Florida Panthers Re-Sign RFA Dmitry Kulikov

The Florida Panthers announced today the re-signing of D Dmitry Kulikov to a three-year, $13m contract. Kulikov, 23 led all Panthers defensemen in goals last season, scoring a career-high eight goals in 81 games and recorded 19 points (8-11-19) on the year.

The left shot defenseman from Lipetsk, Russia is still young and prone to make mistakes. Kulikov who averaged a minus-5 rating for his first four seasons in the NHL struggled in his fifth. Finishing with a team worst, minus-26 rating, Kulikov struggled during last season defensively and lacked consistency throughout the year.

A young, puck-moving defenseman is a commodity to have on any team, especially the kind of defenseman with the type of potential that Kulikov still possesses. A smooth skater with good hands, a deceptively quick release from the point and the kind of player who isn’t afraid to throw his body around, Kulikov has the tools to be not only an important piece to the Panthers future, but to be a very good NHL-er. Now armed with a new coaching staff, Kulikov has a chance to really turn the page on last season and write a new chapter to his career.

New Assistant Coach, Mark Morris hails from the Los Angeles Kings system as the former Head Coach of the Kings’ AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs. Morris worked with young defensemen like Slava Voynov, Alec Martinez and Jake Muzzin who are not only NHL mainstays now, but are difference makers on the ice (Martinez scored the Stanley Cup clinching goal and Western Conference clinching goal during the 2014 playoffs) . Morris also coached new Panthers d-man, Willie Mitchell during his years at Clarkson University. A coach who has worked well with young defensemen and helped develop them into solid professionals is exactly what Kulikov needs to reach his potential and bounce back.

Drafted in the first round (14th overall) of the 2009 Entry Draft, Kulikov has played in 313 NHL games, recording 99 points (24-75-99).

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Florida Panthers Sign D Willie Mitchell

The Florida Panthers have announced the signing of D Willie Mitchell on a two-year contract worth $8.5m. Mitchell is a two-time Stanley Cup Champion, both with the Los Angeles Kings (2012, 2014). The 6’3″, 205 lbs. blueliner is not only the first defenseman of the day to be signed by the Panthers, but fits the bill for the veteran defenseman Dale Tallon was looking for.

A young Panthers blueline including Erik Gudbranson, Dmitry Kulikov, Dylan Olsen and the 2014 First Overall Pick, Aaron Ekblad can learn a lot from the 37-year old Mitchell as he will fill the role of the elder statesman that Ed Jovanovski leaves behind. Coming off of a Stanley Cup victory where he was a big part of their backend, Mitchell silenced critics after missing the lockout shortened 2012-13 season following knee surgery. The 2013-14 season for Mitchell was a solid one where the shutdown style defenseman finished with a plus-14 rating and 12 points (1-11-12).

Well known for his leadership qualities, Mitchell brings not only over a decade of experience but also the capability to kill penalties. Mitchell led the Kings with 128 blocked shots and finished fourth in Time on Ice averaging 20:19 per game.

Which NHL Playoff Team Should You Root For?

Panther Parkway Playoff Preview

We’re hours away from puck drop for the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs and it donned on me (and on all around good guy Jameson Cooper) that there may be thousands and possibly millions of you readers out there who don’t have a vetted interest in a team this year. Your team may have not made it to the post-season, you could be a new fan or you could have amnesia…if that’s the case, thanks for reading and consult a physician immediately after reading this post. Whatever the reason may be, if you need to latch on to a team for the post-season then do I have a piece for you! There are 16 teams in this year’s post season, some are good, some are really good, some are really really really good and some are just OK. Let’s take a look at which team may be a good fit for you.

Anaheim Ducks

Do you like Disney movies about a scrappy gang of youths melded together by the bonds of teamwork, being poor, and national pride? If so then the Ducks could be the team you’re looking for. Don’t be confused by their captain’s lack of hair – he’s amazing at hockey and will not let you down if you’re looking for a deep playoff run. The kicker is 92 year Teemu Selanne, who is retiring at the end of these playoffs, so if you’re into nostalgia and crying then you’re on the right path.

Boston Bruins

Nobody in their right mind should cheer for the Bruins so if you’re not in your right mind you can cheer for them I guess. Also I hate you.

Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks have been the toast of the NHL for a while now. If you’re that person who wants instant gratification then hitch your horse to the wagon and hang on for dear life. If you’re the person who has never seen a Rocky movie, watches Rocky 4 ,and then tells everyone that you love every Rocky movie then cheer for the Blackhawks.

Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche is made up from a group of young players with an excessive amount of high-end dynamic talent. Players like Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene (injured, but still), Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O’Reilly and Paul Stastny, will surely make your eyes pop out of your head. They’re also coached by a crazy person. Their playoff hashtag is #whynotus so if you’re into innovative playoff hashtags you might want to look elsewhere for a team to support.

Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets have made the playoffs for the 2nd time in their history. Good for them right? If you like an underdog and or jokes about fellatio then you should fit right in with this fanbase. The Blue Jackets are this year’s working class blue-collar team so if you get a kick out of those Ford F-150 commercials where the announcer is pretty much reading everything on the screen, then go ahead and cheer for the Jackets.

Dallas Stars

Jamie Benn, best player by far, has led his Stars to the last playoff spot in the West. I’m sure all of Texas is behind them but if you feel like hootin’ and hollerin’ and ho-downin’ and other Texas slangs then hop right on this chuck wagon!

Detroit Red Wings

Detroit has made the playoffs 23 years in a row. They have won only 4 Stanley Cups in that span, so if you like high winning percentages, then don’t root for the Red Wings. If you like Sweden, rookies, cool breakaway moves and great coaching then they may be right up your alley.

Los Angeles Kings

All of LA’s top C list celebrities are totally into the Kings so if you want to head to Staples Center and snap a selfie with Matthew Perry then you’re in the right ballpark. The Kings are a team that Wayne Gretzky used to play for so if you want to impress your friends with that bit of trivia when explaining your fandom then wear that silver and black.

Minnesota Wild

Minnesota is the self-proclaimed “State of Hockey” which would be accurate if Michigan, New York, New Jersey, California, Missouri, Florida, Arizona, Ohio, Illinois, Tennessee, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Colorado, Texas and Pennsylvania all didn’t have hockey teams too. Liars.

Montreal Canadiens

Montreal has won the most Stanley Cups out of any NHL franchise with 24. They haven’t won one since 1993 so if you’re looking to get on board with a group of self-entitled history-clutching crazies, who are desperately waiting to see a cup win in their lifetime then mon ami/e you are knocking at the right door. Poutine is fantastic too, that should be good enough.

New York Rangers

The Rangers are one of three teams in New York (keep thinking of that third one). They’re like the Yankees if the Yankees have only won 4 World Series ever and haven’t won one since 1994 and the one before that was in 1940. If you like not having lofty expectations met then go put on a blue shirt.

Philadelphia Flyers

They sing America the Beautiful instead of the Star Spangled Banner so if you like alternate forms of patriotism then cheer for the Flyers. They’re also historically violent, made the Red Army team refuse to play against them because of it and their fans have the reputation of being a-holes. If this made you mad then you’re probably a Flyers fan already.

Pittsburgh Penguins

If you like cheering for the best at anything then step right up and feast your eyes on Sidney Crosby. Supporting the best hockey player in the world is reason enough to cheer for the Penguins and fans have been doing just that since 2005. I’d like to point out that former arguably best player in the world Mario Lemieux partly owns the team and will be shown frequently on TV throughout these playoffs so if you like passing torches from generation to generation then grab a Pens jersey and get ready to be disappointed by Marc Andre Fleury.

San Jose Sharks

The Sharks have never won a Stanley Cup and have the unfortunate reputation of being “playoff chokers.” If you like great teams with great players then cheer for the Sharks. If you like teal then cheer for the Sharks. If you like the Jaws theme song then cheer for the Sharks. If you want to get offended every time someone mentions the word “choke” then sheer for the Sharks. If you want to be part of their first cup win then don’t cheer for the Sharks because they’re kind of chokers.

St. Louis Blues

Another team without a Cup win ever. A lot of people don’t like the Blues so if you’re a fan of being the outcast who sticks up for their team no matter what horrible thing they do that makes everyone else angry then cheer for the Blues. American almost hero Ryan Miller is their starting goalie. You probably heard of him a few years ago.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Led by elite sniper Steven Stamkos for now, the Lightning are one of those cool teams that doesn’t end in an S. If you like the Oklahoma City Thunder then DEFINITELY cheer for the Lightning because then you can make your twitter handle @ThunderandLightning and you’ll be really cool.

By now you should have a team that suits you perfectly. If you’re still undecided, then refresh this page and read the post again. Go Hockey Go, enjoy the playoffs folks.

Game Day Preview: Panthers vs. Kings. I Dreamed I Was In A Hollywood Movie.

FLORIDA PANTHERS: 26-36-8 (60 PTS.) vs. LOS ANGELES KINGS: 39-25-6 (84 PTS.)


GAME DAY SONG:  Spill The Wine, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

This will be game three of a four game western road swing for the Florida Panthers who are coming off a hard fought loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night.  Phoenix, a team that’s very difficult to play against because of their attention to defence is very similar to today’s opponent the Los Angeles Kings.  Yet if you thought that the Coyotes were boring you to death, wait until Los Angeles gets a lead against you.  The Kings with goaltender Jonathan Quick in net, are tied with the Boston Bruins for allowing the least amount of goals in the NHL so far this season (149).  In addition to their tight defence like the Coyotes, the Kings style of play can be significantly more physical.

With an even tighter defence, a persistent forecheck, and the sandpaper to go along with it, the Kings don’t have to score much either as their 170 goals for shows.  Of all the teams that are in a playoff position right now, the Kings have scored the least amount of goals, with the Minnesota Wild a close second (174).  Coach Darryl Sutter, he of many odd faces and tweed sport coats, insists that his clubs pay attention to every detail of the game,especially in all three zones.  Sutter isn’t a proponent of wide open hockey, and would rather see a low scoring affair that ends up 2-1, rather than a firewagon game with a score of 7-6.  The Kings impose a style of physicality that’s meant to wear the opponent down by finishing every check, bumping a player at every opportunity, and capitalizing on mistakes that they force you into.  It’s not exciting, but for them it works.  And don’t let the Kings get ahead of you after two periods of play.  In those situations they have lost only one game in regulation out of more than 130 in the past two plus seasons.  A ridiculous number when you think about it.

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GIF: Ryan O’Reilly Puts on a Show in LA

On a team overflowing with talented young scorers, 22-year-old forward Ryan O’Reilly did his best to standout on Saturday afternoon as the Avalanche visited the Kings in sunny Los Angeles.

Down 2-1 midway through the 3rd period, O’Reilly used his soft hands and exceptional awareness to shoot a puck over the shoulder of Kings’ netminder Martin Jones to tie the game at two. Martin, who is currently one of the hottest goaltenders in the NHL, was seemingly frozen by the nifty moves and slick finishing touch that O’Reilly unleashed upon him.

Also given front row seats to the O’Reilly show were Kings’ players Anze Kopitar and Robyn Regehr who helplessly watched as the the young Colorado forward had his way with their goaltender.

Gif courtesy of Fox Sports

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Panthers Take The Afternoon Off Against Kings

It’s hard to describe a team’s season as ‘up and down’ just six games in but, you’d be hard pressed to find a more suitable term for the Florida Panthers campaign thus far. Less than 48 hours after handing the Pittsburgh Penguins their first loss of the season, the Panthers stumbled their way through a 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

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Game Day Preview: Kings vs. Panthers


GAME DAY SONG: The KillersShot At The Night

The Florida Panthers hope to build on their 6-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins this afternoon when they take on the Los Angeles Kings at 3:00 P.M. in Sunrise.  That game started out positively for Florida, and for the most part continued that way throughout, with the Panthers controlling most of the play, and looking as though things have tightened up slightly.  After giving up 16 goals in their previous three losses, holding a powered offence like Pittsburgh to just three tallies, was very much a positive.

However, this is no time to rest on laurels, as the schedule gets significantly difficult beginning with today’s tilt against the Kings.  Florida will play LA, Nashville, Boston, Minnesota, and Chicago over the next five games.  None of those games will be easy, and all of them will feature teams that have varying styles of play.  If Florida can play with the intensity and aggressiveness that they did Friday night, and build some consistency in their game, then they can be competitive and have a chance to win.  The scoring was spread amongst five different players on Friday, and it was good to see players like Kris Versteeg and Tomas Fleischmann rekindle some of their magic from two seasons ago.  Also, Brad Boyes and Aleksander Barkov who both had three point nights was a pleasure to watch.  Boyes who leads the team in goals with four, is scoring at a 28% clip, as he’s taken 14 shots.  Barkov who is only 18 had what looked to be his best game so far in his young career.  For his age, he truly has good hockey sense, and can make some very smooth passes.

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Jonathan Quick’s Unfortunate Luck

Coming off of his worst season as a starting goal-tender for the Los Angeles Kings with a meager .902 save percentage, Jonathan Quick looks ahead to the 2013-2014 season to redeem himself as one of the NHL’s elite net-minders. With 2 games currently under his belt and a .893 save percentage, Quick looked to make a lasting impression tonight against Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers. With the Rangers already up 2-1 in tonight’s East vs. West battle, the Rangers were called for a penalty in the beginning of the 3rd period, which would put the Kings on the power-play in the Rangers zone. Unfortunately for Quick, as the Rangers cleared the puck out of their own zone, Quick came out of net to play the puck, and this unfortunate event took place….Really unfortunate. But in Jonathan Quick fashion, he held his head high and got back into the game and made some outstanding saves. Rangers went on to win the game 3-1.

We welcome and encourage comments and feedback!

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.

Blackhawks Primed To Deliver Knockout Punch Tonight.

Game four between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Los Angeles Kings was to be a pivotal game in the series.  The Hawks were up two games to one, and had just lost their best defenceman Duncan Keith for this game, who has possibly been their best player this postseason.  The Kings on the other hand were 22-0-0 on home ice when scoring first, had won game three, and seemed to have found a spark in youngster Tyler Toffoli.  The Kings shut down the Hawks in game three just enough to prevent them from creating much offence, and frustrated their skilled players, and made Patrick Kane of the Hawks virtually invisible.  The winner of game four had the chance to take a stranglehold on the series, or even things up.  For a brief moment it looked like Los Angeles was about to turn the tide.

However this isn’t the same Blackhawks team that struggled with the Phoenix Coyotes last post season, nor is it the same team that took the Vancouver Canucks to seven games in the opening round the year before.  Matter of fact, this Blackhawks team could be even better than the team that won it all in 2010.  While not annointing the Hawks champions at this point since the games must be played, the men with four feathers on their sweater did the little things on Thursday night, and overcame the adversity of being without defenceman Duncan Keith.  This was no easy task, but the Hawks did all the right things at the right time to take a commanding lead in the Western Conference final, and are now in the driver’s seat tonight with game five to be played at the Madhouse on Madison.

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Panther Parkway Noon Headlines: Outdoor Game in LA?, Sharks, Coyotes’ Sale, and More!

What better way to spend your lunch break than catching up on all of last night’s amazing NHL action that you may have missed! Here are the top stories and videos from the all of yesterday’s action around the NHL.


  • Check out these top 10 Dominik Hasek moments, courtesy of Sportscenter. 

  • Senators’ goaltender Craig Anderson falls to the Panthers in his return from injury. [TSN]


  • The Stars snapped the Sharks’ 7-game winning streak. [TSN]


  • What we learned: The Southeast Division is really terrible. [Puck Daddy]

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