Find yourself questioning Michael Frolik's commitment/effort/dedication to the Panthers earlier in the season? Time to give up the fight; the (other) Kid from Kladno has eight points - four goals - in his past five contests since the admittedly necessary benching delivered by coach Peter DeBoer, remarkably, um, five games ago. Dude was positively drowning. Now? Not so much; witness his shots-on-goal totals before and after:
- Seven games previous: 13 (0g-2a, -2...on the first line)
- Five games since: 25 (4g-4a, +8)
Love him or not, coach Peter DeBoer deserves major accolades for dragging this talented guy out of a particularly brutal oh-fer slump.
As for the game, netminder Tomas Vokoun (32 saves) stopped all but one blink-and-you-missed-it third period blast from the left circle launched off the stick of Mikhail Grabovski (and a well deserved assist to Clarke MacArthur). Otherwise, Tvo was on time, with a premium of help from Gord Murphy's "regulators", especially on the PK (a strong 5-0). Jonas Gustavsson stopped 24 shots for the visitors. Colton Orr (6:34 TOI) found no dance partners, even with involuntary spare part Darcy Hordichuk gaining - an absolute minimum - of ice time.
Bryan Allen continued his Norris Trophy assault (five points - 2 goals over the last four matches) with a gorgeous slapper to open the scoring, followed by Steven Reinprecht's third, Shawn Matthias' wicked one-on-none black-magic performance, and Frolik's maniacal wrister to close out the home club's scoring.
Bottom line? Cats looked very solid defensively while taking advantage of a few opportunities up front. Battles along the boards were fairly even. Spent a lot of time killing - several questionable - penalties, but the PK is instilling confidence across the roster. Hard to decipher whether this was a decisive Florida "win" or Toronto "loss"; the Leafs were playing behind the eight ball all evening, with the fear of a seventh straight non-victory looming overhead.
The Big Question: Jason Garrison (likely to return Friday) or Keaton Ellerby?
Assists: Dennis Wideman, Frolik (2), Dmitry Kulikov, Matthias, and Mike Weaver.
Notes: Three Stars (via NHL.com)...Matthias, Frolik, Allen. TOI leader: Bryan McCabe (23:26). SOG: David Booth (7, 0 points). Attendance: 15,243 - this includes a wild overcount of facepainters. More from Pension Plan Puppets here.
Next up: Friday vs Minnesota; Live Game Chat at 6:30.