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Free LCS 1997-98
Reader Hockey Pool
head coach: Bryan Murray
roster: C - Ray Whitney, Kirk Muller, Rob Niedermayer, Dave Gagner, Steve Washburn, Chris Wells. LW - Johan Garpenlov, Viktor Kozlov, Bill Lindsay, Radek Dvorak. RW - Scott Mellanby, Ray Sheppard, Dino Ciccarelli, Tom Fitzgerald. D - Robert Svehla, Gord Murphy, Ed Jovanovski, Paul Laus, Terry Carkner, Rhett Warrener, Jeff Norton, Dallas Eakins. G - John Vanbiesbrouck, Kevin Weekes.
injuries: Ray Sheppard, rw (three weeks, sprained knee); Kevin Weekes, g (day-to-day, strained groin); team member here, (the flu has been making the rounds and at least a half-dozen players have missed one or more games due to the bug: Wells, Laus, Murphy, Mellanby, Garpenlov, and so forth).
transactions: The Florida Panthers recalled Todd MacDonald, g, from the Beast of New Haven (AHL) for injured Kevin Weekes. He will be returned over the Olympic break.
Eastern Conference - Atlantic Division Team GP W L T PTS GF GA New Jersey 56 34 16 6 74 158 110 Philadelphia 55 29 17 9 67 160 123 Washington 56 26 19 11 63 156 143 NY Rangers 57 17 24 16 50 140 154 NY Islanders 57 20 29 8 48 148 158 Florida 57 18 27 12 48 138 160 Tampa Bay 56 10 37 9 29 104 185
01/27 Carolina W 3-0 01/29 Dallas W 3-2 01/30 Tampa Bay W 2-0 02/01 Buffalo L 5-2 02/03 Detroit T 1-1 02/07 at Toronto L 3-2
by Eric Seiden, Florida Correspondent
"It's a hockey night in South Florida, and here come your Panthers," screamed the announcer and for once he might have had a little excitement in his voice. Local media continued to hype the recent trade. David J. Neal, local Miami Herald columnist said, "The consensus on the trade from the NHL media, who were amassed in Vancouver for the All-Star Game when it occurred, was that it was a good something for nothing trade for Florida. Fitzpatrick wanted to be moved and needed to be moved. Hull wasn't in the team's future plans. While Norton wasn't held in high regard by my peers, Dino was figured to have enough left to help the Panthers the rest of this season."
Rob Niedermayer, the Panthers' first draft pick, and all-time leader in injury days, missed yet another three-week period after undergoing a minor arthoscopy on his knee to repair chronic pain. He was scheduled to return either the 2/7 game against Toronto or after the Olympic break on 2/25 against the Devils depending on how he feels. He was cleared to play for the 2/3 game, but felt he wasn't ready.
After breaking a huge losing streak with a tie against San Jose, the Panthers met the hapless Hurricanes at home. Congratulations to John Vanbiesbrouck on his shutout of the Hurricanes. Considering the defense once again failed in the third period, fans were glad it worked out. Recently acquired Norton, while he has hockey smarts, may not fit on the team. All of his shots at the goal were so soft they didn't get near it. The angle shots and passes were weak.
Condolences to Eddie Jovanovski who was not at the game. Just before the game his grandfather died, and he flew to Canada to attend the funeral.
Kudos to Kirk Muller on his pre-game ceremony celebrating his 1000th NHL game -- a real milestone. While I understand the sentiments of those who booed Bill Torrey loudly, doing so during Muller's ceremony was grossly inappropriate. The participating fans should be ashamed. Instead of making it a milestone, they ruined it by detracting attention away from what should have been the center of it: Muller.
Special thanks to Mick MacGeough, whose officiating sucked -- for Carolina. The Panthers basically ran away with this as Mister Magoo didn't see a thing (almost). The Panthers also avoided a penalty shot because he didn't follow the rules. Fans saw the puck clearly passed with a glove by a Florida defender from the goal crease to another Panther. That is technically a penalty shot as the rule clearly states. However all the Hurricanes got was a faceoff in the zone. Yeah.
Tommy Fitzgerald scored short-handed (does he get 'em any other way?). An assist went to the Beezer on the play. Scott Mellanby came up big as did the slumping Ray Sheppard.
Kozlov needs glasses, or so the gentleman who sat behind me at the game says. He said it's the only reason Kozlov's not doing well. I think I believe him. Kozlov tries and plays well but sometimes one wonders if he always sees the net or puck.
The Stars game was a remarkable effort by the Panthers against a very hot team. The Panthers Tom Fitzgerald got a 10-minute misconduct for punching an official. After Fitzgerald took a stick up the nose (seemingly halfway to the blade) and disposed of his blood on the ice, he became agitated when the official didn't call a penalty. In frustration he punched the official in the arm. Fellow Panther Robert Svehla escorted him off the ice. The official declined to notify the league.
Against Tampa, John Vanbiesbrouck gained his second shutout in three games as the Florida Panthers beat Tampa Bay 2-0. Vanbiesbrouck recorded 27 saves for the 28th shutout of his career, and despite not cashing in on a penalty shot, the suddenly hot Panthers won their third straight game much to the relief of beleaguered fans.
The Panthers wasted little time in taking the lead as Dave Gagner set up a wide open Kirk Muller in the slot for a goal just 18 seconds into the contest. With under five minutes elapsed, Florida scored the only other goal -- and it was a doozy. Tom Fitzgerald was shoved from behind by a Lightning player and slid into the net (but not dislodging it). The loose puck was poked in by Robert Svehla as Fitzgerald was escaping. The goal was allowed because, of course, Fitzgerald was shoved in.
Later in the game Mark Fitzpatrick, Tampa's ex-Florida goaltender, received a slashing minor. This is only of note because Fitzpatrick was twice booted from practice for slashing his own teammates. This was shortly before his trade.
In the second period, Fitzgerald was awarded a penalty shot at 3:50 when Stephane Richer took him down on a breakaway. But Fitzgerald missed, giving the Panthers an unacceptable 0-4 record on penalty-shot attempts in their history. In the game, Panthers coach Bryan Murray recorded his 478th career victory to tie Mike Keenan for sixth place on the all-time list. John Vanbiesbrouck also ascended to 14th place in the all-time wins list, passing Turk Broda.
Against the Sabres, the Panthers reverted to their former selves, failing to show up and allowing a remarkable amount of unnecessary shots on goal. Eddie Jovanovski returned to his "Turnover Jo" mode of playing, making sure the opponent got every puck in the neutral zone. Some teams have accused the Panthers of playing the trap: it's not true -- they play the neutral zone sieve. The only remarkable thing about the game was the return of Paul Laus, notable PIM leader, to right wing from his normal position on defense. The fans began to amuse themselves by doing the insufferable wave as well as impromptu paper-wad fights in the stands. Basically anything to divert attention from the snore-fest on the ice was a go.
On another note, the Panthers' little spark plug Ray Whitney didn't score a goal against Detroit, but had an assist on Dino Ciccarelli's 600th career goal. Congratulations to Dino on a career milestone, the game-tying goal (coming in the third period) on a poetic justice type; a career achievement goal against his former team.
Lastly, a special congratulations to the Panthers equipment manager and PA announcer, for both being tough enough to get hit with a puck, and end up smiling about it. Yes, in the same game both men were hit in the head with pucks. The equipment manager was hit, requiring a suspension in play while he went to the locker room. He re-emerged later with noticeable stitches and continued about his duties. The PA announcer got hit, as well. While he did miss the call on that particular play, he held a towel over his eye and resumed calling the game eschewing medical attention at the time.
Local hockey fans were in a snit as the Toronto game approached. The game, which is being played at Maple Leaf Gardens, was scheduled to be shown on Sports Channel Florida. However the game starts during the Fox Exclusive window which on Saturdays gives Fox the right to broadcast the game. Originally they had planned to have this as a regional game. They changed their minds a few weeks ago (likely given the Panthers' performance). However they did not allow Sports Channel the right to carry the game. DirecTV couldn't even carry it in the Center Ice package because they do not have the rights to carry the CBC's telecast over their satellite system. This left Panther fans high and dry, and marked only the second regular season game in three years that has not been televised.
The biggest thing in the gossip front is the pending trade of the Original Panther, John Vanbiesbrouck. The rumor has spread like wildfire being reported on CNN/SI, ESPN, and other respected media outlets. In the midst of a contract that can't be hammered out, plus the impending unrestricted free agency at the end of the season, coupled with the expansion draft, has made Bryan Murray decide to try to trade him right after the Nagano break and get whatever he can while he can. Speaking for local fans, I'd not wager Murray's life would be worth a dime on the streets of south Florida if he trades the team's most popular and loved player. Likely candidates for the Beezer are the Rangers and the Flyers. Both are in search of a more reliable full-time goaltender. If the Panthers trade, it will likely a three-way deal which would bring another strong goaltender in to fill the net. While Kevin Weekes is good, he's not ready for a full-time job in the net. Yet.
I'd love to end this report with yet another nauseating Sergei Fedorov rumor, but by the time the Olympics end, Fedorov will be wearing the jersey of another team. Murray has repeatedly and steadfastly denied that Fedorov will be a Panther. Good. We don't want him.
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