A first period Keith Ballard tally would be all the offense the Florida Panthers would need (or muster) in a 1-0 win against the Boston Bruins. In a must win game for Boston, Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen would be the boon to the Panthers 4 game losing streak. After Monday’s contest against the Nashville Predators (a 3-2 OT loss) and the melt down at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres Wednesday night (6-2 loss), last nights game was a step away from the teams recent losing ways, coming to a team desperate for a win.
The Bruins are now firmly entrenched in a a race with Philadelphia and Montreal for spots 6 through 8, with Atlanta only 2 points out in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Last night’s game for the Bruins was a must win and according to Panther Coach Pete DeBoer a must win for the Cats too.
“It’s hurting in that this franchise needs to learn how to win. And while it might not be hurting us in costing us a playoff spot, you’ve got young players in the lineup that aren’t learning how to win,” DeBoer said. “Sure, that’s destructive.”
For a decade now, in a league where 53% of all teams make the playoffs every year, this team will yet again miss the playoffs. I completely agree with changing the culture down here. The fanbase has accepted the losing ways of this team and thats not good. Thats exactly how South Florida is going to lose hockey.
The Panthers loss to Nashville on Monday, saw the Cats storm back to take a 2-1 lead in the third period only to surrender a late goal and fall on the first shot of over time. Wednesday against the Sabres the Panthers were just plain sloppy. Unfocused hockey lead to to 4 straight unanswered goals after the team took an early 1-0 lead. These type of losses don’t happen in New Jersey or Detroit. A complete turn around, which I believe will be spear headed by Pete DeBoer, must happen for this team to gain cohesion on the ice and be a playoff power.
The good news (to some) is that the Panthers are in prime position for a lottery pick in the upcoming NHL Draft. I am currently of the mindset that losing is going to help this club but in all honesty this team is going to get a great player regardless of whether it’s the number 2 pick or the number 8 pick. Last year the team selected Dmitry Kulikov with the 14th pick and he earned a spot on the blue line right out of camp, and minus the understandable lull in the 3rd quarter of the season (plus time on the injured list) he was a dependable defenseman who will only get better and has a ton of offensive upside.
This season may be lost but finishing strong is important heading into next season. This summer will be a catalyst for alot of players on this team. New management has made it clear that its all about the playoffs. I’m 26 and I’ve said this before, I have yet to attend an NHL playoff game and my first one will be with Florida. Please don’t take too long. It’s been long enough already.
DEBOER: When asked about the team’s prospective draft position, Pete had this to say: “I could give a s— about draft position.” I think that about sums it up.
NHL DRAFT: For everything you need to know about the upcoming NHL Draft, specifically the rocket science degree you need in understanding the lottery, head here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NHL_Draft_lottery#Selection_order_and_Draft_lottery
BOOTH UPDATE: Panthers GM Randy Sexton had this to say on star winger David Booth’s latest concussion injury: “It’s always a concern, but having spoken with David in Montreal and then having gotten the test results, a lot less concerned, his level of alertness in Montreal, his mental acuity, his sense of humor, everything was significantly better than in Philadelphia.”
UP NEXT: Panthers play host to the New York Rangers, Saturday night at the Bank Atlantic Center. Puck drops 7 PM.
IN CASE YOU DIDN’T KNOW: Great website that has links to all the major mock NHL draft gurus. Enjoy! http://thepuckdoctors.com/2009/08/2010-nhl-mock-draft-database/
About the Author
Written by Jack Powell
My name is Jack Powell. I'm 26 and work for a civil contracting company in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. I've been a Panther fan since the team was formed in 1993 and don't ever plan on not being one. Looking forward to see what new Panther GM Dale Tallon is going to do to rebuild this franchise and make us a Cup contender!!