Panthers Celebrate Win Over Lightning. Source: Me

The Future Is Big And Bright!

Sunday evening the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning kicked off the preseason with a matchup of rookies at the Incredible Ice Arena Iceplex.  For me it was great to meet some of our readers and friends on Twitter, as well as seeing some members of the media.  Without a doubt all of us were very excited to be there.

As for the game itself, it couldn’t have been much better.  The Panthers pretty much manhandled Tampa, as the Cats used their size and speed to dominate the game.  Florida opened the scoring with Scott Timmins getting a birthday goal by stuffing a blast from defenceman Alexander Petrovic.  Other goals were scored by Jonathan Huberdeau, John McFarland on a pretty breakaway (short handed) and Corey Douroucher.  Jacob Markstrom played the entire game in goal making 17 saves, and looked very solid.

There were a number of impressive performances however I was looking at Erik Gudbranson, Jonathan Huberdeau as well as Justin Vaive who might have gone unnoticed if you weren’t paying attention to him, but I made sure I gave him some extra looks.  Huberdeau added some weight to his frame and came to camp looking ready.  He has a ton of talent for sure, however the Panthers don’t want to rush him, and want to make sure he’s ready physically.

Speaking of physical, Big G is a beast!  Erik showed off his size by playing with a physical edge keeping the crease clear of players, was quick to the puck and took exception to shove by Tampa’s Carter Ashton as the two went to to toe late in the third period with Erik ultimately wrestling Ashton to the ice.  If Erik can be consistent in his play, as well as toss his weight around, I don’t see any reason why he’ll be going back to juniors.  (another shameless plug).

Who’s Justin Vaive? Son of former Maple Leaf, Blackhawk and Buffalo Sabre, Rick Vaive that’s who.  Dad made his living scoring goals (more than 400) in a very solid NHL career.  Justin on the other hand is huge.  Listed as 6′ 6″ he definitely used his size to his advantage. While I don’t see him challenging for a roster spot this season, he’ll be someone to keep your eyes on, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a call up here and there for a little physical touch.

I’d like to thank @rinkside for providing some video from the game:

Erik Gudbranson on his first fight of the season.

Jonathan Huberdeau talks about the chemistry he had with his line mates.

San Antonio Rampage coach Chuck Weber was behind the bench for the Panthers last night and talked about what he saw.

Thanks as always for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

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Tags: Erik Gudbranson Florida Panthers Jonathan Huberdeau Justin Vaive Rick Vaive Tampa Bay Lightning

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