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03-11-2013, 10:53 PM
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3/12/13 "Is It Over Yet?" - Panthers vs Lightning

  • Florida captain Ed Jovanovski may be nearing a return. On Saturday, the soon to be 37-year-old
    defenseman returned to practice for the first time since leaving the Cats' January 29th matchup
    against the Lightning with a knee injury. While there is still no timetable for Jovanovski's return
    to the lineup, the fact that he is back at practice with a stick in his hands is encouraging.

  • Coming off of an embarrassing 16 SOG performance against the Canadiens, the Panthers went back
    to fundamentals in practice on Monday
    as coaches stressed the importance of holding on to the puck
    and getting it on net. The attitude assistant coach Craig Ramsey has taken with this team is quite an
    amusing one: "If you shoot the puck on net enough, it's got a bad habit of going in", he said.

  • Panthers minor leaguer Scott Timmins was arrested Tuesday for breaking and entering after he was
    found by a woman and her daughter in a San Antonio area home, sitting on their couch yelling "What
    are you doing in my house?". The woman's husband, not home at the time, told Timmins upon his
    arrest, "You're lucky I wasn't here because I would've put a bullet between your eyes and it would've
    been over for you." Timmins, 23, played one game in a Panther uniform this year. It may well have
    been his last.

  • The Sun Sentinel's Harvey Fialkov issued his Panthers first half report card on Saturday and the grade
    is not suprising: F. Fialkov cites injuries, poor goaltending, the invisibility of Stephen Weiss, Kris
    , and Tomas Fleischmann, and the Cats' league worst record in overtime as the main
    reasons for their struggles. The bright spots (which are few and far between): Jonathan Huberdeau's
    Calder contending play, Drew Shore's surprising arrival, and Tomas Kopecky's breakout season.

  • After struggling in a 4-3 loss to the Canadiens on Saturday, goalie Cedrick Desjardins did not make the
    trip to South Florida and will be optioned back to the AHL pending Mathieu Garon's activation. No matter
    who has been between the pipes for the Bolts this year, they have struggled. As a team, the Lightning
    allow an average of 3.12 goals per game, making them the fourth worst team in the league at stopping
    shots. Anders Lindback is the likely starter for this contest against the Panthers. He sports an ugly .894
    save percentage and a 3.11 goals allowed average.

  • The Lightning bolstered their defense on Monday by recalling defenseman Radko Gudas. Gudas, 22,
    leads the entire AHL in +/- at a +32 and is fourth in the AHL in penalty minutes. He has four goals and 16
    assists. To make room for Gudas, the Lightning demoted Brendan Mikkelson who cleared waivers on
    Sunday. Gudas will likely see time on the Lightning's bottom defensive pairings.

  • Tuesday's matchup will pit Calder candidates against each other: Huberdeau who leads all rookies in goals
    with 12 for the Panthers and Cory Conacher who leads all rookies in assists with 13 and in points with 20
    for the Lightning. After enjoying a fantastic month of February which included both a hot start and finish,
    Conacher has stumbled out of the gates this month, notching just two points (both in the same game) in
    the Lightning's first five March games. Still, the Panthers can not lose sight of Conacher (which is easy to
    do considering he is only 5'8", 180) who is speedy with good hands and vision. If the Cats can manage to
    shut down Conacher and get some good offensive chances against the Lightning's bottom of the barrel
    goaltenders, Huberdeau could slip past Conacher in to the rookie lead for points and/or assists.

When Stephen Weiss was shut down for the season, a door opened for Shawn Matthias. He flew through it.
Playing back at his natural position of center, Matthias has shown great hands and prowess with the puck,
scoring four goals (including a game winner) and helping on five more since March 2nd. Of his play lately,
Matthias said, "I'm trying to open some eyes." He has certainly done so. "He's doing a great job in not trying
to be fancy, but keeping his game simple," said Ramsey. "Even though he's scored a couple of beautiful rush
goals, he's done it because he went down the ice with full speed." Matthias has been around the Panthers
since 2008 but he is still only 25. If he continues to play this way, he could wind up adding himself to a very
short list of Panthers that will be untouchable at the trade deadline.

Last edited by Benched: 03-12-2013 at 08:20 AM.
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