Overtime/shootout drama becoming the norm in Florida


The Panthers’ lackluster attendance figures have been an ongoing story this season, which is a shame because those that have paid to watch Florida this season have largely gotten their money’s worth.

Even when the Panthers don’t win, they typically at least find a way to keep it close and that’s led to a lot of their contests being unsettled through 60 minutes. With 32 games in the books, Florida leads the league in overtime games (14) and shootouts (nine).

“I haven’t seen anything like this. It’s like a little miracle down here,” Panthers forward Scottie Upshall said, per the News & Observer.

“This is really something to build off of and we’ve got some good vibes going. But it is a little exhausting doing this every night.”

The Panthers’ last four wins have come in shootouts, including their record-breaking 20-rounder against the Washington Capitals on Dec. 16.

With all those minutes Florida has been logging, the holiday break should be more than welcome.

Florida has a 15-9-8 record to put the squad just two points shy of the Capitals, which hold the second Wild Card spot. Given that the Panthers have played in two less games than Washington, that’s not a bad spot to be in.

With Luongo hurt, Panthers recall Ellis

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The injury that forced Roberto Luongo from last night’s 1-0 win over Carolina doesn’t sound serious, but it is significant enough that Florida recalled Dan Ellis from AHL San Antonio on Thursday.

Luongo exited Wednesday’s contest 10:22 into the second period after stopping all 11 of the shots he faced. It didn’t look as though he injured himself on a specific play and, today, details were few about what the ailment might be. (Earlier speculation suggested a shoulder injury; club is saying upper-body.)

Al Montoya came in to relieve Luongo against the ‘Canes and was stellar, stopping all 22 shots.

As for Ellis, the 34-year-old veteran will head back to the bigs after a fairly solid stint with the Rampage. He’s 8-4-0 on the year with a .918 save percentage and 2.13 GAA, but has yet to play in the NHL this season after losing the backup gig to Montoya during training camp. Ellis will back up Montoya for Friday’s game against Ottawa, head coach Gerard Gallant confirmed.

Luongo has been one of the NHL’s busiest workhorses this year, having played in 17 of Florida’s 20 games. To make room for Ellis on the active roster, Florida put Scottie Upshall (ankle) on IR.

Panthers chase Flames’ Ramo in second period

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The Calgary Flames enjoyed strong goaltending from both Karri Ramo and Jonas Hiller to start the season, but it’s that much clearer every day that Hiller’s the top guy. In fact, his hold on the job seems to strengthen even when isn’t starting.

Ramo got the nod for the first time since Oct. 25 on Saturday, but things didn’t go too well, as he was pulled in the second period.

At first it seemed like Scottie Upshall notched the second hat trick of his career, yet that third tally might go to Jimmy Hayes instead. There were six goals (three for each team) in the middle frame, as weird goals seemed to dominate Ramo’s day in particular:

That goal more or less tells the story of Ramo’s day: some combination of bad luck and poor play. He allowed four goals on 22 shots before getting the hook.

No hearing scheduled for Kreider after Brodin hit


Rangers forward Chris Kreider doesn’t have any disciplinary hearing scheduled for his hit on Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin on Monday night, a NHL spokesman has confirmed.

Kreider was given a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct for this infraction, which occurred late in the first period:

Brodin left the game momentarily, but returned around the midway mark of the second period and went on to log 22:21 time on ice for the game, including 8:32 in the final frame.

Kreider doesn’t have a history of supplemental discipline, though has been called into question on a couple of occasion, includin one for cross-checking Florida’s Scottie Upshall last season.

Kreider also infamously collided with Montreal goalie Carey Price during last year’s playoffs, knocking the Habs netminder out of the Eastern Conference Final.

Note: The Rangers don’t play again until Saturday, so it is possible the NHL could change its mind and schedule a hearing later in the week.

No hearing scheduled for Gudas after Upshall hit


Tampa Bay defenseman Radko Gudas doesn’t have a disciplinary hearing scheduled for his high hit on Florida’s Scottie Upshall on Thursday night, a NHL spokesman has confirmed.

Here’s the incident in question:

Gudas wasn’t penalized on the play (“The ref obviously said he didn’t see it,” Upshall told the Florida Sun-Sentinel). Upshall was shaken up for a bit, but returned to finish the game and log over six minutes of ice time in the third period.

Per the Miami Herald, this isn’t the first time Gudas and Upshall have crossed paths:

More, regarding that same incident:

Tampa Bay’s Radko Gudas was kicked out of Sunday’s game after he hit the ice in front of the Florida bench and then smashed his stick up against the bench area nearly striking both Nick Bjugstad and Scottie Upshall.

Upshall was the obvious target.

Why was Gudas so mad?

Because Upshall squirted him with Gatorade — blue, Upshall confirmed — while Gudas was down on the ice.

“He overreacted a bit,” said Upshall, who was hit with a bench penalty for the dousing. “He’s a guy who plays a bit on the edge. He plays hard and he was fired up, took a run at our guy by the bench and fell. I think he was embarrassed he fell. You would think it was the end of the world. He was freaked out.”

Regarding suspension, it’s worth noting that the NHL still has time to schedule a hearing with Gudas. The Lightning don’t play again until Saturday, when they host the Senators.