Thursday, May 27, 2021

Panthers Title Hopes End In Tampa, Look Ahead To 2021-22


The Florida Panthers are coming back home.

Unfortunately, it will be without the Tampa Bay Lightning as the Cats were eliminated Wednesday Night in Tampa falling 4-0 in Game 6 of their playoff series. 

The defending Stanley Cup Champions once again scored early and the Panthers found themselves chasing their Sunshine State I-75 Rivals.

What led to the Panthers downfall at Amalie Arena?

They couldn’t solve Tampa Bay Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who stopped 29 shots and wrapped up a series with a Game 6 shutout for the second straight time. 

Vasilevskiy also shut out the Dallas Stars last year to win the Stanley Cup. 

He was named the game’s No.1 Star.

The Lightning grabbed the early lead when Tyler Johnson raced past Anton Stralman to negate an icing call, picked up the puck behind the net to feed a backhand pass in front. After the puck initially bounced, Pat Maroon was able to get a whack at in the air to backhand it past Panthers rookie goaltender Spencer Knight at 6:16 of the first period, giving Tampa a 1-0 lead.

In the second period, Florida’s Sam Bennett took an undisciplined penalty at 12:53 by putting Lightning defenseman David Savard in a headlock and then ripped his helmet off. 

The roughing penalty led to Tampa Bay’s second power play chance of the game and second goal. Nikita Kucherov fed the puck up high to Victor Hedman who one-touched a pass over to Steven Stamkos at the left circle for a one-timer at 13:27 of the second period giving the Lightning a 2-0 lead.

With the exception of Game 5, the team that scored first proceeded to win the game.

Braydon Point put the game away at 14:36 of the third period dancing around MacKenzie Weegar down low and drawing Knight to the ice before tucking the puck around the goaltenders left pad. 

Tampa Bay added an empty net goal from Alex Killarney with 1:42 left in the game to make the score 4-0.

Knight finished the game with 20 saves facing a team that has now advanced to the second round for the fifth time in the past seven years, showing they know what it takes to win and advance in the postseason, improving to 9-0 in the next game following a playoff loss dating back to last season.

During the series, the Lightning scored a franchise record 24 goals against Florida which utilized three goaltenders. 

The Panthers didn’t have an answer for Kucherov, who set a franchise record with 11 points in the series, beating his old mark of 10 against New Jersey in the opening round of the 2018 playoffs. 

Kucherov and Victor Hedman both finished the series with eight assists to tie the franchise playoff record for the most assists in a postseason series. The mark was originally set by Kucherov against the New York Islanders in the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals.

The Panthers haven’t won a playoff series since the 1996 Eastern Conference Finals.

When you look at the overall series, 13 different Panthers recorded multiple points over the six-game matchup, including two rookies: Owen Tippett, and Mason Marchment, and four defenseman: Weegar, Radko Gudas, Gustav Forsling and Keith Yandle.

Gudas led Florida with 39 hits over the series.

Jonathan Huberdeau led the Panthers with 10 points (2-8-10) over the six-game series, setting a franchise record for most assists and points in a playoff series.

With his win in Game 5, Knight became the youngest goaltender in franchise history to record a playoff win and the youngest goaltender in NHL history to win a playoff game when facing elimination.

The Panthers 2020-21 regular season was the best regular season in franchise history in terms of points percentage (37-14-5, .705).

These are the building blocks that the team has to look towards the future.

But before the game, the team knew it had to play a helluva 60 minutes against a battle tested champion. They simply fell short on Wednesday Night.

This game wasn’t about noise level in Tampa or Knight not being able to masterfully repeat the spectacular performance he had on Monday Night at the BB&T Center.

The Panthers simply ran into a hungry buzz saw in the Tampa Bay Lightning despite outshooting their opponent 29-24.

This was a physical series that saw 42 power plays by both teams.

When the game was over, Panthers held their heads up and took some time to reflect on the season as well as their 4-2 series defeat.

Coach Joel Quenneville said his team learned some valuable lessons about the playoffs.

“We learned how hard it is to win. There’s a lot of good things that happened to our team. I love how we competed in this playoff. The guys laid it out there and we had a chance. 

“I thought all year long we were pretty consistent in being involved and getting points every night, playing hard night in and night out. Our depth, we pushed one another in a productive way.

“We go home in the summer here, you look at it. There’s a lot of positives, but you’re always looking to get better. You can’t be satisfied with the improvement that we did have this year, which was significant. That’s the rate we want to get better at.”

The coach did say that he’s excited about Spencer Knight.

“Those regular season games he played, it’s a tremendous start to your career, great exposure to the best players in the game, great shooters. Goalies are like an acquired art, learn from your experiences, different shooters, you can anticipate a bit more, predict where the shot is going a little bit more. He’s a student of the game. It’s going to be beneficial over time.”

Huberdeau said the series could have gone either way.

“We were down 2-0 early, that could have went the other way. We’re disappointed but you play hockey to win. Our crowd, I loved the atmosphere at home and we wanted to come back for Game 7. This year was the most fun I’ve had. We had a good group, it just didn’t go our way in the first (period).

“We had a good team this year, and in the first round we played a really good team. We got beat but we played well, we had our chances. Organization wise, it was good to see that, good to see the fans and get back into a winning culture. That’s what we wanted. This year was a great season. I think next year we come back with a better attitude and we can be a great team.”

Barkov said he was extremely proud of his teammates.

“We had a hell of a regular season and in the playoffs we played good hockey. We tried our best but credit Tampa too.

“This year felt way different. It was like a new start for me and everyone in this organization. That’s how we felt and that’s how we played like a fresh team, fresh organization. We had a lot of fun and it sucks that it ended this way.”

Spencer Knight figures to gain a lot by all of this. 

Chris Driedger will become an unrestricted free agent and figures to earn more money on the open market and become a starter. 

Knight probably learned plenty from Driedger while he was here as well as Sergei Bobrovsky, who is under contract and figures to return next season.

The 20-year-old goaltender described what things have been like since joining the team a few months ago and what he learned.

“It was good to get a taste of what playoffs are like. For me coming in, I was just trying to help the team win. That was my priority and to have fun while I was doing it. In a couple weeks, after I decompress. I’ll look back at it from a different point of view, but for now, it’s tough to lose. I don’t like losing hockey games, but when it ends your season, it’s tough. But overall, coming in was great, great group.

“I think when I came in, everyone in the room, all my teammates, the coaches, staff members, everyone around the rink welcomed me with open arms. It was really helpful, made me more comfortable right away. That allowed me to transition to doing what I like to do, and that’s play hockey.”

During the regular season, Florida had a 5-2-1 record against the Lightning and secured home ice advantage in the first round. 

They found out quickly that the playoffs were a different animal as the Lightning had a lot of players return from injuries, namely Kucherov.

Now Florida is going home for the rest of the summer.

Like every team that departs the playoffs, the lessons are hard and player turnover is inevitable.

We can’t tell you at the moment who will stay and who will go. 

Nor at this time are we going to get into that discussion.

What I can tell you is that the teams will play an 82-game regular season in 2021-2022 and won’t see each opponent in their division eight times as we did this year. 

The Seattle Kraken join the NHL and there is an expansion draft to deal with. This will be a 32 team league.

More importantly, Florida’s travel next year will be demanding when you figure they’ll be changing time zones as they start playing teams on the West Coast and travel to Canada.

It will be interesting to see how these players grow as a unit over the course of a long grueling season as the NHL treads towards the past Covid-19 Era. 

The season figures to be a marathon.

Also, as members of the media, it remains to be seen whether Zoom continues to be the norm to communicate with players, coaches, etc... or will there be direct access at practice and locker room access.

I’ll be curious to see how all of this plays out and here at the South Florida Tribune, we’ll keep you posted about the off-season developments.

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

You can see his broadcasts on The South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel and subscribe for free.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

A Knight To Remember


The Florida Panthers did a couple things they haven’t accomplished much all series vs The Tampa Bay Lightning.

First, for only the second time in five games, they didn’t have to resort to making a goaltending change. There is no doubt that Chris Driedger and Sergei Bobrovsky have struggled all-series. 

They gave up a combined 19 goals in the first four games.

Second, the Panthers held Tampa Bay to just one goal.

After the Panthers 6-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday afternoon that saw them fall behind 3-1 in their Central Division NHL Playoff Series, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out there could be a drastic change in goal.

All weekend long, Coach Joel Quenneville was dropping hints of going with rookie Spencer Knight considering the urgency of a win or go home situation.

After the Monday morning skate, Brandon Montour and Frank Vatrano were eager to play in front of the 20-year old goaltender. 

There was the enthusiasm in playing in front of a loud, energetic crowd where the team would be allowed 75% capacity.

Yes, the cliche one game at a time was commonly used by all involved during the past few media availability’s with the series being far from over.

Would Knight live up to the hype Monday Night?


It took the Lightning all of 53 seconds to get on the board scoring on the first shot Knight saw. 

Blake Coleman got past Florida’s Keith Yandle and a sprawling Jonathan Huberdeau along the right-wing boards, then waited for Knight to slide in his direction and then, tapped the puck back into the slot. Colton had nothing but net to shoot at and just like that, Tampa Bay led 1-0.

During this period, the Panthers were doing something that Coach Joel Quenneville didn’t want his team to do and that’s chasing. But they got away with it trailing by just a goal at the intermission.

After that goal, the Lightning never saw the scoreboard again as Knight stopped 36 shots to lead the Panthers to a 4-1 win. 

The triumph enabled Florida to close the series gap to 3-2 and force a sixth game Wednesday Night at 8 PM in Tampa.

Prior to Monday Night’s game, the team that scored first won all the games.

Knight is the youngest goaltender to ever start and win an elimination game. 

Prior to that, the youngest was Tom Barrasso in 1985, who played for the Buffalo Sabres.

Here are some other amazing facts about Knight.

1. He is the sixth-youngest goalie at the time of his first career start in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He is the fifth-youngest goalie to win a playoff game, and the second-youngest goaltender to record a win in their playoff debut (Don Beaupre, 19 years, 202 days).

2. Knight is the first goalie to play in the IIHF U20 World Junior Championship, NCAA Tournament and the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the same season. He is undefeated in his five NHL starts.

3. Knight is the youngest goalie to record at least 36 saves in their playoff debut. His 36 saves are the fourth-most by a goalie making their playoff debut before their 21st birthday.

4. He is the youngest Panthers goaltender (20 years, 35 days) to start a playoff game in club history, the youngest goalie in NHL History to win a game in his post-season debut while facing elimination.

5. Knight is believed to be the seventh-youngest goaltender to appear in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Harry Lumley was 18 in his first post-season game and Barrasso, Bill Ranford, Grant Fuhr, Beaupre and Martin Brodeur all made their debuts at 19-years old.

Of this group, Lumley, Barrasso, Ranford, Fuhr, and Brodeur went on to win Stanley Cup Championships while Beaupre reached the Stanley Cup Finals.

Talk about high expectations for young goaltenders that went on to have outstanding careers, these goaltenders had them.

After Colton scored his goal, the Panthers out scored Tampa Bay 2-0 in the second and third periods. Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 34 shots in the loss.

In the second period, MacKenzie Weegar and Mason Marchment scored. Weegar had an assist on Marchment’s goal.

In the third, Patric Hornqvist and Frank Vatrano lit the lamp. Vatrano had an empty net goal with an assist from Hornqvist.

Aleksander Barkov had a two point night while Sam Bennett had one.

When you talk about pouncing on a young goaltender, the Lightning did just that against Knight in the first period as Tampa Bay’s 22 shots represented the most in a frame by the Panthers in either the regular season or postseason this year.

Coach Quenneville’s logic for starting Knight was simple. 

“I think his whole career coming up to joining us this year gave you every indication that he’s capable of doing it. Now it’s an opportunity. When he did play for us off the bat, his composure gave you an indication that he’s capable of handling any kind of situation.

“We have nothing to lose and we’re going to have fun with it. We all know what’s going on, we had to do it. Spencer has a fun confidence, is composed in a lot of ways, has a balanced approach to the game. Nothing bothers him, he welcomes challenges and handles them. Spencer put on a clinic and the goalie won the game. I don’t have to say anymore.”

Weegar scored his first career playoff goal and added an assist (1-1-2). He is the third Panthers defenseman to record multiple points in a game this series joining Gustav Forsling and Radko Gudas. He appreciated the guy that he helped defend.

“Spencer Knight was a rock back there. We were excited to play in front of him. He’s got that calm demeanor to him. I think he just went out there and had fun, and enjoyed the crowd. He brought momentum to our team and hopefully we can keep this going with him there.”

Barkov said home ice advantage on Monday Night fueled the team, and wasted no time praising the paying customers.

“The crowd felt like at least 24,000. It was awesome, our fans are the best. It was so much fun to play. We’re excited and we want to keep this thing going. We want to play in front of them all the time. So let’s keep doing this.”

But the man in net is what made the difference and Barkov gave credit where it was due.

“Spencer Knight was huge. We were excited for him to get in our net. We trust him. He’s confident and calm in the net. He has a lot of fun there. We enjoy that. We enjoy playing in front of him. He was really great today. He won the game for us.”

There is no doubt that Knight wasn’t phased by anything. 

CNBC’s Kenny Albert and Brian Boucher were singing his praises all night on national television. 

They continued pointing to the struggles of Bobrovsky and Driedger and there was no second guessing the idea of Florida using its third goaltender in the series. 

Knight said he found out on Sunday that he would get the nod to start this elimination game.

There were a lot of things that he said which impressed the heck out of me.

After giving up the first goal, he said, “Once one went in you just kind of reset and go, Well this is how it’s going to go. You can’t do anything to change it. Let’s play now. That’s how it was.”

How did Knight approach this game?

“I approached it like I did every other game, like I did my first game and second game here. I was a little bit nervous but I just remembered that I was playing hockey, just try to control what I can and have fun.”

Was he concerned about the team being down 1-0 and the Lightning doing everything in their power to end the series on the road.?

“I’m not thinking much about the score, what I’ve given up, that’s coming at me. I just kind of react and remember that I am playing hockey, regardless of whether it’s practice, regular season games, or playoff games. To me, it’s all just hockey and I approach it the same, and have fun. Don’t think about the result, detach from it, and have fun in the moment.”

Of all the things Knight said, this is what impressed me the most!

“Honestly, when the game was over, it was pretty cool. To me, I have the same satisfaction of winning a playoff game as a regular season game. It’s not about what moment you’re in. It’s about the accomplishment you had as a team.”

To think that this is a 20-year old talking. 

We can all learn from this!

On Monday Night on the big stage, the fans at the BB&T Center had a chance to see first hand how their goaltender of the future would perform in a do or die situation.

The Panthers emerged victorious to live to see another night.

If you thought the Lightning came out swarming on Monday Night, Knight will have to be at his best but this time on enemy territory as he hopes to lead the Panthers to a seventh game on Friday Night back in Sunrise, FL.

With the win, the Panthers improved to 4-6 all-time when facing elimination, including the one win it got to stave it off temporarily in last season’s play in round against the New York Islanders.

Tampa Bay is now 18-12 when it has a chance to close out a series.

When you think of the goaltenders that I mentioned earlier in this story, Knight is off to an unbelievable start.

But on Monday Night, the Panthers fans will view the game as “A Knight To Remember.”

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

You can listen to his broadcasts on The South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel and subscribe for free. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Panthers Looking To Rebound At Home Monday Night


There is one good thing that happened on Saturday for the Florida Panthers as they were in Tampa to face the Lightning for game four of the NHL Playoffs. 

Their game started at 12:30 PM.

Going into the contest, Florida was feeling pretty positive coming off a 6-5 OT win on Thursday Night to close their series deficit to 2-1.

Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky came in relief of Chris  Driedger in the third period. 

Driedger gave up five goals and Bobrovsky shutdown the Lightning by stopping all nine shots he faced to earn the win. Bobrovsky improved his all-time playoff record to 3-0 against the Lightning in Tampa dating back to when he played for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Coach  Joel Quenneville made the logical choice and decided to go with Bobrovsky on Saturday against an angry team that felt it let Thursday’s game get away after leading 5-3 at the end of the second period.

Would Bobrovsky pickup where he left off on Thursday?


The Lightning roughed up Bobrovsky by taking 14 shots with five going in and jumped out to a 5-1 lead. He would be replaced by Driedger. 

Tampa Bay cruised to a 6-2 win and now holds a 3-1 lead in the series. 

Driedger stopped 11 of 12 shots he faced for a .917 save percentage.

Nikita  Kucherov led the Lightning with four points, one goal and three assists.

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy faced 41 Florida shots and stopped 39 for a 95% save percentage.

But as we’ve seen all series, Florida continues to hurt itself committing costly penalties and allowed two Lightning power play goals. 

Florida had 13 penalties for 50 minutes while Tampa Bay had 13 penalties for 42 minutes. The Panthers two goals came on power plays. The Panthers out-hit the Lightning 37-33.

After the game, the Panthers weren’t going to dwell on the outcome even though they know they find themselves in a huge hole.

Coach Joel Quenneville said, “the outcome wasn’t what we looked for. We had the perfect start and then we started chasing the game. We’re working, we were doing a lot of good things.”

Sam Bennett added, “You’ve just go to move on. It’s a quick turnaround. We’ve got a chance to play on home ice and win on home ice. That’s all we can do.”

The captain Alexander Barkov said, “We’re going back home, just forget about this one. We’ve got to find a way to eliminate those chances. Go home, play in front of our own fans, get excited and play the right way for 60 minutes.”

Anton Stralman is eager to return to the BB&T Center for the Monday Night contest at 8 PM.

“We want to go home and play our best game in front of our fans, give them something to cheer for. This series is not over obviously.”

When the Panthers return home, they’ll be allowing nearly 75% capacity so you can rest assure the crowd will be lively.

The Panthers have history working against them.

The Lightning have never lost a series in which they won the first two games.

Tampa Bay is 11-3 after holding a 2-1 advantage.

The Panthers have never rallied to win a series after dropping the first two games.

Florida will have to win three straight against the defending Stanley Cup Champions to end the franchise’s 25-year drought without a playoff series win.

In three of the four games, Florida has allowed five goals and thus there were some goaltending questions which came up following Sunday’s morning skate.

Coach Quenneville didn’t commit about who would be between the pipes Monday Night and rookie goaltender Spencer Knight’s name was brought up.

“He gives us an option and is something to consider. He’s an option that we like and has been on big stages before.”

Quenneville said the key to defeat Tampa Bay is don’t get baited into taking unnecessary penalties and “we have to show more discipline and that’s been a factor in all games. We have to be smart and have to win every shift. We can’t show frustration.”

Noel Acciari said the team has to show controlled aggression.

“We have to play between the whistles, be more disciplined because the referees are looking for that (calling penalties). We have to come together and have a strong 60 minutes. We have to leave it all out there. We’re not out of this and not going out without a fight.”

MacKenzie Weegar said the early game allowed the team to, “have a nice dinner together and get things off our chest. We have a great leadership group so we have to give it our all and have a couple days to regroup.”

As far as the team’s performance on the penalty killing unit, “we have to be better. We need more desperation, grit, passion, pride and we’re giving them (Tampa Bay) too much respect. We need to bare down and control what we can do.”

Weegar is impressed with what he’s seen with Knight so far.

“He’s a pro at a young age, has his routine down, so elite and plays on a high level. We can trust him and he’s a great goalie. He’s a great guy, has a bright future ahead of him and I can’t wait to play in front of him.”

Regardless of plays in goal, Florida will face a team that knows how to win in the playoffs and they’ve done a great job getting under the Panthers skin causing the Cats to take unnecessary penalties.

As I’ve mentioned, Tampa Bay knows how to close out an opponent and having won the first two games in the playoffs at BB&T will give them more confidence to wrap this series up on Monday Night. 

A win for Tampa Bay will only give their team more time to rest as it prepares for its next opponent.

On Sunday, the Nashville Predators defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in two overtime’s and that series is tied at 2-2. It will go no less than six games.

Meanwhile, while Florida knows it has to take things one game at a time, and if the Panthers can somehow extend this series to seven games, two of those will be on home ice.

But first things first.

Don’t self destruct with penalties, play an entire 60 minutes or possibly more and the goaltending has to be stellar. 

The least amount of goals Florida has allowed is three when the Panthers lost a 3-1 decision.

As Coach Quenneville has been saying, the team can’t be chasing and always be playing from behind.

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

You can hear his broadcasts by subscribing to The South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel for free.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Cardiac Cats Live Up To Their Name


The Florida Panthers lived up to their name, the Cardiac Cats on Thursday Night in a must win situation vs the Tampa Bay Lightning.

After the morning skate, Panthers Coach Joel Quenneville told us “We would like to play ahead because chasing them isn’t easy.”

From the outset of the hockey game, the Panthers did just that as they took a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period. 

Everything was going well for the Cats and Quenneville’s decision to start Chris Driedger over Sergei Bobrovsky appeared to be a good move.

But the Tampa Bay Lightning struck in the second period erupting for five goals. 

There were five different goal scorers and three goals came on the power play. 

Driedger was unable to make that big save and by the end of the second period the Panthers trailed 5-3.

Quenneville made a bold move and inserted Bobrovsky in the third period and the decision turned out to be brilliant. 

He stopped all nine shots that he faced leading Florida to a 6-5 win in overtime. 

Driedger was probably the most relieved individual on the planet as he got a no decision.

Bobrovsky has had success against the Lightning as he defeated them in the 2018-2019 playoffs as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He compiled 37 wins during the season and his performance against Tampa and that series win vs the Lightning was the first in Blue Jackets Franchise History.

His performance against Columbus earned him a huge payday. On July 1, 2019, Bobrovsky signed a seven-year, $70 million contract.

As I was watching this game on National Television, it was interesting to hear the commentary of Kenny Albert and former NHL goaltender Brian Boucher questioning Quenneville’s decision to start Driedger since he doesn’t figure to be in the club’s long term plans as he becomes an un restricted free agent. Boucher wondered whether or not that the team had enough confidence in Bobrovsky.

Being on the inside as I am, Quenneville was going with the guy that performed well on Tuesday Night and gave up two bad luck goals. 

Sometimes these moves work. Sometimes they don’t.

But the Panthers refused to panic in the third period as Patric Hornqvist and Gustav Forsling scored the goals to tie the game 5-5.

Former NHL Stanley Cup Winning Coach and NBC Studio Analyst Mike Babcock described this as a “Tale of different games. It’s a festival of hockey. If you’re a fan of hockey then you’re loving it in Florida.”

Babcock nailed it with those comments. 

The Panthers led 2-0 after the first period. 

Tampa is ahead 5-3 at the end of the second. 

We’re tied 5-5 at the end of the third heading into overtime. History was working against Florida in overtime as the Panthers hadn’t won an OT game since 1996. 

How many of the players on this team were even born when they did?

Back to the national broadcast for a moment.

Babcock predicted Aleksander Barkov would win it for Florida. 

Kathryn Tappen went with Jonathan Huberdeau while former Chicago Blackhawk Patrick Sharp thought Ondrej Palat would win it for Tampa Bay.

Leave it to Quenneville to come up with the ultimate answer to this “None of The Above Question” as he said “A lot of times in overtime, it’s the guys that are least expected to score, come up large.”

That’s exactly what happened as Ryan Lomberg, who is a fourth line energy player known for his physical play and doesn’t hesitate to amass fighting penalties, scored on a breakaway 5:56 into overtime. 

Radko Gudas gained possession off a face off deep in his own zone and flicked the puck ahead to Lomberg, who barreled in on goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Just like that, the Panthers now trail the series 2-1 and they have another tough challenge in a Saturday 12:30 matinee at Amalie Arena. 

Saturday’s game will be the 12th time these two squads have met this season.

What did we learn about this pivotal game three vs the Lighting? 

It was the first time the Panthers have scored multiple power play goals in a playoff game since April 17, 2012 at the New Jersey Devils. Florida was 2-2 with the man advantage. 

Six different Panthers scored a power play point. Aleksander Barkov, Patric Hornqvist, Jonathan Huberdeau, Owen Tippett, MacKenzie Weegar and Alex Wennberg.

But this night clearly belonged to Lomberg and Bobrovsky.

In addition to his game winning goal, Lomberg registered seven hits. Lomberg’s overtime goal was Florida’s first playoff overtime game winning goal since Mike Hough scored 8:05 against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on May 12, 1996.

Lomberg said his team showed a lot of character with their backs to the wall.

“We treated tonight like a must win and you don’t want to be down 3-0. I’m tremendously proud of this group. Bob (goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky) came in and did what he’s capable of, he shut the door and allowed us the opportunity to come back. I’m proud of him and proud of the boys for doing that.

“When you’re a hockey player, a kid growing up it’s what you dream about, the NHL Playoffs. It’s more intense, it’s faster and there’s more emotions that I ever thought there would be. It’s a dream come true. We’re having fun but there’s an ultimate goal and we’re working towards that.”

Huberdeau described what Lomberg means to the team.

“A guy like (Lomberg), who brings emotion like that to the game and to our team. He’s always there on the ice, on the bench he’s getting guys going, on the ice he never takes a shift off, hitting guys and he can play with the puck too. It’s well deserved by him and just a huge goal for us. We really needed that win and he made it happen.”

As for Bobrovsky, he has won each of his last three playoff games in Tampa dating back to April 10, 2019.

He relished the opportunity to come in relief.

“I stayed focused, I do my preparation as I play. During the game, I stay focused, I stay ready. It’s playoff hockey, anything could happen you just have to be ready for the guys. You have to make sure you do your best. If you get the chance to get in, do your job.”

I wonder where Bobrovsky heard that line. 

He must be a football fan and has listened to New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick.

Quenneville said he couldn’t be more proud of the way his team competed.

“Now all of a sudden, the picture changes completely in a short amount of time. We’ve been working our tails off, it’s been an unbelievable series, the pace is unbelievable. We need to keep our composure and let’s be smart about it. I liked how Bob came in and settled things down. Lombo (Lomberg) hadn’t played in overtime. The enthusiasm after that goal was as high as I’ve ever seen.”

When asked if Bobrovsky was going to start game four? Quenneville smiled and said, “You’re on the right track.”

Florida’s six goals on Thursday Night ties their most goals in a playoff game in franchise history, marking the third time the Panthers have scored six goals in a playoff game (April 17 & 22, 1996 vs Boston).

Who knows how many they’ll get today when they square off again in Tampa. 

But whether it’s a high scoring affair or not, today’s game, which will be seen nationally on CNBC and locally against an angry Lightning team that felt one got away.

Florida is in yet another must win situation. 

They’ll either find themselves in a 3-1 hole or this series will be square when the teams return to the BB&T Center Monday Night at 8 PM.

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

You can hear his broadcast by subscribing to The South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel for free.

Friday, May 21, 2021

More Marlins And Brewers Memories


The schedule makers have done me a big favor early this season as the main teams I’ve wanted to see are now out of the way.

The San Francisco Giants, Baltimore Orioles, Arizona Diamondbacks and Milwaukee Brewers were must sees! 

There will be others this season but not so bunched together.

I’ve talked about the Giants losing to the Marlins during the 2003 playoffs in their championship season as I covered that memorable game at Joe Robbie Stadium.

The Baltimore Orioles Deep South Florida Connection, especially in Miami was nostalgic. 

It was great seeing the Arizona Diamondbacks face the Marlins during the last home stand since I lived in the area during their magical World Series run in 2001.

When the Milwaukee Brewers faced the Marlins during Mother’s Day Weekend, more memories went through my head. 

I saw them face the Miami Marlins during June of 2013, the first year I was dating my wife. I enjoyed talking baseball with then Brewers GM Doug Melvin outside the batting cage. 

I also talked to other Brewers as well.

My wife had her first official assignment as a photographer at LoanDepotPark and did a fine job. 

She earned the spot as my official photographer because of her professionalism and production.

It just so happens that my wife is a lifelong Brewers fan as she hails from Menominee Falls, a suburb of Milwaukee.

My history goes real deep with the Brewers as I’ve covered them during Spring Training in the late 1980’s and I took a trip in the early 1990’s when they played in Chandler, AZ. 

Back then, I had the good pleasure of working with Director of Media Relations Tom Skibox. 

I met Tom through a former colleague Andy Liscano, who I originally met in Miami, Fla, and he would later work in Milwaukee as a sports anchor.

I covered some games at Compadre Stadium in Chandler and Skibox made sure I had all the access I needed. 

I’ll never forget the time when I told Tom I was going to Yuma, AZ to see the San Diego Padres play and he told me that I’ll credential you here to save you the time and expense. 

Back then, my goal was to see as many Cactus League Ballparks.

I did go to Yuma but unfortunately, when I got to town, just 15 minutes away from the ballpark off I-10 West, I got a speeding ticket that costs me $180.00. It was definitely a speed trap coming around a corner and just like that, I saw the lights you don’t want to see when you make a mistake on the road.

When I returned to Chandler to cover a Brewers game, I went to Skibox and told him that I enjoyed my experience but did get the speeding ticket. 

I told him that while I should have listened to him, I have no regrets taking the trip and we both laughed off the situation. 

Indeed, a light-hearted moment. To this day, Tom is one of the best Media Relations professionals, I’ve ever worked with. I value him as a good friend.

When it comes to Media Relations professionals, Ken Spindler, also of the Brewers is right up there. 

He accommodated me in September of 2016 vs the Pittsburgh Pirates, where I had a chance to write a story on the team’s former hitting coach Darnell Coles, whom I’ve been friends with for years dating back to his playing days with the Detroit Tigers. 

I did invite Darnell to my wedding but he was unable to attend.

During this assignment, my wife was too short at 5-2 and it didn’t do her any favors as she had issues in the photo well. 

I talked to Ken about this and we had a good chuckle. 

He credentialed her the next day and gave her tips about where she could take photos. The extra day payed big dividends.

Spindler helped me again during Spring Training of 2018 at American Family Fields Ballpark in Phoenix.

Spindler set up an interview with Brewers outfielder Keon Broxton, a native of Lakeland, FL, the Spring Training Home of the Detroit Tigers. 

During the Broxton interview, we talked about his time with the Brewers as well as growing up watching the Tigers as a child.

My wife and I took a red eye flight from Fort Lauderdale, FL to Phoenix and six hours after we arrived in town, we were at the ballpark which is in the Phoenix suburb of Maryvale. 

After leaving Maryvale, Spindler was classy and asked me when I left the facility if I enjoyed my trip to the game and I gave him an overwhelming, YES! 

I thanked Ken for his hospitality as well as his friendship.

During this game vs Colorado, I got to know Rockies Media Relations people real well and I was invited to attend games at their Scottsdale Salt River Fields facility. 

Cory Little set up interviews with DJ LeMahieu and Chris Rusin, both of whom had Metro Detroit ties and I wrote separate columns for the Detroit Monitor.

I also covered Brewers three-game series vs the Detroit Tigers in September of 2018 which they swept and proceeded to win the National League Central Division.

But the emotional attachment to the Brewers was climactic on January 1, 2017, when I get married at Miller Park. 

We rented the restaurant Friday’s and it was a great time as the majority of my family made the trek across I-94 from Metro Detroit to be a part of the event in my wife’s hometown.

There have been a lot of interesting connections between the Brewers and Marlins.

Miami traded Christian Yelich to the Milwaukee Brewers and he’s now the cornerstone of their franchise.

Jesus Aguilar had a productive career with the Brewers from 2017-2019 and was an All-Star for Milwaukee in 2018.

Aguilar signed with the Marlins in 2020 and is a key part of this ball club.

One of the most striking similarities between the two clubs is they play in mid-markets therefore, they replicate themselves with lower payrolls and focus on player development.

Former Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton used to hit monster home runs off Brewers pitching. Then again, he towering shots off of every team he faced.

On September 11, 2014, at Miller Park, Stanton was hit by a pitch in the face by pitcher Mike Fiers, and was at first expected to resume play, but subsequent examination determined the injury was more serious. The impact resulted in multiple facial fractures, lacerations, and dental damage. 

On September 17, the Marlins announced that Stanton would not play in the last two weeks of the 2014 season. 

In 145 games, Stanton batted .288 with 37 home runs, 105 RBI, 94 walks (24 intentional), a .555 slugging percentage, and a .950 OPS. He finished second in MVP voting to winner Clayton Keyshaw.

Also, Brewers Manager Craig Counsell played on the Marlins under Jim Leyland during their 1997 World Championship season.  

He scored the winning run for the Fish in the bottom of the 11th inning in Game 7 on Edgar Renteria’s single over the head of Cleveland Indian’s pitcher Charles Nagy’s head that gave the Marlins a 3-2 lead.

Counsell tied that game in the bottom of the ninth with a sacrifice fly.

During that series Counsell batting average was .182 and was 4-22 in the series, but came through in the clutch. He would win another World Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001. 

He grew up in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.

The only major two difference between these two clubs comes in the championship department.

The Brewers lone trip to the World Series occurred in 1982 when they were in the American League. Milwaukee lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3.

The Marlins have two World Series Championships in 1997 and 2003.

These two teams didn’t meet during the 2020 COVID-19 shortened 60-game season.

But the last time I did see the Brewers play in was in March 2020 vs the LA Dodgers in Glendale, AZ. That Spring Training Game was the last baseball game I had covered because the following day, MLB completely shutdown because of Covid-19.

Going into this season, Milwaukee led the all-time series 81-73. 

The series resumed from April 26-28 in Milwaukee as the Marlins won two of the three contests.

Milwaukee came to Miami and took two of the three games in South Florida from May 7-9 which was Mother’s Day Weekend. 

I attended two of those games. 

The first was on May 7th when the Marlins defeated the Brewers 6-1.

At the time, this was Milwaukee’s sixth straight loss and fell to 0-5 on its seven game road trip.

Marlins left-handed pitcher Trevor Rogers looked impressive in this game by going five innings, yielding just one run, had six strikeout and only two walks. He improved his record to 4-2.

The Marlins bullpen held the Brewers in check for the final four innings.

The big blow of this game was by Isan Diaz, who hit his first grand slam HR of his off Patrick Weigel, who replaced Brewers starter Brent Suter. At this time, the Marlins had built a 5-0 lead.

The following night I covered the Florida Panthers game vs the Tampa Bay Lightning but Milwaukee did snap their losing streak with a 6-2 win.

The rubber match was on Mother’s Day and Candy came to her first game of the season as a photographer.  Her access was limited but she made the most of the situation. 

Before the game, she toured the stadium and learned about the history of it when this site was formerly the Orange Bowl.

Unfortunately for myself, this was a tough day because it was the first Mother’s Day without my mom, who passed away on November 28, 2020. She battled a long illness and succumbed to COPD. I was able to see her the final five days before she passed away in her Birmingham, MI apartment two days after Thanksgiving.

But I knew she was looking down on me from heaven and was happy that Candy and I were doing what we loved to do. That’s cover sports.

How did this contest turn out?

The Brewers won it 2-1 in 10 innings.

The player that impressed me the most in this game was Marlins pitcher Sandy Alcantara, who pitched seven innings, gave up one run, had six strikeouts and one walk. He threw 103 pitches and 73 were for strikes. He would get a no decision. Alcantara lowered his ERA to 2.72.

There were no shortage of good photo opportunities for Candy. 

She had a chance to see Aguilar pinch hit and Josh Hadar (3-0) pitched a perfect ninth with two strikeouts lowering his ERA to 0.71 to earn the win.

Tyrone Taylor hit a two-out tie breaking single in the 10th inning and seven Brewers combined on a six hitter for the 2-1 win. Milwaukee would finish 2-5 on the road trip.

The Marlins fell to 2-7 in one-run games. Marlins Manager Don Mattingly proceeded to second-guess himself for deciding against a sacrifice bunt to start the 10th inning. Instead, Isan Diaz struck out against Drew Rasmussen, dropping his average to .185. 

The Marlins had other issues as well. They committed two errors, went 0-6 with runners in scoring position, had two runners picked off and struck out 12 times, increasing their two-game total to 30.

The teams split the season series 3-3.

The games between these two teams reminded me of the rivalry our football teams have. Candy is a Green Bay Packers fan while I’ve been a Detroit Lion my entire life.

Despite the Milwaukee connections I have with the Brewers and especially with extended family, the Miami Marlins are a team that I’m working with. 

Their Communications Staff treats me great plus I have had a lot of memories covering many of their games in the past. 

So if you want to say that I have a National League team, the Marlins are it!

So it’s no secret where my rooting interest is with the Marlins and things got very animated around our house. 

I can’t forget the fact that I truly enjoy working with Marlins Manager Don Mattingly, whom to this day, I still deserves to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame!

But, I’m also extremely proud of the relationships I have formed through the years with the Brewers which in addition to Skibox and Spindler, another person that I worked with formerly of the Tigers, Tyler Barnes, Senior Vice President of  Communications and Affiliate Operations has always been there when I needed him.

The next Marlins and Brewers memory that takes place is when these two teams return to Miller Park.

But it was fun being a part of this again during a bittersweet Mother’s Day Weekend.

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

To see his broadcasts, subscribe to the South  Florida Tribune You Tube Channel for free.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

No Margin Of Error For Panthers


Is there an easy way to say this? No.

The Florida Panthers have a lot of work to do if their going to make a successful run at Lord’s Stanley Cup. 

They did a nice job setting themselves up during the regular season to gain home ice advantage in the first round matchup against their I-75 Rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Sunshine State Series currently stands 2-0 in favor of the defending Stanley Cup Champions from Tampa Bay.

On Tuesday Night, Coach Joel Quenneville attempted to make a change at goaltender by inserting Chris Driedger in the pipes on his 27th birthday. Driedger became the first rookie to start a playoff game in club history.

It was definitely a thrill for Driedger making his first career playoff appearance.

Quenneville said before the game that the decision to use Driedger was a performance based deal and this would be no different than the regular season. He was happy that he had two good options in goal.

His first option Sergei Bobrovsky who lost 5-4 on Sunday Night.

How would Driedger fare against the Lightning at the BB&T Center?

If it were up to him, he would like to do the first period over as the Lightning out shot the Panthers 16-9 and took a 2-0 lead. 

Not a good idea to spot a championship team two goals.

Driedger was the victim of some bad luck. 

He had a bounce off a Panther and a bounce off the post.

On the first goal, Alex Killeen fed a pass across the slot to Steven Stamkos, Driedger slid to his right, and Stamkos tried to send the puck back to Killeen. It never got there, nor did it have to; sliding Florida defenseman Anton Stralman deflected the puck into the net. As I said, bad luck.

Goal number two occurred as Ondrej Palat was the lucky recipient of a puck that just happened to come his way. Brayden Point tried to beat Driedger over the left shoulder; his shot hit the post and caromed to Palat, who took care of business.  

It was as simple as that.

The Panthers simply never recovered.

Florida’s lone goal occurred at the 14:21 mark of the second period and closed the gap to 2-1 by Mason Marchment with assists coming from Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe. 

Marchment’s goal was his first playoff tally marking the second consecutive game a Panthers rookie scored a point in the playoffs. 

In Game 1, Owen Tippett got a point.

Marchment is the fifth rookie to score a goal for the Panthers in club history. The others were Tippett, Ed Jovanovski, Radek Dvorak and David Nemirovsky.

The Panthers outshot Tampa Bay in the second frame 11-4, but Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy stymied the Panthers. 

He would go on and earn the first star of the game.

Florida pressed the Lightning in the third period by outshooting them 13-9, but couldn’t find the back of the net. 

Florida outshot Tampa Bay 33-29 in the game.

Yanni Gourde added an empty net goal off a giveaway with 1:25 remaining in the third period to clinch the 3-1 win.

The teams that win Stanley Cup Championships generally ride a hot goaltender all the way to the promised land and Tampa Bay has their stud.

That doesn’t bode well for the Panthers as they couldn’t get out of town fast enough to head to Tampa.

But Florida is going to have to deal with:

1. They have never won a series after dropping the first two games, falling on three previous occasions and now need to win four out of five if this will be the season in which it ends a 25-year postseason series win drought.

2. Tuesday’s game was the 50th playoff game in Florida’s franchise history. The Panthers went 9-3 in their first 12 postseason contests. They’re 10-28 since.

3. Tampa Bay was 21-7 at home this season, but Florida was the only team to be the Lightning twice on their home ice.

4. Florida can’t afford to get behind after two periods because now Tampa Bay is 28-0 this season, including both games of this series. The Lightning have won 41 such games going back to last season and their run to the Stanley Cup.

After the game, the message was very clear. The team is staying positive and realize this is a best of seven series.

Quenneville said the team needs more guys to be at their best.

“We fought back and had a good later part of the second (period). We were in the right spots and we just couldn’t buy the goal we were looking for. They played hard and I think we were working with everything we could do. We’re going to have to push every envelope we can to make sure that we’re going to be the best we can going forward.

“Against a great team like that you’re going to have to find ways and have to earn your breaks. They’re a good team with the lead. Chris Driedger was composed, kept us in the game and gave us a chance. We have to go home and get refreshed.”

Driedger said it was pretty special to play on his birthday but was definitely disappointed with the end result.

“We’re not going to dwell on this game. We’re going to go to Tampa ready to win. We have confidence in our group. We’re looking forward to getting back into the W column.”

Defenseman MacKenzie Weegar added, “By all means, we’re not even close to out of this series yet. We played great all year on the road. We’ve just got to stick with it here. No one’s hanging there heads here. We’re going to move into this next game and bring it to them in their own rink.”

A crowd of 9,646 provided lots of energy for the Panthers. Barkov said the team, “loved it. We enjoyed it. We just couldn’t come up with wins.”

Barkov said the task in Tampa is very simple.

“We’ve got a good chance to win the next game. We have to play smart. We had good periods, good shifts. We’ve got to stick to our game. 

“We’ve got to find a way to make that 60-minute effort from the whole team, every player, and we’ll be find.”

Barkov said the magic words 60-MINUTE EFFORT because that’s what it will take for Florida to remain in the playoffs.

It’s one thing to talk about playing hard and saying the right things.

Judging by what I saw on Tuesday Night, there is no question that Quenneville made the right decision by playing Driedger and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him face the Lightning on Thursday at 6:30 PM. 

The game will be televised nationally on the USA Network as well as locally.

For a team that has come a long way the past two seasons under Quenneville, if the Panthers want National respect, they need to win important hockey games.

In the long run, the best thing that can happen to this franchise is to become contenders so they can return to national television and let people know that South Florida can be an excellent hockey destination. 

But to do that, they need to start performing in the postseason.

The numbers don’t currently indicate that now.

But a win on Thursday Night in Amalie Arena would be a great way to gain some kind of national respect, but more importantly stay alive in the Central Division, Sunshine  State Showdown.

We’ll know in a matter of hours if they’re still in this series or forced to come from a practically impossible 3-0 playoff deficit.

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

You can listen to his broadcasts by subscribing to The South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel for free.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Battle of My Two Warm Weather Hometowns


During the 2021 Miami Marlins season, I have taken a historical perspective on memories with certain teams. 

We began the season with the San Francisco Giants and the Baltimore Orioles.

Today, the focus shifts to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

On Thursday, May 6th, I attended the Marlins 3-1 victory over the Diamondbacks.

Going into the game, the Diamondbacks were 15-15 and the Marlins had a 13-16 mark.

Madison Bumgarner was on the hill for Arizona and entered the game with a 3-2 record and a 5.58 ERA. On April 25, 2021, he threw a seven-inning no-hitter in a 7-0 win over the Atlanta Braves, which doesn’t count in the record books.

Miami threw tough luck starter Pablo Lopez, who entered the contest with an 0-2 mark and a 2.34 ERA.

The pitching matchup didn’t disappoint as we had an old fashioned pitchers duel.

Lopez worked five innings, yielding three hits, one run, zero earned runs, striking out six hitters and giving up two walks. He threw 94 pitches, with 63 being strikes. He wound up with a no decision.

Bumgarner, pitched six innings, gave up two hits, one run, one earned run, amassed seven strikeouts and with zero walks. He had a laughable moment at the plate when he initially thought he struck out but had two strikes and had to return to the batters box. He did strikeout on the next pitch.

Bumgarner gave up a lead off homer to Miguel Rojas off a 2-1 pitch that sailed over the left-field wall in the first inning to give Miami a 1-0. This was Rojas first round tripper of the year. Bumgarner then proceeded to retire the next 17 batters.

With the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Adam Duvall greeted J.B. Bukauskas (1-1) with his sixth homer of the year to give Miami a 2-1 lead. The Marlins added another run on two singles and Chad Wallach’s sacrifice fly to make it 3-1. Duvall’s homer came off 1-0 to deep centerfield.

Some other things that stood out in the game include closer Jimi Garcia entering the game and giving up two stolen bases off a shift to Pavin Smith, who reached base with a single. Garcia was practically ignoring the runner to focus on the hitter. He would earn his fifth save of the year and reliever Dylan Floro picked up the win in relief improving to 2-1.

The final out of the game was by Asdrubal Cabrera as a flies out to deep right field to Duvall to end the game.

In the seventh inning, Magneuris Sierra came off the Miami Bench and made a leaping catch at the 387 foot sign in centerfield to rob Cabrera of extra bases.

Manager Don Mattingly described Sierra’s catch, “I thought the ball was out of the ballpark when it was hit.”

The Diamondbacks left 10 on base and were swept 3-0 in this series.


Now onto some history with these two teams especially with the Diamondbacks.

In 2003, I covered the Marlins Game Six win over the San Francisco Giants when they won the World Series.

When I lived in Chandler, AZ from 1999-2002, I covered a three-game series in 2001 when the Diamondbacks hosted the Detroit Tigers and spent lots of time with My Mentor Hall of Fame Broadcaster Ernie Harwell during Fathers Day Weekend in June. 

The amount of time Ernie and I spent together was priceless and I always drove him back to his hotel after each game. Ernie was my adopted uncle and he loved it when I called him Uncle Ernie! 

I also had great memories with Uncle Ernie when the Tigers played the Florida Marlins as well as we always ate meals together, worked on projects and I drove him back to his hotel.

My best memory of Harwell in Arizona was when he gave me a bag of nachos with a cactus on it and I didn’t want it. I told Ernie the only way I would take those nachos is if he signed the bag. He pulled out a sharpie and signed the bag and I have it in my office.

The Diamondbacks had a magical championship season. 

I had a part-time job delivering Pizza for Domino’s and made great money in tips when the Diamondbacks were advancing through the playoffs. 

It was a tough time in American History because Arizona faced the New York Yankees in the wake of the September 11, 2001 tragedy. But being an Arizonian at the time, my loyalties were unquestionably with the Diamondbacks. It was Us vs Them matching Arizona and New York. 

I was also a co-host of an Auto Racing Show in Phoenix, but we rode the Diamondbacks success and talked about them plenty on the radio. Ironically, I had Harwell on as a guest when the September 11, tragedy shut down all sports.

I watched Game Seven of the World Series at The Stadium Club Sports Bar in Chandler, AZ and broke my toe when Luis Gonzalez had the game winning single off Hall of Fame Closer Mariano Rivera. 

I leaped up into the air and into a fans arm as we hugged and landed the wrong way. 

The last thing you want to do is break your smallest toe because there is no cast to mobilize it. You have to grin and bear it.

Gonzalez went on to have his No. 20 jersey retired by the Diamondbacks but did play his final season with the Florida Marlins in 2008.


As for the history between these two teams.

The Marlins have thrown two no-hitters vs Arizona.

Going into 2021, Arizona led the All-Time Series 88-68.

In 2019, Miami took the season series 4-3.

The Marlins home record was 41-40- (15-15, loanDepotPark) and (26-15, Sun Life Stadium).

In The Valley of the Sun, Miami was 27-48 with all of the games being played at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix.

The Marlins won this years season series 5-2 and it just concluded on Thursday, May 13th.

They swept the Diamondbacks at home 3-0 and were 2-2 in Cactus Country. 

The All-Time Record is now 73-90 in favor of Arizona.

But the big difference between the “Battle of My Two Warm Weather Hometowns” is the Marlins have won two World Series Championships while the Diamondbacks have won once.

To date, the Diamondbacks World Championship is the only one by a Major League Metropolitan Phoenix Team. 

The Phoenix Suns and Arizona Cardinals made it to the finals but lost. 

The Arizona Coyotes have struggled on the ice and have had ownership and arena issues. At one point, the NHL owned the Coyotes. Even the legendary Wayne Gretzky couldn’t turn this team’s fortunes around.

Nevertheless, it was great seeing these two teams meet and I have a special place in my heart for both franchises!

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

You can listen to his broadcasts by subscribing to The South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel for free.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Playoffs Are A Different Animal


It didn’t take long for the Florida Panthers to figure out that there is a major difference between the regular season and the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Florida entered Sunday Night’s NHL Playoff, Central Division Matchup, with the Tampa Bay Lightning winning its six last regular season games including the final two home contests against their intrastate I-75 rival. 

During those final two games, Florida out scored Tampa Bay 9-1 and they won the season series 5-2-1.

The Panthers game against the Lightning was on NBCSN in Prime Time and this was an opportunity for them to show the rest of the world they’re ready to make a championship run.

Nothing like the final game of the night and the main event.

All-season long, I’ve watched these two teams demonstrate the hatred for one another as there would be no shortage of physical play, penalties which resembled a Heavyweight Boxing Fight.

There was one major difference on Sunday Night.

The Tampa Bay Lightning had many of their top players return to the lineup.

And they made a difference.

Nikita Kucherov scored two power play goals in his first appearance after missing the entire regular with a hip injury. 

Kucherov had surgery on December 29, and played his first game since September 28, 2020. 

Since his NHL debut in 2013-14, Kucherov has scored 38 post-season goals, tying him with Alex Ovechkin for most among all players.

Steven Stamkos, who hadn’t played since April 8 with a lower-body injury, a span of 16 games, Victor Hedman (lower-body), Ryan McDonagh (upper-body) returned after each missed the last two games of the regular season, which were Florida Panthers wins. 

Hedman made his presence felt on Sunday Night with three assists.

Kucherov went on to have a three point night. McDonagh had two assists, while Stamkos’ leadership was valuable and he also had an assist as the Lightning defeated the Panthers 5-4. 

This was a game that featured four lead changes. 

The National TV Audence saw Florida out hit Tampa Bay 54-36. The scoresheet was filled with roughing penalties. The Lightning power play was lethal as it was 3-4. Meanwhile, Florida was 1-3 with the man advantage.

Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman found the scoresheet by scoring a short-handed goal, was sent to the penalty box for roughing and slashing penalties, plus was a victim of a charging penalty as he was drilled by Florida’s Sam Bennett. 

The boarding incident by Bennett was reviewed by the NHL Office on Monday and as a result, he was suspended for game two, on Tuesday Night. Tampa Bay Coach Jon Cooper went on record by saying that Bennett’s hit was predatory. 

Evidently, the NHL agreed and that’s why they took swift action.

For Florida, Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and two assists, Owen Tippett and Aleksander Barkov each scored a goal and an assist. Carter Verhaeghe scored a goal against his former team. He was on last season’s Lightning squad which earned him a championship ring.

Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 34 shots, Keith Yandle and Bennett had two assists.

Bennett had a power play goal negated when he pushed the puck past Andre Vasilevskiy at 7:26 of the first period, but it was waived off due to goalie interference. The Tampa net-minder made 35 saves in the contest.

After the pre-game skate early on Sunday Morning, the Panthers were extremely optimistic they would win the opening game after a weeks worth of rest. You could see that energy early in the game after they took a 2-1 lead at the end of the first period.

But make no bones about it, the main storyline is the “Return of Several Lightning Players” which to me, is as good as a team making key acquisitions at the trade deadline.

Let’s not forget the biggest thing and that the Lightning are the defending Stanley Cup Champions!

When the game is over, the Panthers realized an important lesson. 

Welcome to the playoffs.

Coach Joel Quenneville wasn’t going to dwell on the loss, but said, “Every shift is so critical against that team because they can make something out of nothing. There’s things we can take out of that game and learn from and improve. It was a heck of a hockey game. 

“This was an intense game and a lot was going on out there. The games we get beat, we’re looking to get educated. We need to improve on special teams. There were a lot of positives.”

Barkov said the loss really stung and, “we’ve moved on already. I know it sucks, but it happened. Now we’ve got to concentrate on next game. We had some momentum in the game, but we have to learn how to defend a little better. Other than that, I liked our effort.”

Bobrovsky added, “We faced a good, skilled team up front. They’ve got the weapons there. But I thought for most of the time, the guys did a great job, five on five we did a great job. It’s a long series, we just have to put that behind and be fresh for the next one. It’s 0-0 next game.”

Tippett echoed his teams thought about the post-season, “throughout the playoffs you go through adversity game in and game out, every shift is important. It’s going to happen, that’s the playoffs. It’s going to go up and down all game long. Just got to stick with it and take it one shift at a time.”

Quenneville decided to give the team Monday off and they’ll have a 10 AM Morning Skate on Tuesday at the BB&T Center. 

These two teams will square off on Tuesday Night at 8 PM and the game will be televised on CNBC as well as local television.

While the Panthers lost home-ice advantage after falling to the Lightning, now the main objective is to tie the series at 1-1 and avoid going on the road trailing 2-0.

Nevertheless, as we’ve seen so many times in Sports, the “Playoffs Are A Different Animal.”

Especially after Sunday Night with the Lightning getting many of their great players back.

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

You can listen to his broadcasts by subscribing to The South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel for free.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Panthers Gain Home Ice Advantage For Opening Round Of NHL Playoffs


The Florida Panthers were on a mission Monday Night at the BB&T Center and they got it accomplished in their 4-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lighting. 

Florida needed one point and they ended up getting a pair to take over sole possession of second place in the Central Division.

How did the Panthers get the job done on Monday Night?

1. The object of the game is to allow as few of goals as possible. Goaltender Chris Driedger accomplished just that as he stopped all 30 shots to record his third shutout of the season and as a result, he was named the games No.1 Star. He made his first start in six games. Driedger is the eighth goaltender in franchise history to post at least three shutouts in a season with the club. He completed his 2020-21 campaign with a 14-6-3 record.

He became the fourth goaltender in franchise history to register a shutout in the club’s final game of the regular season, joining James Reimer (April 9, 2017 at Washington), Tomas Vokoun (April 9, 2011) and Roberto Luongo (April 7, 2001).

2. Carter Verhaeghe scored a goal in his first game back from injury. Alex Wennberg and MacKenzie Weegar also scored goals for the Panthers.

3. Keith Yandle had an assist and recorded his 600th NHL point. He became the 10th U.S. born defenseman in NHL History to reach the milestone and the first from Massachusetts. He also played in all 56 regular season games. His consecutive game streak is now at 12 seasons and counting and has played in 922 straight games dating back to March 2009, the second-longest such run in NHL history. He is 42 games shy of tying Doug Jarvis’ NHL record.

4. After Yandle committed a holding penalty at 12:31 mark in the second period, Juho Lammikko scored a short-handed goal at 11:37 in the second period to give Florida a 2-0 lead. Lammikko was named the No.2 Star. This was Lammikko’s first career short-handed goal.

5. This was a total team effort as nine different Panthers recorded at least one point.

What we didn’t see on Monday Night were penalty minute totals that hit the 154 mark between the two squads on Saturday Night. There were some penalties and an occasional fight but for the most part, this was a clean hockey game.

We saw a Panthers team that was possessed to make a statement against their rival and ended the season with a 5-2-1 against Tampa Bay this year. The Panthers out scored the Lightning 9-1 in the final two games of the season. It was the first time they won the regular-season series against the Lightning in four years. Florida has won the in-state series 14 times.

Florida completed the 2020-21 season with a record of 37-14-5 (79 points, .705 points percentage) and a home record of 20-5-3.

The .705 regular season points percentage is their highest in franchise history. The team is entering the playoffs with a seven-game winning streak, matching their season-high from March 27-April 4.

Joining Yandle playing all 56 games were Frank Vatrano and Alex Wennberg.

Florida played without forward Jonathan Huberdeau for the first time this season, after he was late scratch with an upper-body injury and was listed day-to-day. He had 20 goals and 41 assists for Florida this season, his fourth consecutive year with at least 20 tallies.

Other stats worth noting are shots on goal, power play opportunities and hits. 

I’ve never seen two teams have identical shots on goal until Monday Night’s Game. Each team had 30 shots on goal. Both squads were inept on the power play as they both went 0-5. Tampa Bay out-hit Florida 39-33.

When the game was over, there was plenty of praise to go around as Florida gets ready to face the Lightning for the first time ever in the playoffs.

Coach Joel Quenneville said the guys played real well to the end and was extremely pleased with his goaltender.

“I thought Driegs was special in the net. It was one of those games coming off a layoff like that, coming up with a game like that was outstanding.”

Quenneville knows what lies ahead as the team enters the playoffs having won three Stanley Cup Championships with the Chicago Blackhawks.

“The playoffs are a fresh start, and it’s a whole new ballgame. We should be excited about the way the season went for us in a lot of ways. I thought we got a lot of guys included in our team game. Got some depth over the course of the season, but this is what we played for. It’s been a special year.”

What I am extremely impressed with the Panthers didn’t face any COVID-19 issues and didn’t lose games because they were neglecting the protocols. As a result they didn’t have to reschedule any of their games, just make up the ones by their opponents.

Coach Quenneville said, “at the beginning of the year, there was some accountability amongst the players pushing each other in a real good way. I think competitiveness to get quality ice time, staying in the line-up. We have several options as far as who can play. We welcome tough decisions, but its been something all year that we’ve been shooting for, and I thought we made giant strides over the course of the year from last year to this year. But it doesn’t matter. It’s what we do now going forward.”

Forward Anthony Duclair, who notched an assist, posting 32 points this season over 43 games played said, “I think we did a great job these last two games, obviously chippy and emotional games heading into the playoffs. We stick up for each other, we’ve been doing it all year and it’s not going to chance. It’s nice to see different guys step up in and out of the lineup.

“It’s not our first time playing these types of games. We know how to handle ourselves, we’ve got an unbelievable leadership group in our locker room. Credit to them since the beginning of the year to keep us not too high and not too low, whatever happens we want to stay humble as a team. That’s our motto right now.”

The Man of the Night was Driedger. 

He will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and with the year he’s had, he’s destined for a big payday. 

But he wasn’t thinking about that Monday Night. His goal is to hoist the Stanley Cup and win a championship ring.

He was extremely pleased at the effort from his teammates.

“The guys played fantastic defensively tonight. I felt good, I was seeing the puck. Couple breakaways that I just felt solid on, had good depth. But overall just an incredible effort by the guys.

“It was good to rest up and I was feeling good. When you have a lot of time off like that you come back mentally pretty fresh. I felt good out there.”

What is the mentality of this team going into the playoffs? Driedger added, “There’s just an incredible energy in the room right now, guys feel great. We’ve had a lot of fun. Closing the season off like that is as good as you can ask for, especially against these guys. Those were two really good playoff hockey games.”

What does it mean for Florida to have home ice advantage for the opening round?

“I can’t really put into words how excited we are. It’s been a topic of conversation pretty much non-stop at the rink,” Driedger said. “Our fans have been incredible all season. It was loud in there tonight. It was great to see fans come out like that and make that much noise. When we double (capacity) it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Lammikko summed up the evening, “I think the whole team played a really good game, it was easy to jump in today and just try to play my game. Good to get one goal there but it was a fun game to play in.”

From May 5-10, Tampa Bay played in four games compiling a 1-3 record including the two losses in Sunrise, FL. Quenneville mentioned that to us at the end of our media availability session.

He plans to keep his team sharp and crisp during this latest break but by the same token, he made us aware that the Lightning will be a different squad when the playoffs start and they get some of their injured players back.

In the meantime, it’s a waiting game for all us as we get ready for the NHL to release it’s playoff schedule. 

With all of the milestones and franchise records the Panthers have had all-season, now it’s simply time to focus on the big prize and hoisting the Stanley Cup Trophy.

It will start by just winning their first round playoff series. When the game was over, the fans littered the ice with plastic rats. You can rest assure there won’t be a shortage of those.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth. Also, to listen to his broadcasts, subscribe to the South Florida Tribune You Tube for free.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Panthers Win Slugfest, Monday Night Matters!


There are certain games that you can almost feel like you can anticipate and predict the outcome before you get to the venue and Saturday Night when the Florida Panthers hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning at the BB&T Center, was one of those.

On Friday Night, the defending Stanley Cup Champion Lightning lost a 5-2 home decision to the Dallas Stars. The Stars win kept their playoff hopes alive.

The Lightning owned all the tiebreakers with the Panthers that if they could defeat Florida, they would clinch the second spot in the Central Division and earn home ice advantage in the first round. 

A Tampa win would also allow the Lightning to rest their regular players and utilize others from there American Hockey League Club, the Syracuse Crunch.

Entering the contest, Florida’s three wins versus Tampa have been recorded during regulation, marking the first time the club has registered three regular season wins against their intrastate rival since 2015-16. 

Furthermore, the Panthers owned an 18-5-3 record on home ice this season and Florida has posted an 11-2 mark over their last 13 games at the BB&T Center.

You talk about scoring depth, Florida has it. The Panthers are the first team in the NHL to have eight players score at least 10 goals this season: Going into the game, Aleksander Barkov (26), Jonathan Huberdeau (19), Frank Vatrano (18), Carter Verhaeghe (17), Patric Hornqvist (14), Alexander Wennberg (13), Aaron Ekblad (11) and Anthony Duclair (10). 

The first period went exactly as I expected. 

Both teams were feeling each other out and there was only one  penalty called at the 4:35 mark on Florida’s Ryan Lomberg for hooking. 

Florida held a 1-0 lead at the end of the opening frame on a goal by Wennberg.

Tampa Bay’s Erik Cernak committed a penalty at the 17:39 mark in the second period and the Panthers capitalized by scoring a power play goal at the 16:53 mark by Sam Bennett. Florida led 2-0.

The Lightning added and even strength goal at 15:08 to trim the deficit to 2-1 when Luke Scheen lit the lamp.

But the fun started at 13:43 of the second period when Lomberg was assessed a two minute instigating penalty, against Scheen that led to five for fighting and a 10 minute misconduct. Scheen got a five minute penalty for fighting. Tampa Bay was unable to convert on the power play.

Wennberg scored his second goal of the game giving Florida a 3-1 lead off a wraparound.

By this time, tensions were getting much higher!

When Huberdeau scored off a backhand at 5:07 in the period and gave Florida a 4-1 lead, you could sense a feel in the building that Florida smelled the kill.

The wider the lead, tempers were boiling over and Tampa Bay became increasingly frustrated looking for scrums anyway they could find them.

Wennberg would have a hat trick and his goal total reached 16 for the season.

I created my own version of the Gordie Howe Hat Trick in this game as the only statistics that mattered were Hits, Penalty Minutes and the Final Score.

1. There were 73 total hits, Florida had 38 and Tampa Bay had 35.

2. There were 154 penalty minutes, Tampa Bay had 78, Florida had 76.

3. Florida defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1.

I rarely ever talk about individual penalty minutes numbers but in this case, I will.

Lomberg led the way with 29, Brandon Montour had 14 and Bennett had 12 for the Panthers.

Scheen led Tampa Bay with 17 and three players amassed 12.

Florida’s power play was less than spectacular going 1-7.

The Panthers out shot Tampa Bay 35-28 in the game.

The win improved Florida’s record to 36-14-5 for 77 points, while the Lightning’s loss dropped them to 36-16-3 with 75 points. All Florida needs is one point on Monday Night to secure the second spot and home ice advantage in the opening round. 

Both teams have now played 55 games.

In a 56 game regular season on Fan Appreciation Night, “Monday Night Matters.”

When the game was over, Coach Joel Quenneville knew his team was in for a battle.

“I think both teams know we’re going to be facing one another. I still think there’s something at at stake so you’ve got to be smart about how you’re playing. Sometimes, it went back to old time hockey but I thought we did a good job of staying together and doing what we had to do.”

The Coach had high praise for Wennberg’s performance.

“I’m very pleased with his effort, his game. The production part is really kind of the bonus plan with him because he’s reliable defensively, he’s always in the right play. You’re comfortable with him knowing that you’re getting offense and defense.”

Huberdeau, scored his 20th goal of the season, marking his fourth straight season with at least 20 goals.  He wasn’t surprised at what the Lightning threw at the Panthers.

“Tonight, we just came in and wanted to play our game and win the game. I think that gives us the possibility to finish in second place and get the home advantage, so that’s what we’re focusing on. It was physical and we don’t mind that. It was a good game, intense game. That’s how it’s going to be along the way. They’re a good team and they can play physical so we have to match that. 

“It was a little chippy tonight but everybody’s in the same boat. We want to win, and that’s how we play as a team. It showed tonight what kind of a team we are.”

Wennberg was awarded the game’s top star because of his hat trick. 

The forward said, “it was a really tough game. We both want to win. There’s a good chance here that when you rough people up a little bit, get some intensity. As you can see, there was a lot of fights and a lot of energy. It’s playoffs coming up so it’s a great game to play out there.”

Wennberg had strong praise for the opponent.

“Tampa Bay is a really tough team to play against, but I feel like the way they play the game, if we play our style, it’s going to get rewarded. I’ve played against them before and I am excited to do it again.”

The win improved Sergei Bobrovsky’s record to 19-8-2 and he stopped 28 of 29 shots fired by the Lightning.

He added, “We had a good crowd behind us, it was a great atmosphere. We’re going to see those guys (Tampa Bay) a lot. I loved everything about tonight’s game. Overall, I think it’s a very solid game, and it’s a great team win.”

The announced sellout crowd because of Covid-19 was 5,040. 

You can rest assure if the energy was high on Saturday Night what it will be like on Monday Night at 7 PM at the BB&T Center.

My gut feeling is right about 95% of the time and Saturday Night was no exception! 

What will happen on Monday Night?

Will we see another WWE Battle Royal where the penalty boxes are packed and there is no social distancing?

Or will we see a nice clean hockey games in the Battle of I-75 for this intrastate rivalry which will occur in the playoffs for the first time in 27-years?

This one is hard to predict but like the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament where the Semi-Finals are on Saturday and the Finals are Monday Night, it’s an interesting 48 hour buildup worth waiting for.

Nonetheless, whatever happens, there will be at least five more games with these two games in 2021 with Monday Night’s Finale, plus at least four more, not counting the thought of a series going seven games.

All I can say to South Florida and Tampa Bay Sports Fans, “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” as legendary Boxing Ring Announcer Michael Buffer would echo. 

The Panthers are 4-2-1 vs Tampa this season. A fifth win this year will undoubtedly be the biggest. 

All four of Florida’s wins have come in regulation time marking the first time since 2010-11 that the Panthers have defeated the Lighting in regulation in one season.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at and can be reached on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

You can hear his broadcasts by subscribing to The South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel for Free!

Friday, May 7, 2021

A Unique Draft Experience


On Thursday, April 29, 2021 at Hard Rock Stadium, I covered the Miami Dolphins Draft Party.

Over the years, I have covered the NFL Draft for the Dolphins from 1982-83, the Detroit Lions during the 1990’s and the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019.

Working with Hall of Fame Coach Don Shula was an experience in itself for a young 19-year-old writer. I learned a lot from the coach as well as the local media. 

I have to admit that I was intimidated by Shula initially but by the end of the draft, I got more acclimated with Shula and the surroundings of Biscayne College.

The Detroit Lions experience was much easier since I was more relaxed in my late 20’s into my mid 30’s. I would get to the Pontiac Silverdome at 7 AM and leave by Midnight on Saturday. On Sunday, I returned at 7 AM and left the Silverdome by 8 PM. The Lions made sure we had plenty of food all weekend.

The Lions had all the press releases and draft guides we needed. I met a lot of great colleagues and worked with them during the season.

The Public Relations Staff was a dream team with Bill Keenist, Mike Murray and James Petrylka Sr. They helped us anyway they could.

The main head coaches I worked with were Wayne Fontes and Bobby Ross.

They were as different as two people could be. 

Fontes was a colorful, cigar smoking character who had the most amazing quotes. Everyone loved him. At Barry Sanders Hall of Fame Induction in 1999, Fontes was there. Fontes also made his assistant coaches available to us.

I’ll never forget the one time when he made a blockbuster trade with the New Orleans Saints by dealing Detroit’s 1993 first round pick, eighth overall, for linebacker Pat Swilling. Fontes wanted a dominant pass rusher and he got his man. 

Meanwhile, New Orleans drafted offensive tackle Willie Roaf with the pick. 

Swilling did lead the Lions to the playoffs in his two years with the club. 

Roaf played nine seasons with the Saints and would get inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

After Fontes, I worked with Bobby Ross. While he didn’t possess the pizazz as Fontes, he was still very polite and gave straight answers and demonstrated his high football IQ.

The Jacksonville experience was interesting in it’s own way. I stayed up there for a weekend. 

The Jaguars lead PR person was Dan Edwards. His entire staff was very hospitable. By this time, all of the information on the players could be found online, thus, no paper press releases. There were two rooms, one for press conferences and the other was a press room at TIAA Bank Stadium.

The main people at press conferences were President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, GM David Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone. No shortage of food during the three days covering the draft.

When I was sent an invite by the Dolphins, I thought I would be covering the event as I had in the past. But that would not be the case. The invitation came from the marketing department to cover the Draft Party. 

One of the ladies apologized to me by saying that she was sorry I got the wrong idea. I told her that wasn’t necessary and I was happy to be there. Thanks for inviting us.

Instead of talking to the coaches and media, who were at the teams offices in Davie, FL., I decided to go on the field and take tons of pictures. People watching at its best. 

The party featured a live stage show with live analysis from Dolphins analysts and conversations with current players, alumni and special guests throughout the night. It was also streamed on You Tube Live.

The fans could see the NFL Network and ESPN Broadcast from TV’s around the stadium. 

The photos in this story certainly create a clear picture of what this event was all about.

As for the Media that did cover the event, the Dolphins placed us in the photographers room near the tunnel that leads to the field. They also provided us with a press meal in lunch boxes and drinks.

The primary media that did cover the event was from the local television stations.

If I wanted to be around the fans, I could go onto the field. If I didn’t, I stayed in our area and they had the draft on televisions. I enjoyed talking football with the local anchors in our room.

The Miami Dolphins had two first round selections. One was used on Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle while the other pick was DE Jaelan Phillips, who played locally with the Miami Hurricanes. I would go on the field and listened to the reaction of the fans when both picks were announced. You could definitely feel the energy and enthusiasm on the field.

One intriguing thing for me was watching the Dolphins pick sixth overall and the Lions picked seventh. Ironically, Detroit Lions Head Coach Dan Campbell was the Dolphins interim head coach in 2015 and had a 5-7 record. Thus, the fans cheered when the Lions made their pick because of their loyalty to Campbell.

One highlight for me was meeting NBC 6 Sports Anchor Ruthie Polinsky since she is a University of Michigan graduate. We enjoyed talking about the Maize and Blue. She’s a truly remarkable person and an extremely talented broadcaster. She did appear on stage.

After the Dolphins made their final selection, the crowds left and I headed home. 

While there would be no coaches, executives or players to talk to, just my media colleagues, this was “A Unique Draft Experience “ and one that I’ll never forget.

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

To see his broadcasts, subscribe for free to The South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

The Miami, Baltimore Baseball Connection


During the course of the 2021Miami Marlins Season, there will be times when I talk about connections that I have with the Marlins and certain opponents. 

This is an opportunity to go down memory lane and provide interesting information.

During my first trip to loanDepot Park, I enjoyed the last time I saw the Marlins when they faced the San Francisco Giants in their 2003 Championship Season.

Today, I want to talk about the Marlins history with the Baltimore Orioles.

On April 21, 2021, I covered the Marlins 3-0 triumph over Baltimore as Trevor Rogers looked fantastic by going seven innings, yielding four hits, only one walk and struck out eight. The victory gave Rogers a 1-1 record.

Rogers also had a sacrifice bunt that caught the Orioles sleeping defensively. His bunt enabled catcher Sandy Leon to move to third base. Leon singled to get on base.

Miguel Rojas drew a walk and Jesus Aguilar doubled to deep center field driving in Rojas and Leon. Aguilar would drive in two RBI on the afternoon. Outfielder Jazz Chisholm and Leon each had two hits.

Dylan Floro and Yimi Garcia each pitched a scoreless inning. Garcia picked up his third save of the season.

Bruce Zimmermann gave up three runs in 4.2 innings and dropped to 1-1 for Baltimore.

Due to COVID-19, the game’s paid attendance was 4,028. 

In terms of length of the game, it was played in 2:42 minutes. Nobody could complain about the pace or length of this game.

The teams split in their two game series 1-1. 

After the Marlins win, Miami now leads the all-time series 27-9.

Before I arrived to the game, I decided to drive to the Baltimore Orioles former Spring Training Stadium, which is now called the Miami Stadium Apartments. 

From loanDepot Park, it’s a 2.2 mile trek and is 11 minutes away.

For a one bedroom, one bedroom and one bathroom it costs $1001.00. A two bedroom, two bathroom will cost $1,174.00.

Who knows what the Orioles were paying in rent when they played their Spring Training Games from 1959-1990. 

Baltimore also had a Florida State League from 1971-1981 called the Miami Orioles.

When I was in the apartment complex, I did decide to drive around and take these pictures. It was neat to think about what was and see what is. 

The top players who played at Miami Stadium include: Storm Davis, Mike Flanagan, Dennis Martinez, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken Jr, John Shelby, Wayne Krenchicki, Orlando Pena, Sammy Stewart, Nate Snell, Bryn Smith, Vic Rodriguez, Mike Young and John Flinn.

Ripken Jr is in the Baseball Hall of Fame while Shelby is a two-time World Series Champion. 

Ripken won his lone World Series in 1983 and holds the MLB record for consecutive games played with 2,632. He’s a 19-time All-Star.

Murray won a World Series in 1983 and is an eight-time All-Star, who amassed 504 home runs with 1,917 RBI.

When the Orioles left Miami, they remained connected to South Florida.

They would make Fort Lauderdale Stadium their Spring Training Home from 1996-2009 then proceeded to move to Sarasota’s Ed Smith Stadium where they have been since 2010.

But the memories are very fresh in my head and always will be.

For what it’s worth, former Miami Dolphins Coach Don Shula used to be the head coach of the Baltimore Colts. We all know how that turned out. 

Shula won two Super Bowls with the Dolphins and is the All-Time winning coach with 347. 

He is the only undefeated coach in NFL History guiding the Dolphins to an improbable 17-0 record in 1973 and a Super Bowl Championship.

The Miami, Baltimore Baseball Connection is alive and well with some nice football history as well.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth, plus subscribe for free: South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Panthers Gutsy Win Over The Desperate Dallas Stars


The Florida Panthers are heading where the Dallas Stars are trying to get back to. 

A return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Last year, the Stars reached the Stanley Cup Finals only to lose to the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2.

On Monday Night at the BB&T Center, the Stars had some major work to do as they were facing an opponent that is already on their way to the tournament and had the luxury of starting their Goaltender Of The Future, Spencer Knight. 

Going into the game, the Panthers owned the series lead vs the Stars 5-2. 

Dallas’ record was 21-17-13 with 55 points. Florida was sitting comfortably in second place with a 34-14-5 mark. 

The Stars are a desperate team and the Panthers knew it. 

The Panthers home record was 17-5-3 while Dallas road mark was 8-10-5.

The Panthers didn’t play like they were a comfortable squad as they took a 2-0 and 3-1 lead by the 5:47 mark of the first period. 

You could tell that Dallas Goaltender Anton Khudobin (11-10-7) was on his heels.

At the 2:44 mark of the opening frame, the Stars got a little life back for what turned out to be a Panthers own goal as the puck was thrown on the net and went off of Knight’s skate and into the back of the net. Jason Robertson was credited with an unassisted goal and Dallas cut the lead to 3-2.

It didn’t take long for the Panthers to regain a two goal, 4-2 lead as Gustav Forsling scored his fifth goal of the season with assists coming from Grigori Denisenko and Alexander Barkov. 

It took less time for Dallas Coach Rick Bowness to make a goaltender change and replaced Khudobin with  Jake Oettinger in an effort to stop the Panthers onslaught.

The move sparked Dallas as Oettinger proceeded to stop 26 of the 27 shots he faced.

He kept his team in the game and Dallas rallied behind him. The Stars got goals from Joel Kiviranta at the 3:55 mark and other from Tyler Seguin, just 11 seconds apart to tie the contest at 4-4. Dallas out scored Florida in the third period, 2-0.

This is how the game ended in regulation time and Dallas managed to get “A” point, while the Panthers knew they had more work to do in overtime to get two points. At the end of the third period, Florida had outshot Dallas 36-29.

But the Stars couldn’t avoid the costly mistake in overtime as Joe Pavelski was sent to the penalty box for hooking, which gave Florida a 4-3 advantage.

As a result, Barkov scored the game winning power play goal at 2:50, his 26th of the season with assists going to Keith Yandle and MacKenzie Weegar enabling Florida to win the contest 5-4.

To make matters worse for Dallas, the fourth place Nashville Predators defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 in overtime, thus getting two points falling four points behind in the standings. 

In the tough defeat, Oettinger saw his record drop to 10-7-7.

Going into Wednesday Night’s action, a Panthers team day off, through 53 games, Nashville is 29-22-2, 60 points, while the Stars have played 52 contests and are 21-17-14 with 56 points. 

Dallas has dealt with a lot of adversity this season as COVID-19 caused them to reschedule some games.

The Predators and Blue Jackets play tonight while the Stars have their work cut out for themselves as they face the Lightning Wednesday and again on Friday Night. 

The team that defeated them in the Stanley Cup Finals could very well eliminate them by the end of the weekend. 

Dallas travels to Chicago and face the Blackhawks on Sunday May, 9 and Monday, May 10 in what they’re hoping will be meaningful games.

But back to the Panthers, they closed out their season series with Dallas 6-2 and used Monday Night to give Knight perhaps his last quality playing time of the season going into the playoffs. 

Knight, who stopped 25 of 29 Dallas shots improved his record to 4-0. 

Florida improved its record to 35-14-5 and is 9-2-1 over its past 12 games.

Talk about a total team effort, this win demonstrated that as nine different Panthers recorded at least a point. 

Yandle produced two assists in this game and is one shy of his 600th NHL point. Radko Gudas led Florida with six hits.

Knight is the youngest goaltender in NHL history to begin their career with a 4-0 record (20 years, 14 days).

You want to talk about preparing for the playoffs, Florida’s 10 overtime wins are the most among all teams this season as well as the most in franchise history in a single campaign. 

But the Panthers know that overtimes in the playoffs will be five players aside and not three on three and could go a long time.

After Monday Night’s win, Quenneville scheduled a light week. 

The three-time Stanley Cup Winning Coach gave his squad a Team Day Off on Tuesday, May 4, Wednesday, May 5, scheduled a practice on Thursday, May 6 at 11A.M as well as another practice on Friday, May, 7 at 11 A.M.

This is definitely an opportunity to rest his players and get the injured players healthy with what will be a tough two game final home games vs the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

They face-off on Saturday Night at 7 E.T.

Owen Tippett recorded two assists in the game. He said, “We knew the push was coming, but for us to get the one point and then the second in overtime was huge.”

Gustav Forsling, who scored his fifth goal of the season, added, “(Dallas) came out really hard in the third (period) there, I think it’s good that we calmed ourselves down and got back to the game. we took it to overtime, good to get the win here.” 

Forsling said it’s important for the team to keep the focus and, “We want to keep the playoff mentality like we’ve been doing for the past 15-20 games. Just keep it going. You can’t settle back and take it easy. You’ve just got to keep playing like you want to play in playoffs.”

MacKenzie Weegar said, “I think we played a solid 60 minutes. We found a way to get the two points, but we’ve got to clean a few things up in that third period for sure.”

Quenneville said his team showed a lot of character for the entire 65 minutes.

“I thought we did a good job after (Dallas tied the game). I thought we generated some looks and all of a sudden we’re in their end again and put ourselves back in the game. I thought for the most part tonight’s we did a lot of good things.”

As for Knight the coach added, “I thought he settled down after that (Dallas tied the game) found a way to win. There’s some good things to take out of that game going forward and look to improve upon. But he does a lot of good things.”

As for the goaltending situation over the weekend, according to Quenneville, Chris Driedger and Sergei Bobrovsky will get in a game and he’s going to have a good idea of what direction the team is headed in what is without question, a tough challenging division.

To summarize the week in a nutshell, Dallas has a lot of work to do while Florida would like nothing better than to have home ice advantage in what’s figuring to be a potential first round matchup against the defending Stanley Cup champion, and in-state rival Tampa Bay Lightning. 

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that this season, the franchises have shared dual temporary affiliation with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, since the Panthers primary affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers didn’t play this season.

I can only imagine what Saturday and Monday Night’s games are going to be light, let alone seeing them play for bragging rights on the frozen pond in Florida. These games could be slugfests and I expect a lot of physical play and some fights between these two squads.

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

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The Marlins Stunning Start

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH What a difference an off-season makes. To say that I was surprised that former GM Kim Ng leaving the organization turned...