Welcome to Florida Panthers: State of the Union, where we talk all things Panthers hockey as well as what is going on in the NHL.
Mike Lewis is the voice behind the State of the Union and each week will look to bring in some insight from analysts and Panthers media personalities.
This week’s guest, Florida Panthers television color analyst and hockey hall of famer, Denis Potvin.
ML: Drafted first overall in 1973 by the New York Islanders and entering the NHL as a young man yourself, you look at Aaron Ekblad and see this poise in his game so early into his career, obviously when you came into the league there were high expectations, now those types of expectations follow Ekblad as he embarks on his career. How impressed have you been with him so far?
DP: I must say, even back when I was drafted, we were drafted as 20 year olds. I think most everybody can appreciate there’s a wide gap of difference in maturity, both physically and emotionally in those couple of years between 18 and 20. That’s what makes what Aaron Ekblad is doing all the more remarkable because he’s playing with the poise of a 25 or 26 year old veteran defenseman in the NHL. So far it’s been terrific for him and I think he’s taking it all in and not getting ahead of himself. I’ve noticed that his preparation for the game is one game at a time, one shift at a time, kind of the old adage of a professional athlete. So far he’s been very impressive.
ML: Goaltending is a big part of a team’s success, Roberto Luongo has been making a bit of history lately passing John Vanbiesbrouck in career wins and Patrick Roy in career shutouts and Al Montoya has been solid as well when called upon. Talk a bit about the goaltending for Florida and what you’ve seen from the tandem.
DP: The expectations for Roberto Luongo are there and he has not disappointed. The one game against the New Jersey Devils, I think everybody will agree that the first period was something you want to forget about, but not very many people might realize that three or four of the goals that were scored were deflections and often times the goaltender really will not have much of a chance when the puck is redirected in the net and that’s exactly what happened.
Al Montoya I thought did very, very well in the game against the Washington Capitals and even in the relief effort against New Jersey playing 37 minutes, handling ten shots and not allowing any goals I thought was really impressive. Getting a chance to know him a little bit, he’s a confident young man in his ability to backup Roberto Luongo, and I think in this day and age as we all know having two capable goaltenders is necessary for being able to get to the playoffs.
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