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Second Heaven

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Craig Anderson, left, Stephen Weiss (9) and Karlis Skarstins, right, celebrate a 2-1 victory against the Sabres in Sunrise, Fla. Thursday, Dec. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
By Glenn Odebralski for

There’s several reasons for the Panthers recent success. There’s the play of Craig Anderson. There’s also the play of the Gregory Campbell, Ville Peltonen and Radek Dvorak line.

But another big reason for the Panthers success – they’re 4-0-2 in their last six games and have climbed out of the cellar and into ninth place in the conference – could very well be due to their play in the second period.

The Cats have dominated their opponent in the second period lately.

During this six game point streak, the squad has outscored their opposition 10-2. Those two goals that they did give up came in the game that started their streak, a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on November 24th. In the last three games – all victories – they have outscored the Rangers (3-0), Capitals (3-0) and Sabres (2-0) 8-0.

You look further at the season to date and you can find some very interesting stats. Looking at all of the Panthers victories this season, Florida owns an 18-7 advantage in the middle frame. They are tied for 10th in second period scoring overall, seven spots ahead of their scoring in the first period and 20 spots higher than their scoring in the third period.

After starting off first periods slowly, the Panthers have come out guns-a-blazing, blitzing their opponents with speed, grit, and oh yeah, scoring. Campbell leads the squad with three second period markers while Peltonen and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester have found the back of the net twice and Stephen Weiss, Bryan McCabe and Keith Ballard have also added tallies in the past six games. So what’s the reason for the success in the second?

“I don't know,” said head coach Peter DeBoer. “I think that we have a habit of coming in and feeling out the opponent and where the game is going to go and then picking our level up from there.

“It's not a good habit to have. As good as our second periods have been, we have to get better in the first period. I think we have to do a better job of dictating the game right from the outset instead of waiting to see where it’s going to go and then playing.”

Luckily, for them, they can make adjustments after the first intermission and get to playing their game.

“Sure that’s one thing,” said Peltonen about the adjustments they make being the reason for their success. “It’s mostly that we really get going more and start to create a little more offense by keeping the puck in their zone and usually that’s how it’s happening.”

Must be those intermission pep talks from the coaches that get the guys “going” then.

“I don’t know (about that),” said DeBoer laughing. “You’ll have to ask the guys. I know that that we've had a few over the last month to rally the troops.”

Whatever is being said in-between the periods, its working.

New Goaltender

There was a new guy in-between the pipes Friday morning as the Panthers prepared for their upcoming game against the Bruins Saturday night.

Standing at the opposite end of the rink from veteran Tomas Vokoun was goalie coach Pierre Groulx, who suited up for the day’s skate as Anderson was attending a relative’s funeral.

Groulx’s day was a roller coaster filled with some nice saves while also getting scored on. He stopped Bryan McCabe on a breakaway in a 3-on-3 competition as the defenseman tried to go five-hole, but was faked out by a Shawn Matthias deke on another breakaway attempt.

In his defense, it had been at least seven months since last suiting up.

As far as him getting some playing time on Saturday?

“Let’s hope not,” laughed DeBoer.

Missing Practice

Forward Rostislav Olesz also missed practice. The forward injured his groin during last night’s 2-1 victory over the Sabres at the BankAtlantic Center.

“We’ll see,” said DeBoer about Olesz playing against the Bruins. “He’s got a little bit of a groin so (it was) precautionary today and we’ll see how it is tomorrow morning.
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