This evening the Florida Panthers will take on the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins and Cindy Crosbitch at the Bank Atlantic Center for game one of 2010.
Because of my personal computer issues I’m doing this not only from another lap top and without all my usual tools, but also a bit ahead of schedule, so my apologies for the lack of current info and details. Bear with me and I’ll do the best I can till things get back to normal. All I can say is that computer viruses suck!
Anyway, the Panthers are coming off a New Years Eve loss to the Montreal Canadiens by a score of 5-4 which didn’t feature much defence, but had alot of offence. Which for our Panthers isn’t good. Run and gun is a game that they should not play. I had said in my pre game post that Montreal has a lot of offensive firepower and the top power play in the NHL, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.
My concern was that Florida would not be able to stay out of the penalty box and they didn’t allowing Montreal too many chances, especially a 5 on 3 in the third as the Panthers received two delay of games calls in a row. Montreal ended up with two power play goals in the game and was basically just all over Florida. The Panthers while taking the lead early in the game let the Canadiens dictate the pace, and rather then try to stop it, the Cats fell right into it.
Now another offensively gifted group comes into town with just as much firepower and skill. While Florida tends to play the Pens rather close, they are 0-3 in the current season series. Pittsburgh has won all three games in ether overtime or in a shootout as Florida has not been able to confidently hold on.
Both teams at this writing are on three game losing streaks (pending what Pittsburgh did against Tampa last night) and while that is bad sign for the Penguins, it’s worse for Florida. They have been streaky all season and have had these spurts of winning a few, then losing a few. Problem being is that this stretch that they are in was one where they needed to win these games to stay in the eighth playoff spot. The Eastern Conference is fairly tight, but as of Saturday morning the Panthers were in 13th with 39 points, and the New York Rangers were in 8th with 42 points.
While Atlanta is slipping, guess what? The Flyers are streaking (except for New Years Day), which we all knew was something that was bound to happen. In addition with all the injuries that the Ottawa Senators have, and including the loss of Dany Heatley, they still hold the sixth position.
Consistency has been the Panthers issue all year, and until they figure out how to get a hold of themselves and control that, it’s going to always be a season of being on the outside looking in. Yes, Cory Stillman is back, but it will take him a few games to be in real game shape, and he’s not going to change things too much. David Booth is still a ways away, and I don’t count on him till at least February, and possibly after the Olympics are over. So unless a deal is made, it’s going to remain an uphill battle for Florida to make the playoffs.
Other teams are making changes, as we have seen Philly fire their coach, as they weren’t playing well. Washington improved themselves by making a trade with Columbus who wasn’t playing well. St. Louis Saturday fired their coach, cause, they aren’t playing well.
See the pattern? Accountability. Something that we were promised.
We’re sitting on our hands apparently. Our roster isn’t good enough to make the playoffs. If something is brewing, it’s not being leaked, or even talked about. As I look at the schedule for the rest of January, there isn’t one game that you can safely say we can win. That isn’t a good sign and could result in the season being lost long before the trade deadline, or even the Olympic break for that matter.
Here are a few issues to be concerned about. Top line, quiet. Defence, not looking too sharp and out of position. Vokoun and Clemmensen can only do so much. Third and fourth line scoring? Slim.
So in hopes of getting on the right foot in 2010, Florida needs to start with a win. No more being happy with playing well and hanging in games only to lose. That mentality doesn’t work.
I have no idea what to expect tonight. I’ll be at this one watching crybaby Cindy and his girlfriends Penguins attempt to complete the season sweep.
Thanks for reading.