Video: Aleksander Barkov Scores the Panthers’ Fastest Goal of The Year

After scoring just three goals over their past three games, the Florida Panthers broke out of their scoring slump quickly and with a vengeance on Tuesday night as they lit the lamp just 32 seconds into their contest against the visiting New York Islanders.

Capitalizing on poor neutral zone play, Panthers’ forward Brad Boyes was able to intercept a pass from Isles’ defenseman Andrew MacDonald and quickly turn the mistake into a two on none rush for himself and linemate Aleksander Barkov.  

Hung out to dry by his teammates, Islanders’ goaltender Kevin Poulin was helpless as Barkov and Boyes used a flurry of passes to throw the netminder off kilter before Barkov finally finished the play by burying his eighth goal of the season.

The goal, just 32 seconds into the game, was the Panthers’ quickest score since October 11th against the Pittsburgh Penguins when they got on the scoreboard at the 1:55 mark of the first period.

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Tomas Kopecky Finding Ways to Contribute Off The Scoresheet in Florida This Season

After a year in which he led the Florida Panthers in goals and was named our 2012-2013 team MVP here at Panther Parkway, veteran forward Tomas Kopecky’s start to this season was hardly something any of us could have expected.

Rather than building on the success he had found last season, Kopecky began his 2013-14 campaign by going scoreless through his first sixteen games played. However, since snapping his scoreless streak on November 15th against the Minnesota Wild, Kopecky has gone on to earn nine points in his last 24 games played. Though the return of Kopecky’s offensive abilities has come as a relief to the goal-starved Cats, Kopecky has been doing most of his damage this season in areas that do not show up on traditional scoresheets.

Though he may not be lighting the lamp as often as he did last season, Kopecky has continued to perfect his role as a player that simply makes life harder for opposing skaters.

“The priority is on the defense,” Kopecky said after leading the Panthers to a 5-4 victory over the Nashville Predators on January 4th.  ”Last year I was playing on the first power play, and this year I’m not. Whatever helps the team win.”

And winning is exactly what Kopecky has been helping the Panthers do for the majority of this season thus far. Through advanced statistics as well as simply watching his play from the press box on a nightly basis, it’s clear that Kopecky deserves more credit than he is given both by scorekeepers and critics alike.

Tomas Kopecky  (Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports)

Tomas Kopecky (Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports)

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Game Day Preview: Panthers vs. Devils. It’s A Death Trap. It’s A Suicide Rap.

FLORIDA PANTHERS: 17-21-6 (40 PTS.) vs. NEW JERSEY DEVILS: 18-18-9 (45 PTS.)


GAME DAY SONG: BORN TO RUN. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

So this is where it all began.  The state of New Jersey.  For Bruce Springsteen that is…….  who began an enormously successful career singing about fast cars, working at the factory, girls, and telling stories during concerts about how his dad couldn’t stand his “god damn” guitar. For the Florida Panthers, they’ll hope to find similar success in a place that hasn’t been overly kind to them recently.  The Florida Panthers have lost 13 of 17 games on the streets of Jersey.  The Panthers have been outscored 56-31 in those games, and have been unable to score more than two goals only four times in those 17 games.

The story of the offensively challenged Panthers has been well documented, and hasn’t changed very much over the years, and on this current road trip, the inability to find the back of the net continues.  After scoring only once in the loss to Montreal on Monday, the Panthers made Buffalo back up goaltender Jhonas Enroth look like the second coming of Georges Vezina, or Dominck Hasek for those of you who have no idea who Vezina is.  The Panthers fired 35 shots at Enroth, including one in a five minute overtime, and none on a brief two man advantage, but somehow managed to pull out a bizarre 2-1 victory as the game ended in a shootout.

Not that it’s all bad news for the boys from the Sunshine state.  The Panthers are 3-1-1 in their last five, Brad Boyes who scored the shootout winner, has three goals and four assists during that stretch, as his linemates Aleksander Barkov and Sean Bergenheim are the only trio causing concern for the opposition.  We’ve seen this movie before, and we know the outcome.  Shut down the only scoring line for the Panthers, and you have an outstanding chance of beating them.  The biggest factor besides the lack of scoring ability from anyone other than the top line is the woeful powerplay.  Or should we call it the powerless power play?

The Panthers have a 7.1% success rate on the road, having scored only 6 goals in 84 chances.  Overall they are a league worst 10.3% with 15 goals in 146 chances.  Just a dozen more goals, which doesn’t appear to be much, likely translates into at least 5 more victories, and would put the team at .500 for the season.  Their 5 on 5 play has been relatively good, but until they can start converting these man advantage opportunities, the playoffs will remain a pipe dream.

All this search for scoring continues while the ageless wonder, Tim Thomas continues to play amazingly well despite recovering twice from lower body injuries.  Thomas has gone 5-1-1 with a 1.78 GAA in his last 7 starts.  He’s also won his last 7 starts against the Devils, including a shutout and a 1.42 GAA.  Thomas has kept the Panthers in game that they didn’t deserve to be close in, and it would be nice to start rewarding their netminder with some goal support in an effort to not make every save seem life threatening.

But scoring goals against the Devils has never been easy for anyone, and it won’t be any different tonight.  Former Panther coach Pete DeBoer has continued to utilize a game plan that mostly suffocates the opposition.  Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff describes the choking, trapping style as follows:

“Playing them is like crawling through a barbed-wire fence with a wool jacket on,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said of the Devils. “They’ve got big bodies. They defend well. You have to give them a lot of credit for it. You have to get them down.”

Much like the Panthers, the Devils don’t score much either, yet their teams have always been built on solid defence and Marty Brodeur.  With the young Cory Schneider beginning to share the role, things aren’t that much different.  Michael Ryder, who has traveled a bit throughout his career leads the Devils in goals with 15, and has scored 10 since early December, and has scored in three straight and four his last five.  He’s dangerous when he’s on a hot streak like this, and the Panthers need to be aware of his presence on the ice at all times.  When he’s engaged like he is now, this is how he plays, as the puck seems to finds it’s way from his stick to the back of the net.  When he’s not interested, he floats.  Somehow the Panthers need to get him off his game.

The Panthers need this victory if they expect to remain in any competition for a post season birth.  Yes it’s a long shot, but they haven’t been that far off from winning some of the games that they’ve lost, but until they consistently score, losing one goal games in regulation, or in overtime, will continue to be the straw that breaks their back.  With Ed Jovanovski having played impressively since his return from hip surgery, and the return of Erik Gudbranson, and the expected return tonight of Dylan Olsen, the defence should be tougher to beat, and more difficult to play against.  That may be just enough to provide confidence to the forwards to be able to take a few more chances offensively.

Scottie Upshall has cooled off since a torrid first 25 games.  Tomas Fleischmann is snakebitten.  It seems about the only way he could score is if he threw the puck in the net like John Scott…..with the way things are going for Flash lately, his toss would likely ring off the crossbar.  It’s not as if players like these aren’t creating chances because they are.  Unfortunately they can’t finish them.

Shawn Matthias was a health scratch Thursday night against the Sabres, indicating that Peter Horachek and his staff are frustrated with Matthias.  And rightfully so.  Matthias has only 9 points in 45 games, and hasn’t generated much of anything.  Many are beginning to wonder if his days as a Panther truly are coming to an end.  He has been given a number of opportunities to cement himself as a piece of the future, yet hasn’t been able to consistently produce numbers that would give him more ice time.  His career month of March 2013 seems like a distant memory.

I hate to digress here, but in closing I will.  Since taking over as coach, Peter Horachek has done a fantastic job with this club.  They are playing a more uptempo style where they are using their speed, forechecking with more tenacity, and backchecking with more responsibility.  Yet the powerplay must convert more chances.  Missing from the point is a big slap shot, and whether his accuracy has improved or not (it has), Erik Gudbranson needs to see a regular shift there from now on.  This right now is my only “beef” with Horachek, and if he can find a way to get that big shot more ice time, the Panthers ought to be more successful when they have the man advantage.  In a game like tonight, against a stingy team like the Devils, that may give Florida the best chance to win.

Something that they need to keep doing with regularity if they have any intentions of making noise this spring.

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, and Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop,  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.

Video: Brad Boyes’ Wacky Shootout Goal Leads Panthers to Victory Over Sabres

On a night that included several controversial calls, multiple goals waived off and countless shots ringing off the posts, it’s only fitting that the Florida Panthers’ Thursday night match-up against the Buffalo Sabres would end in an abnormal fashion.

With a chance to win the game in a shootout, Panthers’ forward Brad Boyes - whose game-winning goal had previously been waived off in the 3rd period - finally got a bounce off the post to go his way as his shot would ricochet off both the post and Sabres’ goaltender, Jhonas Enroth, into the net.

So the game is over right? Wrong.

Amazingly, just had they had done on Panthers’ forward Johnathan Huberdeau’s attempt in the previous round, one official signaled a good goal while the other skated in waiving it off. However, unlike Huberdeau’s attempt, the officials would let this call stand as the Cats would go on to escaped Buffalo with a much needed 2-1 shootout victory.

As you can imagine, my description of this series of events does no justice to the actual incident so please enjoy the video of Florida’s wild ending below.

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Attack of the Killer B’s: Chemistry Paying off for Panthers’ First Line

For quite some time, the Florida Panthers struggled mightily trying to find chemistry while under coach Kevin Dineen. With constant line shuffling night after night, there was never that one line the Panthers’ could ever really count on. Watching errant pass after errant pass send the team into a frantic style of chasing the puck around the ice, the Panthers were looking as if the days of having four solid lines were far behind them. Under current Head Coach, Peter Horachek, the Panthers may not have four lines that are dangerous, but have begun to step into the right direction by building chemistry to start anew. Enter Florida’s first line combination of Sean BergenheimAleksander Barkov and Brad Boyes. A line that continues to plague their opponents with a barrage in the offensive zone, with shots, crisp passes and puck possession, while still working hard in their own zone as well.

When looking at this line it certainly has it’s own storylines that make this unit so interesting. Bergenheim returned to action this season after missing last year with an abdominal injury. His commitment to the team and his career were questioned by Dineen and it was unknown what type of condition the 29-year old Finn would be in.  A player that looked destined to be another guest in the Dineen doghouse was given a second chance by Horachek. As his ice time has steadily increased, Bergenheim has begun to look as if he has returned to his “Mr. Playoff” days.  His hard work on the ice to regain his confidence and rediscover his game have not been in vain. Coach Horachek has even gone on to call Bergenheim “One of his favorite players”. Not bad for a guy who had a question mark hanging over him with his previous coach. In his last five games, Bergenheim has notched five goals, two of which were on Florida’s 30th ranked power play. The Helsinki, Finland native has 12 points (9-3-12) in 27 games this season and is ranked second on the team in goals.

Boyes has made his name in Florida for being a shootout hero, boasting a league best 36 goals all-time in the shootout and scoring five out of eight attempts this season. Boyes’ season has been a back and forth of falling in and out of favor with the coaching staff. His intensity (which maybe he can spell better than Bobby Ryan) has been questioned and his defensive play has been called out as well. The truth is when he is on his game, Boyes is one of Florida’s most effective players. With a team leading 11 goals this season, Boyes is also ranked third in points with 19 (11-8-19) and first on the team in plus/minus with a plus-4 rating. With his performance thus far, Boyes is proving to be one of Tallon’s best signings. Signed out of training camp on a pro-tryout, Boyes rides a one-year contract worth $1 million. In his last three games, Boyes has five points (2-3-5) and is plus-3, showing his skill at both ends of the ice.

The final piece to the puzzle that is Florida’s first line, is arguably the team’s best player this season. The 18-year old, Barkov pulls it all together for the line and has been the rock in Florida’s offense this year. His consistency is incredible for his age. Barkov is far and away the team’s hottest player right now. The Finnish rookie has been on a tear lately, currently riding a five game point streak, worth six points (1-5-6) and ten points (3-7-10) in his last ten games.  Barkov’s game goes beyond point production. Barkov is second on the team in takeaways with 22 and is 49.8% in the faceoff circle.  Barkov’s team leading 21 points (7-14-21) has fans excited about his future and his potential to be a top player in the league, despite going unnoticed by most media outlets. Barkov is a special player because of his ability to make the players around him better. Bergenheim and Boyes are both playing at the top of their games right now with Barkov centering them. During Scottie Upshall‘s surge in point production during November and early December, it could be assumed that Barkov was the catalyst for that change in Upshall’s game. Since him splitting him up from Barkov, Upshall’s production has waned. With only one assist in his last ten games, Upshall is still playing well defensively but is certainly not the same offensively without Barkov.

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Video: Brad Boyes Talks After GW Shootout Goal Against Detroit

Just one game after slumping play made him a healthy scratch against the Chicago Blackhawks, veteran forward Brad Boyes had his shot at redemption on Tuesday night.

Relegated to the fourth line for Tuesday’s matchup against the Detroit Red Wings, Boyes was fairly average through just over 10 minutes of ice time, but would make up for it as the game headed into a shootout.

After Aleksander Barkov and Tomas Tatar scored for their respective teams, the burden was placed on Boyes to bring home a much needed victory for the struggling Panthers.

Already the NHL’s career leader in shootout goals, Boyes made quick work of Red Wings’ goaltender Jimmy Howard as he hit the back of the net and brought the fans at the BB&T Center to their feet.

Boyes has now converted on four of his five shootout attempts this season, good enough for 80% for all you non math wizards out there.

In the video below, Boyes talks about the team’s improbable victory as well as his own late game heroics.

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The Florida Panthers Are Looking For Answers.

With the young season only 12 games old, the Florida Panthers have come out of the gate in the same fashion that they’ve started most of their games……flat.  With one game remaining on their current six game homestand, the Panthers currently sit 7th out of 8 teams in the Atlantic Division, and 13th overall in the Eastern Conference.  Their record of 3-7-2, which to me reads 3-9, is a record that could easily be anywhere from 7-4-1 to 5-5-2.  Though many didn’t pick the Panthers to be in the post season at year end, the slow start raises many questions as the team looks for answers to their losing record and inconsistent play.

As one tries to find out why the team is so inconsistent, the situation becomes more puzzling since the Panthers are doing so with a healthy roster.  Sans Ed Jovanovski who is still not ready to comeback from injury, and the recent groin injury to goaltender Tim Thomas, the Panthers are a very healthy bunch.  They were told to show up to training camp in shape, as opposed to out of it, which many were in last year’s lockout shortened season.  Last season’s team was battered with injuries from start to finish, and as many as eight (or was it nine) different players made their NHL debut so that the team could play with a full roster. On many nights it was blatantly obvious as to why the team was struggling much as it did.

This year the only thing that’s been constant is the teams’ ability to be perfectly inconsistent. 

The poor starts, which have occurred in 3 of 5 games on this home stand are the main reason that Florida owns the record they have.  Playing a full 60 minutes has been a problem for this team that dates back to the days of Jacques Martin, then to Peter DeBoer, and now unfortunately to Kevin Dineen.  The difference is that with the prior two coaches the games ended poorly, rather than started poorly.  Then the Panthers were giving up goals late, now they’re giving up goals early.  As I said earlier, the first two weeks aren’t a real gauge for the performance of a team.  Four weeks in, we now are seeing things becoming habit forming, and playing from behind every night is a sure fire way to miss the post season.


It’s not just the poor starts that are concerning, because once they get their “legs”, they do play a relatively competitive game. But when you’re only recording 2.166 goals per game, and missing the net more times than not, those poor starts will come back to haunt you. Buffalo’s Jhonas Enroth made 44 saves Friday night but 17 additional shots were blocked, and 17 more weren’t even close.  Add to that there have been many point blank chances that haven’t been converted, and many opportunities that were foiled because of a pass first mentality.  There’s also the cuteness factor that creeps in at the most inopportune time.  Fancy plays and backdoor passes have caused more than a handful of odd man rushes against.

Scottie Upshall and Tomas Kopecky are still looking for their first marker, and Shawn Matthias finally found the back of the net for the first time of the season Sunday.


The team defence seems to be very porous most of the time, and is giving up an average of 3.5 goals per game, while offensively they are only scoring 2.166 per game.  In two of their 12 games the Panthers gave up seven goals, and during Friday night’s loss to Buffalo, a team they clearly outplayed, they surrendered a 1-0 lead in the 1st period and lost 3-1, while taking 45 shots. Another issue with the defence is that they have only scored twice.  Matt Gilroy and Dmitry Kulikov have one goal a piece, while Brian Campbell, Tom Gilbert, Erik Gudbranson and Mike Weaver (who isn’t expected to score) are all scoreless.


The team seems to be lacking an identity.  Most nights it’s a dump and chase game, but if you aren’t winning the battles to the puck, it’s more like dump and go for a line change.  Coach Kevin Dineen has been doing his best to find the right formula for his lines.  It’s been a difficult task as he looks for the right mix.  12 games in, one would have thought that there would be at least one trio that had some chemistry. In fact, Fleischmann, Barkov, and Boyes were the 4th highest scoring line in hockey up until Brad Boyes was sent to the 3rd/4th line for a few games. Even though Brad Boyes has emerged as the top goal scorer with five, his defensive lapses (we knew this would happen) almost landed him in the press box Sunday.  Boyes was spared that embarrassment as Tomas Fleischmann sat out with the flu, and Boyes scored his team leading 5th goal, and the lone shootout goal in the loss to Tampa.

Special Teams

Both special teams units are in the bottom third of the league with the power play sitting 29th and the penalty kill at 21st.  The lack of net presence on the power play has been a long time problem for this team that just won’t go away.  No one has been able to take the place of Gary Roberts, (and that was five years ago) and stand in front of the net and act as a screen to the goaltender, or be available for a deflection or scoop up a rebound.  As for the Penalty Kill, Mike Weaver and Jesse Winchester have been bright spots on the PK, but unfortunately that’s the only positive thing you can really say.

The problems are small in nature, but when you add them all up, the Panthers are digging a hole the size of the Grand Canyon.  While the team seems to play better in front of Tim Thomas, Jacob Markstrom has been inconsistent in the games he has played, and at some point he needs to steal a game… or three. To this point, and realizing that he’s played less than 100 NHL games, he hasn’t lived up to the hype.  Yet is he a victim of poor defence, or do his mechanics still need refining?  The fat rebounds that he gives up suggest yes to both, however when he comes out to challenge shooters, you find yourself saying, “that’s more like it”. It’s very concerning.

Finally, does the lack of motivation and or intensity at the beginning of games fall to the coaching staff or to the players?  A quick start and the ability to play with a lead changes your mentality and your energy level.  It can set the pace for a game, and allow a team to play to their strengths instead of having their weaknesses exposed.  Veteran goaltender Tim Thomas said it perfectly a couple weeks ago before the game against Pittsburgh.  “I’m tired of losing”.  The team responded with a win, but it hasn’t carried forward.  Losing creates frustration, bad habits, and an atmosphere that doesn’t bode well for young players.  The Panthers were off Monday, spent Tuesday as a “team building day”, and are back at practice today.  With their next game Friday night against the St. Louis Blues, they have time to regroup and find some answers to these concerns.

It’s all well and fine to appreciate the resiliency and late comebacks, but the points you lose now are too hard to make up later.  In order for the Panthers to get themselves back on track, they’ll need to “get back to basics”.  A cliche that is just one of about 50 that we’re all growing weary of hearing.

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.

Panther Parkway Radio: Team Struggles, Goalie Situation, Bright Spots, Blues Preview, & More

Tune in to tonight’s show while we discuss the recent struggles of the Florida Panthers, goalie situation, the bright spots of the team, and more!

Host: Paige Lewis

Guests: Frank Rekas, Dave Lasseter, and Jameson Cooper


  • Panthers Struggles
  • Do the Panthers miss Tim Thomas?
  • Jesse Winchester has been a bright spot
  • How important is Brad Boyes?
  • Tomas Kopecky
  • Should the Panthers call-up Vincent Trocheck?
  • Preview of the St. Louis Blues game

Click the link below for today’s podcast!

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.

Familiar Start Ends With Familiar Result For Panthers

At some point, the Florida Panthers will realize that digging a two-goal deficit is not the way to win hockey games. Seven times in twelve games this season, the Panthers have found themselves in a 2-0 hole (or worse) and have compiled a record of 0-5-2 in those games. The latest came Sunday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Lightning as the Panthers dropped a 4-3 shootout decision.

Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos put the Cats down less than five minutes into the game, leaving yet another mountain to climb.
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Panthers Lifeless In Tampa

There’s not too much recap here as the Florida Panthers had a team put up a touchdown on them for the second time in three games. This time, the culprit was the cross-state Tampa Bay Lightning, who took advantage of a sloppy effort from the Cats at both ends of the ice in a 7-2 thrashing.
[Read more...]


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