The Panther Report

The Florida Panthers (7-8-6-4)are off to a surprising start this year by staying around the .500 mark and near or in a spot for the playoffs for the first quater of the season. This is due to a number of reasons.
One of the reasons is the most obvious to the average fan; Olli Jokinen. Olli is a whole new player this year. His confidence has sky-rocketed. Keenan has spent the time to work with Olli this season to develop him into the player he and the scouts that believed he was 3rd overall in 97′ they know he can be. Olli is in the top 5 in scoring this season, with more time on the PP and PK. Watch for him to keep this kind of play up for the rest of the year.

The main reason the Panthers have more points this year is because over half their games this season have gone in OT. With the new rules, going into OT automatically gets you a point. As long as the Panthers can keep having close games and forcing their opponets into the extra frame they should keep up their pace.

As for their trading of defenseman Dimitri Yushcavich to the LA Kings for rookies Bednar and Lilija, it has looked good so far. Bednar is a forward who can play all positions and is great both ways. Lilija is still learning, but seems to be comfortable along side super smooth Jay Bowmeester, who looks matured beound his years. This was a good trade for the club because they were going to lose Dimitri for nothing if they couldn’t trade him before the deadline.

In other Panthers news today left wing Peter Worrell received a 10-day jail sentence, one year of probation and a five-year suspension of his driver’s license after pleading no contest to driving under the influence. This is also not the first time Worrell has been caught driving under the influence. Worrell is to Worrell to report to jail on April 7, 2003, one day after the Panthers’ regular-season finale. This could hurt his convidence on the ice, I’m not really sure. Hopefully Peter has learned his lesson.