Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
The Panthers are one of the more interesting stories of the second half of the season precisely because they haven’t followed their patented script—go to camp with promise, stumble out of the gate, play well for a time, then disappear into the mists.
This is a team whose leading scorer, Stephen Weiss, has just 41 points (tied for 79th among all NHL players). But the Panthers are unified by one thing, defenseman Keith Ballard said.
“There are a lot of guys here who are sick of losing,” Ballard told ESPN.com this week.
What makes the Panthers a compelling story is they began the season with the usual expectations of win a couple, lose a couple. “We were under .500 and not sure what kind of team we were going to be,” Ballard said.
more topics including Osgoood…
from the Sun-Sentinel,
Florida Panthers general manager Jacques Martin spoke with reporters on an NHL conference call Monday afternoon. Here are some of Martin’s thoughts on defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, whose current contract runs out after this season, as the league’s March 4 deadline draws closer.
When the team is in a playoff race how much does marketing and the trust of the fans play into any personnel decisions you make at the deadline?
“We appreciate our fans a great deal, but from a management standpoint, you can’t manage your team according to the fans. The last couple of years we’ve tried to build a team that would this franchise in the playoffs moving forward and we evaluate our strengths and areas we need to improve.
“When you get into the trading deadline, you look to improve for the stretch drive if you can. At the same time, we like our hockey club. We think our club has grown a great deal since last summer. We made a lot of moves in the offseason and we feel our team is improving as the season is moving along.”
more including Bouwmeester thoughts…
from George Richards of On Frozen Pond,
We haven’t seen rubber rats in large numbers on Florida ice in quite some time, although the rubber rodents are definitely making a comeback.
Sure, the NHL came up with a rule to block the practice of throwing objects onto the ice during a game soon after the Panthers’ 1996 run to the Finals were over. That doesn’t mean people haven’t been doing it in smaller numbers since.
from Bomber’s Blog (Bill Lindsay) at FloridaPanthers.com,
We are getting down to crunch time in the NHL season, and the race is on to make the playoffs. The good news if you’re a Panther fan is that the Cats are one of the few teams headed north in the eastern standings. An amazing run since the start of the New Year has the Panthers poised to end their long playoff drought.
Florida is a team on the rise, which is more than can be said for some of the other teams in the East. I wrote in an earlier blog, that I would much rather have a player that performs well in the second half of the season than the first half. That adage would hold true for teams as well. This is money time, when you really start to find out about your hockey club.
Three teams that had good first halfs, and are now headed south are the Rangers, Canadians and Penguins.
from Ethan J. Skolnick of the Sun-Sentinel,
This statement is so startling that it can’t wait for a second paragraph: the Panthers’ plan appears to be working.
Collect yourself. Call a witness.
“It’s important to have a plan,” Panthers general manager Jacques Martin said.
It sounds simple. You would assume that every self-respecting sports franchise would conceive one, develop one, follow one. A plan making sense. A plan seen through, tweaked when necessary but abandoned only in emergency. For too many years, however, even the Panthers’ best-laid plans were prematurely laid to rest, buried alive when the team got buried again in the standings. Play the kids. Bring in vets. Play the kids. No, go with vets. The Panthers switched strategies like teens change crushes.
from Lyle Richardson of Spector’s Hockey,
Does it strike anyone other than me as more than a coincidence that the Montreal Canadiens went cold right around the time the Vincent Lecavalier trade rumors broke last month?
From early December to a week prior to the 2009 NHL All-Star game the Canadiens had rallied from a minor November slump and were a sizzling 11-2-1, despite losing such notables as Carey Price and Saku Koivu to injury.
Then the trade rumors linking the Habs to Lecavalier broke, and they’re 2-8 in their last ten leading up to February 11th.
I’m a big fan of Habs GM Bob Gainey and overall approve of how he’s built and maintained the current roster, but his cryptic responses to the Lecavalier trade speculation seemed to only stoke the rumors.
It’s unknown if Gainey spoke to any of the players who were rumored headed to Tampa Bay for Lecavalier to calm their nerves.
continued plus some Bouwmeester talk…
from George Richards of On Frozen Pond,
Give the Panthers’ marketing brass credit for one thing: They’re creative. Oh, and they have plenty of brass. So make that two things.
The latest out of One Panther Parkway comes a playoff guarantee.
Basically, the team is saying if you buy a four-game pack of tickets to this year’s playoff run and the team doesn’t make the postseason, you score four freebies next year.
Which you can probably parlay into tickets for 2010-11 if they don’t make the playoffs again next season. It could be the gift that keeps on giving!
From WCBS News Radio:
Ever had to eat tickets to a sporting event which took place while you were on vacation? Get this. New Jersey Nets season ticket holders can get in on the “Snowbird Exchange Program.”
[NJ Nets Press Release]: As cold weather takes hold of the Metropolitan area, the Nets and the Florida Panthers have launched the first-ever Snowbird Ticket Exchange Plan in which south Florida-bound Nets season ticket holders can exchange their unused game tickets for Florida Panthers hockey game tickets at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla.
More on this from the Associated Press.
from David J. Neal of the Miami Herald,
The Panthers haven’t been this happy with their position in the late January standings since 1999-2000, their last playoff year. Now, the question is what the Panthers will do with Bouwmeester at the coming trade deadline—deal their No. 1 defenseman or risk losing him for nothing as an unrestricted free agent?
‘‘I hope he’s here for a lot of years,’’ Weiss said. ``I hope we can all stay here. I’m pretty stubborn that way where you want to finish where you started. I was drafted here and I want to make this work and get this team consistently winning and make the playoffs and do something in the playoffs. I think a lot of guys have that mind-set—you know what, it hasn’t been good here, but we’re going to turn this thing around and make it work down here.’‘
from Steve Gorten of Florida Panther blog at the Sun-Sentinel,
Yes, the Panthers are going to make the playoffs this April.
My prediction isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to tonight’s 5-1 win against the Canadiens. This performance only punctuates the progression of this team.
I watched the third period tonight, seeing the Panthers attack more in those 20 minutes than in some entire games last season. This team plays a fun style to watch. And now its confidence is soaring.
Much of that credit has to go to Pete DeBoer. In my opinion, if the Panthers make the postseason, he will and should be named the NHL’s coach of the year. As a Panthers fan, you should love what DeBoer said tonight when I asked him what statement this win made about where his team’s at:
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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