Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Matthew DeFrank of the Sun Sentinel,
Just two months into Aaron Ekblad's NHL career, it seems like nothing the 18-year-old does is surprising anymore.
Leading the Panthers in assists? Ho-hum. Third among NHL rookies in scoring? Okay. Even his three-assist performance on Saturday night against Buffalo drew a tempered response from Panthers coach Gerard Gallant.
"He played a good game [Saturday] night but he's been good all season long," Gallant said. "I don't think last night was an outstanding game for him. It was a good game, but he's had a lot of those."
While good games have become the norm for the No. 1 overall pick, the Panthers have also become accustomed to Ekblad firing shots from the point to create offensive opportunities. He is tied for the team lead with 17 points.
from George Richards of On Frozen Pond,
Florida general manager Dale Tallon apologized to Buffalo owner Terry Pagula and general manager Tim Murray for the team's pregame video on Saturday night.
The video interspersed scenes from Buffalo's recent major snowstorm with those of the Panthers' mascot fishing and doing other activities outside in the South Florida sun.
Pagula, who lives in Palm Beach County and recently purchased the Bills, was incensed as he spoke with Tallon about the video.
from George Richards of the Miami Herald,
With road victories over teams such as Anaheim, San Jose and Detroit, people around the NHL have taken notice of the Panthers this season.
Florida came into Wednesday three points in back of Boston and Toronto for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers were ranked eighth overall in the conference with 26 points in a league-low 23 games.
If the Panthers want to continue their ascent in the standings, they need to take care of the teams below them.
Yes, a team that finished at or near the bottom of the NHL standings the past two seasons now believes it had better get all four points from its current two-game homestand against Columbus and Buffalo.
from Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette,
At a time when the average value of an NHL franchise increased by 18.6 per cent, the value of the Panthers declined by 21 per cent and the team lost an estimated $15.6 million.
A good spin doctor would point out that the Panthers have room for growth, but there’s nothing to suggest the team has a future in the swamp. Last season, the Panthers announced average attendance of 14,525. This season, the team has set franchise attendance records, but they have been records for the smallest crowds in team history, bottoming out at 7,311. The Panthers’ average crowd is 8,895, but there’s hope of topping 9,000 by the end of the month because Québécois tourists ensure a sellout for the Canadiens-Panthers game on Dec. 30.
The decline in attendance in southern Florida isn’t a result of an eroding fan base. It is a reflection of the true fan base there. Attendance is down because new owners came up with a novel idea — they asked fans to pay for their tickets after years of freebies and deeply discounted seats.
Whether the NHL wants to admit it or not, the Florida franchise is on life support.
via Harvey Fialkov tweets.
A team source confirmed the Panthers r trying to trade some unnamed vets to make room for players like Trocheck and Grimaldi.
One doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to figure Fleischmann is at top of list. Perhaps Bergenheim and Kopyecky as well.
Bergy has been too injury prone.All are in final years of dealsTeam may have to wait til deadline but they want Rocco ASAP.
Best part of the video is when the camera zooms on the face of Roberto Luongo near the end. Great job!
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
Fantasy owners, take note: Florida Panthers forward Nick Bjugstad's stock is steadily rising.
The 22-year-old appears primed for a breakout season this year and has been brimming with confidence during a stretch of stellar play recently. Thursday night, the former University of Minnesota standout tallied twice in the Panthers 3-2 shootout victory over the San Jose Sharks and got the difference-maker on his first shootout try of the season. Just two games prior, Bjugstad recorded a career-high four points.
With seven points in the last three games, he appears to have put the lengthy scoring drought he went through to open the season in the rearview mirror. Look for big things from him in his third year as a pro.
read on for more topics from the ESPN hockey writers...
from Craig Custance of ESPN,
The swing through California has become an opportunity for assessment of teams playing games in San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles. Win there and you can win anywhere, the thinking goes.
The Florida Panthers have quietly started off the season pretty well -- not great, but hanging around at 6-4-5 -- and on Sunday began a four-game road trip that included three in California. It started with an impressive win in Anaheim. The Panthers struggled to score goals earlier in the season, but that hasn't been a problem lately.
The Panthers beat the Ducks 6-2, with the six goals a season-high. Brad Boyes and Nick Bjugstad each scored twice. The six goals eclipsed the total number of goals Florida scored in its first five games this season. In November, the Panthers are averaging three goals a game, improved production that will get a test as the California trip continues in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
read on for Burnside on the Coyotes, and LeBrun on the Canadiens among other topics....
Anyone recall seeing a save in this fashion?
from George Richards of On Frozen Pond,
With a four goal lead and Roberto Luongo in net, Florida finally got to enjoy a blowout of its own design and snapped a three-game winless streak with a 4-1 rout of visiting San Jose at BB&T Center.
"I think we really stuck to our game plan and we were ready to go right from the start,'' said Jimmy Hayes, who gave Florida a 1-0 lead midway through the first.
"We continued playing throughout the game. We got the quick start and kept the pressure on them. And Luongo was played like he does. He keeps us in every game. ''
from Working The Corners,
Sharks coach Todd McLellan listed several things that went wrong Tuesday in the third game of the seven-game trip.
“We didn’t execute at all. We didn’t put two passes together. So, any time we did win battles for the puck and have an opportunity to get up ice, maybe made the first one, but we sure didn’t make the second one,” McLellan said.
“Didn’t have the puck a lot. Our defensive zone coverage, our awareness, obviously on the first couple of goals hurt us a lot. We just never established any type of energy in the game, any type of consistent attack. We spent more time defending, and a lot of it was our own doing because we didn’t manage the puck well.”
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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