Sports Outside the Beltway

Shark Bait- Florida beats San Jose 3-2

Another unbelievable Panther win.

Bryan Allen scored with 2:14 left in overtime to help the Florida Panthers rally from an early two-goal deficit to beat the San Jose Sharks 3-2 on Saturday.FL-SJ

After becoming the first team in NHL history to win three straight games in regulation when trailing after two periods, the Sharks found themselves on the other side of a late comeback.

Shawn Matthias scored the equalizer off a spin move about 5 minutes into the third period and then set up the game-winner in overtime for Florida. Matthias beat Joe Pavelski on a face off and then went to the front of the net to set a screen for Allen, whose shot from the point beat Thomas Greiss.

San Jose came out on fire in this game. They were up 2-0 17:45 into the game and I was expecting an ugly result.

It didn’t happen. San Jose may have been overconfident. First because Florida isn’t that good, then they haven’t won in San Jose, the Sharks most importantly are one of the best teams in the NHL. All this said, the Panthers managed to beat the Sharks during the 2008-09 season.

San Jose instead of playing their ace Goalie Evegeni Nabokov, sent out Thomas Greiss who hadn’t played in over a month.. Florida Panther Billy Lindsay calls Greiss a terrible puck handler. He looked like it tonight. I think San Jose expected an easy win.

They didn’t get it because Florida didn’t give up. Keith Ballard scored in the 2nd period, while David Booth and Bryan McCabe came tantalizingly close to more goals.

In the third period, Shawn Matthias put in his 6th goal of the season. After early difficulties, Vokoun ended up stopping 37 of 39 shots on goal.

The game went to overtime where Matthias and Allen combined on the winning goal. Sadly I still don’t think Florida will make the post season. This win was thrilling but essentially part of a play that has little meaning barring a miracle. Next up for Florida- Washington on Tuesday. The other team besides San Jose that I picked to make it to the Stanley Cup Championship. Florida hasn’t beaten the Capitals once this season.


Record win- Florida beats Minnesota 3-2

Tonight’s Panther game was frankly unbelievable.

The Wild scored two goals on four shots and were up 2-0 approximately 11 minutes into the game.FL-Minn

Minnesota had only 7 shots on goal for the first two periods but were still ahead 2-0. Florida had 21 SOG and had lots of opportunities to score but couldn’t. I was ready to throw in the towel on the game and the Panthers remote chances of making the playoffs.

For how often has Florida come back from a 2-goal deficit with just one period to play? I don’t know but it is not often.

Minnesota still couldn’t put pucks on net as the 3rd period opened. In fact they went 10 minutes into it before Panther Goalie Tomas Vokoun had to make a save.

In the meantime, Florida tied up the game. Michael Frolik scored two minutes into the period to make the game 2-1.

Then at the 10:40 mark, Cory Stillman took the puck away from fellow Panther Steven Reinprecht and got it past Wild Goalie Niklas Backstrom. Florida had wiped out the 2-goal deficit and the game was now tied.

Nothing more happened in regulation and the same for overtime. Then as the shootout commenced, I asked myself when’t the last time Florida won a shootout. It was last year I think and Florida hasn’t beaten Minnesota in 9 years either. The Panthers are doomed.

The first two Panther and Wild players a piece can’t score in the shootout. A 3rd Wild player can’t beat Vokoun. Then Peter DeBoer sends out Holy Kreps to get a shootout goal. Guess what happens?

Kamil loses control of the puck and doesn’t get a shot off. How embarrassing and what was DeBoer thinking by sending a player out in the shootout who had 1 goal in the first 63 games of this season?

A 4th Wild player does nothing then Cory Stillman beats Backstrom again and Florida wins 3-2.

Holy Cow! Even with the win, Florida is still 6 points out of the last playoff spot.

Minnesota finished the game with just 11 shots on goal. That is the lowest total ever allowed by a Florida team. The previous mark was set in 1997. It ties Minnesota’s all-time low output and this NHL season’s lowest.

Who out there thought Florida could overcome a two goal deficit with 20 minutes left to play, allow only 11 shots on goal the whole game, and win in a shootout?

Bueller? Bueller?

Donny at The Litter Box is also commenting. He makes mention of tonight’s Florida win being the 500th in franchise history.


Holy Kreps- Florida beats Carolina 4-1

What is going on with the Cats right now? For 13 games the team couldn’t score more than two goals in any game. Now they’ve scored 11 in their last two.

First a 7-4 victory over Philadelphia. Then tonight’s game.

Vokoun was great in goal like he has been most of the season. Defenseman Bryan McCabe scored three assists for the 2nd straight game. To be honest, McCabe is a defenseman who contributes offensively to the teams he’s played for. Look at his assist totals for the last five NHL seasons-


McCabe has 26 assists so far for the 2009-10 season. Kreps

How about Kamil Kreps scoring two goals? One assisted by Nick Tarnasky who gets in ten fights at least for every point he scores.

Kreps has gotten to three goals on the year now. Watch Panther Coach Peter DeBoer put him on another line other than the 4th now. Tonight aside, Kreps is a crappy player. His best NHL season was 2007-08 when he scored 8 goals and 17 assists in 76 games played.

At one point in tonight’s game, two Panther defensemen had a shorthanded odd man rush. What is going on at the Bank Atlantic Center right now?

Florida starts a three-game road trip on Tuesday. First they play Minnesota, then Colorado, then San Jose. The team is currently 26-28-10 for the season and 12th in the Eastern Conference. They are just 4 points away from the last playoff spot, but the bad news is that 3 teams are tied for that one last spot.

The cats may be getting ready to make a late playoff rush. I still don’t think they will be playing this NHL post season.

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Philadelphia Flyer Goalie Ray Emery to have season ending hip surgery

What Goalie will the Broad Street bullies trade for before tomorrow’s trading deadline? From ESPN-

Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ray Emery will need surgery to repair his right hip and will miss the rest of the season, the team announced Tuesday.

“He is suffering from avascular necrosis and will have a bone graft done to alleviate his hip issues,” general manager Paul Holmgren said in a news release.

With Emery out, the Flyers may look to trade for a goalie ahead of Wednesday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, although Michael Leighton has played well for the team.

Emery, 27, went 16-11-1 record with a 2.64 goals-against average and .905 save percentage, including three shutouts, in 29 games this season.

Ray Emery is a unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. He seems to have reformed from his tumultuous Ottawa days that caused him to play outside the NHL the for 2008-09 season. I think Emery won’t have any problem signing with another team.

The Flyers are now in need of a Goalie and a lot of rumors are flying around. One of them is Florida Goalie Tomas Vokoun being traded to Philadelphia. If not for salary cap reasons, I’d bet the trade takes place. It may still happen.

Vokoun is the best Florida player by a mile and only reason the team isn’t in the Eastern Conference cellar. Interesting enough-

1- Vokoun won’t start tonight against Atlanta. It’s going to be Scott Clemmensen(who’s been horrible this year)
2- If Vokoun is traded to Philly, his first opponent as a Flyer? The Florida Panthers, at Florida.

Florida is going to trade Vokoun either by the deadline or during the off season. They have the rights to an excellent Swedish Goalie named Jacob Markstrom. Markstrom could play in the NHL as soon as next season. If Florida trades Vokoun, what do they do at Goalie?

Obviously Clemmensen becomes the starter, but who will back him up? Alexander Salak from Rochester? If so, I better get my hard hat out for the rest of the 2009-10 season.

ESPN’s Scott Burnside speculates on what move Philadelphia will make. DolPhanDave covers the Vokoun/Florida Panther angle.


Florida Panthers trade D Jordan Leopold to Pittsburgh

He didn’t even last a full season in South Florida. From the Miami Herald-

The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired defenseman Jordan Leopold in a deal with the Florida Panthers.

Florida traded Leopold to Pittsburgh for a second-round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. The move was announced Monday, two days before the league’s trade deadline.

The 29-year-old Leopold signed a one-year contract with the Panthers in July. In the summer, he was part of a deal that sent the rights to defenseman Jay Bouwmeester to Calgary.

Leopold had 7 goals and 11 points for the season. He was to become a free agent at the end of this season, so the trade wasn’t unexpected.

This and the Dominic Moore trade are all the proof one needs to know about the rest of the 2009-10 Panther season. The team is packing it in. Their play has been brutal for over a month and only the wizardry of G Tomas Vokoun has kept the Panthers anywhere near the playoff race. Their 6 points out the 8th spot at present but it might as well be 1,000. This team isn’t going to the playoffs. AGAIN.

As for the trade, a 2nd round pick is a good deal on paper. If Florida makes good use of the pick. Say another David Booth but not a Lukas Krajicek. Even if the pick works out, Florida isn’t likely to benefit from it for 2-3 years. Dimitry Kulikov(Florida’s 2009 1st round pick) aside, most draft picks don’t come to the league for 2-3 years and then need time to adjust. Florida is rebuilding, AGAIN, but it could be 4 years before fans see improvement. I really am a Masochist when I root for this team 82 games a year.

Also blogging on the trade- Donny at Litter Box Cats.


Dallas Stars waive Goalie Alex Auld

With the recent acquisition of Kari Lehtonen, the team had one more netminder than they needed. From ESPN-

The Dallas Stars placed Alex Auld on waivers Wednesday and are content to go with Marty Turco and Kari Lehtonen in goal the rest of the season.Alex Auld

Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk acknowledged there’s little chance of trading Turco, who played well the last six games leading into the Olympic break. Turco is 4-1-1 with a 1.15 goals-against average and a .967 save percentage in that stretch.


Lehtonen, 26, has not played an NHL game since last April. The Stars traded for him earlier this month in an effort to fortify their goalie position going into next season. Lehtonen is a restricted free agent next season, while Turco and Auld are unrestricted free agents.

The Stars are one point out of the eighth and final playoff spot and have games every other day in March.

“We’ll work Kari in there because we have so many games,” Nieuwendyk said.

Auld is a journeyman Goalie who has played for six teams since 2006. That says enough about how good he is. Could a 7th team on the horizon? I’d say the chances are about 50-50. If Auld can’t find work in North America, he can always go to play in Europe.


Florida Panthers trade Dominic Moore to Montreal

He only spent 48 games in a Panther uniform. From AP-

The Florida Panthers have traded center Dominic Moore to the Montreal Canadiens for a second-round pick in the 2011 draft.Dominic Moore

Moore, signed by the Panthers as a free agent after the start of the 2009-10 season, had eight goals and nine assists in 48 games for Florida.

Moore is a six-year veteran who has also played for the Rangers, Penguins, Wild, Maple Leafs and Sabres.

Moore’s best season was 2008-09 when he scored 32 points, 13 of which were on goals.

I liked Moore in his brief tenure with Florida. He always seemed to hustle. I don’t think he is worth a 2nd round pick, so IMHO Florida came out great on this deal. The bad side- It will be 4-5 before Florida has something to show for this trade. Unless they deal the make a trade with it in order to get a scorer.

This trade tells me Florida is throwing in the towel on the 2009-10. The team is 12th in the Eastern Conference at 24-26-9 but more importantly have lost 4 games in a row in which the team looked absolutely horrible. Over the last 11 games, the Panthers have only scored 13 goals. I was never optimistic about this team’s playoff chances. Now I’m writing Florida off for sure.


Malaise- Calgary beats Florida 2-1

You won’t win many games in the NHL when your team only makes 13 shots on goal. From AP-

Ales Kotalik and Mark Giordano scored, and Miikka Kiprusoff made 12 saves in the Calgary Flames’ 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Friday night.Jay Bouwmeester

The Panthers had a season-low 13 shot on goal.

Dennis Seidenberg scored for Florida, and Tomas Vokoun stopped 38 shots.

Calgary won for just the fourth time in its past 16 games and ended a four-game road losing streak. Florida has lost three of its last four games.

Calgary took a 2-1 lead on Giordano’s power-play goal with 2:42 left in the second period. The Flames won a facoff in the Panthers’ end and Giordano’s shot from the right point got cleanly past Vokoun, who was screened on the play.

Calgary opened the scoring with 10 seconds left in the first period. On a power play, Kotalik passed across the crease toward Matt Stajan at the side of the net. The puck glanced off a Panthers players’ skate and into the net to give the Flames a 1-0 lead. It was Kotalik’s first goal for the Flames since joining the team Sunday in a trade with the New York Rangers. Jay Bouwmeester and Niklas Hagman, both former Panthers, were credited with assists on the play.

Panther fans booed Bouwmeester tonight. I been a die hard Florida for three years and I hold no animosity towards the defenseman. Unlike someone like Nick Saban, Bouwmeester didn’t pretend he would be staying in South Florida.

Calgary Flames Jarome Iginla and Daymond Langkow played their 1000th and 999th career game respectively tonight. Iginla who was originally drafted by the Dallas Stars, has played his entire NHL career in Calgary.

The Panthers offense is seriously MIA at this time. No forward has scored a goal in the team’s last 3 games. Overall Florida has scored just 10 goals in its last 9 games. Vokoun has been magical in goal but not the greatest Goaltender in the world can win with that kind of support. Florida is 24-24-9 at present. I still can’t make myself believe the Panthers will make the playoffs even if they stand just a few points out of a playoff spot at present.

Note- I was happily surprised tonight to learn that Saturday’s game against Atlanta will be on NHL Center Ice. Before the 2009-10 season began this game it was reported this game would not be on any form of television.


Calgary Flames trade Olli Jokinen to the NY Rangers

From ESPN-

It took a while, but the proposed trade between the New York Rangers and Calgary Flames was finally completed late Monday night.

The Rangers shipped forwards Christopher Higgins and Ales Kotalik to the Flames in exchange for center Olli Jokinen and rugged winger Brandon Prust, a deal that was nearly consummated Sunday night but was delayed a day.

Kotalik’s limited no-trade clause and his ability to nix the deal was partly responsible for the holdup, but he ultimately agreed to the move, a source told

The trade call between both teams occurred following Calgary’s game Monday night.

Calgary is scheduled to play Florida on February 5th. Which would have enabled the Panthers all-time leading scorer(Jokinen) to make his first South Florida appearance since he was traded to Phoenix after the 2008-09 season. That has now been delayed till April when the Rangers come to town.

The Panthers beat writers have been hammering the Jokinen return to death IMHO. Does the Miami Herald’s George Richards or the Sun Sentinel’s Steve Gorten care to tell us that Jokinen will now be coming to Florida two times a year rather than once every two years? Jokinen is in the last year of his contract, but that isn’t pointed out but I don’t see mention of that or the chance of Jokinen coming to Florida two times a year if he should stay in New York.

As for the deal, both teams rid themselves of players who either couldn’t get along with their coach(Kotalik vs. the volatile John Tortorella) or a underachiever who isn’t supposedly giving a full effort(Jokinen). I think the Rangers come out better on this deal if they re-sign Jokinen but its a close thing. This was Jokinen’s third trade in less than two years and he is now working on his 6th NHL team.

George Richards in a blog post about this trade, made a huge sportswriting blunder.

Of course, Olli isn’t headed east to New York just yet. According to reports, he’s on his way to California to meet up with the Rangers in Los Angeles. Sports is funny this way, yes? Olli’s NHL career started with the Kings. They then traded him to the Panthers where he enjoyed his most professional success. Olli didn’t want to leave the Panthers, know that.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Jokinen is heading back to a NY area team for the second time in his career. He played a year with the NY Islanders. And how did the Florida Panthers acquire him?George Richards

June 24th 2000- Jokinen and Roberto Luongo traded to Florida in exchange for Oleg Kvasha and Mark Parrish

Florida only got a great goaltender and its all-time leading scorer in the same trade. This was only the biggest transaction the team ever made that went the right way for the Cats. Forgetting this trade is like a New York City baseball reporter forgetting the New York Yankees got Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox.

Next thing George will be doing is tell us Jacques Martin didn’t coach in the NHL prior to Ottawa (like at least one other Panther beat writer did) and that Martin had great confidence in Craig Anderson!


Where are my earplugs?- Anaheim beats Florida 3-0

I attended the game in person tonight but I’ll use the AP article to lead off this blog post.

It took a swing through the Sunshine State for the Anaheim Ducks to salvage a 13-day road trip.Ana-FL

Jonas Hiller made 33 saves to earn his second shutout of the season, and the Ducks beat the Florida Panthers 3-0 on Monday night.

Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne and Corey Perry each scored for the Ducks, who wrapped up the six-game trip and snapped Florida’s five-game winning streak at home.

Hiller’s other shutout this season came on Nov. 5 in a 4-0 win over the Nashville Predators. Hiller, who has six NHL shutouts, was coming off a 30-save effort in the Ducks’ 2-1 shootout victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night.


Florida’s Tomas Vokoun stopped 22 shots. Vokoun was coming off his seventh shutout of the season, a 33-save performance in the Panthers’ 2-0 win over the New York Islanders on Sunday.


The Ducks went ahead 3-0 on Perry’s goal at 17:18 in the third. He scored with a slap shot from the right circle after taking a pass from Getzlaf from behind the net.

Selanne gave Anaheim a 2-0 lead with a power-play goal in the final second of the second period. James Wisniewski’s shot ricocheted off the left post and hit Vokoun in the back, and Selanne then tipped in the loose puck.

After a scoreless first period, Getzlaf netted an unassisted goal at 15:17 into the second. He picked up the puck on a turnover by Keith Ballard and scored with a wrist shot from in front, beating Vokoun on his stick side.

Corey Perry scored the final goal of the game with under three minutes to go in the game. I was already out of my seat and getting ready to leave but saw the goal go in the net. Just prior to this the Panthers had two consecutive power plays, which overlapped one another for about 30 seconds resulting in a 5-3 for the cats. The score of the game tells you how Florida fared with those advantages.

Florida got thoroughly outplayed tonight. This was one of their worst home efforts of the 2009-10 season.

Now some random comments and occasional barbs related to my night out at the Bank Atlantic Center.

*- Tonight was my first visit to the BAC. In fact, I haven’t seen a professional team sporting event in person in almost 20 years.

It took me a while to find my way around the parking lots on arrival but did ok. On the way out, I found my car with ease and got out of the parking lots but headed in the wrong direction on the Sawgrass Expressway. South instead of north to Palm Beach County.

*- Food prices at sporting events is ridiculous. $6.00 for a hot dog. I can buy a package of buns and a 8 pack of hot dogs at the grocery store for less. 20 oz. Coke was a ‘cheap’ $5.50. If sodas were priced were priced the same amount times over hot dogs were, they would have been $10.00 or more tonight.

How does a family manage a night out at a game? Even with half off Monday, the family of three in my row had to cough up about $170 for their tickets. That doesn’t include food and anything else bought at the stadium. You better be upper middle class to go see a game or expect to make a car payment to see 60 minutes of hockey.

*- My seats were 6 rows behind(Section 102) the Panthers bench and almost right on center ice.

*- Now I know why Florida has a ticket promotion called ‘Half Off Mondays’. The BAC was only half full tonight.(Or worse)

That meant I had half a row to myself with no one seated on my right for 3 seats and only people seated on my left but with an empty seat between us.

*- Anyone attending a Panther game should bring earplugs. The BAC does what they call ‘Rock the Rink’. Loud Rock music that I could have done without. It blared incesantly all through the pre-game warmups.

*- Dumb rude fan moment of the night. A person in their twenties wanted to get out of my aisle. At the time I was standing up, he could have said excuse me and I would have moved. Instead he climbed down a row, stepping on a seat in the process. Wouldn’t you love to be the fan who had to sit there later on? NOT!

*- Should Panther fans forced to view the back of Peter DeBoer’s head all night get a discount on their tickets?

*- The Panthers have a team mascot named Stanley Panther. There’s a kids version, little stan or something. I got nothing against Mascots except they are blocking my view when the puck is in the opponent’s end of the ice. Get your big heads down!

*- One of the reasons I chose tonight’s game to attend, was the fact there was zero television coverage of it. As part of the imbecile deal the NHL made with the devil Versus, no other games are allowed to be aired during that Network’s ‘Game of the Week’.

*- BAC has a computer area where someone can check email etc before the game or during intermissions. I did exactly that between the first and second periods of play.

*- Anaheim Duck Teemu Selanne played tonight. Wasn’t he supposed to be out for over a month with a broken jaw?

*- The Florida Panther who came closest to scoring a goal tonight? Goalie Tomas Vokoun and he almost put one in for Anaheim! The Panthers were on a Power Play and the Ducks shot the puck out of their zone. Vokoun went to handle it and passed it across the goal mouth. I swore the thing was going in for a moment.

*- Florida Panther David Booth played in his second game since suffering a concussion. He played well for two periods but looked fatigued in the 3rd.(He did similarly in a game yesterday but managed an assist.)

That’s about it. Did you have enough already? I needed something to do to help unwind in preparation for bed.


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