Archive for the ‘Florida Panthers’ Category

Florida Panthers two-pack

July 29, 2009
Photo featuring one of the sluttier members of the Booth clan

Making up for lost time, Litter Box Cats selects these two players on behalf of the Florida Panthers:

1. David Booth

Cap Hit: $4,250,000

2. Steve Mason

Cap Hit: $900,000

(For the record, I’d like to take 90 to 100 percent credit for the Mason pick. Damn me and my hasty e-mails. The Booth pick was all Whale4Ever, though.)

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Litter Box Cats dictates which free agents would be odorous

June 30, 2009
Pictured: Tomas Vokoun with David Booth (right)

You may know Whale4Ever as the recently crowned blogging Calder trophy winner. While Florida Panthers fans may be bummed that Jay Bouwmeester is on his way out, we asked Litter Box Cats which moves the Panthers should avoid.

Make sure you check out Litter Box Cats in all their Panther-tastic glory.

1. Which player, for the love of God, do you NOT want to see in your team’s sweater in the 09-10 season?

Marian Gaborik, given his injury history. He’ll continue to make waaaay too many bones for the potential return on the investment. Martin Havlat can be lumped in here as well. The Panthers don’t need any more “projects” (Nathan Horton? Rusty Olesz?). Gabby was rumored to be coming to Sunrise last fall; fans were thankful it didn’t come to pass. He may never miss another minute of action for the rest of his career, but who’s got faith in that balsa-wood groin? If you’ve just got to sign him, it had better be for pennies on the dollars he’s used to making.

2. Conversely, pick a potential move by another team that would just crush your soul/favorite team’s chances.

Tampa Bay dealing Vinny Lecavalier, thereby re-stocking their cupboard and turning around overnight. We’re not in Quebec-trading-Lindros territory, but awfully close. Then again, it’s the Lightning. Sadly for their fans, they’ll engineer a way – by committee – to screw it up.

Litter Box Cats provides perspective on the Florida Panthers’ upcoming draft

June 21, 2009

Litter Box Cats has been a blog buddy of ours for a while now. As the Florida Panthers representative at Sports Blog Nation, Whale4Ever is an excellent blogger providing information on a largely under-represented NHL team. In fact, the blog’s been so strong that Hockey Barn deemed them their “rookie of the year.” Congratulations all around.

Make sure to follow Litter Box Cats as the team tries to sort out a possible Bouwmeester-less future.

1. What direction do you expect the Panthers to go in with their first round draft pick? Could it possibly be reactionary, based on the possible loss of Jay Bouwmeester?

Absolutely the Bouwmeester situation will affect the first Florida pick; no question it’s reactionary. If there’s a pick taken by the team in the first round at all. Assistant General Manager-to-Nobody Randy Sexton has been quite verbal about the draft, in a very modest sense; few hints about the direction it will take have been established, but he has * BIIG MOMENT COMING * at least met with the media and is opening a line of communication before unheard of during the Martin days. Bouwmeester’s status – and the naturally expected “Stealth Mode” of the scouting staff – has everything to do with Sexton’s vanilla responses. Can’t blame ’em for clamming. Move up? Move down? Trade the rights exclusively? Can’t fault their approach. Gonna be a Texas-sized steel-caged auction until the very last moment on Friday. How better to razz our friends in Philly? A lot is on the line for the organization …

2. Is there any chance the Panthers might gain another pick by trading the “negotiating rights” for Jay-Bo?

Yes, and then some, hopefully. But my guess is the club is no longer “rebuilding” in the traditional sense. They could most certainly gain another pick – or three. I don’t believe that’s the strategy. They need players for the big club now. We’re not staring at one of the finer free agent summers, but on the same note the Cats aren’t going to have to suffer through obscenely inflated prices for non-game-busting B-listers like Gomez, Drury, Smyth, and the like. It’s pretty cut-and-dried: the Sedin brothers – not your garden-variety pair – have set the market. Going back to the original question, my answer is thus: the Panthers will trade Bouw’s rights to the highest bidder before July 1st. We (the fans) are hoping to get a “name” roster player out of it, but only a sign-and-trade will accomplish that. My guess? It’ll be a big-time deal involving several players, probably goaltender Tomas Vokoun.

3. Looking back, tell us about some of your favorite Panthers drafting memories/moments. What were some of the franchises biggest moves and greatest “steals”?

The Pavel Bure thing was okay..but surrounded by no one, his consistent 50-goal seasons were fruitless.

Can’t honestly answer that question without going back to what was one of the greatest steals in league history, that of Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen coming to Sunrise from Long Island for Oleg Kvasha and Mark Parrish during the 2000 offseason. Ironically enough, Luongo was involved six years later in what many consider the most lopsided deal in NHL annals (forgetting Francis, Samuelsson, Jennings for Cullen, Zalapski, Parker some years earlier. Pens fans remember it well. So do a select few in Hartford). As for “steals”? Almost everyone acquired by Bill Torrey/Bobby Clarke when the team was formulated in 1993. With a few exceptions, they melded into a tough group to play, culminating in the Stanley Cup Final runners-up for 1996. An otherwise forgettable roster, built on character and uncommon effort, which exceeded any sane hockey observer’s expectations. Until you looked at the individuals involved, and it became clear why success was so quick in coming. Whether by default or design, a lot of Panthers fans are very comfortable knowing Bill Torrey is back at the helm following the loss of Jacques Martin.

4. On the other hand, take us back to some of the team’s worst draft day decisions. Are there any specific moves or missed opportunities that really make Panthers ask themselves “What if?” type questions?

Leaving out what we’ve already covered, as far as draft picks have gone, no player has taken – or earned – the local wrath that Denis Shvidki or Petr Taticek has absorbed. We’re not on a Patrik Stefan level here, but only because Florida wasn’t picking overall first in those drafts. Given the remarkably paranoid and psychotic Florida “management” of those years (read: Keenan et al), it’s quite probable Stefan may still be playing in Sunrise. Or for the organization after it had been relocated to Sarnia on the back of a Taticek or Shvidki. Anyone can look up the details; the Panthers had a ridiculous number of busts in the early 2000s. Have at it.

The Litter Box’s Prediction for the 2009 Entry Draft: 14th pick is traded along with G Tomas Vokoun and contractual rights of Jay Bouwmeester to Philadelphia for Danny Briere, Joffrey Lupul, and 1st round pick in 2010. REALLY don’t like it, but that’s me guess. If it’s the best out there, take it.

If you liked Hockey Orphan, you might like:

April 11, 2009

There have been a bunch of Hockey Orphan entries the last couple weeks, so we thought it would be a smart idea to point fans of the recently represented teams to posts that they might find interesting and/or entertaining.

Montreal Canadiens (
Written by HabsFan29 from Four Habs Fans)

Twinsies: How the Montreal Canadiens are the NHL’s version of the Boston Celtics

The Canadiens would be the most exciting matchup for the Boston Bruins

Columbus Blue Jackets (
Written by Bethany from Bethany’s Rants)

Chris Kontos thought the Blue Jackets would be the San Jose Sharks’ best dance partner


Florida Panthers (
Written by Whale4Ever from Litter Box Cats)

Who IS Jay Bouwmeester, anyway?

The Return of the Rat Pack

10 Things that are cool about the Florida Panthers


New Jersey Devils (Written by John Fischer from In Lou We Trust)

A post with a bunch of the Brodeur links

Comparing Brodeur to the Plantes and Vezinas of yore is a losing endeavor

Brodeur is voted the goalie of the aughts

Are Brodeur-type workhorse goalies a dying breed?

Remember when the hockey world was stunned that the Devils seemed like they didn’t miss a beat without Brody?

Philadelphia Flyers (Written by FGSB from Flyers Goal Scored By)

Salary Cap Outlook: Flyers

San Jose Sharks (Written by Gray from Couch Tarts)

Dance Partners: San Jose

Both teams have had their struggles, but it’s interesting that Boston – San Jose still might have been a Stanley Cup preview

***

Of course, there is also a bunch of content on all the Hockey Orphan teams in our trade deadline coverage as well.

Hockey Orphan: Whale4Ever from Litter Box Cats on the Florida Panthers

April 8, 2009
Click on the logo above for all the Hockey Orphan entries

(There aren’t a ton of Florida Panthers blogs out there, but that doesn’t take away from Litter Box Cats at all. Part of Mirtle’s League of Bloggerly Gentlemen at SB Nation, Whale4Ever provides great coverage of those plucky rats. Make sure to follow his stuff. Thanks W4E!)

The setup: Imagine that scene from The Jerk where the disgruntled Dickey Dunn lookalike with anger issues and a hunting rifle chooses a random target for his rage from the local white pages, only modernized: “Panthers, Florida.” he grumbles, removing his finger from the NHL’s media guide.

“Sounds like a typical Bettman sunbelt trainwreck.”

Ah, the Panthers. Sunrise, eh? Sounds tropical, which must be pretty sweet come November, but can’t be much of a hockey town way down there: beaches, cold drinks, spring break, the Dolphins.. Yeah…it’s a football area. Even the big league baseball team can’t attract over a thousand some nights. I’m gonna pull up roots and hand my allegiance to a club teetering on invisibility?

Well, wait…I’ll give it a looksie.

Hmmm. “Winningest first-year club” in 1993-94. That’s promising. Says here they made the Stanley Cup finals in their third season. Swept out by Quebec, er Colorado, but still. And this “rat” thing appeared to be popular with the locals. What a blueprint for success they laid. Must have been smooth sailing after that.
Oooh. That’s fascinating: other than a habitual 50-goal scorer who came and went (is that pronounced Beeyoor? I’m no good with Irish names) lots of fluff between 1996 and 2006, when some big-time goaltender got shipped out. Guy named “Keenan” – appears he couldn’t make up his mind whether he liked Sunrise or not – seems to have taken some slack for that one. I’m sure he landed on his feet. Sure had a crush on that scowling Bertolli dude.

Let’s see…Jacques Martin, head coach. Became GM. And coach. Don’t see that too often. Power trip? Perhaps. Does he have a plan? Maybe. Before this season, doesn’t look as if he had too much success. That would explain his forced-resignation from the coaching end a year ago.

So of course he hired a proven NHL bench boss to replace him, right? Ummm, what’s a Kitchener? Signed Peter Deboer on his 40th birthday. Dicey? Certainly, but bold. Looks as if the “kid movement” is on around a number of league benches. Maybe that Martin is on to something.

Yowza…traded the best offensive player, who’d been there a loooong time, for two defensemen? Not shaping up too well. This team had massive trouble scoring goals before losing that Joking guy. Cory Stillman to the rescue? Yeah…he’s on the upside of his career.

Nosedive right out of the gate to open the year? Check. The annual rush to the IR? Check. Western road trip soon after, featuring loss after loss to bury the team even further in the standings? Wait a second…no collapse? Campell, Peltonen, and Dvorak leading the charge? Stephen Weiss with multiple game-winners? ON THE ROAD? Jeez…even local sports radio is beginning to pay some attention.

Does this indicate “heart”? That’s a new one. Perhaps there’s something to it…

Club goes on a tear through January and February. Cool. Good stuff there. Richard Zednik – he’s the guy with the gruesome injury that I saw on ESPN (in fact it’s the ONLY hockey I saw on ESPN last year) – what a trooper. Came right back and ready for Day One of training camp. Lot to be said for that.

March. Hmmm. Bit of a tough time. Beating the likes of the Flyers, but bending over for also-rans. What’s the story there? DeBoer lost his grip on the team? Oh, that’s it.. GM decides to hold on to the prized UFA for the stretch run. Why in tarnation didn’t that turn out? Not looking good. No sweet deals at the team store, so they’re obviously planning on a long playoff run. With all of these losses? Who’s steering this ship? This here internet site says has-beens Carolina and Pittsburgh pulled a 180 and now threaten the number four spot in the conference. Why not Florida? On that note, there sure have been a lot more people at the BankAtlantic Center over the past eight weeks.

Sweet. April is here. Gonna put all that losing behind us. DeBoer promised, after all. Maybe… Starting goaltender Tomas Vo-something isn’t getting the job done; going with backup Craig Anderson. Until he loses.

And lose he did, but not until the fourth game of his regime, and he can’t score goals. Back to that Vokoun guy, against the Penguins. Good team, that Crosby-led bunch. What a turnaround. Finally at a game in person. Is it typical to have a forward upended? Or have the same player’s center retaliate on what most are calling a clean hit? Got a lot to learn, obviously. But the home team won. Why am I being hounded by friends about Florida’s playoff chances? Where were you mopes last year?

Three games remain for both the Panthers of Sunrise and the Rangers of, well, New York. Got to admire this Florida club’s spirit. Who anywhere thought they would be The Ones to drag a playoff race down to the final days of the schedule?

Win or lose, playoffs or not, there’s room for quite an encore come October.

If you were the GM (Southeast Division edition)

March 3, 2009

(With the trade deadline upon us, Cycle like the Sedins decided to ask about 30 or so friends in the blogosphere to represent his or her team and answer the question: “What would you do if you were the GM during the trade deadline?”

Since things change in a heartbeat, the date of each person’s submission is listed next to each entry. So before you start screaming “BUT THEY TRADED HIM!” while food spills out of your mouth, we’re showing what they thought at the time.

Don’t like it? Then don’t buy it! Now get outta here you kids!!! This isn’t a library!!!)

Florida Panthers

(MAR 2)

Whale4ever from Litterbox Cats

If I were running the show, Jay Bouwmeester would be a Panther until July 1st. I understand the potential lunacy of allowing the guy to walk for nothing, but I’m firmly in the camp that demands keeping the team intact through the end of the season.

The Panthers desperately need playoff action, no secret there. The revenue, the local media focus, blah blah blah…all the usual tired reasons. Might make a depth move, but the club is pretty solid from top to bottom. Could really use a number one center (insert Olli Jokinen joke here), but again, I don’t blow it up.

If the Cats somehow don’t make the post-season, as Jacques Martin, I’m out of work.

Chris Kontos: This is the eternal debate… at least for the 2009 NHL Trading Deadline. Should Bow stay or should he go? Yes, the Panthers very well could make the playoffs this season and experience the revenue, money and local media windfalls. But when he signs with another team July 1st… will the Panthers make the playoffs next year? Ask the Atlanta Thrashers how that one year in the playoffs has paid off for them.

James O’Brien: It all depends on what they can get for Jay Bouwmeester. Honestly, they MUST receive at least one suitable roster player plus prospects. Is anyone willing to give that up? Perhaps we’ll find out tomorrow. The Panthers are on fire right now – way, way WAY more than the Thrashers ever were – and perhaps a playoff run on the team that drafted him would melt some of the ice off of Bow’s heart. Very thin ice for the Panthers.

***

Atlanta Thrashers

Totally awesome Photoshop from Aaron Brown of Blueland Outsider:

***

The Falconer from Bird Watchers Anonymous
(2/25)

The Thrashers have several pending Unrestricted Free Agents (Reasoner, Perrin, Havelid) all of whom are likely to be dealt. If I were GM I’d offer both Reasoner and Havelid one year deals for next season and if they decline trade them for draft picks or prospects.

As far as the non-UFA Thrashers, there has been some trade chatter about Colby Armstrong but the Thrashers have made clear they value what he brings and a team would have to overpay to get him in a trade. On the other hand, Erik Christensen who was obtained from Pittsburgh one
year ago has been mostly invisible all year, he’s probably available if anyone wants him. Others who could be available if the offer was right include Todd White (C), Jim Slater (S), Eric Boulton (W), Brett Sterling (LW), Garnet Exelby (D), Nathan Oystrick (D) and perhaps Johan
Hedberg (G). Note: Slava Kozlov has a no trade clause and from what I hear is not inclined to waive it.

(2/25)

Mortimer Peacock from Blueland Chronicle

Niclas Havelid and Marty Reasoner to playoff contenders for draft picks. One of the goalies needs to be moved; what we get depends on whether we move Lehtonen, Hedberg, or Pavelec.

Chris Kontos: Just trade Kovalchuk and get on with it. Yikes, when Marty Reasoner is your most tradeable asset things are either really good… or really bad. In this case… really, really bad.

James O’Brien:
Don’t, under any circumstances, trade Ilya Kovalchuk. Kidnap him from Russia to extend his contract next summer if you have to. Without Kovie the Thrashers might as well move to Kansas City. Seriously.

***

Tampa Bay Lightning

Cassie from Boltsblog
(3/01)

If I were GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning in time for the trade deadline….

The first thing I’d do is put the ownership on waivers, but not really expecting anyone to pick them up. I’d send them down to the minors after they’d cleared waivers so they can screw up an AHL team instead while they’re trying to get the hang of this ownership/management thing. Then maybe I’d give them another go here in the next couple of years – see how they mature in the minors and all of that, you know.

Okay, here are some trades that I think could benefit the Lightning:

LW Pettinger & C Craig (TB) for D Weber (Nash.)

Saw I and Saw II (TB) for D Skoula (Minn.)

RW Hall, a draft pick, and all of ESPN’s Lightning bashing this season (TB) for D Hutchinson (Dal.)

C Lecavalier for all of the Montreal Canadiens – as well as all 24 of their Cup wins, Beliveau, Richard, Blake, Robinson, & Geoffrion (all that history is just weighing them down, and who needs that?)

All of the constant Canadian hockey press bashing of the Lightning & the Southeast Division for an automatic 8th seed in the East

The entire Edmonton Oilers team (players only) for all of the Tampa Bay Lightning – except for Lecavalier and St. Louis, of course

Owner Len Barrie & GM Lawton to Canada for some poutine & beer

Fort Lauderdale should trade the entire Florida Panthers organization to Portland, Oregon, for some environmental know-how – the Lightning need a larger fan base in the state of Florida

Chris Kontos: I love the idea of creating an automatic 8th seed for the team that comes in 2nd in the Southeast Division. Also, the first 2 Saw films for Skoula would be an excellent pick up.

James O’Brien: Wow, what a brutal year for Tampa Bay. Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis both have pretty solid contracts. So, keep Lecavalier and St. Louis along with Mike Smith and Steve Stamkos. Everyone else is fair game.

***

Washington Capitals
CAPS chick from DC Cheap Seats
(2/28)

“If there was a way to get rid of Nylander, that would be my first move – there’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that he just doesn’t fit into the Caps lineup anymore. Sadly short of driving him out into the middle of nowhere and leaving him there, that doesn’t seem like a possibility. He’d probably just find his way back anyways, the little scamp.

Top of the list would be a vocal veteran presence and/or a puck-moving defenseman – someone like Kaberle or Pronger might be nice if they don’t ask too much in return. Package a prospect like Chris Bourque, maybe a pick or two or even one of the Caps’ current young defensemen for either one. And if a backup goaltender surfaced for the right price it might be worth exploring; Neuvirth and Varlamov have four games of NHL experience between them and that’s a little scary with the playoffs looming.

Of course, there’s always the old standby…more Russians!!”

Chris Kontos: Senator, I’ve seen Jose Theodore. I’ve known Jose Theodore. Jose Theodore is the goalie for the Washington Capitals. Jose Theodore… you are no playoff goaltender.

James O’Brien: This Capitals team is scary. It would be pretty cool if they made a Marian Hossa-type splashy signing only for a big name D guy or a UFA goalie. But it’s probably not going to happen.

 ***

Carolina Hurricanes
Cory from Canes Country
(2/27)

A rational person who watches a team all season knows whether or not the team has “a shot.” This incarnation of the Hurricanes, in my mind, has little chance to win the Cup. That being said, a hot goalie can go a long way toward strengthening a cause — as people who watched the Hurricanes in 2006 know. But given the play of the team this season, I’d stand pat.

If the Hurricanes were going to win, it would be riding the waves of Cam Ward and Eric Staal, not on some mid-level rental player. With the farm system improving, it wouldn’t be prudent to sacrifice a prospect or draft pick for a player like that.

The team’s trade-able assets (Dennis Seidenberg, Chad LaRose) probably wouldn’t fetch enough return to justify removing them from a team that wants to make the playoffs. Anton Babchuk and Tuomo Ruutu are RFAs at season’s end, but the team will definitely want to make an effort to keep Ruutu and will likely do the same for Babchuk, which means it would take an impressive offer to pry either out of Raleigh. Now, if some former Plymouth Whaler becomes available, Jim Rutherford might possess me and make me do the deal. I wouldn’t be responsible for any move like that.

Chris Kontos: Excellent analysis from the deep south. Carolina is a decent team that would serve no benefit from a playoff rental.

James O’Brien: Could the Hurricanes benefit from a cheap trade for one of their old Stanley Cup run rentals? Maybe go after Doug Weight, Cory Stillman or Mark Recchi just for old times sake? Overall this team is pretty bland and should probably just hope for some kind of random lucky break.

Bow Flex

February 27, 2009
Really? This is the guy that GM’s are going to be battling over this weekend?

James has already chimed in on the fate of the Florida Panthers this season. But I have a bigger question… who the heck is Jay Bouwmeester anyway? I spend the majority of my time watching Western Conference hockey, and since the Kings have only played the Florida Panthers 5 times in the last 5 years… I really don’t feel like I have a clear sense of how good or how mediocre a defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is. I’ve never had him on a fantasy team, never traded for him in NHL 07, 08 or 09 and never heard a friend say “oh man, that Bouwmeester is a BEAST on the blueline.” Although, if any friend said that about a NHL player I probably would hit him. Or at least smile at him gently.

Here’s what I do know about Jay Bouwmeester… he is the current NHL leader in consecutive games played, not missing a game in 4+ seasons. His career high in points is 46. Career high in penalty minutes is 79. And he averages about 27 minutes a game. He’s 25 years old and is a 6 year NHL veteran. So we are looking at a reliable, top 30 NHL defenseman without much of a mean streak. And man, does he know how to look non-threatening in a photo.

So if you are an NHL GM… do you make a play for this UFA? What do you give up for someone who seems to have no intention of signing with a NHL team before this summer? Remember, the NHL Trading Deadline causes strange things to happen… witness Mike Comrie being swapped for a low #1 draft pick. But for a NHL All-Star defenseman? Lubomir Visnovsky cost the Oilers Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene. What would you trade for Kyle Quincey? What would you pay to get Keith Duncan or Ryan Suter? Could Ron Hainsey be the one to put you over the 8th seed bubble? Because all those guys are in and around JBo.

Now I’m sure that Bouwmeester has some amazing intangibles that I’m just not aware of because I haven’t seen him play as much as I’ve seen Pronger, Phaneuf, Souray or Jovanovski. And I realize that is my fault. But can you really blame me for not catching a lot of Florida Panther games over the past few years? I mean look at this monstrosity of a jersey.


I’m not paying money to watch this on tv.

Florida wants the return you get for a #1 defenseman because Florida actually thinks Bouwmeester is a #1 defenseman. In reality, he’s a strong 2nd on a good NHL team. He is only getting so much hype because he is a UFA. But here’s the fun part about the Trading Deadline. Someone will probably will give up what Florida wants. And then Brian Burke will get double that for any of his Toronto fire-sales.

I’m in the camp that believes 100% Florida should trade Bouwmeester. Sure the Panthers are 6th in the Eastern Conference, but they are only 4 points out of 10th place too. And are the Panthers really going to put together the kind of run to challenge Boston, Washington, New Jersey or Philly? There is a great future coming together in South Florida and McCabe, Boynton and Ballard should be able to hold down the team for the remainder of the season. So get rid of Jay Bouwmeester and be done with it… before he turns into this guy:

What say you Florida Panther fans? I know that you come to this blog in force. Is Bouwmeester really that good and he’s never gotten the chance to play in a meaningful game? (well, he did play in 18 AHL playoff games with Chicago in 2005… and had 0 points.) Or has he just been the best defenseman on an awful team the last 5 years? Believe the hype or not?

The Rat Pack is Back

February 24, 2009
No, not that Rat Pack, you silly.

(Was going to go with … “Year of the Rat?” but that seems too obvious)

With the Pittsburgh Penguins showing the consistency of Robert Downey Jr. in the 90s, the Montreal Canadiens partying like mob stars, the New York Rangers somehow not firing Glen “yeah he got Gretzky but he also gave Bobby Holik $8 million per year” Sather, the Hurricanes mired in mediocrity and the Sabres facing the grim reality of it no longer being (Ryan) Miller time … the Florida Panthers might just be the safest bet to burst through the East’s modest playoff bubble.

But that masks a shocking observation: the Panthers are probably the second hottest team in the Eastern Conference right now.

As Florida tries to generate an encore performance in Boston after Tomas Vokoun‘s masterful 41-save shutout of the Bruins, it seems to be as good a time as ever to take a peak at these under-the-radar Panthers.

Goaltending

In a post focusing on Jay Bouwmeester‘s future (or lack thereof) in Florida, Five Hole Fanatics took a look at the Panthers’ outstanding goaltending this season:

“The lone factor holding the Panthers in the race is that unsustainable .933
E[ven]S[trength] SV%.”

Hopefully after shutting out the East-leading Boston Bruins, Vokoun will begin to develop some Vezina chatter. He’s been absolutely outstanding since the start of 2009:

February numbers: 6-3 with a 1.66 GAA, 95.4(!) save percentage and three shutouts

January numbers: 6-2-2 with a 2.16 GAA, 92.4 save percentage (no SOs)

Really, the only off month for Vokoun the vaccum came in where he went 2-6 with a 3.29 GAA and a 90.4 save percentage. His numbers are especially impressive because he really has to earn those shutouts. The shot totals he’s faced in his six total shutouts: 41, 42, 36, 27, 23 and 31.

And although Vokoun is the cleary No. 1, Craig Anderson proves to be a high quality backup (when he’s not getting caught drooling over ice girls).


Heh heh. Anderson’s managed a save percentage just under 93, with a 2.49 GAA and 3 shutouts in 23 games played.

Florida is in a three-way tie for first with the Islanders and Coyotes for the league’s most “stolen games” while they only have one “blown game.” Those stats might be the simplest – if most atypical – way to explain how much of a difference Florida’s goalies make.

Of course, we cannot ignore the 6.5 million-dollar question: what to do with J-Bo?

There was a healthy, interesting debate on what to do with Bouwmeester on Five Hole Fanatics. And I’ll admit that it sounded like a no-win situation after hearing that Jay Bouwmeester allegedly turned down a $6.5 million per year offer from the Panthers.

It sounded like the biggest bone of contention for Quoteless Bow was Florida’s hapless playoff-less streak and without an impressive playoff run, he would probably be out of there. Up until the trade deadline, that’s still the question: keep Bouwmeester for a crucial playoff run and risk losing him in the summer for nothing OR trade him for a potentially lucrative package and risk alienating your fanbase?

That’s the kind of question that would cause a lot of GMs to develop a whisky habit.

Jacques Martin didn’t give a definitive answer to Kevin Allen of USA Today while The Star’s Paul Hunter took a look at the situation through the prism of Tomas Kaberle‘s trade value. Neither really provided anything new, though.

Martin’s right in saying that the Panthers making the playoffs is the top priority, so accepting draft picks and mediocre rental players isn’t going to cut it. You hate to say “it depends” but it does. If a team can provide a solid top-6 forward and some other goodies, the Panthers might just have to take it.

But if they go on a tailspin out of the playoffs, it will be yet another nail in Florida’s coffin.

On offense

If the playoffs started today, the Panthers’ 166 Goals for would only be higher than three other playoff teams: the Rangers (151), the Wild (151) and the Blue Jackets (165).

Stephen Weiss is Florida’s leading scorer with 41 points (10 G, 31 A). There aren’t many playoff teams whose top scorer has less than 50 points, but to the Panthers’ credit they have 10 players who’ve scored at least 10 goals.

***

Much like their long-ago Cinderella run under John Vanbiesbrouck, the Panthers will need timely scoring and elite goaltending to go anywhere in the playoffs. Any other the top four teams would be heavy favorites against Florida, as even the somewhat shaky Philadelphia Flyers might just be too potent for the low scoring Panthers.

In its current form, the Panthers are a scrappy little playoff team but not much more. Is a rare playoff run worth letting Bouwmeester leave for nothing? Stay tuned.

Is there ANYTHING cool about the Florida Panthers? … The news cycle!

November 6, 2008

My take on All-Star Voting: why not simply take a kitchen sink approach and provide a drag-and-drop list of active NHL players? This would allow the process to be much more Democratic and might even encourage smart, logical voting. (Probably not)

As far as the Hockey Hall of Fame goes, sports HoFs are far too inclusive and stats-driven. The key to a good voting is to not limit the amount of people elected per year, never mandate inductions per year and to go on a “no-brainer” plan of selections. Of course, sports HoFs often are looking to make money and entice visitors, so they probably are doing the right thing.

ANYWAY, since I won’t be in Florida, this list is merely for fun. But Puck Daddy asked the hockey public to name 10 things that are actually cool about the Florida Panthers. Let’s see if this is possible:

1. Move over, Avery Rule

In the long-ago days when the Florida Panthers made a deep playoff run, fans celebrated their scrappy team’s goals by showering the ice with plastic rats. It was a charming, if somewhat obnoxious neo-tradition that prompted the league to create a delay of game penalty so the rat showers would stop.

Rats > Avery windshield wiping

2. They fired Mike Keenan

Mike Keenan’s extensive, yet glaringly unsuccessful post-Rangers coaching career boggles my mind. If you were to believe what’s written in the book “Messier,” that historic ’94 Cup run happened in the middle of a mutiny against the hateful coach. Yet he still keeps getting jobs.

But the one silver lining about hiring Keenan is that a team will inevitably fire him.

3. Jay Bouwmeester in video games

He’s not a household name, but he should be if you have a video game console. Going back to the PS2 days of NHL 2K, Bouwmeester’s always been a diamond in the rough because of his blazing speed. His end-to-end digi-prowess prompted the creation of the term “Poor Man’s Orr.”

4. The veteran free agent/trade disappointment du jour

The Florida Panthers signing a washed up semi-big name is becoming a time-honored tradition.For years, “Scary” Gary Roberts broke the hearts of Panthers fans with seasons marred by injuries but he’s been followed by luminaries such as Todd Bertuzzi (in the disastrous Roberto Luongo trade), Joe Nieuwendyk and now Cory Stillman.

Remember, misery builds character.

5. The logo/mascot actually isn’t half-bad

New NHL logos – and sports logos in general – are often dominated with sharp edges and the wet dreams of Mountain Dew marketers. So it’s always nice to see a team come up with a relatively simple design and the Panthers have a solid, inoffensive logo.

It’s often annoying when teams lace their logos with ‘tude, but shit, Panthers probably are growling and mean much of the time so this works.

Bonus points for including an endangered species and not trying to force the Panther to awkwardly hold a stick or sport other hockey gear.

6. Tomas Vokoun

He might not be the most exciting goalie on the planet, but he’s the closest the Panthers can get to a legitimate All-Star caliber player.

7. Nathan Horton

One of the hidden gems of the NHL, Horton might never put up big numbers but he’s a talented young power forward. Still, he fits in with the Panthers affliction of potential never meeting production.

8. John Vanbiesbrouck’s helmet

I remember playing the actually kinda shitty NHL ’97 on the Playstation One and thinking that the Bieser’s helmet was the shit.

(Definitely grasping at straws)

9. They didn’t hire Barry Melrose

10. Sure, the Lightning won a Cup … but the Panthers beat the Mario Lemieux – Jaromir Jagr led Penguins

As you can see, there probably are only about five things that are actually cool about the Florida Panthers … but hey, it was nice to at least give it the old college try.

Seriously, though, it brings up an interesting question: who IS the best American hockey player to lace ’em up? Mike Modano leads many of the big scoring categories, but Pat LaFontaine‘s brilliance is probably unmatched.

If Pat Lafontaine played today, is there any doubt this movie would be involved in a genius PhotoShop?

But Jeremy Roenick is unquestionably the most gifted, electronically. Since I’m distantly related to Brian Leetch in a “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” kind of way, it is my duty to abstain.

My assumed “#11 American” Phil Housely probably shifted in his seat when he (hypothetically) learned that he was not included in this discussion. (Tough titties)

It boggles my mind that Americans cannot seem to mind their own damn beeswax when it comes to sex and marriage. Seriously, how can anyone be so sanctimonious about something that straight people only have a 50 percent success rate with? Whatev.

Interesting take on the issue and the film “Milk” at CHUD.com.

/politics

  • The biggest news in hockey this week is that Martin Brodeur is expected to miss three to four months because of elbow surgery. Sooner or later, the seemingly invincible “fatso” was going to get injured although this year seemed the most jinx-tastic with all the talk about Brodeur breaking Patrick Roy and Terry Sawchuk‘s big goalie records.

Could it be the Avery curse?

  • Sid the Kid “responded” to Alex Semin’s interview where the forest fire-hot forward asked what was so special about Crosby and expressed his preference for Patrick Kane‘s game (as well as Pavel Datsyuk‘s stickhandling abilities). Crosby must love dealing with these “he said she said” comments all the time, although that’s the price you pay for big Reebok contracts and media adoration. My guess is that Semin – known for being quiet though that might be a language barrier issue more than anything else – simply let his guard down in the company of a fellow Russian.

To the delight of anyone who read the interesting and revealing interview, of course. Not sure how big Sovetsky Sport is in Russia but their interviews are a real gem for the blogosphere as they allow us to get a rare glimpse of Russians including Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin.

One thing’s for sure: whether Semin’s snipes were blown out of proportion or not, adding that to Alex O headhunting Malkin and the media coverage of Sidney vs. Alex O makes for quite the rivalry between Pittsburgh and Washington.

Please, Hockey Gods, give us a Battle of California and Pittsburgh vs. Washington in the playoffs this year. We’ll sacrifice Alexei Yashin if necessary.