an assist (7) on Saturday, although he took four minor penalties and then a ten-minute misconduct was assessed while he was serving a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Through 16 games, Comrie's 12 points leads all defensemen on the Saginaw Spirit . . Corey Syvret had an assist (8) on Friday, but was unable to help the team on Sunday, going -2 in a 4-1 loss to Kingston. . . A.J. Jenks had a quiet week, going without points in back-to-back losses before scoring a goal (6) in another loss on Saturday. . . James DeLory has not played for Oshawa. . . To the WHL, Colby Robak put up another assist (7) in a Friday night victory but was kept off the scoresheet on Saturday in a 6-2 loss against Medicine Hat. Like Comrie, Robak leads his team in points by a defenseman.

CCHA -- Matt Rust centered Michigan's second line for a two-game weekend series against Alaska. Rust was held off the scoreboard in the loss on Friday, but registered an assist (5) in the win on Saturday. . . Matt Bartkowski played on the top pairing for Ohio State this weekend, upsetting #8 Michigan State in both games. Friday night, Bartkowski scored a goal (2) and Saturday, an assist (3). The Pittsburgh native shares the defensive point lead with Chris Reed. . . Ryan Watson played in one of Western Michigan's two weekend games but didn't get on the board. . .

WCHA -- North Dakota's Derrick LaPoint spent the weekend first on the top pairing (a 3-1 win) and then on the second pairing (a 7-4 loss). LaPoint finished the week with a -2 and the defenseman was held without a point in either game. . . John Lee didn't log much ice time, or poitns, over the weekend, but the freshman has still been a regular fixture in the Denver lineup, while goaltender Marc Cheverie stopped 61 of 63 shots and helped move Denver back to #6 in the nation. The goaltender's save percentage and goals-against-average have been steadily improving, now at .918% and 2.54, respectively. . .

Hockey East -- Netminder Brian Foster had another strong start on Friday, stopping 39 of 41 shots against #1 Minnesota, but he stumbled on Saturday, allowing four goals on twelve shots in the third period. For the game, Foster allowed six goals on thirty-four shots. . . Maine only played one game this week, and defenseman Matt Duffy was a -1 in Maine's 2-1 win against Boston College.

Panthers Win, too!

Congratulations to David Booth on his first career hat trick. DeBoer said someone was going to have to have a career night, and Booth stepped up and helped power the Cats past the Ducks to put an end to that nasty six-game losing skid...
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -If David Booth had to pick a favorite, his first goal Sunday would probably get the nod.

Booth scored three straight goals for his first NHL hat trick, Craig Anderson made 44 saves and the Florida Panthers recovered from an early miscue to end a six-game winless streak with a 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.

Looking to win the finale of a five-game road trip and end their lengthy winless skid, the Panthers found themselves down 1-0 after Anderson gave up a goal to Corey Perry on the Ducks' first shot, less than 2 minutes into the game.

But Booth was able to draw the struggling Panthers even 2:19 later, lofting a backhander past Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

"It was good to get that first goal, we've given up the first goal a lot lately and haven't come back until the third, so to get one right away helped our team out," said Booth, the former Michigan State star who added two more goals in the second period.

Jassen Cullimore and Steven Weiss each had two assists for Florida.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rochester Wins!

Last night, the Amerks snapped their losing streak and defeated the Houston Aeros, 3-2.

Coming in to the game, the Aeros were 7-4 and second in the West division, while Rochester was 1-10, last in the league.

The game was scoreless through two periods with Chris Beckford-Tseu stopping fourteen shots before the Amerks scored the first goal of the game 5 minutes into the third.

Stefan Meyer, who has missed half of the games already this season, scored his first goal of the year and it came on the power play. Thereafter, the score remained 1-0 until a couple minutes beyond the midway point of the period when Kenndal McArdle scored his third, extending his point streak to five games (2 goals, 3 assists). Twenty-four seconds later, Shawn Matthias took a pass from Mike Duco, skated in and put the puck past Nolan Schaefer, making it 3-0 Rochester.

The Aeros surged, scoring with just over two minutes to play and then again with less than thirty seconds on the clock, but it was too little too late and the Amerks held on to snap their losing streak and come away with a much deserved win.

Rochester is off tonight, but will be back in action Monday night when the Manitoba Moose return for the fourth matchup between the two teams so far (they play each other eight times).

As for the Panthers, they have extended their losing streak to six games.

Olli Jokinen scored a goal and added an assist while the Coyotes skated off with a 4-1 victory.

Florida actually opened the scoring when Richard Zedink chipped away at a puck in front of the net, which slowly slid under Ilya Bryzgalov and into the goal. But it was all Phoenix after that. The Panthers no longer sustained pressure and rather than start a game poorly and play better late, they started well and progressively got worse. Tonight, the Panthers wrap up the road trip in Anaheim.

Game time is 8PM.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Jokinen Quotes and..

Before tonight's game between the Panthers and the Coyotes, you knew there were going to be some questions for Olli Jokinen on how it feels to go up against his former team.

If you want to read the full set of questions and answers (thanks to Steve Gorten of the Sun-Sentinel), go here. Otherwise, I'll pull a couple of quotes for you.

First, the not-so-harsh:
I was there for seven years, so it's going to be weird to face your former teammates, but it's a good thing we play only once against them. . . I'd rather them come in here winning five in a row. But we can't be too focused on what they're doing or what they're going through. . . I always wish the best for the Panthers. I had a good seven years there.

And then some other quotes..
There have always been so many changes, so half the guys on that team I don't even know. Every year, there are five, six new guys. . . They had to do everything possible to sell their season tickets. I was there to take the blame. I have no regrets. . . I knew after the year I was gone, but probably the most disappointing thing was I didn't really get a clear answer. I just heard everything, what was going on, behind the scenes. But I knew I was gone. I just didn't know where. . . I wanted to get out. I didn't want to stay there. . . I heard finally they have a good coach there, too, so that's good.

The whole of the Q&A isn't bad. If you aren't a fan of Jokinen, you'll be less of a fan after you read it. If you were a fan of his, you'll enjoy reading some of what he had to say. I thought it was pretty good, even with his little jab at the end. Actually, I laughed when I read that. Nothing against Jacques, of course.

Puck drops at 9PM.

As for the other thing, apparently I won the Puck Daddy contest for reasons why the Panthers are cool.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Rochester Loses Fifth Straight

For the fifth game in a row, the Rochester Americans have come up short, now winless since October 25 and for the second game in a row, the starting goaltender didn't last the first period -- Plante was yanked after allowing three goals (two on the power play) on eight shots.

Matthias scored the Amerks' lone goal, while McArdle and Repik picked up assists.

Over this five-game skid, Rochester has been outscored 29-10.

I don't really know what comes next.

More DeLory

Well, the Everblades' stint didn't last long.

From the Naples News 'Blades Blog:
And Blades fans have seen the last of James DeLory, a 20-year-old rookie and the team's sole Panthers prospect. The 6-foot-5 "fighter-in-training" had a reputation as a tough guy in the OHL, but he had to learn to switch positions from defense to forward. Because DeLory's just 20, he's eligible for one more year in juniors. Cameron said he'll be sent back to the OHL's Oshawa Generals for his overage year. With 6-foot-8 enforcer Riley Emmerson remaining in the AHL, DeLory's departure leaves the Blades minus-2 big bodies. Plus, with Herauf out on injured reserve, there's a slight void in proven fighters. Should be interesting to see who steps up to fill their roles ... or how soon Emmerson is sent back down to the Blades.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hockey's Future: James DeLory Q&A

There's a Q&A feature on Panthers' prospect James DeLory at Hockey's Future. A lot of the questions are about the position switch (from defense to right wing) and a couple about his former teammate and potential #1 overall pick, John Tavares. It's worth reading, so go check it out.

Stillman Out

The Panthers are back in action tonight on the west coast taking on the Los Angeles Kings, but one definite 'no' for the game will be Cory Stillman.

Stillman, who leads the team with goals (5), was injured against Atlanta when he was hit and landed face first on the ice. Initially, reports were of facial lacerations and it was unclear whether he would return. Eventually, it came out that Stillman had also suffered a concussion. So, he won't be on this road trip.

Now, if you read Stephen Weiss's blog on the Panthers' site, you saw him write that he's good for tonight:
I got a couple practices in this week and I’m ready to get back in tonight. I feel good.

It’s a big road trip for us. Three pretty good teams we don’t see that often, so we’ll have to be at our best. The last time we played Los Angeles they beat us 6 or 7-0, so we’ve got to make sure we’re ready to play. It’s important we have a good start.

Bryan McCabe also practiced, as did Gregory Campbell, so they could return tonight, while Rostislav Olesz left practice near the end, apparently still feeling the nag of a shoulder injury he suffered in the Atlanta game.

For the Kings, Erik Ersberg will start.

Tonight's game is not on local television. Again. So, if you don't have Center Ice and you can't find a stream online, you won't be able to watch the game. As always however, it will be on 790, so worst case, you can still listen.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rochester Fans to the Panthers

At, you can find out a lot about what's going on with the Amerks, and Florida hasn't exactly been winning fans over just yet. Quite the opposite, in fact. Truth is, there's a lot of room for improvement and the Panthers are really lagging behind.

One poster manifested those frustrations into an open letter to the Panthers. It's been forwarded to some people; not just Gorten, Richards and Oklobzija but to some of the people in management, as well. The concern with the team is real, and it's not pretty. So, if you've wanted to read one accurate, well-written overview of how things seem to be up north, here it is.
The 2008-09 AHL season moves into its second month. The hockey team you have provided us is quickly becoming the demise of our very storied and treasured Rochester Americans franchise. This is not being overly dramatic, or negative, or unrealistic.
The fact is, despite all the animus that has surrounded the team over the past few years, you are replacing a very popular, well established institution here in Rochester--the Buffalo NHL team that many local hockey fans have adopted as their own--being as they are only about an hours drive away.

You witnessed our struggles the past few seasons. You vowed last spring, that if given an opportunity you would return some dignity and competitiveness to the good fans of Rochester--something you said we deserved. You had to know you were going to be facing a great challenge and a lot of skepticism and disappointment when local hockey fans woke up the first weekend in October to see the Sabres prospects they have followed closely for 3 decades now wearing the colors of the Portland Pirates.

Rather than cave in to, what many back then felt were strongarm demands of the Sabres management, with the spectre perhaps of another season of a threadbare roster and a non-competitive team, the Amerks went in another direction and engineered a change in majority ownership to Canadian entrepreneur Curt Styres. Mr Styres certainly had the financial wherewithall to clean up old debts, and the desire to accept nothing less than a winner for Rochester. Still, he had to answer to you at the end of the day, when it came to player personnel.

At issue for our struggling hockey team was the lack of veteran leadership, missing for the past couple of seasons, and quite evident by the results in the standings. You promised to correct that situation by obtaining for us, the necessary blend of veteran and prospect, to make us competitive and entertaining again.

Mr Martin, Mr Birch---you have failed. You are no longer part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

No, you ARE the problem.

You have witnessed empty arenas and angry fans. The team you have assembled is hopelessly outclassed. This is not a criticism of the young kids or the coach personally. They are all working hard, but when stacked up to the rest of the AHL, these kids can't compete at all. You have not allowed them to compete. You did not sign the veterans. You did not give us an AHL quality goaltender. You signed an enforcer for us and then foolishly allowed him to slip away because you couldn't even deal with the simple realities of the waiver process.

In short, you are killing this franchise, Florida Panthers. There isn't a team in this league as inept as we are. (Norfolk comes close just in case you think we don't check the standings every once in awhile) You have to go back a long time (if ever) to witness back to back home games that barely attracted 1,000 warm bodies.

You have given our new coach an impossible task. Our new owner, who tried very hard early on to generate some excitement and hope is being cut off at the knees. The inevitable and bitter comparisons between the Sabres/Pirates fast start and our abysmal 1-9-0 record has taken flight. The fans do not care about this team anymore.

And make no mistake, its ugly around here. Florida, you have no friends in Rochester, and its completely your fault. We trusted you--we took you, cautiously, at your word last spring. This is our reward.

What do you plan on doing? Our coach continues to say we will improve. What do you expect him to say? Florida, that just isn't going to happen...without some help. The rest of the league also improves. How do you expect us to win with horrible goaltending (assuming you force us to play Beckford-Tseu); invisible special teams; absolutely no one who can score goals; an inexperienced defense; and no significant veteran leadership to show the way. It was nice to sign our local boy Rory, but he is not going to make an impact on the ice. He is an aging stay at home defenseman who has on most nights looked every bit his age. You signed Janis Sprukts as our 'big veteran scorer'. Many of us knew that was a huge mistake. He hasn't played in this league in over a year and he is not a goal scorer. He may not even stick around, which has been the tendancy of many Europeans, who simply bolt for home when they are unhappy. I won't even dignify your choice of 'veteran' goaltender with anything more than 'what were you thinking'?

Florida--you aren't losing credibility with the good folks of Rochester. You have already lost it...on merit. SO--please do something. Anything. Now, not in another month when we are 2-20 and nobody is buying tickets. Or allow us to respectfully rip up the 3 year agreement, now and flee from this incompetence and abuse to our franchise. Personally, I would rather suspend the team for the rest of the season, and look to rebuild correctly, than have to watch this unwatchable, sorry, team get hammered every night by our competition, who has also frankly suggested we are in way over our heads.

Our new coach deserves better. Our new owner deserves better. The fans here in Rochester deserve better. The puck, as they say, is in your rink. But rest assured, we are tired of the words and the empty, unrealistic promises, with nothing to back them up.

Yes, we are not happy with you. We are angry. We feel betrayed. You gave us the royal shaft. You have seen the games. Aren't you the slightest bit ashamed of what you are asking people to pay money to watch?

So we wait and wonder...what's next? More of the same? Do you care? Or do you have a conscience? Your legacy may well be to have written the sorriest and final chapter in long and successful history of the Rochester Americans.

Are you proud?

Respectfully but sadly submitted:
a fan for over 50 years

With the exception of MacIntyre (Florida had to put him through waivers anyway, Edmonton screwed it up for us), I agree with a lot of the skepticism. It's sad, and with the games I have watched online and the games I've heard on the radio, it's not an exaggeration. It really is bad right now.