Good Lord is Steven Stamkos good. Tampa Bay has themselves a superstar that they need to give a long term deal yesterday. As for the Florida Panthers, well, not too sure what this team has or will have come October. By dropping their final two games of the season (4-3 shoot out loss in Tampa on Saturday and the 3-1 loss tonight), Florida locked in the distinct honor of the 3rd worst record in the NHL this season, and with that comes the 14.2% chance of winning the draft lottery. That’s the last piece of good news in a very disappointing season for the Panthers. Now the real fun begins for GM Randy Sexton.
Florida battled back in Saturday night’s contest at the St. Pete Times Forum to force overtime after trailing 3-1 in the second period. All three top line players tallied for the Panthers, seeing Stephen Weiss net his 28th of the season, Michael Frolik his 21st, and Nathan Horton his 20th, respectively. But the night belonged to Stamkos who scored twice in regulation, giving him 50 goals on the year and was the only scorer for either team in the shoot out.
“His shot explodes off his stick,” said Clemmensen of Stamkos, “he’s the one guy in the league that I think has a comparable shot to Ovechkin’s, to tell you the truth. It is deadly.”
Florida’s final game of the season wasn’t as entertaining for the home crowd. The Panthers took an early 1-0 lead off a Rostislav Olesz goal at the 2:06 mark of period number one, but would fail to find the net for the rest of the evening. The Lightning saw goals from Alex Tanguay, Vincent Lecavalier and Stamkos would put the game away with an empt net tally that ended up leaving him in a dead lock with Pittsburgh Penguin Sidney Crosby at 51 goals for the Rocket Richard Trophy.
The game ended and the players gave “the jerseys off their back” to fans who won auctions for the players sweaters during the game. It was very easy to see a tired and disappointed look on the player’s faces and you could especially hear it in Stephen Weiss’ voice when he spoke to the crowd and promised to “turn this thing around.” It was hard to watch. As a fan you get all caught up in your team and sometimes forget that it really is hard for the players, some of which are pushing a decades worth of service to this franchise and have yet to see the playoffs.
Florida finished the year with a 32-37-13 record for 77 points, second to last in the Eastern Conference.
OWNER: Right when I walked into the arena there was Michael Yormark, President and COO of Sunrise Sports & Entertainment and to his right was Panther owner Stu Siegel, who stuck out his hand to great me and thanked me for coming to the game, while Yormark jokingly urged fans to tell Siegel what you wanted from this team next year. That easy, huh?
LOTTERY: The NHL lottery winners will be announced live on Versus at 8 PM on Tuesday, April 13th.
PLAYOFFS: Congrats to the 16 teams who made it into this year’s NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. Best of luck to all your favorite teams.
WEISS: Bank Atlantic Center was showered with confetti and streamers while the players said their goodbyes to the fans. This is what Weiss thought of the whole ordeal: “I don’t know what to say. It got under my skin to see that. I’ve seen a lot here. I don’t know where these things come from, who makes these decisions. It’s certainly not the right way to do things. The jersey off your back is fine, that’s good for the fans. But confetti and streamers?”
UP NEXT: We’ll find out where the Panthers are picking in the NHL Draft on Tuesday. Hopefully it’ll be 1 or 2.
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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!!