Ice Bucket Challenge: The Florida Panthers Get Icy

For weeks now, people from all over have been shoveling chunks of ice into buckets, mixing it with water, pouring it on their heads, and then posting it on their respective social media sites. Just recently players, broadcasters, main stream media, and bloggers from around the NHL have joined the craze. No, they aren’t crazy.  They are raising awareness for Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS. The rules are simple: Poor ice water on your head, capture it on video, and then challenge someone else. Chain chain chain.

A few members of the Florida Panthers have joined in on the action:

Shawn Thornton

Vincent Trocheck
Scottie Upshall
Billy Lindsay
Aaron Ekblad
Erik Gudbranson
Jayce Hawryluk

Joe Wegwerth

Quinton Howden
Nick Bjugstad
Sasha Barkov

Florida Panthers Staff
A few members of the Panther Parkway family even accepted the challenge!
Paige Lewis
Mike Obrand

We welcome your comments and feedback!

Follow Paige on Twitter @PaigeLewisFL

For All Your Florida Panthers’ Updates Follow Panther Parkway on Facebook

Follow Panther Parkway on Instagram @ PantherParkway

 

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Panther Parkway Post-Game: Panthers vs. Leafs

Stars of the game

1st: Nick Bjugstad (2G-1A-3P)

2nd: Brad Boyes (1G-1A-2P)

3rd: Sean Bergenheim (0G-2A-2P)

Goals (Panthers 4, Leafs 2)

FLA: Brandon Pirri (13) Assists: Quinton Howden, Brian Campbell

TOR: Tyler Bozak (19) Assists: Jake Gardiner, James van Riemsdyk

FLA: Brad Boyes (21) Assists: Nick Bjugstad, Sean Bergenheim

FLA: Nick Bjugstad (15) Assists: Sean Bergenheim, Brad Boyes

FLA: Nick Bjugstad (16) (Short-Handed) Assists: Tomas Fleischmann, Colby Robak

TOR: Paul Ranger (6) Assists: Tyler Bozak, Jake Gardiner

[Read more…]

Florida Panthers and the Role of Leadership in the NHL

The leadership debate has been kicked into high gear recently in the hockey world and everyone who’s everyone is throwing in their two cents (5 cents if you’re from Canada). Leadership is a tricky notion in any realm to define and quantify, but in the sports world leadership is more like an omnipotent force than quantifiable trait. The inspiration for this piece comes from Steve (Dangle) Glynn, who debates the quantities/qualities of leadership in this video: http://theleafsnation.com/2014/4/7/leadership-in-hockey-what-s-that

Steve questions whether or not leadership is even real, if it’s tangible based on goals, hits, motivational speeches etc. It’s a great video; I’d check it out if I were you.

So what is it? What is leadership?

To re-hash and expand on what Steve said: Is leadership defined by production? Fighting? The notion of clutch-ness? (That’s a whole other can of worms)

Is it defined by being vocal in the locker room? On the bench? On the ice?

Is it by example? Putting your body on the line to help your team win? Attending charity events? Being available to the media no matter the situation?

Is it how you interact with your teammates? Patting them on the back when they do something right? Teaching them when they did something wrong? Calming them down when they’re making mistakes?

Is it just being old? How many cups you’ve won? How many years you’ve been in the league?

To me, leadership is a mixed bag. It’s a combination/selection of everything I listed above and more.

You can sense leadership in sport (and life, really) at any level, from the professional grade to the beer league. There are people who others gravitate to for inspiration, support, guidance or security. There are people who possess those unquantifiable quantifiable qualities that make people gravitate to them.

The term “Leadership” is used so often these days so it’s not insane to see why it’s been watered down and questioned as much as it is being. When a team wins or loses, part of that result was due to what we call leadership. Players cite their captains, alternates, goal scorers, grinders, goalies, coaches etc. as people who were impactful on the game’s outcome. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes and are defined by the many variations of leadership. There’s not just one answer, there’s not just one quality, leadership is an orchestra.

When it comes to a team’s captaincy group, I have no doubt that whoever makes the decision takes all of these qualities into account. Technically a team only has captains and alternates so that there is a designated group of people to talk to officials. Obviously that has evolved into what we have today. Being a captain or an alternate is seen as a prestigious honor.

We rank the best captains; we debate if a player should be captain, we even put more weight on a goal when it was scored by a captain or when captains fight! Obviously leadership matters in the NHL and whatever you quantify leadership as it has an impact on how you watch the game and how the game is played.

[Read more…]

Game Day Preview: Panthers VS Canadiens

FLORIDA PANTHERS: 27-39-8 (62 PTS.) vs. MONTREAL CANADIENS: 42-26-7 (91 PTS.)

GAME DAY SONG: Snowbird by Anne Murray

It’s game 75 for the Florida Panthers as they take on their Atlantic Division rival (that still sounds weird) Montreal Canadiens. The Panthers come in looking for a win to end their 3 game home stand on a high note after being blanked by the Hurricanes 3-0 in Sunrise on Thursday. On the opposite side of the coin the Habs, who are in the midst of a 4 game roadie, come to South Florida from Motown after just escaping the Wings with 2 points.

Where they’ve been

The Panthers returned home from their Western road trip looking for some positivity and got just that when they came back from two down to send the Senators home gaping at the dazzler that was Vincent Trocheck in the shootout. Against the Hurricanes, the Cats ran into the Kazak Krusher Anton Khudobin who turned aside all 35 shots (35!) he faced for the shutout to send the fans home with the burning desire to destroy their Borat DVDs. The Panthers are 3-6-1 in their last 10 and are continuing on their quest to end their season on a high note by spoiling the March break of thousands of visiting Montrealers.

Across the rink, the Habs are quite hot posting a 7-3 record in their last 10, winning 7 of their last 8 and have won 4 in a row. It’s not all roses as the Habs stole one in Detroit after hanging on for a 5-4 win over the decimated Wings.

[Read more…]

Panther Parkway Post-Game: Panthers vs. Islanders

Stars of the game

1st: Shawn Matthias (2G-1A-3P)

2nd: Scottie Upshall (2G-1A-3P)

3rd: Thomas Vanek (2G-1A-3P)

Goals (Panthers 5, Islanders 3)

NYI: Thomas Vanek (20) Assists: Cal Clutterbuck, Calvin de Haan

NYI: Thomas Vanek (21) (Powerplay) Assists: Lubomir Visnovsky, Frans Nielsen

FLA: Shawn Matthias (8) Assists: Scottie Upshall

NYI: Ryan Strome (2) Assists: Thomas Vanek, Kyle Okposo

FLA: Marcel Goc (11) Assists: Jonathan Huberdeau, Tom Gilbert

FLA: Shawn Matthias (9) Assists: Jimmy Hayes, Jonathan Huberdeau

FLA: Scottie Upshall (11) Assists: Shawn Matthias, Brian Campbell

FLA: Scottie Upshall (12) (Powerplay) Assists: Dylan Olsen, Dmitry Kulikov

Highlight

Tim Thomas has had his fair share of interesting helmets this season, but this one tops them all. We like to call this, the Glenn Healy.

Tweet of the game

Next Up

The Florida Panthers take on the Boston Bruins at TD Garden, on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.

Tune into FOX Sports Florida to catch all of the action!

Thanks for reading and we welcome your thoughts in the comments section below!

Follow Paige on Twitter @PaigeLewisFL

For All Your Florida Panthers’ Updates Follow Panther Parkway on Facebook

Follow Panther Parkway on Instagram @ PantherParkway

Florida Panthers 2013-14 Mid-Season Awards

With 42 games now in the books, it’s safe to say that though they certainly have had their share of ups and downs, the Florida Panthers’ 2013-14 season has already been ripe with both excitement and surprises. After a horrid start that included both a nine-game losing streak as well as the firing of head coach Kevin Dineen, the Panthers have fought their way back into relevance around the league and currently sit in 7th place in the Atlantic Division with an admirable 16-20-6 record.

With newcomers like Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen – who arrived in a trade that sent Kris Versteeg to Chicago – the Panthers have managed to get even younger as their talented group of young prospects continue to blossom as they make their way to the NHL level.

Though the Panthers still face quite an uphill climb towards the playoffs as the season drags on into spring, there is now doubt that under interim head coach Peter Horachek that the team will not lay down for any opponent and continue to develop a new culture of optimism and excellence in South Florida both this season and beyond.

However, before we get too deep into the second half of the season, let us take a look back at the moments and players that stood out through the first 42 games of the 2013-2014 season.

Note: All stats accurate as of the Panthers’ 42nd game of the 2013-14 season. 

[Read more…]

Can the Real Scottie Upshall Please Stand Up?

After two seasons maligned with injuries and inconsistencies, Florida Panthers forward, Scottie Upshall seems to have become a different player overnight. Upshall’s first two seasons in Florida under Kevin Dineen were a disappointment. After signing a 4-year, $14 million contract with Florida in 2011, Upshall had been limited to 53 games, posting a meager 10 points (6-4-10). The word “buy-out” was linked to Upshall in rumor circles and his future in Florida seemed a bit up in the air with young players like Drew Shore and Nick Bjugstad waiting in the wings to make the team and snatch up a roster spot.

Upshall, a 2002 first round pick (sixth overall) of the Nashville Predators, has been a player who never quite lived up to his draft stock, but has been a solid NHL-er in his own right. Injuries have plagued the winger throughout his career and he hadn’t played a full 82 game season until 2010-11. It was during that season that Upshall split time between the Phoenix Coyotes (61 games) and Columbus Blue Jackets (21 games). Despite spending time on two different clubs that season, Upshall posted a career-high 22 goals and tied a career-high 34 points (22-12-34). Coming off a strong year, the Panthers plucked Upshall out of free agency to kick off the new look team in 2011-12.

With expectations to match his previous season’s production, Upshall became riddled with injury after injury. Since becoming a Panther, Upshall has been placed on injured reserve four times and virtually became lost in the shuffle. This season will be the first time the 30-year old winger has been healthy for 30 games in a single season since bringing his talents to Sunrise. Beginning the season on the team’s fourth line and even becoming a healthy scratch, Upshall seemed to be a prime candidate for a change of scenery. Until  Peter Horachek took over as the Panthers’ new boss.

From their days in Nashville together, Horachek (an assistant coach for the Predators, 2003-2012) is familiar with Upshall and what he can bring to a team. Upshall began trending upwards at the end of Dineen’s tenure, riding a three-game point streak from Oct. 27-Nov. 5, recording four points (2-2-4). Under Dineen, Upshall played 13 games recording five points (2-3-5). But while under Horachek, he has played 14 games, recording 12 points (4-8-12) and has seen a more prominent role on the team. Upshall now finds himself on the top power play unit and has been given the honor of wearing the “A” on the front of his sweater.

Upshall saw his five game point streak (2-4-6) come to an end last night against the Detroit Red Wings. The Fort Mcmurray, AB native saw his ice time drop to 13:33, the lowest since Horachek took over. Upshall looks to bounce back tonight against the reigning champions, the Chicago Blackhawks. Upshall now has 12 points in 12 games and has become one of Florida’s most consistent players.

The question does remain, is this the real Scottie Upshall? Or just an illusion? Before coming to Florida, Upshall began making a bit more noise, having his three best seasons to date. Posting two 34 point seasons (2010-11, 2008-09) and a 32 points season (2009-10). His numbers were not astounding but showed consistency to what kind of player he could be for a team. This season has thus far proven to be a breakout year for Upshall, with a team leading 17 points (6-11-17). At this pace, he could surpass his previous years by a landslide.

His ice time against Detroit could either prove to be an off night, or a possible slowing down. Either way, Upshall has certainly become a different player for this team. So far he has excelled in his new responsibilities, and while he may never live up to his lofty contract or his draft number, he is proving he belongs on the team and will do what it takes to win. If he can be this player all year long, the Panthers have a solid, dependable forward who can be trusted in all situations. If not, Panthers GM, Dale Tallon has a decision to make.

GameDay Preview: Senators vs. Panthers. Them Downtown Boys Sure Talk Gritty

OTTAWA SENATORS: 10-13-4 (24 PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS: 7-15-5 (19 PTS).

TSN GAMEDAY

GAMEDAY SONG: It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City. Bruce Sprinsteen & The E Street Band

If there was ever a game where the Panthers have an opportunity to find their offensive touch, it’s this one.  The Ottawa Senators come to South Florida having given up a whopping 90 goals, which makes them 5th worst in the NHL.  While Ottawa doesn’t appear to have too much trouble scoring goals (they have found the back of the net 78 times), their porous defence and below average goaltending are the main reasons they are in the position they’re in today.

Their defence, with the exception of Erik Karlsson and Chris Phillips features a group of players that are unproven and genrally eratic.  I know that sounds familiar, so I’m not trying to be the pot calling the kettle black as we can sympathize with their woes.  As for goaltending, Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner are sharing the load, and doing a fair job with it.  Lehner who has a decent GAA (2.44) and solid save percentage (.944) is only 4-5-2 with those numbers.  Anderson, the former Florida Panther who has typically owned Florida in goal, could finally be ripe for picking.  His numbers (3.51 GAA and .894 save percentage) look as gaudy as they did once upon a time ago when he was with the Chicago Blackhawks.  Anderson has missed time this season with a head injury, and is 2-4-0 in his last six starts which includes giving up 4 goals on 15 shots agains Vancouver this past Friday.  A game in which he played less than half of.

As mentioned earlier the offence for Ottawa is potent, and the Panthers would be wise to play a smart game.  Bobby Ryan leads the Senators in goals with 13, and Jason Spezza has 10.  Even though they no longer have Daniel Alfredsson to punish the Panthers, Ottawa still has a number of scoring threats.  Ryan also has five power play goals this season which indicates that the Panthers need to stay out of the penalty box.  When you click on the link above for the TSN GameDay, you’ll see a few Ottawa players that have been consistently “hot”.  Karlsson, Ryan and Spezza are all dangerous players, and will need to be neutralized if Florida is to have a chance.

Florida played a strong game on Saturday against the Penguins, yet you’d never know it by the 5-1 loss they absorbed.  That game was a perfect example of how a good team takes advantages of mistakes and pounces on opportunity.  The Panthers have played better since the coaching change 10 games ago, yet the inconsistency and mistakes are still evident.  Not as often as they were before, yet still there.

The Panthers still struggle to put together a solid 60 minutes, and still seem to start games out trailing.  There isn’t enough offensive firepower to over come that night after night.  The more they fall behind, the less confident they seem to play, and the more scrambling they seem to do.  Scottie Upshall who is doing his best to resurrect his career here leads the Panthers in points with 14, can’t do it alone.  There are a few players who need to find their scoring touch, and find it soon.  Some of their names rhyme with Shawn Matthias, Scott Gomez,Tomas Flieschman and Jonathan Huberdeau.  Those four players alone have combined for 12 goals in a combined 99 games this season. Ouch.

Huberdeau, last season’s Calder Trophy winner seems to be “fighting it” this season, as he has only five goals on the year.  There are times when he passes instead of shoots, and that shows a lack of confidence.  Florida needs him to be more aggressive and make better decisions with the puck.  He can worry about being nice to his teammates at some other point.  Scottie Upshall, who deserves a few accolades for jhis performance, especially since Peter Horachek has taken over, has 9 points in his last 9 games.

Talking about lack of scoring here in Sunrise is a common theme, but the fact of the matter is, no matter how good Tim Thomas is in goal, he cannot be expected to steal 82 games, or at least the 60 or so he’ll likely play in.   Since Peter Horachek has taken over the Panthers have had spurts of playing better, but unless they get themselves on a winning streak, it won’t matter.  We can talk about effort all we want.  You don’t get points in the standings for good effort.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

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.

Florida Panthers: We’re Starting To Have Some Fun!

Since taking over as head coach of the Florida Panthers, Peter Horachek is now 3-3-0, which isn’t exactly fantastic, but it’s a marked improvement of where they were before he stepped behind the bench.  Take note also that the three losses were all by one goal, and with that in mind you would think the Panthers would have started earning some respectability right?  Well, leave it to John Tortorella the head coach of the Vancouver Canucks to spit in the soup.  After Tuesday’s shootout loss to the Panthers the Torts, who wears his heart on his sleeve had this to say:

“We sucked,” Tortorella said after Vancouver dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to the lowly Florida Panthers. “It was easily our worst game of the year. We didn’t deserve a point.”

And then there was this:

“It’s lack of respect and we have no business (showing) a lack of respect to any hockey team,” Tortorella continued. “In the situation we’re in going into tonight’s game, I just don’t know what we’re thinking as far as how we started the game.

“I can’t explain it.”

And finally the icing on the cake:

“I don’t think anybody played well. We looked lethargic at times,” said Tortorella. “It’s disappointing and it starts from the beginning. You need to respect your opponent. We didn’t.”

The Panthers who have looked remarkably better since the coaching change are likely to still miss the playoffs, but the brand of hockey they’re playing is quite different than under Kevin Dineen, and the players actually look as though they’re enjoying things.  There’s still the issue of playing a full 60 minutes, as Tuesday night proved once again when the Panthers took the second period off.  Yet they found a way to hang on long enough, and get the game to overtime, then the shootout, where Jonathan Huberdeau scored the lone goal for the winner to give the Cats their second consecutive win.

The Panthers tonight head into Edmonton to face the Oilers who like Florida will be looking for their 3rd consecutive win.  It will be the second and final meeting between these two clubs, with Edmonton winning the first tilt back in Sunrise, which was the Oilers second victory of the season at that time.  Edmonton is coming off a 7-0 thrashing of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, and seem hungry for their next victim.  David Perron leads the Oilers in goals with 7 and Jordan Eberle leads them in points with 18, 6 of which are goals.

The Oilers have been in a similar situation as the Panthers in recent years, as they attempt to rebuild with top draft picks, and sprinkle in some free agents to get themselves back into the playoff picture.  A very proud organEYEzation, the Oilers and their fan base are anxious to see their youth develop, however it hasn’t happened as fast as they would have liked.  Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov are three of the youngsters that are being counted on to carry them back to the post season.  A player that’s come from nowhere for Edmonton this season is right wing Mark Acrobello who has quickly piled up 12 points in 2o games.  The Oilers also think they may have solved a goaltending issue with the recent signing of Mr. Humongous Universe Ilya Bryzgalov.  Time will tell if that was a good or bad idea.

The Panthers haven’t had a whole lot of success against the Oilers lately going 1-4-4 in the last nine meetings, and are 1-6-0 at the building on Whyte street. Hopefully the focus remains positive as this road trip continues tonight and on Friday in Calgary before Florida comes home for a couple quick games in Sunrise next week.  Players like Nick Bjugstad, Scottie Upshall and Erik Gudbranson have all looked like different hockey players since the change in coaches, as has Tomas Kopecky who has three points in his last three games.

Playing on the west coast has never been friendly to Florida, but with a renewed confidence, and a fresh outlook on the season, a win tonight will certainly continue the turnaround, and go a long way in proving that this team isn’t nearly as bad as their overall record indicates.  It just took the right touch to get the best out of them.

Enjoy today’s game day song.  A fun little number by who else?  The Boss himself:  You Can Never Tell

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

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.

Gameday Preview: Panthers vs. Canucks. So You’re Saying There’s a Chance?

VANCOUVER CANUCKS: 11-8-3 (25 PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS: 5-12-4 (14 PTS.)

GAMEDAY SONG: FIRE IT UP– MODEST MOUSE

TSN GAMEDAY

After a gripping 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturay and having won two of their last three games overall, the Florida Panthers are starting to get hot for the first time this season.

Since the arrival of new head coach Peter Horachek, the Panthers have begun to show signs of life as the new coaching regime revamps not only the system, but also players’ attitudes.

Under Horachek, the Panthers have gone 2-3-0, but have yet to lose a game by more than one goal while knocking off Western Conference powers such as Anaheim and Colorado who have a combined record of 29-11-2.

Heading into tonights’ game against Vancouver, there are two players in particular who have flourished in this new player-friendly environment, forwards Nick Bjugstad and Scottie Upshall.

Since Horachek’s ascension, Bjugstad’s role on the team has evolved from a bottom-six grinder playing just over twelve minutes a game, to the team’s top-line center. This vote of confidence from the coaching staff has begun to pay off tenfold as the young centerman has tallied four points (1G-3A-4P) in his last five games played.

While Bjugstad’s young career is starting to blossom, veteran winger Scottie Upshall is beginning to rediscover the caliber of play that made him a coveted free agent only a few seasons ago. After injuries limited him to just 53 games in his first two seasons with the Panthers, a healthy Upshall has been on a tear in recent weeks, scoring seven points (3G-4A-7P) in the team’s eight November games thus far. For his efforts, Upshall was honored with an “A” on his jersey prior to the team’s game against Colorado. A powerful personality, the Panthers have certainly benefited from both Upshall’s play and energy in recent weeks.

“It’s nice,” Bjugstad said of his increased role in the team’s offense.  “I gotta stay focused and do the best I can to maintain those minutes. Keep working hard, that’s the main thing.”

Standing in the way of the Panthers’ climb out of the Eastern Conference cellar is the Vancouver Canucks, a team filled with players that the Panthers themselves are all too familiar with. Currently, the Canucks have five former Panthers on their roster including Mike Santorelli, Chris Higgins, Roberto Luongo, Jason Garrison, and David Booth.

Luckily for the Panthers, they are catching the Canucks in the midst of a 4-game losing streak. During those four losses, the Canucks offense has been non-existent, scoring just one goal in each of the four contests. However, the Panthers cannot expect the Canucks offense to remain stagnant while players like Henrik and Daniel Sedin are just waiting to break out at any moment. Through 22 games, the Sedin twins have already combined for a lofty 39 points and will look to carry the offensive load for the Cancuks against the Panthers.

Trying to keep Vancouver’s offense from getting back on track will be Panthers’ netminder Tim Thomas. Thomas, who in his last trip to Vancouver led the Boston Bruins to Stanley Cup clinching Game 7 victory in 2011, has been outstanding for the Panthers in his last three starts while allowing just six total goals over that span.

In the end, tonight’s game will come down to whatever team is able to capitalize on their power play chances. Currently, Florida and Vancouver both sit at or near the bottom of the NHL in power play percentage at 9.5% and 11.5% respectively. However, unlike the Panthers, the Canucks excel when down a man and  boast the league’s best penalty killing unit, killing off opponent’s power plays 89.5% of the time.

Looking ahead, if the Panthers can manage to steal one from the Canucks, they will have a great opportunity to string together a few consecutive wins as their five-game road trip concludes with trips to Western Conference cellar dwellers, Edmonton and Calgary.

Notes:

  • Tonight’s game marks the 24th meeting between the Panthers and Canucks with the Cats posting a 6-9-6-2 career record against Vancouver.
  • Former Panther David Booth is expected to be a healthy scratch for the Canucks tonight.
  • Still recovering from an illness, defenseman Mike Weaver will sit out tonight, but could return next week for the Panthers.

Thanks for reading and we welcome your thoughts in the comments section below!

Follow Jameson on Twitter @JamesonCoop

For All Your Florida Panthers’ Updates Follow Panther Parkway on Facebook

Follow Panther Parkway on Instagram @ PantherParkway

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