Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Panthers Pounce On Red Wings

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH 

For some crazy reason, I had a feeling on my 17 minute ride on the Sawgrass Expressway to the BB&T Center that the Florida Panthers would pounce on the Detroit Red Wings.

During the past 48 hours, the Panthers had to deal with the reality that if they’re going to make a run at Lord’s Stanley Cup, they’ll do it without defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who underwent successful surgery Monday to repair a fracture in his lower extremities and is expected to be out of the lineup for 12 weeks.

Ekblad suffered a fracture in his left leg Sunday in the Panthers 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars in Texas. The former No.1 overall pick was enjoying his best season of his career. He’s currently tied for the league in goals amongst defenseman with 11 and also collected 11 assists over 35 games.

On March 27, the Panthers placed forward Patric Hornqvist on the injured list.

But good hockey teams don’t let injuries slow down their quest to win a championship. 

There have been recent schedule changes that will put the Panthers on National Television with NBC picking up a couple games down the stretch.

On Tuesday Night at the BB&T Center, the contest featured a matchup of two squads that had two-game winning streaks.

After getting hammered 7-1 at Nashville to the Predators on Thursday, March 25, the Red Wings bounced back nicely over the weekend with a pair of victories over the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

Detroit won both home games by out scoring Columbus 7-2 and were led by backup goaltender Calvin Pickard.

Going into the Panther’s game, Pickard had a 2-0 mark with a 2.12 Goals Against Average. I have to admit that I was looking forward to seeing him for the first time.

But the Red Wings committed a Cardinal Sin early in the game. 

They gave up a goal to Jonathan Huberdeau 17 seconds into it and Florida led 1-0. 

To make matters worse, the Red Wings trailed the Panthers 3-0 by the 12:25 mark in the first period. 

Huberdeau’s goal was his 14th of the campaign and extended his point streak to three games as he’s amassed five in that span. He also led Florida with 23:54, time on the ice.

By this time, Pickard had faced eight shots, made five saves and three more saw the back of the net forcing Detroit Coach Jeff Blashill to make a change. 

Pickard saw his record drop to 2-1 in what would turn out to be a 4-1 loss to the Panthers.

The way the Red Wings were playing, it looked like Nashville all over again. 

But Thomas Greiss settled things down and the Red Wings trailed 3-0 at the end of the opening period. 

It was hard to believe that Florida outshot Detroit 11-10 as the Red Wings were playing poorly on defense early on that caused them to fall behind quickly.

It made me wonder did the Panthers defeat the Red Wings or did Detroit defeat itself?

All I know is legendary Red Wings Gordie Howe and Henrik Zetterberg weren’t walking through the door to help the Red Wings on this night.

This would be a night where the Panthers were actually out shot by their opponent. Detroit out shot Florida 36-33 which meant only one thing. 

Florida goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was outstanding between the pipes. 

The second star of the game faced 36 shots and gave up just one goal. You talk about a clutch performance at a tough time, he delivered it.

“We’re missing a few guys, but I think it’s also opened up the opportunity for other guys to play a bigger role, bigger minutes and earn their spot in the lineup,” Bobrovsky said. “It’s some adversity for us to overcome, to get together and be strong. I thought the guys did a great job tonight again. We had a great start up 3-0. Then we had some good composure and played our game. It’s a great win.”

The No.1 star of the game was Carter Verhaeghe who had a pair of goals including the game winner. He is a scoring machine. This was his third multi-goal game of the season and he has amassed five goals and six total points in his past three games.

He has 15 even strength goals this season which is tied for the league lead and registered a personal season -high six shots on goal.

Furthermore, the guy the guy has 17 goals and 30 points.

While Verhaeghe was pleased with his performance but he downplayed that and focused on what really mattered.

“The team has been doing well. We’re on a three-game winning streak now after a three-game losing streak, so it shows resiliency of our team. Everyone’s playing more roles, guys that haven’t been playing are playing now and getting opportunity. It kind of adds a little more excitement to the lines. I think the guys have done a a great job rolling with it.”

Brett Connolly scored a goal but the significance of it was that was his 100th of his career. He echoed the sentiments of Bobrovsky and Verhaeghe.

“It’s good to see guys step up after losing a key player, guys filling in and playing a really good hockey game tonight.”

We all know the game of hockey is physical and the Panthers suffered yet another injury. 

Anthony Duclair notched an assist but unfortunately didn’t return for the third period leaving the game with an upper body injury. He’s expected to miss up to 10 days.

Coach Quenneville was pleased with the effort of his squad.

“We did what we were hoping for. We had a great start, lots of pace, good puck movement and everybody was involved in the flow. Some really good things happened in the game. Bob (Sergei Bobrovsky) had some big saves on the penalty kill, he was excellent all game long. Carter Verhaeghe drives the pace in the game. You’ve got to appreciate that he does find a way to get the puck and does have speed.”

The Detroit Red Wings went 1-4 on the power play and much of that was attributed to the play of Bobrovsky.

The only real highlight of the game was a goal by power play goal by Filip Zadina, who fired a wrist shot from the face-off circle, a tally that you would see at the skills competition. It was that good. Detroit trailed 3-1 at this point.

The Panthers out-hit Detroit 29-26, led by Eetu Luostarinen who had five.

With the win, the Panthers improved to 23-9-4 and have a three-game winning streak. They have won four of their last five at the BB&T Center and are the third NHL team to reach the 50 point mark this season.

The Panthers are tied with Tampa Bay in the Central Division but the Lightning has played one less contest.

They did it in their 36th game of the season, the second-fewest games required to reach 50 points in franchise history (34 GP in 1996-96).

The Panthers improved their record over Detroit to 5-2 this season and are 12-2-1 in their past 15 matchups against the Red Wings. 

Detroit is headed back to the lottery and now own a 12-21-4 mark with 28 points and are last in the Central Division.

These two teams will meet one another for the final time on Thursday at 7 PM. 

Regardless of who Detroit has between the pipes, falling behind early as the Red Wings did is a recipe for disaster against a hungry Panthers squad that is not using the injury issues as a crutch to collapse late in the season. The Panthers have had four players get hurt in the past week.

Leave little doubt who will be in the net for Florida on Thursday Night as Bobrovsky, who improved his record to 14-5-2 owns the Red Wings. He improved his all-time record against Detroit to 18-6-1.

This will be an interesting game for two teams heading in different directions.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com. 

You can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth and also Subscribe to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel at no cost to see all of his broadcasts.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Tough Night All The Way Around

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH 

At 2:38 ET, My brother contacted me with news that I’ve been expecting for the past 10 days.

My Aunt Tina Caplan passed away from complications due to dementia at the age of 78. 

During the past few years, it’s been painful as she’s experienced memory loss. So the photos I’ve taken with her truly indicate that a picture is worth a 1,000 words.

We had many great memories over the years. 

But the thing that stands out about her was when I was growing up as a kid, I had aspirations of being a Broadcaster when I was four years old. 

While hanging out with her boyfriend, I would always turn the volume down on the television and do play-by-play announcing for Detroit Red Wings games. 

The announcer I patterned myself after was Bruce Martyn.

She was impressed with my excitement and enthusiasm plus my knowledge of the game. 

My Aunt Tina is the reason and motivated me to get into Broadcasting and Sports Media.

This has been an interesting week.

It started with the Florida Panthers defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 6-3 on Monday Night.

If she had passed away earlier in the week, I would have been able to attend her funeral. 

Sure, I could have made the trip to Metro Detroit to say my final goodbyes. 

But my brother did an outstanding job keeping me in the loop about her condition.

Instead of traveling to Michigan, I remained in town. 

On Tuesday Night, the Red Wings defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 in Detroit. The Red Wings triumph snapped the Hurricanes eight-game winning streak.

With the Red Wings help, the Panthers remained atop of the Central Division tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning with 42 points. 

Florida and Tampa Bay sat atop of the NHL in the overall standings as well. 

Ironically, these two in state rivals share a top minor league affiliate for 2021 since the Charlotte Checkers aren’t playing this season.

As I drove to the BB&T Center tonight as the Panthers got set to face-off against the Nashville Predators, I knew My Aunt Tina was going to be here in spirit. I’m very thankful she’s been a part of my life for 58 years.

I’m sitting in this Press Box because of My Aunt Tina.

When I return here at the end of the month, the Panthers will be hosting the Detroit Red Wings.

What kind of a script would the Hockey Gods write tonight as the Panthers continue their quest to win a Stanley Cup?

On Monday Night, the Nashville Predators skated into Tampa and defeated the Lightning 4-1. 

They were looking to build off of that momentum in Sunrise, FL to climb back in the playoff picture.

The Panthers took a 1-0 lead with 1:22 left in the first period as Jonathan Huberdeau scored his 11th goal of the season. Huberdeau leads Florida with 35 points this season.

As we’ve seen many times this season, the Panthers aren’t shy about shooting the puck. 

They outshot the Predators 41-27.

But on this night, a single goal wouldn’t get it done. 

Florida encountered a hot goaltender. 

Juuse Saros stopped 40 shots to lead the Predators to a 2-1 win. The Predators beat the Panthers for the first time in four games. 

The win improved Nashville’s record to 13-16-1 with 27 points and are in sixth place in the Central Division.

Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky made 25 saves and lost for the first time in seven starts. The Panthers had their four-game winning streak snapped.

But the big gun for Nashville was Calle Jarnkrok, who scored a pair of goals.

His second goal gave the Predators a 2-1 lead at the 1:17 mark of the third period. 

Bobrovsky misplayed the puck behind the net and couldn’t get back before Mikael Granlund passed the puck from behind to Jarnkok, who fired the puck in from the slot.

After the game, the Panthers refused to use the misplayed goal as an excuse for this loss.

They simply took accountability knowing you can’t overlook teams in a shortened season.

Coach Joel Quenneville talked about how the Predators came out hungry and his squad has to come out on home ice Saturday at 2 PM with a chip on their shoulder.

“We battled but things weren’t generating. You’ve got to score ugly goals and we didn’t get them tonight.

“Games are going to get harder here...It’s going to be a good test for us to know that every night you need to keep pushing and every shift becomes more magnified in it’s importance.”

Huberdeau summed things up by saying, “It wasn’t our best effort, we’ve got to be better on Saturday.”

Bobrovsky, whose personal six-game win streak came to an end and stands second longest in franchise history behind only Roberto Luongo (nine wins in 2015-16) used a common cliche in sports.

“We focus on one game at a time. We’re trying to take two points every night. It’s definitely not fun to lose the game, but we still have a good team, a great group of guys and it’s great to be a part of it.

“It’s sad that we lost but I thought we played a solid game. We had a solid penalty kill, good puck movement in their zone. We had lots of good things. It is what it is. We lost one, we have to put it behind us and get ready for the next one.”

The loss dropped dropped Bobrovsky’s record to 12-3-2 and he has a 2.90 GAA. 

The Panthers saw their record drop to 19-6-4 with 42 points and are in second place behind the Tampa Bay Lightning (21-6-2, 44 points).

Florida’s all-time record against Nashville is 18-10-3-6. At home, the Panthers own a 10-4-1-4 mark.

When you summarize the evening, It was a Tough Night All The Way Around.

I’m at peace that My Aunt Tina isn’t suffering anymore as I watched her funeral the next day.

But at least she knew that I enjoyed doing what I’m doing and that’s covering Hockey Games.

For the Panthers, they’re having an excellent season and will have a chance to look to rebound on Saturday. 

Bobrovsky nailed it! 

Take one game at a time and move on to the next one. 

In life, we all have to take things one day at a time.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com. 

You can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth and Subscribe to his You Tube Channel for Free: South Florida Tribune to see all of his broadcasts.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

South Florida, A Nightmare For The Chicago Blackhawks

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

What did the Florida Panthers have to play for Monday Night?

First, the Cardiac Cats are tied for second place in the Central Division with the Tampa Bay Lightning with 40 points. 

The Panthers entered the contest 18-5-4 and is 5-1 in the last six games. 

Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky had a season high five-game winning streak.

The team that resides at the top of the division is one that’s currently on an eight-game winning streak, the Carolina Hurricanes, who have 41 points. 

Yes, the same Hurricanes that have beaten the Panthers three times in the past couple weeks.

Second, a chance to sweep the Chicago Blackhawks in Sunrise. 

Going into the game, the Panthers were 3-0 versus the Blackhawks, and a win would leap frog the Panthers into first place. The Nashville  Predators defeated the Lightning 4-1 earlier in the day.

The Panthers defeated the Blackhawks 5-2 on Sunday, January 17, the two days later Tuesday, January 19, won 5-4 in OT. On Saturday, March 13, Florida defeated Chicago 4-2.

During their past eight games against Chicago, the Panthers have earned points by going 5-0-3.

—————————————————————————————————————————

How would things play out?

The way the generally do for Florida.

The opponent scores the opening goal of the night and this time it was Chicago’s Patrick Kane, who had the honors by notching his 12th goal of the season.

On this night, Kane grabbed sole possession of fifth place on the U.S.-born scoring list. His 1.06 career points per-game is the best among any player in the top five and trailing only Pat Lafontaine’s mark of 1.17 among American born players.

Kane, 32, is also the only U.S. born player to ever win the Hart Trophy as league MVP.

As we’ve seen all-season, what would a game be like if the Panthers didn’t trail by two goals?

The Blackhawks led 3-1 at one point in the second period.

Special teams played a huge role in the contest as Florida scored two power play goals and tallied a short-handed goal. 

Florida has scored two power play goals for the eighth time this season.

What have we seen a lot lately?

Exceptional goaltending!

Bobrovsky delivered that by stopping 26 shots and there were plenty of great saves which would subsequently earn him the third star of the contest. 

He earned his sixth consecutive win (his longest win streak with Florida).

The heavy hitters continued to post big numbers. 

Aaron Ekblad scored his 10th goal of the season, Aleksander Barkov notched his 12th which turned out to be the game winner and Carter Verhaeghe added his 11th. 

Ekblad is the fastest Panthers defenseman (28 games played) to reach 10 goals in a season in franchise history. Verhaeghe leads the Panthers with 11 even strength goals.

To seal the victory, Florida scored two empty net goals and earned the 6-3 win and has now swept the Blackhawks 4-0 in South Florida during the 2021 season.

When it comes to adversity, the Panthers know how to overcome it well. 

Florida now has five multi-goal comeback victories, which ranks tied with Winnipeg for the most among NHL teams this season.

The Panthers improved to 19-5-4 with 42 points which is the most in the NHL. 

Their home mark is 9-3-3 and own the fewest regulation losses among all NHL teams.

The Panthers have won their fourth straight game, their longest win steak of the season.

For the first time in more than 24 years, the Panthers occupy first place in the NHL Standings, beyond their second game of the season. 

The last such instance before Monday was through games played on December 28, 1996 (20-8-9, 49 points).

Who would have thought this would happen?

Coach Quenneville knows what it likes to win championships as he’s won three with the Chicago Blackhawks. 

He was quite pleased with the win.

“They had a lot of energy tonight, they were into it. Very noticeable that the guys are finding ways to win. That’s an important thing.

“I thought we did a great job denying lanes and seam passes (on the penalty kill). We had some clears tonight that were effective, getting in the shooting lanes and Bob (Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky) had some tight plays that cleaned up and anticipated as well.”

Despite the fact that the Panthers have the most amount of points through the unofficial halfway point in the regular season, he’s well aware of the road ahead for Florida.

“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, and we know that. We’re going to take a few days here to rest, recuperate and get ready for the next one.

“We’re going to take it day by day, go into the next game and try to win it. That’s going to be the mentality that we need to have and not worry about anything else.”

To no surprise of anyone, Barkov was the No.1 star of the game. He played in his 507th NHL Game, surpassing Bill Lindsay for 10th most games in franchise history. He has produced six points (3-3-6) over the past two contests, and four goals over the past three games.

There was very little doubt in his mind about what his objective for the Panthers.

“All I want to do is work hard for this team and give everything I have on the ice. I want to win and we’ve been winning, so this is a lot of fun.

“We’ve been winning games, playing really well, really good hockey. Everyone is having fun on the ice and that’s when everyone starts to notice you. Half of the season right now, we’re in a good spot so we’ve got to keep playing and keep building our game.”

Going into the game, the Panthers as an NHL Franchise had amassed 5,498 goals. 

They eclipsed the 5,500 mark with another six bringing that total to 5,504. 

They’re all-time record against the Blackhawks is 17-18-3-7 and improved the home mark to 10-9-1-4 in the land of Palm Trees and Beaches.

These two teams will see each other next on Tuesday, March 23rd and Thursday, March 25th at the United Center. 

Florida returns to the Windy City on Thursday, April 29th and Saturday, May 1st, as these squads gear up for important matchups as the Stanley Cup Playoffs approach.

There is no doubt that the Panthers have had their way with Chicago (14-11-5) 33 points thus far.

But there is a lot of important hockey to be played for the second half of the season and you can rest assure the Blackhawks will come out fired up against Florida when they meet again.

Up next for Florida, they’ll face the Nashville Predators at 7 PM, Thursday Night, a team that I mentioned earlier defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning on the road, Monday.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

You can Subscribe to The South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel for free to see his Broadcasts.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Ceremonies Never Get Old!

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH 

During My 41 years in Sports Media, I’ve been fortunate enough to see Championship Banners raised and players get their much deserved rings as well as jerseys retired.

In many cases, the energy of the fans fueled the players leading to wins.

The latest ceremony I attended was the one the Florida Panthers had for Keith Yandle on Saturday Night for reaching his 1,000th game on March 7th on the road against the Carolina Panthers. 

The Panthers lost that game 4-2 to the Hurricanes, but Florida did conclude its recent road trip 4-1.

On Saturday Night, the Panthers had a video tribute with his family and his teammates. He received a silver stick and a golf cart. It was a great sight to see.

Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque, whose career spanned 22 seasons and 1,612 games was among those congratulating Yandle. 

All the Panthers wore jerseys with Yandle’s name and 1000 on the back.

Upon reaching his 1,000th NHL Game, Yandle became the 12th player in history to play their 1,000th game with the Panthers.

Because of COVID-19, there would be no large crowd Saturday Night at the BB&T Center. 

But by no means did it taint the occasion. 

For those in attendance, it was definitely a memorable evening.

The ceremony was classy for Yandle, who is the owner of the third longest “Ironman” streak in NHL history (892). 

Yes folks, there are players that play every game and don’t let minor injuries or load management stop them from playing. 

As far as I’m concerned, Yandle could play in any era because he has an old school mentality.

After a scoreless first period, Brandon Hager gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead into the second period. After killing off a penalty early in the frame, as the Panthers have done all-season, Florida started prowling in the period as it out shot Chicago 13-7 in the second, by scoring three unanswered goals to take a 3-1 lead. 

Aleksander Barkov, Carter Verhaeghe and Frank Vatrano scored and ironically each of them recorded their 10th goals of the season. 

At this point, the Blackhawks looked outclassed while Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky watched the offensive clinic from a distance.

Barkov would add his 11th goal of the season in the third period for good measure. 

Barkov played in his 506th NHL game, tying Bill Lindsey for ninth most games played in Panthers history.

The three stars of the game were 1. Barkov, 2. Anthony Duclair and 3. Bobrovsky.

Barkov had two goals for the Panthers, who improved to 18-5-4 with 40 points. Florida improved its home record to 8-3-3.

Bobrovsky improved his record to 11-2-2. Bobrovsky stopped 30 of 32 shots to win his fifth straight game.

Coach Joel Quenneville had high praise for his goaltender, who has really been hitting his stride.

“They (Chicago) had several plays around the net. I thought he (Bobrovsky) was very quick and closed it quick. He was finding pucks, looked really solid, and really sharp. He continued to do what he has to do which is be consistent and give us a chance to win every night.”

If you’re going to win in the postseason then you better have a goaltender that can get you there. 

During the post-game media session, it looked like Bobrovsky is having a great deal of fun as the team’s No.1 net minder.

He talked about his key to success. 

“I just stay focused with the moment and do my thing. I came up with the big save and the guys took care of it. It was a great penalty kill to start the game to give us confidence and a boost of energy.

“It’s a process that’s gone on from game one. You’re mind becomes more and more relaxed, you see the game better, and you feel more and more comfortable the more and more you play. I feel great physically and mentally.”

Bobrovsky had more praise for his teammates.

“We have great skilled guys up front and it’s fun to see how they create scoring chances and how they play there. I feel like we have a good chemistry and support for each other.”

Despite not being one of the three stars, make no bones about it, the evening belonged to Yandle. 

And it should be because to play 1,000 games in a physical and faster league is an incredible accomplishment in its own right.

If you think he was emotional before the game started, his body language and voice said it all with us after the contest.

“It’s been a very humbling week, to see how excited my teammates were, the coaches, the GMs, the owners, everyone involved. Super, super humbling week for me. You expect the silver stick, which is an amazing thing, but when I saw that golf cart, it’s something that everyday when you see it, you’ll be reminded of it.

“It’s an amazing thing the amount of love that the guys have to think of me like that and my family. It was special.”

As I mentioned earlier and I’ll say it again, there is nothing better than to have a big night end with a victory. 

And it was as the Panthers have a 3-0 record against a Blackhawks team that is definitely trying to get in the playoffs. 

The Blackhawks are 14-10-5 and are in fourth place in the Central Division.

Saturday Night, one statistic I very rarely talk about is one worth mentioning. 

The Panthers won the face-off battle 47-24. They converted 66.7% to Chicago’s 33.3%.

That’s what made this contest even more impressive for Florida, and Yandle was thrilled that the evening ended the way it did on the scoreboard.

“Against a great team, to get that win is huge. Bob (Bobrovsky) played amazing, we had some timely goals. Barky (Barkov) every night does it. It was a great team win and definitely means a lot more when you get that when and be able to smile in the locker room to put the icing on the cake for the day.”

Nowadays, in Panther Land, Florida always seems to be setting records for success. 

We’ll only get into one more.

Florida’s 40 points in 27 games matches the franchise record for fewest games to collect 40 points (also 27 GP in 1996-1997).

But there is a lot more work to do and they know it!

On Monday Night at 7 PM, there will be no ceremonies to celebrate. 

Instead, Florida has a chance to defeat Chicago for the final time at the BB&T Center and go 4-0 on home ice.

But for me, “Ceremonies Never Get Old!”

And everyone in this area can only look for will be the opportunity to celebrate a Stanley Cup Championship.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@Gmail.com.

You can follow him at @TribuneSouth and Subscribe Free to his You Tube Channel and view his latest Broadcasts.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Tribute To Judy Strohl

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH 

January 25, 2021 will go down in my lifetime as one of the Darkest Days Of My Life!

My Aunt Judy Strohl passed away because of COVID-19. 

Leading up to her death, Judy had suffered an injury that required surgeries on her kneecap. 

She would spend time in the hospital then go to a rehabilitation center which is where I am convinced she got COVID-19.

Take note people, these places can be a recipe for disaster.

Judy was not just an Aunt, but much more than that!

She was the Older Sister I never had! 

There wouldn’t be enough words in the English Language that could describe this remarkable woman!

I’ve been telling people since Judy’s passing that when she died, a part of me died! 

That hasn’t changed and never will for the rest of my life! 

There are times since her death, I have thought about killing myself, but because of my wife Candy, I haven’t done it!

There are certain deaths you can handle better than others. 

I am struggling deeply with this one! 

It’s really tearing me up inside and I’m extremely gutted! 

I won’t need to seek out medical help to get this figured out. 

I do have a good support system.

But the key is, I’ll just do a lot of driving and listening to a lot of music! 

Tons of Meditation!

But now, let’s take a look at the bloodlines and legacy of Judy Strohl.

Her mother Sophie Morganroth Jacobs was an angel and unquestionably is the greatest person in my life! My grandmother was my mother! 

Without her, I wouldn’t be alive because of all the love and wisdom she provided me. 

I have mentioned numerous times to people and on all the platforms that I’ve been a part of sharing the special relationship with my grandmother.

Judy and Sophie never had a mean bone in their bodies! 

Like mother, like daughter! 

Sophie taught Judy well! 

They were both positive, sweet and had great sense of humors! 

Best of all they tolerated me, though Grandma Sophie didn’t have to deal with the side of me that Judy has had to do due to my enormous caffeine intake. 

These days, Diet Mountain Dew is my favorite beverage.

They always say that it’s in the bloodlines and Judy gained her angel status from Sophie.

Let’s go to the scoreboard because I have a lot to address with My Older Sister.

* She was always was there for advice, was a great sounding board and had a tremendous amount of wisdom.

* She never missed sending me a birthday card and would send me money. Sure the money was nice but the gesture was priceless!

* When I was in the hospital for whatever reason, she always checked on me countless of times. There was a time that I had a one-liner regarding speed and she went and bought me a get well card with a speed theme to it.

* Every time I went to Michigan, I set my schedule up depending on the length of a trip to see her at least a couple of times and we always talked. 

The restaurant we ate at the most in Metropolitan Detroit was “Big Boy” on 8 mile and Haggerty Road in Novi, MI. 

She always used to be one of the first people that rode with me in my new Jeeps because I always leased them back home.

Every once in a while, she would travel to Florida and we made sure we spent time together not only eating out but hanging out talking at my parents condominium.

* If I asked her to keep things confidential between us, Judy did exactly that! 

* When I needed a Michigan address for business purposes, she said I could use hers.

*When I travelled to Michigan and couldn’t check into my hotel until later in the day, I always took a nap at her place. 

Because of my outrageous schedule in Detroit covering sporting events either alone or with George Eichorn, I didn’t want to stay with her because I didn’t want to wake up the dog and have her worry what time I would get home. 

Therefore, I got my own place but in close proximity to her.

* She knew I was heavily connected to the Detroit Media and enjoyed seeing me involved with Sports Media for 41 years. 

Judy was especially proud of the close relationship I had with Detroit Tigers Hall of Fame Broadcaster Ernie Harwell because he was another part of my extended family, but most of all a real mentor!

I would tell her about the time Ernie and I spent on the road and him spending birthdays with me.

* Judy enjoyed all of my stories in Sports Media especially those that involved Muhammad Ali and Dodgers Manager Tom Lasorda. She never got sick of hearing them and therefore, I never got sick of telling them!

* My Aunt Judy knew that I was the most outrageous person on the planet because I loved to drive all the time, whether it was a cross country trip, on the beach and through the night. 

She got a kick out of Candy giving me the nickname “Crazy Man” which was due to the fact that when I was driving, the longer I went, the stronger I became. Especially later at night and at times driving through the night. 

What normal human being would do that?

Not me! I’m not normal.

But Judy knew me well enough that it was a form of meditation to clear my head and understood my mindset. I make my best and most important decisions when I’m behind the wheel. She knew that. 

But I’ll never forget the time when she told me this often, “You’re amazing as to how much you enjoy being under pressure. You thrive on it! I couldn’t handle it! I’m very proud of the man you have become!”

The one gift that I delivered for Judy was finding My Soulmate, Candy!

If you want to talk about an incredible relationship, this was it!

Candy gave Judy the Nickname Sunshine! 

These two forged a sister-sister relationship that was indescribable, but it was truly fun to watch through the years. They had incredible conversations with and without me. Candy even came up with a ringtone for Judy. 

Judy was an animal lover so we used to talk about her dog, our cats and her volunteer work at the Humane Society.

When Candy and I had animated conversations on the phone, Judy thought we were fighting. Candy said no, his energy is a bit high right now and you can see it in his face with a big wide smile. Then she calmed down and started laughing at me. 

If he drinks more caffeine, he’ll get worse later on and Judy said, “you need to cut him off so he doesn’t have a heart attack.” That was the protective side of Judy as being her younger brother, she would try to protect me from myself. That was how close we truly were!

Judy always knew that we could always be on the phone for lengths of time and our goal was to keep it light-hearted with tons of laughs. She loved it! 

She said our phone calls often made her day.

I make no bones about it that I have a hard-nosed fiery intense side that if individuals attempt to belittle or disrespect me, regardless of who they are, they’ll get truly hammered! 

I could be as ferocious as a Great White Shark! 

If people were nice to me, then I could be as soft as a Teddy Bear!

But when Candy came into my life on December 7, 2012, her presence started to rub off on me and while I maintain a lot of the characteristics above, she has been a huge calming influence. My family idolizes Candy for mellowing me down a bit. 

My late mother, Brother Lonny and father marvel at her! 

They think she’s turned me around a lot. I’m glad they feel she’s made a difference. 

But I am who I am, but if they’re happy, I’m fine with that.

Judy credits Candy for keeping my immediate family together and does much of our communication as I focus on other goals and aspirations in life.

To see Judy and her husband Robert Strohl at our wedding on January 1, 2017 at Milwaukee’s Miller Park was awesome! 

Judy never liked to travel much but was excited about taking this trip to Wisconsin.

When Judy passed away, I knew I was the only person that would do her eulogy on a 19 degree day at Clover Hill Park Cemetery with the windchill factor in single digits. 

I did the best I could to keep the eulogy as short as I could during the winter, but in my mind, I wasn’t going to short change her send off! 

I didn’t and wasn’t worried about the backlash, though there wasn’t any. My goal was to simply celebrate and honor her life! Mission Accomplished!

I used this eulogy as an opportunity to talk about COVID-19 and to make sure that everyone does mask-up, use common sense and maintain social distancing, etc!

This is a death that didn’t need to happen because I truly felt that Judy had a lot of living left, but the global  pandemic prevented this from happening!

While we all know how dangerous and deadly this virus is, when you lose someone so close, it has a much different meaning as was the case here with My Older Sister!

On a cloudy Thursday, January 28, 2021, day in Royal Oak, MI, as the ceremony was coming to a conclusion, if you believe in fate and destiny, the clouds took a break and SUNSHINE popped up for approximately 45 seconds as we said our goodbyes to a truly remarkable person! 

Judy “Sunshine” Strohl died at the age of 75 and was married for 47 years. Bob’s a fantastic person and he does have a tremendous void in his life. But he still knows that I’m a phone call away.

Judy had a remarkable relationship with my father and my heart goes out to him because since November 28, 2020, he lost his wife and now his sister.

I know that you’ve figured out by now that I love Judy so much! 

I’m very proud to be able to show my feelings about how close we were and will always be! 

RIP, Sis! I love you! 

I know our paths will cross in heaven one day!

Now you’re reunited with Grandma Sophie, Grandpa Sid, Papa Morris Kroll and Grandma Celia Kroll! 

And of course there is My Mother Shila, who will ask you to help her with another hair project in heaven.

I love you very much Aunt/Sis Judy and I’ll see you when I return to Michigan when the time comes. 

After I left Michigan, I did buy a chain to wear in your honor that way I know you’re always going to be with me!

When I pass away, I’ll be interred in a Mausoleum (Concrete Nap) at Wisconsin Memorial Gardens in Milwaukee, WI. 

But you can rest assured that I’ll visit you somewhere up I-94 East to give you future updates of my Media Ventures, Cats and most of all, Candy! 

Your Motor City Mad Mouth will purchase a Jetsons Mobile to make the trek back to see you.

Meanwhile, you’ll need to scout out the restaurant’s up there. Maybe there is a franchise called “Little Boy.”

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth. 

Zooming Into Spring Training

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH 

Last year, COVID-19 taught us new ways to communicate and it’s turned our society completely upside down.

The area that I’ve felt the most impact is here covering sports.

This is the first Spring Training that I am not going to interview players, coaches and managers in person at a stadium. I’m not quite sure when I’ll feel comfortable going to Roger Dean Stadium. I haven’t been vaccinated yet.

Thankfully, having a season under my belt covering the Miami Marlins has made this a bit easier because I’m no longer learning about the team and the teams Communication Department knows me. I’ve done the Zoom Calls with the players, manager, etc... so I’m a bit more comfortable with the process.

That Marlins Communications Department is awesome to work with! When I’ve had issues figuring things out, they’re very patient and navigate me through the frustrating challenges. I can’t thank them enough! 

I have to admit that since I’ve been working with the Marlins, if there is a regret that I have, it’s not knowing the Spanish Language. I often wonder how much good material that I missed out on.

My former colleague, the late David Levin was a huge help in me adapting to this platform. 

He said don’t always worry about getting a question in. Feed off the other people and then you can find a question based on what you’re hearing. His advice has worked tremendously. I find myself to be a much better sponge these days. 

I’m much more relaxed!

Marlins GM Kim NG explained to us that she addressed the team about Covid-19 by telling the players to be careful and follow the necessary protocols. 

Last year, the Marlins were hit with the first major outbreak but found creative ways to stay in shape and eventually qualified for the playoffs.

NG has used Zoom to get to know all of her players and her “State of The Union” address with the team. She said it didn’t take long during these meetings to see the real energy, enthusiasm and eagerness to get after it after participating in the 2020 postseason as the team was raring to go. She indicated this is a hungry squad and was excited about meeting her players in person.

Mattingly has gotten this Zoom thing down pat and said he used it to have communication with his general manager.

“Kim and I were on the phone all winter,” Mattingly said. “I have an advantage of working with her in Los Angeles. We talk everyday and discuss how we’ll build the club. I’m always talking to her over Zoom about player meetings.”

Mattingly talked about what things were like before the team reported for Spring Training.

“I met with everyone before the first day of pitchers and catchers reporting. Through Zoom, we used small groups to build off last year. It was a great stepping stone moving forward. It gives Owner (Mr. Bruce Sherman), Derek Jeter and Kim an opportunity to speak to the club. 

“I thought it was important for me through Zoom to have the boss, Mr. Sherman that we have a great organizational start at the top, thus it was important for me to have those guys speak.”

The players have adapted to this very well.

Brian Anderson said, “it helps out and it’s a big deal for us to stay connected during the off-season.”

Miguel Rojas added, “it’s really helpful, amazing, real important and we enjoy being accessible to you guys. We can contact guys anytime with their cell phones, computers, and other devices. It’s an important tool to communicate with everyone at all times.”

There is no question that Spring Training in 2021 for not only the members of the media, but also for the communication staffs, do an outstanding job keeping us connected and into the loop.

But if there is one thing that still stands out in my mind about Mattingly is what he said to us on Sunday, February 21, 2021. 

“I can’t wait to see all of your smiling faces in person again.”

In the meantime, Zoom is a way of life and we all wonder if the day comes when we’ll have face-face interviews on the field, in the locker room and have full press boxes.

I know that there will be certain aspects of Zoom that will never go away.

It’s very possible that the trend of remote announcers could stick in order to save on travel expenses and announcers will prepare through Zoom. It gives them more time to be with their families and is safer not going in and out of airports. It averts them from staying in hotels.

During his playing days, Mattingly told us that the only time he communicated with the New York Yankees was when he had to deal with his contract.

How times have changed as Zoom has everyone communicating in every way possible. We got a taste of it last year and now we’re seeing a bigger picture far bigger than we ever imagined.

Regardless of what the trends are going forward, as long as I remain in the business, I’m confident that I’ll enjoy it because just learning about technology and the evolution will keep me focused on what lies ahead. This is one interesting puzzle and maybe, maybe that’s what it will take for me to write a book.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com. You can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Monday Night Hockey In South Florida Vs Carolina Hurricanes

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH 

The Florida Panthers tend to make Monday Night’s interesting.

They lost to the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 on February 20, 2021 at Little Caesar’s Arena.

Florida responded with a bounce back performance against the Dallas Stars on Monday, February 22, 2021 at the BB&T Center.

Florida lost to the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in a shootout and did get a point on Saturday, February 27, 2021 at the friendly confines in Sunrise.

The Panthers own a 6-0-0 record this season in games following a loss. 

Per NHL Stats, Florida is the only team this season undefeated following a loss of any kind.

The Panthers own a 4-1-1 record in the second game of a two-game series against the same opponent this season.

Going into the game, Florida was second in the Central Division, owning a 13-4-3 mark and 29 points over the club’s first 20 games. With a point vs Carolina, the Panthers tied their franchise-best over the first 20 games of a season in club history (29 points, 1995-96/1996-97).

The month of February was kind to the Panthers as Florida posted an 8-4-2 mark, ranking third in the NHL for the month. Florida’s eight February wins marked the fifth time in franchise history that the club has recorded at least eight triumphs in the month.

This impressive start has caught the attention of the rest of the league as Monday Night’s Game versus the Carolina Hurricanes was televised on the NHL Network, in addition to the local market. 

The National Television audience also saw Aleksander Barkov appear in his 500th NHL Game, all with the Panthers. Barkov is the 11th player in Panthers history to have played 500 games with the club.

What would give for the Panthers as they concluded a five-game home stand and hit the road for stops in Nashville, Carolina and Columbus? 

Florida found itself in another battle with the Hurricanes. 

Carolina scored a power play goal in the first period as Brett Pesce lit the lamp to give Carolina a 1-0 lead. He got the opportunity when Patric Hornqvist was sent to the sin bin for roughing.

The Panthers had an unfortunate break in the first period as the officials prematurely blew a whistle as they lost sight of the puck, which found the back of the net.

Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic would keep the game scoreless through two periods as Florida outshot Carolina 22-19. 

Chris Driedger kept the Panthers in the game.

Once again, the Panthers found themselves in familiar territory for the third consecutive game trailing after two periods.

Although there is plenty of season left, judging by the first two periods, this has the makings to be an excellent playoff matchup. 

The Panthers were physical in this game as Hornqvist was called for two roughing penalties, MacKenzie Weegar had a roughing call while Noel Acciari was sent to the penalty box for boarding.

To say there is no love loss between these two squads would be mildly stating the obvious. The nastiness between the two teams was evident in this new rivalry.

It didn’t take long for Florida to tie this game 1-1, as Frank Vatrano scored an even strength goal just 4:40 into the third period. Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe got assists. 

The Panthers took a 2-1 lead at 16:51 as Eetu Luostarinen put the biscuit in the basket and the Panthers were just minutes away from another regulation time win.

But an old friend picked a good time to get his 11th goal of the year as Vincent Trocheck tied it 2-2, sending to overtime as the Hurricanes pulled the goaltender for an extra attacker.

Martin Necas scored in OT and the Hurricanes defeated the Panthers 3-2. 

This is the first time that Florida has lost two games in a row.

They have earned at least one point in each of their last three games, going 1-0-2. 

The Panthers out shot Carolina 46-27 and 23-9 in the third period, but still managed to pick up a point.

If you want to talk about two evenly matched teams, two games have been decided in overtime while the other was a shootout.

When the contest was over, despite the loss, everyone seemed upbeat.

Coach Joel Quenneville said about the series with Carolina, “I liked the way we were competing. A lot of positives coming out of the game even though we were trailing for a big part of it. It didn’t affect how we were competing, how we were playing. This game was hard fought, we were doing the right things, had good energy and we’re getting points.”

Forward, Noel Acciari had high praise for the team which is based in the State’s Capital, Raleigh.

“They’re very good, fast and skilled team. I think it’s going to be close games like that all season long. We’re battling for a top four spot. They’re up 2-1 in the series right now and we get to see them in not too long (March 7 in NC). Every team is looking for points, getting one point is good, but we definitely want that second one.”

Forward, Aleksander Barkov talked about his bittersweet evening about reaching 500 NHL games.

“Is a huge accomplishment for myself. Would have been nice to get a win today, but it means a lot. Even one game in this league is a dream and every game for me is living the dream, trying to be as good as I can.”

As for the outcome of the game, Barkov added, “Huge comeback again and getting the lead at the end of the game. It never feels good to lose those games into overtime. We’ve got to learn from that and get those situations in the game, get more comfortable and move forward.”

Goaltender, Chris Driedger has a tremendous amount of respect for the Hurricanes and likes the challenge of playing them.

“Every time we play these guys, it’s a good hockey game. “We’ve been find our game in the third (period) as far as putting the puck in the back of the net. It’s nice to see that we are always in games. Every game against these guys has always been a battle so I expect the same thing going forward.”

The Panthers are now 6-0-1 after a loss. They are now 4-2-1 in the second game of a two-game series against the same opponent.

Florida still remains atop of the Central Division with a 13-4-4 mark and 30 points. Carolina improved it’s record to 14-6-1 and has 29 points tied for second in the division with Tampa Bay 14-4-1 and 29 points.

The Panthers will face the Hurricanes on March 7, 2021 in North Carolina. 

Ironically, On This Date In Panthers History in 2020, Florida retired Roberto Luongo’s No.1 Jersey, making him the first player in team history to have his jersey retired by the franchise. The Panthers made the occasion even more special by defeating the Montreal Canadiens 4-1.

There would be no better way to reflect than to rebound with a win against a team that Florida could face in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But recapping what’s ahead for the Panthers, they face the Nashville Predators on March 4-5 in Music City. From there, you guessed it, the Carolina Hurricanes and then off to the Capital of Ohio for a two-game series against the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 9-11.

Florida defeated Carolina 4-3 in OT when they faced each other in Raleigh on February 17, 2021.

The Panthers return to the BB&T Center as they’ll face the Chicago Blackhawks on March 13.

They’ll find out a lot more about their team starting with this road trip.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

Inter-Miami, Recap Before International Break

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH This is the time of the year in sports where we begin to hit that slower period where the NBA Finals are complete, the N...