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Southeast: Booth, Panthers moving on after hit

by Mike G. Morreale
While Florida Panthers General Manager Randy Sexton may not be pleased with the League's decision not to suspend Philadelphia Flyers forward Mike Richards for his hit on forward David Booth, he knows it's time to move on.

Booth, 24, spent last Saturday night at Pennsylvania Hospital after suffering the first concussion of his career. Sexton said Booth had no neck damage, but suffered a cut above his eye that needed stitches.

"He's never had a concussion before, and it's a unique injury," Sexton said. "There is a protocol you have to follow, and David will do that. We don't want the David Booth (type of) commitment to this in coming back. This is a process. If he's not feeling OK, 100 push-ups will not fix it. He has to follow the guidelines of our medical staff, and I believe he will."

Booth agreed that recovery from a concussion is a process.

"I do nothing. I'm either lying in bed or sitting on the couch. I'll go on the computer for five minutes or I'll read for five minutes," Booth told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "Everything is in five-minute spurts and then I have to take a break for 55 minutes. It's just different. It's weird. I don't like it."

Booth was also asked if he thought Richards should have been suspended for the hit.

"I don't determine those things, so I don't really care," he said. "It's just unfortunate. You always think about what you could do different, maybe not cutting to the middle, or looking at a pass, or just having your head on a swivel. It's all hindsight, though. It could have been a lot worse. I'm just thankful I'll be all right."

In addition to losing Booth, the Panthers also lost veteran forward Radek Dvorak to a left knee injury against the Flyers.

"There's no timetable on either of them," Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. "It'll be in the weeks, not days. They're going to be missed. They drive a lot of our offense and forecheck. It's not something you replace easily, but we don't have a lot of choice. The League doesn't stand still and feel sorry for you."

No excuses -- While the injury to Ilya Kovalchuk certainly puts a crimp in the offensive plans of the Atlanta Thrashers the next four weeks, head coach John Anderson refuses to use the setback as an excuse.

Kovalchuk, who was injured four minutes into last Saturday's game against San Jose after taking a shot off his right foot, was placed on injured reserve earlier in the week. Anderson, meanwhile, would like to see his team rise to the occasion in their captain's absence.

"That's why they call it a team," Anderson said. "We're not based just on one player. As much as Kovy is a great player and we need him, other guys have to play well too. Even if Kovy scores five goals one game, if the other team scores six, it doesn't matter. We need to play like a team."

There's no question the Thrashers need their secondary scoring to shine through now more than ever -- after Kovalchuk and Rich Peverley (5 goals, 11 points), the next highest goal scorer is rookie Evander Kane (3 goals). Nik Antropov, Slava Kozlov and Bryan Little, who totaled 85 goals in 2008-09, had combined for none heading into Saturday's game against San Jose.

Anderson told Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that no team in the League will be feeling sorry for the Thrashers now that they've lost one of the League's premier point-producers.

"I read (Miami Heat President) Pat Riley's book," Anderson told Vivlamore. "And he talks about thunderbolts, things you don't expect to happen. He said the worst thing about it is accepting sympathy. As soon as you think it's OK to lose, then you've lost that game. We can't feel sorry for ourselves. We have to pick ourselves up and say, 'You know what, we are going to be better.' And that's what I expect of our team. Not just say, 'OK, now we have an excuse,' because that is BS. I won't accept that and I hope the players won't accept that.

"It's not OK to say, 'Poor us.' It's not about that. Because you know what, all those other teams don't give a rat's (behind) about us," Anderson continued. "They are happy this happened. Only us, we are the only ones who care. If we don't care and we say it's OK, then we've lost every game until he comes back."

Fun in the sun -- It's become pretty apparent that Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund didn't need much of an adjustment period to the warmer weather this season.

Driving to the practice rink in shorts and a T-shirt will do that for you. It's certainly not a practice he was able to do frequently in Vancouver -- the team he spent 11 seasons with from 1997-98 through 2008-09 before signing a seven-year contract with the Lightning July 1, 2009.

"It's been very good," Ohlund told the Vancouver Sun. "Obviously we loved Vancouver, but it's been a nice change both on and off the ice. We are really enjoying all the new experiences. But even though you go to the rink in shorts and a T-shirt, once you get inside, you have no idea what it's like outside. It feels like you could be anywhere."

The move to bring Ohlund to Tampa has not only helped the defense as a whole, but rookie Victor Hedman. Ohlund has chipped in 4 assists in nine games this season for the Lightning, who stand second in the Southeast Division with 11 points. Hedman also has 4 assists working alongside his Swedish teammate.

"Victor is a very, very talented guy," Ohlund said. "He still has a lot to learn but, for being 18, he's very mature and obviously he has a ton of skill. So it's been fun playing with him."

Ohlund will have an opportunity to renew acquaintances with his Vancouver teammates on Feb. 9 when the Canucks pay a visit to St. Pete Times Forum.

Good to be Green -- Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green appears to be picking up where he left off last season when he finished runner-up to Boston's Zdeno Chara in the voting for the Norris Trophy.

Green, who has perhaps one of the sneakiest snap shots from the top of the circle of any player in the League, has points in seven straight games (2 goals, 8 points). It's the longest point streak by a Capital this season and, heading into the team's contest against the New York Islanders Friday, was the longest by a defenseman in the NHL this year

Green, who posted just two points over Washington's first five games, now ranks tied for fifth in scoring among defensemen in the League with 10 points in 12 games.

Green also has taken on the role of irritant recently, in particular against Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Hartnell last Tuesday. Green was also a plus-3 with five blocked shots to help rally the Caps to a 4-2 victory over the Flyers in a game it trailed, 2-0, with five minutes left in the second period.

Back to the basics -- At what point do the Carolina Hurricanes say, "Enough is enough."

"The nice part is that when you wake up in the morning, you know what the problems are."
-- Carolina coach Paul Maurice's take on the Hurricanes rough start

One season removed from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals, the Hurricanes show no semblance of the club that finished 2008-09 on such a promising note. Instead, the Hurricanes are currently 13th in the conference with two victories and seven points in 11 games. It marks the worst start to a season since 1997-98 when the club had six points in its first season in Greensboro.

"The nice part is that when you wake up in the morning, you know what the problems are," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "The hard part is you don't know where to even start. We haven't respected the defensive part of the game; we flip flop back and forth. One night we say we'll be good defensively and not work offensively and then another night we're going to score, so we'll leave the defense out to dry. We've got to get all five skaters on the ice going both ways."

In a 5-2 home loss to the St. Louis Blues Wednesday, the Hurricanes allowed two goals in less than a minute for the fifth time this season. The 'Canes are 0-4-3 in their last seven matches. While players feel the club's confidence might be a tad fragile at this stage, Maurice doesn't believe it.

"You get a lot more confident when you work hard," Maurice said. "It's funny how your confidence goes when your feet don't move and you're not hitting anybody. The simple grinding things we're just not willing to do, and it starts with our best guys -- backchecking, hitting and not getting beat off walls. Doing it once doesn't make you a good guy, it's got to be every shift and we're just not getting it. We could outshoot them 72-36 and we're going to lose 10-4."

The 'Canes are the most penalized team in the League (21.5 penalty minutes per game) after finishing the least penalized club last season. And despite the fact they have one of the finest goaltenders at their disposal in Cam Ward, the team ranks 25th in the League with a 3.36 goals-against average -- a tell-tale sign the club is collectively not on the same page.

The club came out strong in the opening period against the Blues Wednesday, registering nine shots in the first six minutes, but still fell behind, 3-1.

"We all have mistakes out there, but we've got to minimize them and be comfortable in playing a 0-0 game or being down 1-0 or 2-0 when there is a lot of hockey left to play," Carolina defenseman Niclas Wallin told the Hurricane's web site. "We know we're a team that can come back. It's hurting us, but we're a team and we win together and lose together here."

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