Panthers, Predators split preseason day-night doubleheader

Image courtesy of @turbuL3NT2 / COTP Photography
Image courtesy of @turbuL3NT2 / COTP Photography

After a long, yet exciting offseason, the Panthers finally took to the ice for the 2016 preseason which began on Tuesday with a day-night doubleheader against the Nashville Predators.

Here’s a quick recap of the Panthers’ preseason games from today:

Game 1, 3:30pm

Score: Panthers 4, Predators 1

Forward Lines:

  • Marchessault-Malgin-Fontaine
  • Rau-McKegg-Harper
  • Hunt-Lammikko-Ang
  • Horvat-MacAulay-Greco

Defensive Pairings:

  • Stillman-Weegar
  • Downing-Regner
  • Schemitsch-Racine

Goaltenders:

  • James Reimer
  • Sam Brittain

(Each played a half of the game)

Goals:

  • Dryden Hunt (1), top shelf shot after pass from Racine & Ang
  • Greg McKegg (1), 1-on-1 wrist shot off opening faceoff
  • Jonathan Ang (1), point shot deflection
  • Jonathan Marchessault (1), backhander from left side of crease



Game 2, 7:00pm

Score: Panthers 1, Predators 2

Forward Lines:

  • McCann-Bjugstad-Sceviour
  • Brickley-MacKenzie-Shaw
  • Bukarts-Black-Thompson
  • Balisy-Lynch-Thornton

Defensive Pairings:

  • McCoshen-Pysyk
  • Hultstrom-Pardy
  • Kindl-Brown

Goaltenders:

  • Roberto Luongo
  • Mike McKenna

(Each played a half of the game)

Goals:

  • Paul Thompson (1), knocked a rebound out of the air as it fell behind the goaltender



Standouts:

MacKenzie Weegar: He’s really come far in the past several years and looked great tonight for the Panthers…led the team in ice-time with over 22 minutes, moved the puck well, and was reliable in his own end.

Jonathan Ang: The young forward continues to impress in camp with his skating, overall speed, and two-way play…made some nice plays tonight – including 1 to set up a goal – went to the front of the net to deflect a Michael Downing point shot, and backtracked well on pucks. As a junior player, however, he’s expected to be heading back to his junior team, the Peterborough Petes of the OHL, soon.

Dryden Hunt: Showed tonight that he can still be effective despite not being the best skater. Like Ang, he played well on the defensive side of the puck while also making plays offensively…drove to the net for his goal and didn’t hesitate in putting the puck on the net.

Shane Harper: A great game tonight makes him an under-the-radar possibility for the Panthers’ bottom-6 to start the season. His smart, offensive game was on display tonight as he wound up for a slapshot on a loose puck in the slot which was stopped and made a sweet pass from behind the net to Greg McKegg who crept towards the crease. Skated well as usual and saw the 4th-most ice-time among Florida forwards.

Rihards Bukarts: One of the most competitive players on the ice every shift…looking to lock down a middle-6 spot in the AHL with the Thunderbirds. Put in a lot of effort defensively and fought for pucks along the boards all night long. Got some good shots off and was effective offensively.

Paul Thompson: Had the puck on his stick a lot in game 2 of the doubleheader and was always looking to put it on net, something he said during post-game that he likes to do. Battled in front of the net for his goal in the 2nd period…has the tools to be an effective offensive performer in the AHL this season.

Sam Brittain: Looked very sharp in net today, especially after entering the game in a tough spot on the penalty kill and facing a ton of shots right away. Tracked the puck well and controlled the play often with his glove which was on point. Will definitely fight for the backup job in the AHL this season, without a doubt…and he says he has a new mask being painted in the shop right now…stopped 24 of 25 shots.

Greg McKegg: Played solid in a top-line role where he’ll likely start the season in the AHL. Always had the puck on his stick, went hard after every puck, and was physical in all 3 zones. Was sound defensively and didn’t hesitate to shoot the puck, which led to his goal in the 3rd period when he smartly used the defender as a screen.

The new jerseys: These things looked great in action and don’t take too long to get used to. They have so much more meaning behind them and had way more thought put into them than the old jerseys…they really gave both games a different feel than we’re all used to…very fresh and modern.




Other Stuff:

  • Roberto Luongo was in net tonight for his first game action since undergoing hip surgery in May. Considering the defense in front of him in game 2 wasn’t the greatest, his movements looked good and he made some solid saves.

“I felt pretty good,” said Luongo. “Timing wise and read wise not exactly where I want to be, but that wasn’t the purpose of tonight. It was just a matter of getting back into some game action and making sure that everything is working properly still. As far as that’s concerned, it was a good night.”

  • Nick Bjugstad missed the 2nd and 3rd periods in their entireties after taking a stick up high and slowly getting off the ice late in the 1st period. He finished the frame, but didn’t return for the remainder of the game, although he is said to be fine.
  • Aaron Ekblad is apparently close to being medically cleared to participate fully in training camp, and it could happen as soon as later this week.
  • Head coach Gerard Gallant says a few roster cuts could happen shortly (i.e. junior players), but no major cuts will occur until Thursday or Friday after the Panthers play the Lightning in their 3rd preseason game.
  • The Panthers honored Jose Fernandez and Arnold Palmer with a moment of silence prior to both games of the doubleheader today. Fernandez, a 24-year old starting pitcher for the Miami Marlins, was tragically killed in a boating accident on Sunday, while Palmer, a golfing icon, passed away at the age of 87 later that day.
  • The Panthers remodeled their locker room and unveiled it today. The new team logos, colors, and font can be found throughout – including a giant version of the shield attached to the ceiling in the main team area – and words, quotes, and phrases of motivation are on walls and doors.
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