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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.

Have a question for Alain? Be sure to ask him through twitter @apoupartFins.


Upshall On The Upswing

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

Wednesday, 11.06.2013 / 11:30 AM / From The Press Box
By Alain Poupart  - NHL.com Correspondent
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Upshall On The Upswing
After some frustrating times, veteran forward making his presence felt for the Panthers.

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

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 NYI 63 41 20 2 202 174 84
3 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
4 TBL 63 38 19 6 207 167 82
5 DET 60 34 15 11 176 156 79
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 63 33 20 10 184 159 76
8 BOS 61 30 22 9 161 160 69
9 FLA 61 26 22 13 145 172 65
10 PHI 62 26 25 11 164 181 63
11 OTT 59 26 23 10 167 161 62
12 NJD 62 25 27 10 139 164 60
13 CBJ 60 26 30 4 157 189 56
14 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
15 CAR 60 23 30 7 137 159 53
16 BUF 62 19 38 5 120 207 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 61 21 15 -9 36
J. Huberdeau 58 9 24 4 33
A. Ekblad 61 9 23 6 32
J. Jokinen 60 6 25 -3 31
B. Boyes 59 10 18 6 28
J. Hayes 52 17 10 -5 27
A. Barkov 50 9 12 -4 21
T. Fleischmann 52 7 14 12 21
B. Campbell 61 3 17 1 20
D. Bolland 37 3 13 2 16
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 22 16 11 .921 2.38
A. Montoya 4 6 2 .893 2.98
 
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