1. What was your immediate reaction to signing Tim Thomas? Was there another goalie out there you would have preferred, or is this cool?
Personally, I was a little surprised that Thomas didn't stay retired, but after a pretty good showing in camp, I was very happy to see him start the season as Florida's number one goaltender. Of course, after a season opening victory over the Dallas Stars where he stopped 25-of-27, the bloom came off the rose. He allowed seven goals over his next 47 minutes of play, punctuated by a hamstring injury on what should have been an easy save. I'm hoping he shows a little of that magic from two years ago when he returns. As far as someone else - I wasn't expecting anyone to sign, so I was very happy to see the Cats sign Thomas.
2. Which line should the Bruins be most wary of?
The top line of Tomas Fleischmann, rookie Aleksander Barkov, and Brad Boyes has combined for 15 of the forward corps 33 points thus far, so present the most obvious threat. The line that's really been grinding it out, however, is the fourth line, currently comprised of Jesse Winchester, Marcel Goc, and Shawn Matthias. For the most part, their success has not showed up in the box score, but they're always plugging away, Winchester in the corners, Goc in front of the net, and Matthias, seemingly everywhere at times. Special mention to Scott Gomez, who really seems to make those around him better.
3. How much do you guys love Jonathan Huberdeau?
As you possibly already know, Panthers fans haven't had much to cheer for, yet. What Huberdeau brings is another level of skill. He's always a threat to score on a breakaway, and probably has the softest hands on the roster. We do love him, very much.
4. Jacob Markstrom is supposed to be the goalie of the future for you guys; what can you say about his development so far? Is he ready to be the #1?
Markstrom looks pretty good for large portions of every game, but seemingly lets in one softie per contest. He tends to use his gigantic (6'6") frame more than his positioning in the crease. He plays too deep, and is not quite aggressive enough. He has all the tools he needs to succeed at the highest level of play, he just needs to fit all the pieces together. That and the Panthers defensemen leave him hung out to dry.
5. Thanks for giving Pride Of Boston University Ryan Whitney a job. This isn't actually a question, sorry.
6. What have been the main reasons for Florida's struggle so far this year?
The team struggles in all aspects of their game, excepting the penalty kill, which is inexplicably excellent. Backchecking is virtually nonexistent, and you can count on the team to forecheck for a period each night, two at most. Several players (Brian Campbell, Erik Gudbranson, Kris Versteeg) are guilty at times of being careless with the puck, mostly in the defensive zone. The factor common to all these problems: coaching. If the current coaching staff can't figure out a way to get more out of the Panthers, then the front office should think about rotating some personnel. Either that, or we Panther fans are in for another long season.