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What Should The Florida Panthers Do With Shawn Matthias?

Now that we know the draft status for the Florida Panthers (second overall) in the upcoming draft this summer, the Panthers can begin planning their future.  Some of it immediate, and some of it long term.  As Dale Tallon continues to follow his blue print of building a consistent playoff contender, there are some questions regarding certain players on this Panthers roster that must be answered.  One of the most glaring decisions has to deal with the status of restricted free agent Shawn Matthias.

Matthias was originally drafted in the second round, 47th overall in 2006 by the Detroit Red Wings as he was playing for the Belleville Bulls in the OHL.  Take a look at his pre draft scouting report from to get an idea of what the consensus was at that time.  The characteristics that likely attracted the Detroit brass was his size, skating ability, and his tenacious forchecking.  He was also described as a hard worker.  All attributes that would make most any player being looked at as a potential middle six forward.  The negatives in the report however were that he didn’t always play to his size, and that he may not have the softest hands around.  Still, Matthias was viewed as a solid prospect in the Red Wings organization, and solid enough to be taken in the second round.  Detroit has a history of finding “diamonds in the rough” and they obviously felt that Matthias had the potential to be another gem.

Matthias spent three seasons with Bellville, and each one was better than his last, and when the Florida Panthers were in the process of trading forward Todd Bertuzzi, then general manager Jacques Martin wanted Matthias as part of the deal, which also included two conditional draft picks.  It was believed that eventually Matthias could be a second line center with Florida as long as his development continued.  After being acquired Matthias spend time between his Belleville team, the Roschester Americans and the Florida Panthers before finally sticking to the roster for a full season in 2011-2011.  Much of his ice time prior to this past season was spent on the bottom two lines, and killing penalties as his rugged style of play warranted him those opportunities while he continued to develop his game, which needed some consistency.

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Game Day Preview: New York Rangers vs. Florida Panthers

NEW YORK RANGERS: 24-17-4 (52 PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS: 13-26-6 (32 PTS.)


GAMEDAY SONG: Backstreets

Tonight the Florida Panthers will play one of two final home games as they host the New York Rangers who happen to be riding a three game winning streak in their effort to make the post season.  The Rangers who have struggled mightily this season compared to the expectations that were laid out for them could be peaking at the perfect time.  In their last 10 games the Blue shirts are 7-2-1 and have sparked offensively scoring 41 goals in 11 games during the month of April.  It was just 23 days ago that New York was the lowest scoring team in the NHL, but they have somehow been able to find the back of the net more often.  There’s no better time to turn your game around than now and make your post season run as Ryan Callahan said after beating the New Jersey Devils on Sunday:

“We’re playing our best hockey we’ve played all year,” Rangers captain Ryan Callahan, who scored twice against the Devils, said. “Now is the time to do that. We’ve been playing playoff-style hockey the last couple of games. These are must-wins for us. It gives us a dress rehearsal for the playoffs.”

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Game Day Preview: Florida Panthers vs. New Jersey Devils. So We Soldier On

FLORIDA PANTHERS: 13-24-6 (32 PTS.) vs. NEW JERSEY DEVILS: 16-17-10 (42 PTS.)


GAMEDAY SONG: Symptoms-Atlas Genius

The New Jersey Devils tonight’s opponent for the Florida Panthers  were on one of the franchise’s worst losing streaks until they finally shutout the Philadelphia Flyers 3-0 on Thursday.  The blanking of the Flyers was the 121st of his career for Devils netminder Martin Brodeur.  The Devils had previously been 0-6-4 in the previous 10 games, and saw themselves drop from seventh to 12th in the Eastern Conference prior to the tilt against the Flyers.  Prior to the start of Friday night’s games, the Devils had moved up to 11th behind Buffalo and Winnipeg, and have a game at hand, with five left on the schedule for them.

New Jersey who are a dead last in the league in scoring with only 99 goals on the year are looking for their first two game winning streak since March 21-23, and don’t have a winning streak longer than five games. If the Devils were to miss the playoffs it would be for only the second time in 13 seasons.  From where they sit currently, they trail the New York Rangers by six points, so their work is cut out for them with little room for mistakes to be made.  They’ll play the Rangers two more times before the season ends, with the final game coming on the last day of the season, meaning this could go down to the wire.

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Drew Shore Set To Return, New Surroundings Await

After sitting out the last three games to nurse his ailing wrist, Panthers’ rookie forward Drew Shore is reportedly set to return to the lineup on Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets. However, much like Odysseus returning to Ithaca after the Trojan War, Shore’s surroundings in Florida will be very different than he remembers.

Having already lost his top-line spot to the inspired play of fellow center Shawn Matthias, Shore had been trying to find a new fit in the Panthers’ lineup prior to suffering his injury. While Shore has shown that the talent to anchor one the team’s top 2 lines for the remainder of the season, the landscape of the Panthers’ has undergone some crucial change since his departure.

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Florida Panthers’ Three Stars: March

The Florida Panthers used the month of March to revitalize their season and attempt to climb out of the cellar of the Eastern Conference. Although the team does remain in last place in the East, their inspired play during this past month gave their fans something to cheer about in an otherwise forgettable year. The Panthers’ fought and clawed their way to a 5-10-1 record during the month of March, including winning 4 of their last 7 games.

In a month in which they saw some improvement, three players in particular helped lead the Panthers on most nights and it’s time that we reward them for their contributions.

Here are the Florida Panthers’ three stars for the month of March!

Third Star: Jacob Markstrom

After struggling in his first few starts this season, goaltender Jacob Markstrom has settled down and become the Panthers’ number one goaltender heading into the last month of the season. During the month of March, Markstrom compiled a 5-5-1 record - with his 5 victories being only 1 shy of teammates Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen’s combined season total.

The one word that could be used to describe Markstrom’s month is consistency. In his 11 starts this month, Markstrom only allowed more than 3 goals to be scored in 2 games and gave the Panthers a great chance to win every night. Overall, Markstrom allowed 26 goals over his 11 March starts and saved 297 of 323 shots faced - good enough for a .920 save percentage.

Markstrom’s biggest game during the month came in the Panthers 3-1 victory over the New York Rangers on March 21st. Markstrom stopped an astounding 44 of 45 Rangers’ shots and finished the night with a 1.00 GAA / .978 SV%.

Highlight Clip From March:

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What Is The Real Value Of Shawn Matthias?

Plays like the one above, which some have called the goal of the year, are making people take notice of Florida Panther forward Shawn Matthias , as he seems to be having a “coming out” party.  Matthias who turned 25 this past February is in his 5th NHL season, and will be a restricted free agent at the end of the year.  Originally drafted in the second round, 47th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in 2006, the Mississuagua, Ontario native is making the most of his ice time this season for the Panthers on the way to his best season in the NHL.  With all the injuries that the Panthers have suffered this season, Matthias, also known as “Danger” by his teammates because of all the fights he was involved in during his playing days in Juniors, is relishing his role now as the Panthers’ number one center.

In his past 16 games Matthias has 13 points, 11 of which are goals, all coming in the month of March as the young forward has shown some “flashes” of what was expected of him when the Panthers traded for him back in 2007.  The last Panther player to have scored more goals in a month than the 11 by Matthias was Pavel Bure who had 15. Since being acquired by the Panthers, Matthias has spent the majority of his time on either the third or fourth lines, unable to break into the top six, mostly due to his own inconsistency.  Now being given a larger role due to injuries, and being given more responsibility, Matthias is making a play for his “next” contract.  Currently Matthias is making $900,000 and according to Cap Geek, the qualifying offer for Matthias would be $945,000.

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Late Heroics Lift Cats Over Devils

For the Florida Panthers, overtime against the New Jersey Devils hasn’t been a pleasant experience of late. In last season’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Devils won games 6 and 7 in overtime to rally down from a 3-2 series deficit. Saturday night, the Panthers finally got it right as Dmitry Kulikov’s slap shot from the right face off dot gave them a 3-2 come-from-behind win in front of 18,138 at the BB&T Center.
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Game Day Preview: New Jersey Devils vs. Florida Panthers.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS: 15-11-8  (38 PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS: 10-19-6 (26 PTS.)



When the New Jersey Devils last came to Sunrise it was for game seven of the opening round of the playoffs last April.  The Devils eliminated the Florida Panthers in double overtime in what was an entertaining and well fought battle,  in what was the first playoff appearance by the Panthers in over a decade. Tonight the Florida Panthers will take on  the New Jersey Devils and Pete DeBoer, for the second time in a week with the Devils riding a two game losing streak continued by their shootout loss to Tampa last night.  In that game New Jersey held a two goal lead going into the third period with the tying goal coming with 15.1 seconds remaining in regulation.  Coach Deboer’s comments are all too familiar to Panther fans:

“It’s disappointing when you’re 15 seconds away from getting two (points), but at the same time we’ve got to put points in the bank and keep moving forward,” coach Peter DeBoer said.

The Devils seem to be struggling as of late with a three game losing streak last week, coupled with this current two gamer, and now find themselves only three points ahead of both the New York Rangers and New York Islanders who are both tied for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.  The Devils are 4-3-3 in their last 1o games, and are 5-6-6 on the road.  Part of the Devils recent inconsistency could be attributed to the loss of forward and resident sniper Ilya Kovalchuk who hurt in shoulder in the Panther game last Saturday.  At the time Kovalchuk had 10 goals and 17 assists, and his skill set could have made a difference in last night’s loss to Tampa.

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Panthers Resilient In Beating Buffalo

If you’ve made your way out to the BB&T Center to see a Florida Panthers home game, you probably haven’t left too often with a smile on your face. Coming into Thursday night’s game against the Buffalo Sabres, the Cats had only won four of 17 games in front of the home folks, the lowest in the National Hockey League. The 17,044 (announced) were treated to number five as the Panthers won a back-and-forth contest that ended with them winning 5-4 in a shootout.

If there’s a common theme in Panthers wins this season, few as they may be, it’s them getting the first goal and Thursday was no different. Shawn Matthias grabbed a rebound of a Tyson Strachan shot at the hashmarks, then used Buffalo defenseman Robyn Regehr as a screen before beating Ryan Miller high, stick side 3:28 into the game. Tomas Fleischmann converted a power play early in the second, converting a gorgeous no-look pass from Tomas Kopecky for a 2-0 lead.
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Evaluating the Florida Panthers’ Trade Assets

With a 7-16-6  record and 11 points out of a playoff spot, it’s safe to assume that the Florida Panthers may be leaning toward being sellers as the April 3rd deadline approaches. Sadly, a plethora of injuries have robbed the Panthers’ of their three best trade assets – Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg and Jose Theodore.

However, even with their best pieces no longer a part of the equation, don’t expect the Panthers to be quiet on the trade market. The Panthers still have several serviceable players that any playoff bound team would love to add to their roster in hopes of tipping the scales come May.

Listed below are several Panthers’ forwards and why they may or may not be moved before the deadline.

Jack Skille

Heading into restricted free agency next season, forward Jack Skille could add some energy and talent to any team looking to strengthen their 3rd line heading into the playoffs. In recent games and throughout most of the season, Skille has been a force to be reckoned, both at even strength and on the penalty kill.

In 27 games this season, Skille has compiled 10 points (3G 7A) - including 5 points in his last 6 games alone. Clearly a player like Skille could be an important part of the Panthers’ future as a solid 3rd line skater, but the team could be persuaded to move him if the right offer is presented.

Although Skille has been a project for General Manager Dale Tallon since he originally drafted the young skater back in 2005, the time may have finally come for Tallon and Skille to part ways.

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