Games Played: 80
Powerplay Goals: 5
After winning the Southeast Division, Stephen Weiss said “No one believed in us, but we did it.” It’s been the case for the Panthers all year but I think it’s safe to say Weiss is happy he stuck it out with this team this year. One word comes to mind when thinking of Stephen Weiss: loyalty. Weiss was drafted #4 overall by the Panthers in 2001. During his 11 years with the Panthers, he had never experienced a NHL playoff game until this year. Weiss admitted that it had been hard not making it to the playoffs his whole career thus far. After hearing about all the new players Dale Tallon got this season, he wanted to stay knowing it would be a successful year and that it was. You don’t see a lot of players stick with one team for this long now in days and I think it is a testament to his character how he stuck it out with this team knowing we could make it far.
Weiss along with this line mates Tomas Fleischmann and Kris Versteeg proved to be a strong one in the beginning of the season, a line that received a tremendous amount of praise. The three clicked instantly and remained the first line for quite some time. Weiss was strong all year in winning faceoffs and setting up both Versteeg and Fleischmann for scoring. He is a guy who can make critical passes that lead to goals but can also occasionally throw a check to steal the puck. He ended the year at +5, the second highest on the team. Not a huge fan of the +/- stat as I don’t think it is a true testament of a player. Weiss could’ve easily had a higher + rating. He also averaged about 20 minutes on ice per game.
Unfortunately, a wave of injuries hit the Panther team where 7 forwards were out with injuries. Weiss missed 2 games in late December because of his upper body injury. The only real negative thing I can say about Weiss this year was in February with his 11 game drought where he scored no goals. However, he ended the drought well against Montreal Canadians scoring 2 goals and 1 assist leading the Panthers to a 4-2 victory. During this same game, he was honored for passing Radek Dvorak’s record of most games played in a Panther uniform.
Weiss may be a quiet, under the radar type player never drawing any attention to himself but proves his presence on the ice especially this year. He is a humble guy who didn’t want too much attention on him for passing Dvorak’s record, he wanted just one thing: Make the playoffs. Well, he accomplished that this year for the first time in his NHL career. Once the Panthers clinched the Southeast Division and made it into the playoffs, Weiss seemed eager and ready to hit the ice for his first ever playoff debut. In interviews he smiled, joked, laughed and showed just how proud and happy of this team he was.
During the first round of the playoffs against the New Jersey Devils, Weiss had 3 goals and 2 assists. All 3 goals were scored on the powerplay which proved to be very strong during the playoffs.
Final Grade: A- Weiss has always proven he is a talent on the ice and the 2 games he missed due to injury, his presence was missed on the ice. He is great during critical faceoffs, knows how to keep the puck in the zone and knows a good pass to an open man when he sees it.
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