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From The Press Box


From The Press Box is a weekly column written by FloridaPanthers.com and NHL.com writer Alain Poupart. Poupart has been covering the Panthers and the NHL for 20 years.

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Upshall On The Upswing

After some frustrating times, veteran forward making his presence felt for the Panthers.

Wednesday, 11.6.2013 / 11:30 AM ET / From The Press Box
By Alain Poupart  - NHL.com Correspondent
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Upshall On The Upswing

When the Panthers remade their roster two summers ago, a rebuilding project that led to the 2011-12 Southeast Division championship, the first NHL veteran to join the team was forward Scottie Upshall.

In announcing the acquisition of Upshall, General Manager Dale Tallon said the following: “Scottie is a character player that is tough to play against and we are pleased to have signed him. He is a player that will bring energy and enthusiasm to our lineup every night.”

In large part because of injuries, we didn’t get to see that player often over the past two seasons and even early this year. But in the past couple of weeks, Upshall has been making his presence felt on the ice.

Simply put, Upshall has been the player the Panthers thought they were getting when they signed him on July 1, 2011.

It could even be argued that Upshall has been the team’s best player since the Oct. 27 game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Of course, Upshall gave the Panthers a point Tuesday night when he scored two third-period goals, including his tying goal in the final minute of play, to help erase a 3-1 deficit in the 4-3 overtime loss against the Edmonton Oilers. The first goal was particularly impressive because, before he took a pass from Jesse Winchester, he had kept the puck in the Edmonton zone by going to the ice to block a clearing attempt.

Upshall also recorded the first assist in the game at Washington Saturday and against Tampa Bay the previous Sunday. And even though he wasn’t on the ice when the Panthers tied the game at Washington in the third period, he played a big role as it was his check on defenseman Steve Oleksy that caused a retaliation and a slashing penalty that put Florida on the power play late in the third.

Upshall has been playing on a line with Nick Bjugstad and Winchester, a free agent signing this summer who has been perhaps the most pleasant surprise on the Panthers roster early this season. The three clearly have something going.

After his big effort Tuesday night, Upshall said he was happy to be able to contribute while reflecting on the frustration of some tough times.

“It was nice to chip in,” Upshall said. “You evaluate your play after every game and practice and you want to do the right things and play hard and play with heart and with energy. And when things don’t go your way, it seems like the world is kind of crashing down. It was nice to chip in. I love playing on our line. Winny is gritty and Bjugstad is a big body.

“I find I usually play more successful with guys that bang and check and go to the net hard, and it’s kind of the way we’ve been playing. It’s not good enough, but it’s getting there.”

What Upshall brings to the Panthers lineup is a physical presence to go along with some speed up front. It’s what made him the sixth overall pick in the 2002 NHL draft and what Panthers assistant GM Mike Santos saw when he was working in Nashville at the start of Upshall’s career.

As the Panthers look to get back on track, they’ll need contributions from every part of the roster. So having Upshall on an upswing certainly is a good sign.

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 53 31 16 6 143 118 68
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 TBL 52 29 19 4 138 123 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
8 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
9 NJD 54 26 21 7 120 122 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 50 16 21 11 37
J. Huberdeau 53 10 27 9 37
A. Barkov 43 16 19 13 35
J. Jokinen 53 10 25 11 35
V. Trocheck 53 17 16 3 33
R. Smith 53 16 15 10 31
B. Pirri 49 10 13 -5 23
A. Ekblad 49 10 12 20 22
B. Campbell 53 4 16 16 20
N. Bjugstad 38 9 8 -4 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 23 13 5 .930 2.13
A. Montoya 8 3 1 .929 2.01

 
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