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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 TBL 48 30 14 4 156 127 64
2 NYI 46 31 14 1 151 129 63
3 DET 47 27 11 9 139 119 63
4 MTL 45 29 13 3 123 106 61
5 PIT 46 26 12 8 138 117 60
6 NYR 44 27 13 4 134 106 58
7 WSH 46 24 13 9 137 120 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 44 20 14 10 107 122 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 48 19 22 7 130 146 45
13 CBJ 45 20 22 3 113 142 43
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 46 16 25 5 98 120 37
16 BUF 47 14 30 3 89 167 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 44 15 12 1 27
J. Huberdeau 41 8 17 1 25
A. Ekblad 44 6 19 7 25
J. Jokinen 43 4 20 0 24
J. Hayes 36 13 7 1 20
B. Boyes 42 9 11 1 20
S. Bergenheim 33 7 9 4 16
T. Fleischmann 38 5 8 9 13
V. Trocheck 28 4 9 6 13
D. Kulikov 39 1 12 -2 13
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 17 10 8 .923 2.32
A. Montoya 3 4 2 .887 3.09
 
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