Ahhh Panthers game day. Nothing like waking up early in the morning on a Saturday when you have a hockey game to watch later on in the evening. Unfortunately, I won’t be attending this game. It will be the first home game I’ve missed in three months. Had a new addition to the family last night, so I will be spending time with family. But I will be watching.
I am going to try to introduce a new feature here today. I can’t promise it will happen every game, as I work on many nights, but I am going to do my best here. It is going to be called “My Panthers Pick”. Each game I will select a player that I believe will produce heavily. This doesn’t mean he will score a hat trick, but he will do the little things like play hard on the boards, make smart passes, and clear the traffic in front of the net. So my first “Panthers Pick” is:
I make this pick for several reasons. Him being young is not one of them; our entire team is young.. but last game against the Flyers he scored his first career NHL goal and added an assist while playing the best game of his young career. He’s gotten a taste of what it’s like to succeed and he is going to want more. With the trades of Jordan Leopold and Dennis Seidenberg, he is getting his NHL audition. And he simply most score 100. He logged over 19 minutes of ice time and was given significant time on the powerplay. Tonight against the Canes he’ll face a significant test. Make no mistake about it, the Canes may appear to be down and out, but they are not. Any offense with Eric Staal on it is a dangerous offense. Head coach Peter Deboer should give him significant minutes against the high powered offensive forward. Garrisons size (6’2, 220 lbs) makes him dangerous. He is very quick on the skates, and will provide a road block that Staal must try to get around. Predictions for him tonight: 1 assist. Playing with Bryan McCabe will help any young defenceman develop. As he logs game time, and practice time with McCabe, expect him to turn into an elite talent.
So why not pick Dmitry Kulikov? Well while I do believe he is going to become an AMAZING, and I do mean AMAZING, talent.. I think coming back from an injury before the Olympic break, then having been thrown on the top defensive pair and being expected to produce immediately, is going to stunt the growth of this future star. This gives Garrison the advantage of being able to slide in and surprise everyone. So will I be right? Will Jason Garrison have another great game tonight? We find out in less than four hours…
I’d also like to take this time to state my opinion about the outbreak of illegal and dangerous hitting going on in the NHL right now. Being a Panthers fan I got to see this type of hit back in October when Mike Richards railed David Booth in open ice. You can argue Booth was “admiring” his pass, or that he had his head down; but nothing good will ever come when you hit someone in open ice. Hockey players are taught to “hug” the boards when expecting a hit or when battling along the boards. Being so close to the boards allows them to absorb the hit. In open ice… there’s no safety. The other night, Max Lapierre hit Sharks’ forward Scott Nichol from behind after he scored a goal. Nichol slid face first into the boards and was frantically moving on the ice in pain. If you haven’t seen the hit, it is here:
Not cool. Not cool at all. I’d like to see teams take action against players for this type of action, not just the league. Because one day, a player won’t get up after being hit like this.
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Written by Robert Uzzo