By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com
|Center Dominic Moore worked out with the team for the first time since signing a one-year contract on October 5th.
CORAL SPRINGS - Dominic Moore has arrived, Shawn Matthias
has left, and there’s nothing certain when it comes to how the Panthers forward lines may look come Friday evening at BankAtlantic Center when they play host to the Flyers.
After an hour practice Wednesday here at incredible
ICE in which the Panthers worked on getting to the net, coach Peter DeBoer seemed to indicate he’ll make some changes to the forward lines with the addition of Moore and the fact the Panthers have scored only nine goals in regulation in their first five games.
“We’ve got Domimic Moore here, he has to play somewhere, so we’re going to have to mix things up,” DeBoer said. “It gives us some flexibility to move some guys around, and if you’re not producing you’re not going to continue to get the time or minutes that maybe you got the first five games, and that’s where we need to be.”
When asked if Moore, who had 13 goals last year in 81 games in Toronto and Buffalo, could be inserted on the second or third lines, DeBoer said, “For sure.”
“For me there’s open competition now for those jobs and those minutes,” he said. “After Stephen Weiss
, from there and after our top three forwards (Weiss, Nathan Horton and David Booth), we want a situation where there’s open competition and there’s enough depth there to move guys in and out depending on whether they’re getting the job done. I think we’re getting close to that now with Dominic Moore here.”
DeBoer is hoping Moore helps bring speed and offense up front and he can be a difference-maker on faceoffs. The 29-year-old Harvard graduate had a career-high 45 points last season and finished tied for 12th in faceoff percentage (54.1) last season (more than 1000 draws).
“When I made the decision to join the team it was in light that I thought it was a good fit for myself and my game; the kind of game I take a lot of pride in is what the team is trying to build an identity around,” Moore said.
“He brings some energy, he brings some speed, he brings faceoffs,” DeBoer said. “I think in Tampa our faceoff percentage was (34) percent (18 of 53). He brings something to the table we sorely need. He lets us put a guy like Shawn Matthias
where he belongs, which is Rochester and playing and earning his ice time and scoring goals and being offensive.”
With Moore finally able to get through immigration, the Panthers sent Shawn Matthias
back to their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate in Rochester, N.Y. After averaging between 7-8 minutes the first four games of the season, Matthias played just 2:28 Monday in Tampa on only five shifts.
“This is a kid who had a good training camp,” said DeBoer of Matthias. “But, really, he hasn’t had a good year in the American League yet. That’s what he needs to do and it kinds of put everyone in the organization where they belong on the depth chart.”
DeBoer said Matthias suffered like many young players do come the start of the season.
“Like a lot of guys, when the level of the league ramps up at the start of the regular season from training camp, when its not American League anymore, some of those young guys fall off a little bit,” he said. “Like I said, it’s where he belongs. He needs to have a good year in the American League. The young guys in this league who do well, traditionally, have strong years in the American League. I look at the Rangers, who have (Artem) Anisimov, he had (37) goals in the American League last year. That’s the kind of year Shawn needs to have in order to come in here and contribute full time.”
As for the Panthers moving forward to Friday’s game against Philadelphia? “Obviously, we need to produce,” said Cory Stillman. “We need to get the puck, and when we get the puck we need to make passes. When we get the puck we need to score.”
Despite the 1-4 start, GM Randy Sexton is optimistic the team will change its fortunes.
“I believe in this group; in the character in the room,” Sexton said. “The start hasn’t gone as we expected, but, quite frankly, there was the great unknown of how we would respond to the European trip. I’d say it’s pretty much been par for the course. I talked to (GM) Larry Pleau in St. Louis. Look at Detroit. They got bombed (by Buffalo Tuesday) night. Look at Pittsburgh, New York, Los Angeles and Anaheim in years past. Everybody that’s been (to Europe), there’s been an adjustment period when they get back. Unfortunately, we’ve seen the same thing.
“There are still no excuses. But I think in Tampa we had our energy back. I think we skated better. We had our energy back. We skated better and I think we did a lot of things better. We didn’t come out on top but you have to take one step forward to get out of the hole.” NOTES
Nathan Horton and Steve Reinprecht sat out Wednesday’s practice with nagging injuries, but “nothing that will keep them out of Friday’s game,” DeBoer said. Radek Dvorak also sat out practice with the flu…Goalie Scott Clemmensen
went through his first practice since having to leave the team last week due to family matters…The Flyers have been ‘team bonding’ in South Florida the past few days. On Tuesday, they held a boat race in Biscayne Bay, boarding five 45-foot sailboats. The winning team? Coach John Stevens and his staff…They practiced Wednesday at BankAtlantic Center…Former Flyers legend Dave ‘The Hammer’ Schultz, who helped the Flyers with his fists to Stanley Cups in 1974 and ’75, will be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame during a Nov. 16 ceremony. Schultz played 115 games with the Flyers, scoring 51 goals and amassing 1,386 penalty minutes. Schultz helped define the ‘Broad Street Bullies.’