Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New job, no internet.. Slow again.

I just started a new job on Monday, and there's quite a bit of work to do to get things caught up, apparently. So updates will be slow again for a few days, but hopefully by the weekend or the start of the week, I'll have things in order and I'll be able to set up internet on the computer there.

So until then, go Panthers and thanks for reading through the lulls.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cheverie to Receive WCHA Scholar-Athlete Award

Denver's Marc Cheverie is one of 69 student-athletes in the WCHA (both men and women) that will receive the WCHA Scholar-Athlete Award. According to the release:

To earn recognition as a WCHA Scholar-Athlete, conference-member student-athletes must have completed at least one year of residency at their present institution prior to the current academic year and must also have a grade-point average of at least 3.50 on a 4.0 scale for the previous two semesters or three quarters, or may qualify if his or her overall GPA is at least 3.50 for all terms at his or her present institution.

The Pioneers have three games remaining after tonight, and they were eighth in the nation's rankings coming in to this weekend.

Denver defeated Wisconsin in overtime last night and they are back in action now.

Cheverie entered tonight's game with an 18-9-4 record along with a 2.51 GAA and a .914%.

Panthers Shut Out Bruins

Picking up his second shutout in three games, Tomas Vokoun helped the Panthers to a 2-0 win at home against the top team in the East.

Vokoun has six shutouts now on the year, and three in the last six games. Between he and Craig Anderson, Florida has nine shutouts.

The game was scoreless through two periods until Radek Dvorak put one away while shorthanded. Exactly five minutes later, he scored again - this time at even strength - and it was all the Panthers would need to hold out for the win.

Since January 1, the Cats are 14-5-3 and with the majority of today's games having gone final, sit sixth in the conference, although both Buffalo and New York (Rangers) also have 68 points. The difference is that Florida has played 59 games, while Buffalo and New York have played 60.

Florida will be right back at it against the Bruins on Tuesday. That game will be played in Boston.


Individual Stats


Also today, Brynäs defeated Djurgården and moves six points ahead with three games remaining. Lindbäck played again. Both of these guys have been great for Brynäs this season, with Lindbäck posting a 2.55 GAA and a .914% in 21 games while Markström has, in 34 games, a 2.36 GAA and a .918%.

Brynäs, Amerks Win, 'Blades Lose

Anders Lindbäck started for the third game in a row for Brynäs and he picked up a critical win against Södertälje in the process. I couldn't tell you when Jacob Markström will get back in there, but it certainly seems like Lindbäck's earning every game he gets. With only four games remaining in the regular season, the club has moved in to sole possession of eighth place, holding a three-point lead over Djurgården and they have a five-point edge on MODO.

Tomorrow (today?), Brynäs has a great opportunity to add some ground over Djurgården when the two teams face off at 4PM CET. I believe that's 10AM here on the east coast of Florida.

Skellefteå and Timrå have 74 and 75 points, respectively, so Brynäs will not only have a chance to build up some kind of safety net for making the playoffs, but with all three clubs in action, Brynäs could move up a spot or two.

I'll post some time tomorrow with an update on that.

Moving to the ECHL for a minute, my guess that Beckford-Tseu wouldn't start Wednesday night was the wrong one. He did indeed start the game for the Everblades, and ultimately, the 'Blades lost the game, 6-5.

CBT stopped 30 of 35, but allowed three goals in the third period which erased a 5-2 Florida lead, the last of which was a shorthanded penalty shot with just over a minute to play in the game. Charlotte scored and forced overtime. When the extra time failed to settle the game, the shootout did the trick. Although it took ten rounds. Florida scored on one of their ten shots, while the Checkers had 2.

They play tomorrow (today), as well.

Last bit I've got for now is that the Amerks knocked off the Hershey Bears tonight, 2-3. Kevin Oklobzija keeps updates through many of the games and he did again tonight, so if you'd like to read about that, you can head over to the D&C.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Beckford-Tseu to the Everblades

The Florida Panthers today reassigned goaltender Chris Beckford-Tseu to the ECHL's Florida Everblades.

Whatever confidence Beckford-Tseu may have had when the season started is long gone and more unfortunate is just how different the Amerks played with him in net. It was a team that, much like their goaltender, had no confidence.

So for CBT, hopefully the move will help him get his game on track and work on some things. It seems to have made a big difference with Tyler Plante, who effectively ousted Beckford-Tseu as the backup by coming up huge in relief of the injured Mike Brodeur.

Now, however, Brodeur is back and Plante is staying put. For Beckford-Tseu, the only option to keep playing would be reassignment.

The 'Blades play the Charlotte Checkers tonight at 7:00, although I wouldn't assume Beckford-Tseu will be starting, due to travel and the like.

In 22 games with Rochester, Beckford-Tseu went 3-14-1 while posting a 3.94 GAA and a save percentage of .868%.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Brynäs Fighting for Their Playoff Lives

There are only five games remaining in the regular season over in Sweden and as of right now, Brynäs sits in ninth place. Of the twelve teams in the league, the top eight advance to playoffs, while teams in ninth and tenth do not. The bottom two clubs (11, 12) fall to a relegation tournament against the top teams from HockeyAllsvenskan - Sweden's second-tier league.

Brynäs started the season off tremendously, as did goaltender Jacob Markström. He struggled briefly before getting back to form and the club held at the middle of the pack for weeks.

When Markström left for the World Junior Championship in December, the duties were passed on to backup goalie Anders Lindbäck.

Lindbäck struggled the first two games, allowing 11 goals on 57 shots (.839%), and then played superbly the next two, stopping 79 of 81 (.975%). His strong play continued over the games that followed.

Markström returned and was rested, dressing as backup to Lindbäck on January 10. Brynäs lost the game, 5-4 and Markström would get the next start. He stopped 28 of 30 in a 2-1 loss to MODO on January 15th and then picked up a win against Frölunda two days later.

Facing Timrå a few days later, Brynäs was dominated. Markström conceded four goals on 38 shots, but his teammates combined only had 12 of their own. The following game, Markström faced 22 shots and stopped 20. The next game, he stopped 18 of 21. Maybe exhausted, or simply out of his groove, Markström was given a rest while Lindbäck eagerly awaited another opportunity.

Lindbäck stopped 44 of 46 in an overtime loss to Skellefteå in his next start. Markström took the next game and allowed four goals on twenty shots. Against Frölunda on February 10th, Markström faced 14 shots. Again, he gave up four goals.

Since then, Brynäs has played twice more, opting to start Lindbäck in each. They've won both, and now sit in ninth with 70 points. Ahead of them, Djurgården holds the eighth spot as a result of goal differential. Two points ahead, with 72, Timrå, and two points behind, MODO.

Two of the remaining five games for Brynäs come against Färjestad and HV71, first and second in the league, respectively. They also have two games to play against teams they can pass in the standings: Djurgården on the 21st and Timrå on the 26th. Next up, however, Brynäs will need to pick up points against last-place Södertälje. In four meetings this season, Brynäs has won three of four (1-0, 1-0 and 2-1). The two shutouts went to Markström (23 saves and 40 saves), while the loss was credited to Lindbäck. In their most recent meeting, though, Anders faced 43 shots and stopped all but one, carrying his team to a 2-1 victory.

Panthers 4 | Devils 0

Vokoun picked up his fifth shutout of the season and the Panthers improved their point total to 66. Combine that with Buffalo's win and Montreal, New York (Rangers), Buffalo and the Panthers are all tied up; fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth place all sitting tied with 66 points.

Florida's hosting the Blackhawks on Thursday night.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

LaPoint Out for Season

After undergoing successful surgery last night, North Dakota defenseman Derrick LaPoint is done for the season.

LaPoint was hit in to the boards and his ankle snapped up as he broke both his tibia and fibula on the right leg.

The Grand Forks Herald has the full story here.

Derrick LaPoint Suffers Gruesome Ankle Injury

During tonight's game against Minnesota State-Mankato, North Dakota defenseman (and Panthers' prospect) Derrick LaPoint suffered a nasty ankle injury when he was hit in to the boards during the first period. His ankle caught and quite simply, snapped.

The Sioux won the game, but LaPoint had to be taken off on a stretcher and taken to a local hospital to tend to the injury.

There's a TV capture of the injury, but since I've used the words "gruesome" and "nasty", I'll just post the picture's link instead of embedding the image if you'd rather not look.

I'll be a bit busy tomorrow, but if I can find more about it when I get home, I'll update.

LaPoint Ankle Injury

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Vokoun Shuts Out Carolina

The Panthers were asked to come out and play hard; like a team fighting for their playoff lives, against division-rival Carolina, and they did just that. Carolina made mistakes and the Panthers were on top of everything to take advantage.

Florida won 5-0 with five different goal-scorers: Nathan Horton, Richard Zednik, Anthony Stewart, Gregory Campbell and Michael Frolik.

For Zednik, his goal gives him at at least one point in each of the last four games and a total of six points (4 goals, 2 assists).

Horton's two points put him at 34, and Kamil Kreps' two assists gives him four points in the last two games (all assists).

And then Anthony Stewart. Stewie scored his first goal since November 6 against Los Angeles. It's only his second of the year, but he too has points in consecutive games.

But no shutout would be complete without mention of the goaltender, and what a game he had. Tomas Vokoun faced 42 shots (15, 14, 13) and turned them all aside to record his fourth shutout of the year.

Florida moves to three points ahead of Carolina and now with 62 points, are tied with the Sabres. Since the Panthers have one game in hand, they are 7th while Buffalo is 8th.

I guess I wrote this too quickly. The recap isn't available, yet. I'll fix the link when it becomes available.

Like now. Now it is available.

Panthers to Open '09-10 Season in Helsinki

It's official, but the rumour of Prague wasn't accurate. Instead, the Panthers will take on the Chicago Blackhawks for two games to start next season at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.

While the Cats would give up a home game next year (against Chicago), I'd say it's well worth it. And obviously, the Panthers seem to have said the same thing.

It's going to be fantastic exposure for the Panthers, and it never hurts to attract new fans - no matter where they are.

There will be four teams traveling to Scandinavia to open the season - Florida, Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis. While the Panthers and Blackhawks play two games in Finland, Detroit and St. Louis will play a pair of their own in Stockholm, Sweden.

For Florida, you can expect to see an exhibition against one of the Finnish pro teams, or possibly a Finnish all-star team some time in the week leading up to the games.

According to George Richards, the Panthers will likely spend a week in Europe starting on September 27th. The games will be played on the weekend of October 2-4.

Richards' article also had a little extra about the lone Finnish player on the Panthers, Ville Peltonen:
Peltonen is a pending free agent but indicated he would like to return to the Panthers for a fourth season -- and have a chance to play in his homeland in an NHL game for the first time.

"It would be really special to play there," Peltonen said. "To play an NHL game in my country would be awesome. It would be like how a lot of the guys feel when they go to Toronto."

Pretty good stuff.

Amerks Beat Wolves 4-3 --
The Rochester Americans have started out a five game road trip with their second straight win, tonight coming against the Chicago Wolves with a 4-3 victory.

Janis Sprukts didn’t fly in to Chicago until around 2:30pm and from there he still had to get to the arena for the game.* One would think flying half away around the world would cause some serious jet lag, but that wasn’t the case tonight.

Sprukts made his presence known early in the game with a great penalty kill along with David Brine working hard to clear the puck.

The first period saw the Amerks and Wolves trade goals with the period ending tied at two.

Drew Larman scored the the first goal of the game for the Amerks after he received an excellent pass from Repik from the right wing side.* Once the puck hit his stick he easily put it into the net.

Karl Stewart was called for a roughing penalty at 9:04 of the first that eventually led to the Wolves power play goal by Riley Holzapfel to gain the 2-1 lead.

As a play was about to be called for icing Stewart continued into a Wolves player and plowed him into the boards.* It was called roughing but probably could have been boarding or even charging.

The play of the game came next as Janis Sprukts scored his first goal of the game by stealing it away at the blue line and skating in untouched to score and tie the game 2-2 heading into the second period.

Tyler Plante was pulled after the first period and replaced by Mike Brodeur in net. . . FULL STORY

With that win, Rochester now has 42 points - 4 points behind Quad City (46) and six behind both Lake Erie and San Antonio (48). As for their league standing as a whole, they're now three points behind Norfolk (45) and three points ahead of Springfield (39).

Thirteen points ahead of Rochester, and with several teams in between, Chicago and Houston are tied with 55 points for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rochester Wins, Out of Last Place

Tyler Plante stopped 33 of 34 Iowa shots last night and the Amerks scored four goals to put the Iowa Stars down, 4-1.

More importantly for Rochester, the two points have pushed them ahead of the Springfield Falcons (Edmonton's affiliate) and out of last place in the league - a position they kept warm from the first day of the season.

Shawn Matthias scored the opening goal on a power play in the first period, and the game held at 1-0 until Iowa tied it early in the third period.

Not quite halfway through the final frame, Randall Gelech put Rochester on top. Soon after, center Drew Larman picked up a shorthanded goal and late in the third, Karl Stewart scored on an empty net.

Rochester has improved to 18-29-0-4, and while the 40 points they have is only one ahead of Springfield, there are six teams with totals in the '40s. Granted, not all are in the same conference (three are).

It's been a slow, but noticeable improvement by a team that had three wins when December started (3-18-0-2). Mike Brodeur provided the goaltending boost, and with it, the team actually started to play with more confidence and it's allowed many of the players to take individual strides in their game - you look at Keaton Ellerby and he's improved dramatically since the season started.

The past four games for Plante though, have been refreshing. The young goaltender was 0-5 with a GAA over 5 and a save percentage of .850%, but in his four starts since Brodeur's injury and Beckford-Tseu's awful performance in the same game, Plante has gone 2-2, stopping 119 of 126 (.944%) and posting a goals-against-average of 1.75. Combined with his previous record, his win/loss is still a disappointing 2-7, but his GAA has dropped considerably, from 5.10 to 3.41 -- and his save percentage has climbed from .850% to .896%.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Richard Zednik is Awesome.

That is all.

I don't think it could have gone any better tonight for Richard Zednik. One year to the day from suffering that terrible injury in Buffalo, the Panthers' winger capped off a late rally against Toronto both to tie the game at 4, and then to win it in overtime.

Florida trailed 4-1 with less than twelve minutes to play, but goals from Nathan Horton, Ville Peltonen and Richard Zednik within seven minutes had erased the deficit and, in a repeat of last week's 3-1 come-from-behind win against Toronto in Toronto, the Panthers put it away with the extra time.


Individual Stats


Florida is back in eighth, a point ahead of Carolina. The Canes host the Cats on Thursday, so the Panthers have a chance to put a little distance between them with a strong performance.

James DeLory May Face More Discipline

Last Friday night, Oshawa Generals winger James DeLory, signed by the Panthers this past off-season, pulled an act against Kingston that got him suspended for two games. At least.

DeLory received a match penalty and was suspended for the next two games, but pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing this week, more games could be added to the suspension.

So, what happened?

Frontenacs forward Nathan Moon was leveled with a clean check in front of the net (not by DeLory) and as he got to his feet, Moon slashed DeLory in the leg. Now, by most accounts, Moon isn't exactly without fault here - it seems the Penguins' prospect has been playing with a certain chippiness all year that tends to agitate opponents, but that's neither here nor there because immediately after the slash, DeLory delivered a two-handed baseball style swing at the back of Moon's leg and after Moon fell to the ice, DeLory attempted to throw a brutal punch to his head as he was down and then threw another after an official stepped in.

It was an ugly scene. But for DeLory, whatever additional suspension - should more games be added - is deserved. I've seen some people comparing the punch to Bertuzzi's hit on Steve Moore, and while the initial hit to the head seems to have missed, the intent was there. Add to that the initial stick swinging and DeLory may be facing a much lengthier suspension. If it's only two games, I'd be amazed.

Here's the video of the incident:

DeLory's season started slowly as he recovered from a concussion, and after one game with the ECHL's Florida Everblades, the Panthers returned him to the OHL as an overager for one last year of junior hockey.

Through 28 games, DeLory has 4 goals and 6 assists, along with 53 PIM and numerous suspensions, along with, believe it or not, the honour of wearing the 'C' for all of Oshawa's home games.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sprukts Helps Latvia to the 2010 Olympics

With three more assists tonight, 27-year-old center Janis Sprukts led Latvia to a 4-1 win over Italy and in the process, ensured Latvia a berth in next winter's Olympic Games.

Norway and Germany were the winners of their respective groups and have also qualified for the 2010 Olympics.

Sprukts was not only Group F's scoring leader - his two goals and five assists in three games was more than any one player in groups E, F and G and it was obviously a big part of Latvia's success.

Latvia slides in to Group B for the Olympics, along with Russia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

So even if Sprukts isn't with the Panthers next year, here's wishing him the best.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Rochester on NHL Network at 2PM

The Amerks-Senators game at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester will be on NHL Network today at 2PM. It's one of six AHL games that will be broadcast - live - on NHL Network this season.

Binghamton has been in the league since 1977, so there's a good amount of history between the two New York teams.

In the three meetings to date this season, Binghamton has won each: 3-1, 4-2 and 4-1.

Rochester's also featured in two more of the NHL Network games; on Saturday, March 7, Rochester will be on the road to take on Lake Erie at 1PM and then on Friday, March 13, the Amerks will host the Toronto Marlies at 7:30 PM.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Latvia Eliminates Ukraine

With their 4-2 win today against Ukraine, Latvia is in the driver's seat for their Olympic qualification push, needing only one of a possible three points on Sunday to qualify for next winter's Olympic Games.

The game will be against Italy - and Italy still has a chance to qualify. So there's a lot riding on that game. One nation's Olympic dreams will end and another will move on.

Today, Janis Sprukts scored once; it was an empty-netter that sealed the deal late in the third. The goal is his second in the tournament and his fourth point. Only teammate (and Boston Bruins' prospect) Mārtiņš Karsums has more with five (3G, 2A).

And while it has nothing to do with the Panthers, Group E (Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Japan) is currently being led by the host, Germany - but the teams have only played one game, so despite Germany's three points and +6 in goal differential, anything can happen.

As for Group G (Denmark, France, Norway, Kazakhstan), teams have played only once thus far, both games ending in a 2-1 final, with only Norway winning in regulation. France picked up two points for an overtime win, and only Kazakhstan is without a point.

The winner from each group qualifies for the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, BC.

Zednik's Second Gorgeous Goal

Richard Zednik scored a beauty against Montreal last week and he did it again last night - this time against the New York Islanders. It put the Panthers up 3-1 and proved to be the game-winner.

Thursday, February 5 (Islanders)

Thursday, January 29 (Canadiens)

As for the game last night..


Individual Stats


The Panthers next play against Washington on Saturday. It's a road game, and game-time is 7PM. Rochester's next game is also on Saturday against Binghamton.

Brynäs doesn't play again until the tenth, but Markström struggled in his last games. On January 31, he was replaced by Anders Lindbäck after allowing 4 goals on 20 shots. Lindbäck had started two nights earlier and had a phenomenal game, stopping 44 of 46. Brynäs, however, lost the game by a score of 2-1.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Latvia Wins Their First

Janis Sprukts played in Latvia's 7-3 win against Hungary today, scoring a goal and adding two assists. Tomorrow, Latvia will play the Ukraine -- winners today against Italy.

Final Olympic Qualification for 2010

Last week, Janis Sprukts received the O.K. from the Panthers and Amerks to return home to serve as the captain of the Latvian national team as they attempt to qualify for next winter's Olympic Games.

This is the final Olympic qualification tournament, and it begins today. There are twelve teams split in to three groups (Group E, Group F and Group G). The top team from each group qualifies for the Olympics next February.

Teams in red are host of their group.


Latvia will play Hungary today at 7:00 PM local time. For us, that's noon. So that game is starting in about ten minutes. Tomorrow, Latvia will face the Ukraine and then on Sunday, Italy. So, check back if you're interested. I'll keep updates.

Rochester Loses to Rockford

Despite getting a strong performance from goalie Tyler Plante, the Rochester Americans scored only once and came up on the short side of a 2-1 loss.

Like last year, Plante struggled in the AHL and spent the majority of his season in the ECHL, although he hasn't fared too well with the Dayton Bombers so far this season, going 6-11-1 with a save percentage at .888% and a GAA of 3.35. But Plante's time with the Amerks in the beginning of the year was far worse: 0-5, 5.10 GAA and an .850%. So it's really saying something when they opt to recall Plante instead of starting Chris Beckford-Tseu.

The decision proved to be a good one for Plante, though. He faced 33 shots and turned aside 31, one of which came off the stick of a wide-open IceHog and the other on the only shot Rockford managed during a 5-minute power play. Incidentally, Stefan Meyer made his return to the lineup. It was his boarding major that drew the lengthy disadvantage. Still, Rochester killed off 4:40 of the power play before Rockford took a penalty of their own, negating the remaining time.

Rochester's lone goal came in the final minute with Plante pulled for an extra attacker. Michal Repik picked up the goal (9) and Mike Duco and Karl Stewart tallied assists.

The Amerks have now lost five of their last six, the only win coming against a very strong Grand Rapids team due in large part to the performance of goaltender Mike Brodeur. Next up for Rochester are Saturday and Sunday games against Binghamton and San Antonio, respectively.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Back Again, Plante in Net for Amerks

Everything's set up and so I should be able to get back on track pretty quick. Sorry that there's been such a lull.

Tyler Plante is starting for Rochester tonight as Mike Brodeur suffered a groin injury on Saturday night before the Amerks' game. It's not serious, so he shouldn't be out but a few games.

On Friday, Brodeur stopped 35 of 37 and was a perfect 5-for-5 in the shootout (Rochester only scored once) to carry Rochester past the Grand Rapids Griffins. Saturday night was when he injured his groin during warmups. Still, Brodeur played through the first period. When he left the game after the first, Chris Beckford-Tseu took over, and in two periods, allowed six goals on twenty-four shots. Rochester lost, 8-4.

So tonight is the first game since that meltdown and with Plante getting the start against Rockford, it's evident that Beckford-Tseu has exhausted his chances. The goaltender that the Cats signed to a two-year deal over the summer is 3-14-1 with a 3.94 GAA and an .868%.