Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Duffy's Hot Start, Contract in His Future?

Matt Duffy has four points in the three games he's played since joining the Rochester Americans and he's also played in two games with the Everblades. As the season winds down for many of the Amerks, however, for Duffy, a new one may be beginning.

From Rochester, Jacob Micflikier has already headed south to join the 'Blades and get ready for the playoffs while Matt Duffy may not be too far behind. Obviously, he's been impressive in his pro start and keeping him in games is really going to help him get some confidence as he moves forward. If the decision is made to reassign him to the Everblades, I'd imagine that the Panthers are looking at signing him to an entry-level deal this summer.

In the same 'Lets Go Amerks' article, goalie Tyler Plante's shoulder injury was mentioned and described as possibly ending his season just a little bit early. This is the second season in a row in which he's been bothered by his shoulder.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Elitserien's Top Rookie: Hedman, + More

Although Markström came up short in the rookie of the year, he was certainly one of the players that received consideration. The honour went instead to MODO's Victor Hedman.

Hedman had 21 points this season and could still be selected first overall in this summer's entry draft. Here's a bit of what he said:
I have always thought that Jacob would win that title, but of course I am very satisfied and pleased.

Anyway, last week, the Amerks finally snapped an eight game losing streak by beating Syracuse and then followed up a few days later with a win against Albany. Since then, Rochester has dropped two straight, with David Shantz playing in the latter of the two having been recalled from Dayton a few hours earlier.

Shantz, on the short-notice call-up, arrived less than an hour before gametime and only managed to get suited up in the minutes leading up to the start. He went on to stop 50 of 52 Binghamton shots. Rochester piled on 37 of their own, but the B-Sens won comfortably in the shootout, scoring on all three opportunities. Rochester sent out Parnham, Sprukts and Brine, each to no avail.

If you want to read the whole crazy story about Shantz's day, you can find it here.

Lastly, Panthers' prospects gunning for a national championship will have to try again next season. Of the four teams that made the tournament with at least one Cats' prospect on the roster, only New Hampshire made it past the first round.

Ohio State was routed by Boston University, 8-3. Defenseman Matt Bartkowski scored for the Buckeyes, however, and with 41 games under his belt in his rookie season, he finished with five goals and fifteen assists. Not too shabby for a seventh round selection.

North Dakota, playing without Derrick Lapoint, who broke his tibia and fibula in a game last month, took on New Hampshire in the opening round. For the UNH Wildcats, goaltender Brian Foster stopped 40 of 45 shots in a back-and-forth thriller that needed extra time to settle. Ultimately, New Hampshire came away with the win.

They advanced to the second round but fell to Boston University, 2-1. Foster stopped 21 of 23. On the season, the Panthers' fifth round pick from 2005 finished up 19-11-4 with three shutouts, a goals against average of 2.68 and a .910 save percentage.

Heading back to the first round, you'll see that the Denver Pioneers were eliminated by the Miami Redhawks (Ohio). The shot count favored Miami 29-18 and with it, the goals favoured the Redhawks as well. Denver goaltender Marc Cheverie surrendered four goals and freshman defenseman John Lee was a -1. The final score, 4-2.

Cheverie, like Foster, had been playing his first season as a starter. While Foster is now a junior, Cheverie is a sophomore. A seventh round pick in 2006, "Chevy" racked up a 23-12-5 record, along with a 2.34 GAA and a .921% save percentage. Lee, a fifth round pick in '07 and the younger brother of Ottawa Senators' defenseman Brian Lee, posted five assists as a freshman.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Duffy Debuts with Everblades

Well, the plan of having Matt Duffy play for Rochester last night didn't quite go as expected. Instead, the defenseman was sent to play with the Florida Everblades for two games this weekend.

From there, he will be returning to the Amerks.

Last night, Duffy had two shots and was a -1 in his pro debut with the 'Blades as they played to a 4-3 shootout win over the Charlotte Checkers. The game was a strange one with all six regulation goals coming in the third period, with Florida outshooting the Checkers, 56-41.

As for Parnham, he was not in the line-up for Rochester's 5-2 loss to the Syracuse Crunch. With that, the Amerks have now lost eighth in a row.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Panthers 3 | Leafs 1

The Panthers got a big win tonight. One that helped them in the standings, and one that helped them put the losing streak behind and look forward. Every game counts, especially when you've games in hand that must be won.

Things worked out for the Cats. Stephen Weiss broke through and scored a nice shorthanded goal on Martin Gerber, and later on, Richard Zednik and Ville Peltonen added tallies of their own.

Tomas Vokoun made 37 saves, including a key stop in the final minute that slammed the door on the Leafs' attempt to rally late, and Florida moved back to within a point of the eighth and final playoff spot.

Florida hosts the Blue Jackets on Saturday night. Columbus is on track to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, and they're doing it with the help of a 20-year old goaltender named Steve Mason. Mason has 29 wins on the season, a 2.25 GAA, save percentage of .918 - and nine shutouts. Ed Belfour was the last goaltender to win the Vezina and the Calder upon entering the league, but Mason has a chance to do that this year.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Duffy to Rochester

The Panthers' fourth-round pick from 2005, Matt Duffy, who was a fixture on the Maine Black Bears' blueline for four years, has finished his college career after a loss to Boston University last weekend.

But, that doesn't mean his season is over.

This is the point in the hockey season where those graduating seniors start to sign amateur tryouts in the American Hockey League, and Duffy has done just that.

Duffy, who will turn 23 on Saturday, is set to join the Rochester Americans this week, along with Brett Parnham, an undrafted center from the OHL's Oshawa Generals.

Parnham played in 65 games with Oshawa this season and scored 50 goals while tallying 26 assists. The 20 year-old center improved his numbers with each season, and although he's only 5'9", Kevin Oklobzija says that he apparently has great hands. So good luck to him, there.

As for Duffy, the 6'2" native of Windham, Maine, made sure the last year of his college career was a good one, setting a career high in goals (7) and assists (10), and by extension, points (17). Overall, Duffy played in 135 games with Maine. His defense was solid, and as one of only four seniors on a young squad, provided the freshmen and sophomores with experience and leadership.

Duffy is expected to practice with the team on Thursday and play in Friday night's game against Syracuse. As Rochester's season winds down, there's also the chance that the defenseman is sent to play with the Florida Everblades as they head in to the ECHL playoffs.

No matter what, Duffy is still set to graduate in May.

Here are two quick news releases that I found from local stations in Maine:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

#552 for Martin Brodeur and Florida's Fourth Straight Loss

First, congratulations to Martin Brodeur for becoming the NHL's all-time winningest goaltender. He's one of the best to have ever played the game, and it's a record he's absolutely earned. If you didn't watch the game, or couldn't, here's the final eight seconds of regulation and the celebration that followed: Brodeur Wins #552

As for the Panthers, there is nothing to celebrate. Florida's spoiled one of the games that they have in hand on a couple teams ahead of them, and they managed to do it in an abysmal performance, including a desperate third period with a whopping zero shots on goal. Not one single shot in the third period of a must, must-win game. Final score: 3-0, Washington.

"I don’t have an explanation for it," said Panthers coach Peter DeBoer after the game. "There's been very few nights this year I've questioned our effort level. It's not always pretty, we haven't always won, but usually we've brought a good desperation level and the effort has always been there. Tonight, it was questionable, which is disappointing."

If you're in the mood to depress yourself:


Individual Stats


The Panthers host Toronto on Thursday night, in what is almost assuredly the biggest must-win this team has had in nearly a decade.

Monday, March 16, 2009

College Hockey

We'll go back two weeks, first, to cover the CCHA playoff round that preceded this weekend's quarterfinals.

Concerning the Panthers, Ohio State took on Bowling Green while Western Michigan hosted Lake Superior.

In game one of the Ohio State/Bowling Green series, the Buckeyes, playing without Matt Bartkowski, skated to a 5-4 win. The following night, Bartkowski had a goal and an assist in OSU's 7-1 trouncing over Bowling Green.

Western Michigan needed three games, but they too, advanced to the CCHA quarterfinal with Ryan Watson playing in two of the three.

The two remaining series saw Northern Michigan eliminate Michigan State, while Ferris State was knocked off by Nebraska-Omaha.

Moving ahead to this past weekend, the WCHA, CCHA and Hockey East all played out their quarter-final series.

Michigan and Western Michigan were put head-to-head right away, however, so one of the Cats' prospects had to see his season come to an end. Matt Rust made sure it wasn't him.

In the two games, Rust scored two goals and added two assists, while Michigan advanced to the semi-final with a pair of decisive victories (5-2, 6-1). They take on Alaska next weekend.

Notre Dame eliminated Nebraska with two shutouts and they'll host Northern Michigan.


In the WCHA, Denver took on Alaska-Anchorage in the opening round, and in the first game, after falling behind 2-0, the Pioneers rallied to score three times en route to a 3-2 victory. Marc Cheverie was in net, and stopped 19 of 21. John Lee was on the ice to start the game, as well. The next night, Denver was the team outshot by a considerable margin, and the goals were back and forth right to the end. But again, the Pioneers came out on top, 4-3, while Chevy stopped 31 of 34.

Denver will take on Wisconsin next weekend.

Wrapping up the WCHA's weekend, Minnesota eliminated St. Cloud State, Wisconsin eliminated Minnesota State, Minnesota-Dultuh knocked off Colorado College and North Dakota defeated Michigan Tech.


Lastly, but not least, of course, Hockey East.

Maine was a longshot to beat Boston University, and while they didn't, they did manage to force the series to a third game with a big 6-3 win on Saturday. Over the first two games, Matt Duffy had three assists, although the third game was all Boston University - scoring six in the first two periods, and holding out for a 6-2 win.

The loss wraps up Maine's season, although Duffy could always join Rochester on an amateur tryout, now that his college career has ended. Either way, we move on to New Hampshire.

But, no. The news is no better.

UNH was beaten in two games by Boston College, with Brian Foster first stopping 24 of 29 in a 5-3 loss and then lost 1-0 on 23 shots.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

College Update in the Morning

The NCAA tournament is nearly here, and the playoffs are heating up. Ohio State is taking on Alaska at the moment, with the winner moving to the CCHA semi-final. But, it's not the only series this weekend, and tomorrow morning (or early in the afternoon), I'll try to make sure you're caught up on where everyone stands.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Olesz Back Tonight

Finally. Michal Repik was sent back to Rochester after being called up for the Sabres game on Thursday night, and I know a lot of people wondered why the forward, who scored Florida's lone goal was being sent back.

Well, now you know.

Olesz, who has missed significant time consistently in his Panthers' career is coming off of surgery for a sports hernia that kept him out for months, last playing on December 4th against Buffalo.

More importantly, the Panthers need to win tonight's game. Both the Rangers and Penguins have games this afternoon, New York is in Philadelphia at 1PM and Pittsburgh hosts Ottawa at 3:00. Two points separate the sixth place Penguins from the ninth place Panthers, so the standings have the potential to change quite a bit by the end of the day, and one can only hope that it's good for the Cats.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Repik Recalled, Brynäs Out and Markström: Surgery?

The Panthers recalled winger Michal Repik from the Rochester Americans today. Keaton Ellerby had been occupying the 23rd roster spot, but he was sent back to Rochester after the Penguins game. Although, if Jassen Cullimore is still ready to leave at a moment's notice, they're not exactly far from Rochester today. So we'll see if anything else happens there. Whether it does or not, though, you have to think Repik's call-up is simply to play.

Over in Sweden, Jacob Markström got to play game four of the quarterfinal, but the eventual outcome was no different than Anders Lindbäck's three previous starts: Brynäs lost. Only this time, the series is over.

Markström played well, making key saves and turned aside 26 of 28, but his team could only get one by Jonas Gustavsson and that means the season for Brynäs is over.

But for the 19-year old goaltender, surgery may be in his future to repair the meniscus in his knee. Since the WJC, doctors twice have drained the knee to reduce swelling, and now with the season over, they will look more in-depth and attempt to keep it from happening again.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ellerby Back Up - Just in Case

Jassen Cullimore could still leave at any time to be with his expectant wife, so as was the case last week, Keaton Ellerby is with the team in Pittsburgh tonight, just in case.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Horton Out With Broken Finger

The Miami Herald is reporting that Nathan Horton suffered a broken ring finger on Saturday night, and after undergoing surgery following the game, will be out for two to four weeks.

Brian McCabe didn't skate today, either. He broke his nose and fractured his orbital bone after being hit with a puck on Saturday, although he only missed a couple shifts before getting back on the ice.

Timing is everything.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Fifth in the East

With tonight's 5-3 win over the St. Louis Blues, the Panthers have moved ahead of the Montreal Canadiens to take the fifth spot in the conference with 76 points. Granted, the Habs have now played one fewer game than the Cats.

Buffalo lost to Ottawa, which keeps the Sabres at 73 points, but Carolina's big 9-3 win over Tampa Bay has the Hurricanes up to sixth.

For the Panthers, it was Tomas Vokoun's 500th career game and what better way to remember it than with a big win, capped off with David Booth's second hat trick of the season - the first was back in November against the Ducks.

Brynäs played again today and lost, unfortunately. Anders Lindbäck played very well again, while Rochester dropped their second in as many days to Lake Erie, a team they needed to beat to have a shot at improving their spot in the standings. The losses hurt, and shots tonight were lopsided in favour of the Monsters.

By the way, don't forget that the time change is tonight at 2AM. Spring forward, fall back and all that jazz.

Friday, March 6, 2009

NCAA Playoff Time!

It's March, and that means it's time to get ready for college hockey's playoffs and the tournament that follows.

In the CCHA, the Panthers hold rights to three players: Matt Rust (Michigan), Matt Bartkowski (Ohio State) and Ryan Watson (Western Michigan).

Of the three, only Michigan has secured a spot in next week's best-of-three CCHA Quarter-final. There are twelve teams in the CCHA, and only the top four earn a trip straight to the quarter-final, while the remaining eight clubs split off in to four best-of-three series that run tonight through Sunday.

Ohio State has home ice as they take on Bowling Green, a team that they played twice this season on the road. Both games were victories for the OSU Buckeyes. In that weekend series, freshman blueliner Matt Bartkowski was on the top pairing both nights, registering an assist in the first of the two contests. Bartkowski's regular season was a good one. His three goals and thirteen assists among defensemen trailed only to sophomore Islanders' prospect Shane Sims, and he was named CCHA Rookie of the Week twice - first on October 27th, 2008 and then again on January 19, 2009. Bartkowski was drafted in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft in the seventh round, 190th overall.

Moving forward, Western Michigan has home ice as well. They're hosting Lake Superior, and in their weekend series this season, the two teams played to a split. Lake Superior won the first game 7-4, while Western Michigan picked up the second by a score of 4-1. In both games, Ryan Watson centered Western Michigan's fouth line. Watson's ice time was limited all year and he's been relied on as a penalty killer for the most part, finishing the season with four goals and two assists. Two points fewer than last year. Watson, like Bartkowski, was a seventh round selection of the Panthers, being drafted 191st overall in 2007.

That only leaves the Michigan Wolverines, but being ranked third in the nation gives them a week off, and I'm not sure which of the series winners they'll be taking on next weekend. As for Matt Rust, while his numbers dropped this season, he was a great penalty killer and face-off man throughout, making his presence known in his second World Junior Championship this past winter. Rust was drafted in 2007 during the fourth round, 101st overall.

In the WCHA, this weekend is the end of the regular season, and while both North Dakota (Derrick Lapoint, though he's done for the season) and Denver (John Lee, Marc Cheverie) have clinched home playoff berths, the two teams are also only separated by one point in the standings as they strive for the regular season title. They aren't playing each other this weekend, but North Dakota's opponent, Wisconsin (ranked 19th in the NCAA) has a chance to move up to third in the standings and secure home ice in the playoffs, while Denver takes on the defending MacNaughton Cup winner, Colorado College, in a game that Denver needs at least a tie to have a shot at the title. Colorado College, on the other hand, can secure home ice with a win of their own. So it's a pretty tight race.

For the Denver Pioneers, you can't help but be impressed with goaltender Marc Cheverie. He was recently named WCHA Player of the Week for the third time this season, and at the time, he was leading all goaltenders in minutes played (1,902), while he was second in save percentage (.918) and winning percentage (.656) and third in goals against average (2.43). Those numbers are not final, though, as Denver still has a game to play tonight.

Also on Denver, defenseman John Lee. The freshman is the younger brother of Ottawa Senators' prospect Brian Lee, although the two are quite different. Lee played regularly, starting on the top some nights and playing on the third pairing on others, with plenty of time in between. Offensively, he hasn't done much, accumulating five assists on the year, but as he has progressed defensively, he's found other ways to contribute to the success of his team and, undoubtedly, has had a hand in helping them to #5 in the nation.

To North Dakota, Florida's prospect is Derrick LaPoint but unfortunately, Derrick's season ended last month when he suffered a broken tibia and fibula when his skate caught the boards after being checked by Minnesota-State's Trevor Bruess.

All that leaves is Brian Foster and Matt Duffy, playing for New Hampshire and Maine, respectively. Maine has had a tough season, although New Hampshire is near the top of Hockey East.

New Hampshire's final weekend series stands only to affect their ranking. They are where they need to be, and while it's always good to want to be better, they will be joining the teams already mentioned as teams that have a chance win it all this season. Brian Foster has had a strong year in net for the Wildcats, and although an injury set him back early on in the season, he's recovered strongly. In fact, Foster was named Itech's Goaltender of the Month for February after he went 6-1-1 with a 1.86 GAA and a .932%. Foster also received the honour back in October, joining undrafted goalies Kieran Millan and Brad Thiessen as the only three to earn the recognition all season. Along with this, Foster has been named defensive player of the week on two occasions.

As for Maine, it was a long season, but one that isn't completely closed up and finished, yet. Senior defenseman Matt Duffy has career highs in goals (7) and assists (7), along with points (14) and penalty minutes (46). Duffy has been solid for Maine, providing leadership and experience in most all situations and was recently named one of the alternate captains for the team. After this weekend's games, Maine will advance to the Hockey East tournament as the eighth seed and take on either Boston University or Northeastern. But the Black Bears did manage a tie against Boston last month while they were ranked #1 in the nation.

Panthers Lose, Markström Sits

Last night, the Panthers had a chance to hop over the Montreal Canadiens and take fifth place while adding some distance between themselves and the Penguins and Rangers.

Pittsburgh had other plans, though.

After losing 4-1, Florida remains in sixth, but with New York and Pittsburgh picking up wins, the teams now share a three-way tie for the sixth spot. Florida and New York have a game in hand on Pittsburgh, although with the way the Pens have played since firing Michel Therrien, that may not matter much.

There is a gap from eighth to ninth, but it's minimal (only three points), and while the Panthers and Rangers have a game in hand over the Penguins, the Buffalo Sabres have a game in hand on the teams from New York and Florida. And unlike Florida, New York and Pittsburgh, Buffalo's on the outside looking in, and to get there, someone has to fall off.

Carolina is tied with Buffalo at 71 points, but have as many wins as the Panthers (33). The difference being the single points awarded for overtime and shootout losses.

After that, there is a bit of a drop to Toronto (65 points) and then again to Ottawa (58) and down through the last place Islanders (47).

With Philadelphia four points ahead of Montreal and with only 63 games played, it would look to be a race between six teams with only four spots available.

So on to the recap and the like, courtesy of the Panthers and NHL.com:

Earlier in the day (yes, evening in Sweden), Brynäs opened up their quarter-final against Färjestad at home. The start was given to Anders Lindbäck, while Jacob Markström sat on the bench.

I know he's struggled lately, but with work and some other things, I fell off a bit on keeping tabs, so I've had to rely on a number of Swedish sites -- and Google's translator -- to help me out a bit. If it translated Aftonbladet's article correctly, Markström has only won one of his last ten starts.

Nevertheless, Brynäs played a close game, falling 2-0. The second goal came on an empty net, so it was closer than you'd think by looking at that.

Lindbäck stopped 20 of 21, so I don't see why he wouldn't get the start again tomorrow.

Rochester hasn't played since Sunday, but they're back in action tonight.

As for college, the playoffs are starting and I'll write some more about that this afternoon.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Injuries, Eminger and Bouwmeester

First things first, the injury updates:

According to George Richards, Rostislav Olesz should be back at practice tomorrow and likely back in the lineup in two weeks. Afterwards, Olesz spoke with Steve Gorten of the Sun-Sentinel:

For the first day, it wasn't bad. You're just getting back. But sometimes I felt it. It's not ready yet. But it's good I can start practicing with the team because it will help my recovery. It's going right now the way we wanted. So hopefully nothing will change and I'll be back in less than two weeks.

As for David Booth, he is "probable".

Gorten has some quotes from Bouwmeester and Eminger, as well.

First up, Jay Bouwmeester:

I'm happy. We've had a good little run here. Things are looking up. Everyone's looking forward to making the playoffs. . . You just don't have to deal with it, I guess. It's good to put everything behind you and focus on playing hockey. It's kind of what I've been doing all along, but it's just one less pain in the butt. . . I had a feeling nothing was going to happen. . . If something happened, then you deal with it, but I wasn't sitting there just worrying about it. . . Everyone's excited. It's a position we haven't been in for a long time. . . It's a lot more fun to be in a position like this where there's a real light at the end of the tunnel.

Steve Eminger:
Things were going really good in Tampa personally. The team, yeah, we were pretty far back there, but I enjoyed my time there and I'm really excited to be here and in the playoff picture again. In Tampa that was the last thing on our minds. We were already gearing up for next year. . . [Being familiar with Deboer] helps. I kind of know a little of how he coaches from the past. But saying that, you're not going to take advantage of anything. You're going to play the way you can and play hard every game. . . I'm excited to be here as well. I was already traded from Philly to Tampa. As a player, you don't want to be considered a guy that's traded all over the place, but to come to a situation like this was a great situation for myself. I'm excited to get going.

There is more in Gorten's blog about Noah Welch courtesy of a reporter over in Tampa. Welch didn't want to be a distraction here, and so he apparently never questioned his lack of ice time. Hopefully, like Cory Murphy, Welch will get a real second chance over there and make the most of it.

Panthers Trade With Tampa

Well after the 3PM deadline, with last-minute trades still trickling through, Florida got in on the action by trading with Tampa Bay.

The deal has sent defenseman Noah Welch and a third round pick to the Lightning for RFA defenseman Steve Eminger.

Florida only has 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th round picks remaining.

Still, the more I think about this deal, the more I like it. I'm not a fan of fewer draft picks, but as long as you make the most of the ones you have, you're alright. And if the indications remain unchanged and Bouwmeester is out after this season, you still have a chance to find out where he's willing to go and maybe get a conditional pick for dealing his rights after the season. So they may still recoup some picks, or maybe they'll add another player.

But as for Eminger, he's replacing Welch as the seventh defenseman, unless that role has fallen to Nick Boynton. Regardless of this, however, Eminger is an addition that probably won't disrupt team chemistry at all. In fact, he should fit in pretty nicely.

Eminger played for the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL before Peter DeBoer became head coach. DeBoer was with Plymouth when Eminger joined the Rangers, but DeBoer eventually became head coach in Kitchener. So DeBoer knows how Eminger plays, and Eminger respects DeBoer a great deal:
I give a huge amount of credit to (DeBoer) and (associate coach) Steve Spott, they're a big part of my change from last season. My discipline and focus on and off the ice is so much better. That is what they both really stress. And they want to make sure every player has a commitment.

Eminger brings a great attitude and that's going to help him adjust quickly. He knows how to play DeBoer's style, and next year, he'll be able to start with plenty of experience with Florida under his belt.

More than that, Eminger was teammates with Gregory Campbell during DeBoer's tenure, and while there, the three won a Memorial Cup in 2003.

Not to mention, he's actually younger than Noah Welch.

A 25-year old restricted free agent, Eminger is making $1.2M this season. That gives the Panthers a bit to work with next year, assuming he doesn't make an outrageous demand.

Trade Deadline 2009

Was yesterday the last game of Jay Bouwmeester's career as a Panther? Is Nick Boynton gone? What about Craig Anderson? Will anything happen at all?

The rumours have Anaheim Ducks' defenseman Chris Pronger off the market, and Tomas Kaberle missed the third period of last night's game with an apparent hand injury. He's having x-rays taken at a hospital today. Naturally, anything can happen, but with those two moving out of the picture, does Bouwmeester become even more of a must-have for GMs around the league?

Yesterday, Team 1200 in Ottawa claimed that the Vancouver Canucks were competing with the Philadelphia Flyers for Bouwmeester, and earlier in the week, the Flyers (reportedly) upped their offer to get the defenseman. The salary cap comes in to play, however, and that means that Philadelphia would have to part with a large salary to even make a trade possible. The rumour was initially reported as winger Joffrey Lupul ($2.3M this season, $4.25M after that) and the 2nd overall pick from 2007, James vanRiemsdyk (college prospect not yet signed).

Jacques Martin is in a tough spot. Trading Bouwmeester just to avoid losing him for nothing may not bring back a return that helps get the Panthers in to the playoffs, and the playoffs are the plan. So unless a deal is too good to pass up, the Panthers will likely keep Bouwmeester on board.

And now, the deadline has passed. Bouwmeester remains a Panther and, unless something has not been reported, everyone else will remain as well.

Panthers 4 | Thrashers 3

The Panthers weren't ready for the jump that Atlanta had in the first period yesterday, and it put the Thrashers on top 1-0 and then 2-1, but three goals in the second period gave the Panthers the cushion that they needed to pick up the win.

Michael Frolik scored twice for the second time this season, improving his goal total to 17 and he was set up for a hat trick, but a broken stick kept that out of the plans. During the game though, a little trivia was dropped on Panther fans about rookies and goals in a game. Back in 1998 - before Pavel Bure - Mark Parrish became the first player in team history to score four goals in one game. At the time, he was a rookie, and that mark still stands.

With the win, the Cats improve to 33-23-8 and improve their total to 74 points and that's good for sixth in the East. One spot - and one point - ahead, are the Canadiens. Montreal, however, has played only 63 games while Florida has played in 64.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Brynäs IF Set to Start Playoffs on Thursday

Brynäs will start off the playoffs against top-seeded Färjestad on Thursday night after the #1 team opted to play against #7 Brynäs instead of #8 Timrå.

Interestingly enough, Färjestad had a better record on the season against Timrå (4-1) than they did against Brynäs (3-1-1), although FBK closed the regular season out on February 28th by beating Brynäs, 3-1.

If you go all the way back to the start of the season and look over the whole series, it was a pretty good one.

Jacob Markström helped Brynäs to a 3-2 win by stopping 34 of 36 shots back in September, but a month later, the then 18-year-old goaltender surrendered five goals on 37 shots in a 5-1 loss.

The teams played to a draw in November, both scoring twice, and then during the World Junior Championship, Anders Lindbäck turned aside 32 of 35 in a 3-2 loss.

In the final game of the season, Markström was back in net, but three goals on thirty shots put Färjestad on top, 3-1.

So altogether on the season, Brynäs has been outscored by FBK, 13-7.

The quarter-final, once again, begins as a home game for Brynäs on Thursday at Läkerol Arena.

Keaton Ellerby Called Up

No, not because Bouwmeester has been traded. Although, you never know.

Apparently, however, Jassen Cullimore's wife is expecting, and should Cullimore need to head home prior to game-time, Ellerby will be in Atlanta just in case.

Ellerby was a first round pick of the Florida Panthers in 2007, taken tenth overall. He got off to a rough start in the AHL and struggled to adjust from junior hockey, but he's steadily improved all season and has become a solid defender with Rochester. At 6'4", 190, he's still a lanky kid, but in the WHL, Ellerby was a physical defenseman and he's got the frame to carry that to the NHL.

While scoreless on the year in Rochester, Keaton has fifteen assists.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I'm back, apparently.

Work is for quitters, anyway. I guess my purpose as 'office manager' was simply to get things in order so that I could be laid off a week later once a direction was established and some organization put in place.

To think, the Blockbuster job I could have had - just a standard in-store job, would have been the better choice? Who would have guessed that?

The deadline is Wednesday at 3PM and the Panthers have only one game left before that time. There have been all kinds of reports online about Bouwmeester of course, and others about Jacques Martin possibly expressing some interest in Ian Laperriere of the Avalanche, along with the white-hot excitement of wondering who Bill Guerin's mystery club will be. Alright, maybe it's not all that exciting. It's the only move JM plans on making and he wants to save it for deadline day so that people can get excited. But really, I have no idea what's going to happen between today and Wednesday afternoon with players on the Panthers. Aside from knowing about McCabe a month in advance, Martin's been pretty good at keeping things on the hush-hush.

He was in Philadelphia for two games and Flyers' GM Paul Holmgren confirmed that he did indeed express interest in Jay Bouwmeester, and so that's got people wondering about a package involving at least Joffrey Lupul, and a defenseman (Randy Jones or Matt Carle, due to Philly's position agaist the cap. Of course, deep down we're probably all saying, "If it has to be you, can you please give us Coburn? Who cares about the cap. You can figure it out later,") but oh well.

Then there's the Nick Boynton situation - if you didn't read it on George Richards' blog, or Steve Gorten, or some of the other places that ran it (most places ran it, because this close to the deadline, everything is a potential trade, even if it isn't) - now you can. Will Boynton be traded? I don't know. He has faded defensively as the season progressed and he started to make some boneheaded decisions, but for the most part, he has been a pretty decent defender with a physical element and a constant willingness to stick up for any and all of his teammates all the time. Down the stretch, you don't really want to give that up. Moving his cap hit (third highest among Panther defensemen) could help the Cats in another trade, though.

So there you have it. Rochester, by the way, picked up a win against former Ottawa Senators goaltender Martin Gerber yesterday. Gerber is now playing for the Senators' AHL affiliate in Binghamton.

The Amerks added three players during this hiatus of mine: Jarret Lukin, Judd Blackwater and Kyle Hagel.

Lukin is a 25-year-old center from Fort McMurray, Alberta who had been playing with the ECHL's Dayton Bombers. Lukin led the Bombers with 20 goals before joining the Amerks on a PTO and in two games, has two assists.

Blackwater is a 21-year-old center who previously had a brief nine-game stint with the AHL's Rockford IceHogs, scoring three goals in nine games. Also from Alberta (Lethbridge), Blackwater has a goal and an assist in three games.

Hagel is the lone defenseman of the three newcomers. He's 24 years old and a native of Hamilton, Ontario. He fought Rockford's Sean McMorrow on Valentine's Day.

Michal Repik leads the club with 38 points in 57 games, while Janis Sprukts has 37 in 48. Shawn Matthias has improved, and he's up to 10 goals and 17 total points, while both Mike Brodeur and Tyler Plante have played quite well. Plante has improved his numbers considerably, and while still being 5-9, he's brought his GAA down to 2.98 and his save percentage is up to .908%. Very impressive, considering that he was 0-5 with a 5.1 GAA and an .850%.

The same cannot be said for Chris Beckford-Tseu. CBT played only one game with the ECHL's Florida Everblades and conceded 5 goals on 35 shots. Now, he's playing with the Phoenix RoadRunners (also ECHL) and he's not doing any better. Though only three games, Beckford-Tseu is 1-2 with a 4.02 GAA and an .857%.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Panthers 6 | Capitals 2

WASHINGTON (AP) -Stephen Weiss, Bryan McCabe and Jay Bouwmeester scored power-play goals in the first period, Florida held Alex Ovechkin without a point until the final minute, and the Panthers beat the Southeast Division-leading Washington Capitals 6-2 Sunday.

McCabe finished with three assists, and Weiss had two. Florida's other goals were scored by rookie Michael Frolik, Richard Zednik and Jassen Cullimore.