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Mid-Season Review: Top 5 Panthers’ Goals Thus Far

Although the Panthers are clearly not where they would like to be in the standings, it doesn’t mean that they haven’t had their fair share of exciting moments this season. On a team filled with fresh faces and young offensive talent, the Panthers have quickly become an exciting team to watch not only as a Florida fan, but as a hockey fan in general.

Here are my choices for the top 5 Panthers’ goals in the team’s first 24 games this season.

5. Drew Shore

After coming so close in so many games, rookie Drew Shore was finally able to score his first NHL goal using a lovely deflection.

4. Tomas Kopecky

In possibly one of the best offensive games of his career, Tomas Kopecky used this long empty net goal to seal his first career NHL hat-trick.

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Vincent Trocheck: Flourishing in the OHL

During these hard times as I watch the Panthers struggling to find success on a nightly basis, I can’t help but day dream about the future and revel at our deep prospect pool that will one day lead us to a brighter future. Players like Jonathan Huberdeau and Drew Shore are just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to the vast amount of talented players in the Panthers’ pipeline.

In just a few year’s time, Panthers’ fans will be treated to talented skaters like Nick Bjugstad, Quinton Howden, Kyle Rau and Vincent Trocheck. While all four of those skaters are currently having spectacular years in their respective leagues, it is Vincent Trocheck that has been standing out as of late while thoroughly dominating the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).

Selected by the Panthers  in the 3rd round (64th overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Vincent Trocheck became a household name to many hockey fans this year after an impressive performance during the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships in Russia. In 7 games for Team USA, Trocheck compiled 6 points (3G 3A) including the empty-net goal that sealed the American’s victory over Team Sweden in the championship game. Although his statistics weren’t breathtaking, Trocheck did all the little things on the ice that helped USA win the gold, including impressive defense and smart play.

It was upon his return from Russia that Trocheck really started to flourish as he returned to play with the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL. Trocheck is currently 3rd in scoring in the entire OHL, compiling 98 points (46G 52A) in just 58 games played. During the month of February, Trocheck was absolutely unstoppable, scoring in all 13 games he played in that month. Surprisingly, even with his impressive numbers, Trocheck has only won OHL player of the week honors once this season. However, if he continues his torrid scoring pace, there is a good chance that Trocheck could be in consideration for league MVP when it’s all said and done.

So the question now is what can Panthers’ fans expect from Trocheck in the future?

While he may not have the dazzling scoring abilities of Jonathan Huberdeau, a player like Trocheck is the kind of person that the Panthers need at this point. A skater whose effort is never in question and leads by example on the ice. While Huberdeau may be the team’s elite goal scorer of the future, Trocheck could be the strong 2nd or 3rd liner that wins the tough battles and fights for every loose puck.

Considering General Manager Dale Tallon is not known for rushing prospects, it is more than likely that Trocheck will find his way to AHL’s San Antonio Rampage at the beginning of the 2013-2014 season. After the recent success of both Drew Shore and Jonathan Huberdeau, expectations will be high for the soon to be 20 year-old Trocheck and some time in San Antonio will be a perfect way for him to polish his game. Until then, I encourage Panthers’ fans to keep up with Trocheck via the Plymouth Whalers’ website and track him as he looks to end his already incredible season on a high note.

Follow the Rat Pack on Twitter: me @JamesonCoop, Frank Rekas @Frank Rekas , David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Patrick McLaughlin @PatrickRattrick, Scott Mullin @GreatScottsman,  Paige Lewis @RatTrickLewiz Gabby Kiger @gabbykiger, Adam Reid@AdamReid Chrissy Parente @chrissaay44, Lori Carpenter @lmcangel13, 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.

Surprise Surprise: The NHL’s Biggest Surprises

We are about 45 days into the shortened season, which means we are nearing the half-way point of the 2013 NHL regular season. With the majority of teams already playing at least 22 games each, we’ve been able to take a good look at the players who have been showing this 48-game season what they’re made of. As usual, guys like Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos are sticking to the status quo and owning the top of the stats charts. But I’m not here to state the obvious. I’m here to give a nod to the players whom I believe have been the biggest surprises thus far.

Below are my top 7 player picks for this seasons biggest surprises:

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Drew Shore: Quietly February’s Other Best Rookie

Jonathan Huberdeau “I’m gunna let you finish”, but Drew Shore was the best NHL rookie during the month of February…

On Friday, announced that Jonathan Huberdeau was named their rookie of the month after scoring 9 points (6G 3A) in 13 games during the month of February. However, even though Huberdeau had a terrific month, there is one other rookie that you might believe had an even better showing than he did - his Panther teammate, Drew Shore.

During the month of February, Drew Shore led all rookies in scoring by compiling 10 points (2G, 8A) in 13 games played. Already seeing great success at the NHL level, Shore is starting to be rewarded for his efforts, going from roughly 14 minutes of ice time a game to upwards of 18 minutes near the end of the month. Although he sat atop the rookie point totals for the month, Shore’s talents are not only limited to goals and assists. In just 18 games played this season, Shore has already shown that he has a knack for dominating the face-off circle. With his face-off winning percentage already sitting at an impressive 50% on the season, expect Shore to get even better as he gains more experience and minutes.

If one had to use a word to describe Shore’s play during the month of February, it would be consistency. Last month, Shore became one of the Panthers’ most reliable skaters, tallying a point in 8 of the team’s 13 games played. By comparison, other top rookies Jonathan Huberdeau and Cory Conacher recorded points in only 5 and 7 games respectively. Considering the fact the the Panthers are hardly an offensive juggernaut, the fact that Shore is able to show up on the score sheet so often is truly remarkable.

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Huberdeau, Panthers Whip Philly To End Losing Streak

The Florida Panthers finally figured it out. When you score five goals, you’re supposed to WIN the game. The Panthers erupted for three goals for a two minutes span, including a spectacular penalty shot from Jonathan Huberdeau, en route to a 5-2 beating of the Philadelphia Flyers. Goaltender Scott Clemmensen stopped 32 of 34 shots, easily turning in his best performance on the season, as Florida ended a season long five game losing streak.
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Florida Panthers Live: Meet Jonathan Huberdeau And Drew Shore Tonight



There’ll be a question and answer session, games, giveaways and drink specials (2 for 1 happy hour) all night long.

Here’s the official announcement from the Florida Panthers.

C’mon out and support your team and meet two of the up and coming players of the team.

Wear your Panthers gear and be entered in a raffle for two tickets to an upcoming home game.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

Follow the Rat Pack on Twitter: me @TheRatTrick , David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Patrick McLaughlin @PatrickRattrick, Scott Mullin @GreatScottsman,  Paige Lewis @RatTrickLewiz Gabby Kiger @gabbykiger, Adam Reid@AdamReid Chrissy Parente @chrissaay44, Justen Rosenberg @justenrosenberg, Lori Carpenter @lmcangel13, 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.

Does Peter Mueller Have a Future With The Panthers?

In the roller coaster ride that has been the Panthers’ 2013 season up until this point, there have been a few players steadily contributing on a team filled with question marks. However, during most games this season, forward Peter Mueller has been a bright spot of stellar play - even during some of the Panthers’ worst games.

After being selected 8th overall during the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Mueller’s career has been anything but spectacular as the promising young skater has had to battle an abundance of concussion-related problems since joining the NHL. During the 2010 season, a dirty hit from the San Jose Sharks’ Rob Blake sent Mueller to the ice, and set off a chain of events that would keep him from playing steady hockey up until this season. Since that first concussion, Mueller has been unable to play more than 32 games during a single NHL season and has been labeled as a possible liability due to his health concerns.

However, during the 2012 offseason the Florida Panthers decided to take a low-risk chance on the once promising young skater when they signed Mueller to a 1-year 1.725 million dollar contract - an investment that is paying off in spades. Through 12 games this season, Mueller currently has the 4th most points on the Panthers’ roster, compiling 7 points (4G 3A) thus far.

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Panthers Can’t Close Out Capitals, Fall In OT

There aren’t many times in the National Hockey League that you score five goals, even strength goals at that, and lose the game. And, there also aren’t many times that you have a two goal lead with just over five minutes to play and lose. Yet, that’s just what the Florida Panthers did in Tuesday’s loss 6-5 overtime loss to the last place Washington Capitals. The heartbreaking loss comes three days after this same Capitals teams ran the Cats out of DC with a 5-0 thrashing.
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Should the Florida Panthers Move On From Stephen Weiss?

Florida Panthers forward Stephen Weiss skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins, March 9, 2012 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, PA. (Source: Michael Miller, Wikimedia Commons)

For the past few months there has been speculation involving long time Florida Panther and fan favorite, Stephen Weiss.  Just like any other “top” player in their contract year, trade rumors have begun whirling around the internet that Stephen Weiss will be dealt before the April 3rd deadline. But even prior to last season, Weiss’ name has been heavily involved in the rumor mill despite having a six-year contract worth $18.6 million, not to mention a full no-movement clause.

Coming off one of his most notable seasons with 57 points in 80 games, Weiss could be amongst the top sought after free agent centers along with Ryan Getzlaf, Mike Ribiero, and Derek Roy. This means the Panthers have one of two obvious choices. They can either resign Weiss and keep him as our number one center, or they can deal him off to another team and quite possibly get someone of importance back. Unfortunately this is a business and I believe that resigning Weiss to another lengthy contract would hang heavily on the future of our franchise.

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Panthers Fall To Jets Thanks To Late OT Goal

After needing a shootout to decide 17 of their games in 2011-12, the Florida Panthers had yet need one through eight games this season. With the way Tuesday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets ended, the Cats probably would’ve liked to try their hand at the skills competition. With just 16 seconds left in overtime, Bryan Little’s power play wrister from the slot beat Scott Clemmensen to give the Jets a 3-2 win. To compound the frustration, the Panthers had worked tirelessly to stymie the Winnipeg power play, only to have Little’s shot cross the red line with six seconds left in the 4-on-3 advantage.
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