Florida Panthers: Grading the Cats in Their Takedown of the Habs

Kevin KraczkowskiCorrespondent IIIOctober 25, 2011

Florida Panthers: Grading the Cats in Their Takedown of the Habs

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    Florida (4-3-0) came into town high off their win at home against the Islanders on Saturday night.

    The Habs (1-4-2), coached by former Panthers bench boss, Jacques Martin, came into the game on a six-game losing streak. 

    The Habs came on strong, scoring on their first power-play opportunity of the night.  Tomas Fleischmann returned the favor with four minutes left in the first on a power-play goal of his own.

    The teams skated to a scoreless second, with both goalies putting on a clinic.

    Scottie Upshall netted the game-winner halfway through the third, with Jacob Markstrom withstanding a six-on-four onslaught to close out the night.

    The Panthers looked sharp, fast and aggressive tonight.  They won because their team is clearly better than the Canadians.  How did everybody fare?  Let's run down tonight's lineup one player at a time.

Tomas Fleischmann

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    First Line: Left Wing

    In 17 minutes on ice, Fleischmann scored one goal on his only shot of the night.  He also had one hit in the second and almost scored a second goal with a one-timer in the third.  He won his only faceoff of the night.

    Fleischmann looked strong and was in the thick of the action all game long, stealing passes and making several good passes as well.

    Grade: B+

Stephen Weiss

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    First Line: Center

    In 21 minutes of ice time, Weiss had two shots on goal and blocked an opposition shot.  He won nine of his 16 faceoffs. 

    Weiss was instrumental in clearing the puck out of the zone in the first, interrupting an extended onslaught on Markstrom during the Habs power play.  He barely missed on a breakaway in the second and made a very crisp pass to Flash late in the third, almost resulting in another goal.

    Grade: B

Kris Versteeg

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    First Line: Right Wing

    In 17 minutes on ice, Versteeg had one assist and one shot on goal, one hit and lost his only faceoff.

    Versteeg absolutely crushed a guy soon after the puck dropped in the first and later assisted Fleischmann with a nifty pass for the goal.  He was crafty with the puck and stole a few, disrupting the Habs rhythm. 

    Grade: A-

Tomas Kopecky

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    Second Line: Left Wing

    Kopecky was on ice for 15 minutes and collected one assist—a tripping penalty (two-minute minor), two shots on goal and won his only faceoff, finishing the night with a plus-one.

    Kopecky showed a lot of really good puck handling and was just everywhere on the ice during the first period.  He assisted on Upshall's game-winner in the third.

    Grade: A

Marcel Goc

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    Second Line: Center

    Goc turned in another solid effort for the Panthers, winning 12 of his 16 faceoffs on the night.  He had two shots on goal and finished with a plus-one.

    Goc was on the ice for the game-ending six-on-four against the Cats and did very well for the team.  He also had two good steals in the first. 

    Grade: B+

Scottie Upshall

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    Second Line: Right Wing

    Upshall was on ice for 13 minutes and played with complete disregard for his own safety, collecting three hits on the nightHe was guilty of an interference penalty in the first and scored one goal in three shots, finishing the night with a plus-one.

    Upshall ripped one wide in the first, narrowly missing scoring his first goal as a Panther.  He would rectify this with a nice goal in the third on a redirect from Dmitry Kulikov.  He also made a nice between-the-legs pass late in the second period.

    This is the Scottie Upshall we need to see every night.

    Grade: A

Shawn Matthias

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    Third Line: Left Wing

    Matthias, as always, looked fast and fresh all night.  In 14 minutes, he blocked one shot and won two of his five faceoffs. 

    He almost duplicated his feat from the Islanders game on Saturday, feeding Kennedy from behind the net for what would have been a beautiful goal if not for Peter Budaj also having a pretty good night.

    Grade: B

Tim Kennedy

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    Third Line: Center

    Kennedy had one shot on goal in 15 minutes of ice time for the Panthers.  He won five of his nine faceoffs.

    Kennedy lost the puck on two occasions and was generally unimpressive on the night. He may be the odd man out when Mikael Samuelsson joins the team later this week.

    Grade: C-

Matt Bradley

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    Third Line: Right Wing

    In 14 minutes on ice, Bradley had two shots on goal and two hits.

    In the third period, Bradley plowed a Hab and stole the puck, feeding Fleischmann with a perfect cross-ice pass that Flash was unable to convert. He is consistently brutal on the opposition.

    Grade: B+

Marco Sturm

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    Fourth Line: Left Wing

    In Sturm's first on ice action with the Cats, he had two shots on goal and one hit, losing both of his faceoff opportunities in 11 minutes on ice.

    Sturm had his best chance in the first, putting a hard slap shot on goal, which was turned away by Budaj.

    Grade: B-

Mike Santorelli

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    Fourth Line: Center

    Santorelli's first game back was like he never left.  He looked quick and well rehabbed from his injury.

    In 11 minutes, he had two shots on goal and won two of his seven faceoffs. 

    Grade: B-

Jack Skille

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    Fourth Line: Right Wing

    Skille had 11 minutes of ice time and made one shot on goal, one hit and three blocked shots to lead the Panthers. 

    Skille was very strong with the puck in the Canadians' zone in the second period, skating around Habs like they were standing still.  He was still unable to break into the scoring line, but it's just a matter of time.

    Grade: A-

Brian Campbell

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    First Line: Defenseman

    Campbell again led the Panthers in ice time, with 26 minutes against the Canadians.  He collected one shot on goal and one hit.

    Campbell continues to handle the puck like he is floating above the ice.  This talented defenseman is going to have a 65-point campaign for the Cats this season.

    Grade: B+

Jason Garrison

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    First Line: Defenseman

    Garrison again killed the Florida power play, failing to keep the puck in the offensive zone in the second.  He did finish second in ice time for the Cats, with 24 minutes. 

    He had three shots on goal, two hits and one blocked shot.  Late in the third, he put the Panthers a man down, with 50 seconds to go, with a hooking penalty on David Desharnais. 

    Grade: C-

Ed Jovanovski

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    Second Line: Defenseman

    In 18 minutes on ice, Jovanovski had one shot on goal.

    Jovanovski is playing good defense, just not much else going on here.

    Grade: C+

Erik Gudbranson

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    Second Line: Defenseman

    Gudbranson was aggressive on the open ice, challenging the opposing forwards and poke checking the puck, blocking passes and clearing the zone.

    In 11 minutes, he had one shot on goal.  In the third period, he showed his strength, stealing the puck from two Habs in the defensive zone. 

    Grade: B+

Dmitry Kulikov

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    Third Line: Defenseman

    Kulikov had 20 minutes on ice, had one assist and four shots on goal, finishing with a plus-one on the evening.

    Kulikov again was everywhere.  He was fast and aggressive throughout the whole game.  In the second, he missed a wide-open net from 20 feet out, but otherwise, was Johnny on the spot for the Cats. 

    When the Habs had a breakaway late in the third, Kulikov poke-checked the puck at the last second.

    Grade: A

Mike Weaver

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    Third Line: Defenseman

    Weaver had 21 minutes on ice.  He finished with a plus-one on the night.

    Weaver had a great first period, when he had two shots on goal and two blocked shots.  He was the Panthers most responsible defenseman, making timely poke checks and puck steals, giving up his body when needed.

    Grade: A-

Jacob Markstrom

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    Goalie

    Markstrom gave up a power-play goal with three minutes gone in the first, then proceeded to shut down the Habs, stopping 40-of-41 shots for the Panthers. With Markstrom in net, the Panthers can beat anyone.

    Markstrom looked fantastic, standing on his head most of the night.  He stopped eight shots in one two-minute power play in the first period.  Later on, when faced with a minute long six-on-four, he shut down every chance the Habs may have had.

    There is no way the Panthers front office sends this guy back to the minors.  Expect a trade involving goaltender Scott Clemmensen in the near future.

    Grade: A+