A long stretch of games, an emotional and physcial victory two nights before, injuries, the flu bug and Christmas around the corner, the Florida Panthers did the best they could. But ultimately the New York Rangers and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist proved to be the hungrier and more desperate team Wednesday night.
Henrik was so good that the New York faithful sung “Henrik, Henrik” during the closing minutes of the game to acknowledge his performance for the night. Stopping 33 of 34 shots, Lundqvist was almost perfect as only Panther forward Victor Oreskovich was able to beat the Swedish goalie. Oreskovich got his second goal of the season early in the first, but Florida was unable to get anything more past “King Henri”.
The Rangers scored in all facets of the game, power play, short handed, even strength. Marion Gaborik scored on a shortie, and Vinny Prospal added two himself, breaking a scoring drought as the Rangers top line seemingly controlled most of the play when they were on the ice.
Speaking of top line, the line of Weiss, Horton and Frolik was quiet the entire night. Couple scoring chances but nothing to speak of as they looked tired and frustrated, and collectively managed no points and were a -6. If you are able to shut down that line there is a pretty good chance that you’ll beat the Panthers. Tomas Vokoun was only able to stop 28 of 32 shots and had little support as Keith Ballard was out of position on one goal and Dennis Seidenberg coughed up the puck to give Gaborik the scoring chance for his shorthanded goal.
For most of this game I would say Florida seemed out of it. A bit slow, and bit behind the play and timid at times. Decisions weren’t their best attribute tonight, especially when Rusty was heading down on the wing and had an opportunity to wind up and take a shot at Lundqvist only to have a brain cramp and not even get a shot away. Maybe since he had no opportunity to take a backhand he didn’t know what to do with himself. Careful Rusty, you may be getting yourself a room at Che Bow Wow if you’re not careful. (A Bill Lindsey reference)
Sean Avery was his usual pain in the ass self as Mike Duco on many occasions was up to the task of playing Avery at his own game. But the truth aboout Avery, the little chickenshit that he is, is that he won’t get his nose dirty. He threw a couple “face washes”, a couple late checks, and his usual yapping was going on. Unfortunately, he never put himself in a position to get his nose broken. Too bad, maybe next time. His pain in the ass behavior and lack of courage is something I can do without. Read it here Panther owners, you ever acquire this jerk, my season ticket days are over.
At the end of the day the Panthers find themselves now in a three way tie for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Never thought we’d be saying that a few weeks ago did we? If there was a game on the schedule that you were pointing to for them to take a fall, this one was it. Alot of build up and alot of stressful play up to this point.
The schedule gets tougher with Boston coming in on Sunday the 27th, Montreal and Uncle Jack making his emotional and first return to Florida New Years Eve, and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday January 3rd. No easy games there, that’s for sure.
Enjoy the break Panther fans. Two days of no NHL hockey! What to do? I’m sure the NHL Network here in the States and TSN in Canada has some things planned, but the rest will do the players good.
I want to wish all my loyal readers ( I think there’s 5 of you, ha, ha), a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday. Enjoy yourselves, enjoy your family and friends, and may Santa bring you everything you wish for.
Thanks for reading.