Don't Cry! Please Don't Cry! Source: Vancouver Sun

Ex-Panther Factor Helps Create Deja Vu


No need to explain

Exactly one year ago to the day the Chicago Blackhawks eliminated the Vancouver Canucks in the Conference Semi-finals with a similar offensive beating, only this time the score was more lopsided.  Last year the Hawks lit up Bobby Lou for seven goals including a hat trick by Patrick Kane.  This year the Hawks scored five times against the overrated and beaten down goaltender as they disposed of the Canucks 5-1 in GM Place.

It was roughly a month ago when the postseason began that I talked about the Ex-Panther factor and how it would effect teams and their ability to advance in the playoffs.  In baseball there’s the Ex-Cub factor and it usually rings true.  Well, here in the NHL, I may be on to something.  The Canucks are saddled with five ex Panther players.  Tanner Glass, Darcy Hordichuk, Ryan Johnson, Mikael Samuelsson and the most visible and responsible villian victim of the curse, Roberto Luongo.  Potentially to be known in the future as Bobby Lose.

The Canucks have displayed a very Jeckyl and Hyde personna in this playoff series.  After winning game one, they lost three in a row, then won game five in Chicago, but then layed a real egg in game six in their own building Tuesday night.  Their home record and performance at home has been miserable, their special teams have been awful, and their goaltending has been inconsistent to say the least.  Trust me, I’m being kind about that one.

The Canucks had a chance to keep the momentum after Sunday night’s win in Chicago as they played the perfect road game winning 4-1, and had the Hawks potentially second guessing themselves.  After letting Dustin Byfuglien  get into their heads and paying more attention to him and other shennanigans, the Canucks played selfishly and undisciplined.  Causing them to lose focus and three games in a row.  I blame head coach Alain Vigneault for that one as he needed to make some changes as game four progressed.  However in game five the game plan changed.  They settled down, they slowed things up, they clogged the middle, and Luongo gave up no rebounds.  The Hawks couldn’t use their speed, or their passing skills and were frustrated all night.

Tuesday night however, things were different.  A pretty wide open first period with scoring chances for both teams saw both goaltenders, Chicago’s Antii Niemi and The Canucks Roberto Luongo keep the scoresheet blank after one.  You had the feeling that the first goal was to have a dramatic effect in the game and boy did it ever.  Troy Brouwer  of Chicago inserted in the lineup in place of Tomas Kopecky got the Hawks on the board first on a bad turn over by Nucks D-man Shane O’Brien to give the Hawks the lead.  Just 36 seconds later Kris Versteeg , on a two on one, wristed  a shot past Lou, and the air went right out of the building.  Right then the momentum changed. 

The knife however that went through the heart was the shortie scored by Dave Bolland  moments later giving the Hawks a 3-0 lead midway through the second.  And while Vancouver did get on the board with an O’Brien marker making it 3-1 and giving a little bit of life to Vancouver, the Hawks just proved to be too much and continued to pepper Louie and drive the net and take the game to the Canucks.  As one of my fellow blogging friends texted me last night said, “The Hawks wanted it more”.  They did.  Patrick Kane and Big Buff added goals making the final 5-1 and allowing the Hawks to advance to the Conference Finals for the second year in a row.  They will take on the San Jose Sharks in a series that will start sometime this weekend.

While three of the Ex-Panthers didn’t figure much at all into the outcome of the series (Hordichuk, Glass, Ryan Johnson), it was the play of forward Mikael Samuelsson who had only one goal and three assists and the inconsistency and utter floundering of Bobby Lose that did them in.  It didn’t help that the Sedin sisters, Hank and Dank, really stank! (Stole that from by blogger friend).

Daniel Sedin-One goal three assists.  Ryan Kessler and Alex Burrows had two goals combined.  Both by Burrows.

I will give one significant compliment though.  Sami Salo showed what a true warrior he is by playing in that game.  For someone to have the injury that he did (ruptered testicle) and play, shows all the guts, or balls (sorry) in the world.  However, shame on Alain Vigneault for not dressing a seventh defenceman in case Salo couldn’t last.  Bad enough Alexander Edler  left the game in the first after he was given a rough ride by Big Buff.

There are a ton of questions to be asked in Vancouver.  Do they keep this group together?  Where can they add pieces for improvement?  Do they have too many Euro’s (YES).  Do they need to address their defence?  Does Vigneault stay or go?  Is he on a short leash?

The biggest question however is how do they figure out what to do with Luongo.  Not only from his playing ability, or lack of, but his mental state?  They are saddled with a long term contract (12 years) for a goaltender that cannot win the big one.  His playoff performance over the last three seasons is average, or below.  What can they do?

Here’s a couple question’s for you Panther fans.  Do you still miss him? Are you still upset at what we got back?  Does it matter?

To me it doesn’t matter.  We didn’t win with him, and we aren’t winning without him.  I would make that trade again if we had to do it all over again.  Things haven’t changed much since he left.  For the Panthers or Luongo.

 GM Mike Keenan said at the time that Luongo’s demands were not representative of a player that has won anything, so we are moving forward without him. 

And now, so are the Hawks.

Thanks for reading.

Your comments are always welcomed and appreciated.


Follow me on Twitter @TheRatTrick.

Tags: Booby Lose Bug Buff Chicago Blackhawks Ex-panther Factor Patrick Kane

  • slapshot1106

    No love lost here for Luongo. Not just because of last night, but he’s always been a bit overrated… He’s more likely a top15 goalie than a top5, and with the money they have tied up in him, there’s probably better ways to spend your $$$ these days…

    Our problem was not letting Luongo go, but more the RETURN that came back… They waited too long and Luongo started to get demanding, so Keenan got pissed off and settled for an irrational RETURN… At the time, they were trying to shelter the fact that they were even ENTERTAINING offers, so they settled for a late-night gamble, and they came up on the short end of the return… They got stuck with Allen’s contract was way too much $$$, and for too many years… They did the best they could acquiring Matthias after Bertuzzi clearly didn’t work out… Auld was more a throw-in, and never had a fair shake because he wasn’t Luongo…Bertuzzi seemed a bit more logical at the time, as it seemed that the CORE(Horton,Weiss,J-Bo) had potential, but obviously it was more over-hyped talent… and not true guys to build around… NO LEADERSHIP, NO GRIT, NO HEART = NO PLAYOFFS…

  • Frank Rekas

    Slap shot: At the time, the deal itself was good. No one knew that Auld would get a knee injury or that Bertuzzi would hurt his back. Auld won 33 games the season before for Vancouver, but after his injury here, he was rushed back and lost confidence. Bert needed a change of scenery, and he could have worked out. He has some great hands, and is a skilled passer. Getting 50 points out of him was doable.
    As for Allen, Martin gave him a long and bloated contract that appears we are stuck with.

    Bottom line, at the time Luongo was making these demands, he still had done virtually nothing in his career and his agent playing mind games with Keenan was a losing battle.

    I hope that once and for all, no Panther fan is still morning his loss. Some of Louie’s comments after last night are a bit shallow, and show a complete lack of mental toughness.

  • slapshot1106

    I didn’t have a major problem with the trade at the time, and I’m not one that still cries about that trade… He got greedy. What I do wish is that they wouldn’t have waited so long, and opened it up for all teams to fairly bid on Luongo… It seems they were so worried what the fans were going to say because the team was struggling, so they should’ve just manned up and said we’re going looking at trade options….

    Auld did have a very good year, but injury or not, he’s more of a back-up… I don’t totally agree that you have to build from the goalie out… Times have changed, and markets like the Panthers should work on putting an exiciting product out there to generate continued fan support to a large market of fans that never grew up with the game….

    And guys like Bertuzzi don’t want to come here and try to right the ship here… THey want to blend in to established teams to compete for the CUP… I can’t blame them. What has to change here is to find young CHARACTER guys that show LEADERSHIP, and not guys(Horton,Weiss) just floating around getting top-line minutes and collecting big $$$…

  • Frank Rekas

    The last time the Panthers had any players with charachter was Gary Roberts. Problem was that the way this organization was run and the way JM ran the team, he wanted out. Yes he was already 38, but his leadership and style of play set an example. Unfortunately, they didn’t follow.

    I’m with you on the Weiss and Horton situation. We cannot possibly try to build around these two guys. They have been here too long and I’m tired of waiting.

    The free agent list is not a great one, so if the charachter’s going to change it will likely have to come from a trade. Both situations cause concern.

  • slapshot1106

    They need to recognize and start drafting CHARACTER guys… It’s too tough to try to get a veteran presence to come here and be that guy… Roberts is repsectable, but in his waning years, so guys like that don’t want to come here and lead an overhaul… Panthers CORE guys are always soft, gritless, and poor leaders… Then they bring up young guys, and there’s no accountability…

    So I doubt a trade would cure it. And free agency brings pieces, but quality leaders are almost always retained by their organizations… Like it or not, this lack of leadership will take a lot longer to build than most think… So the Cats can continue to try to pretend they’re oh so close to being a playoff team, or take the necessary steps to rebuild both the mind-set and the talent-level… If not, they will end up as the LA Clippers, and 10 years will become 15, then 20… I would say the newer arena saves them for about 3 more years, but then the relocation rumors will start to get serious…

  • Frank Rekas

    They have mistakenly drafted players who are soft and have no grit. Who was the last player drafted that had either?
    I don’t care what they (organization) says about Weiss, Horton, they have very little of either.

    Remember when Stevie broke his pinkie a couple seasons ago and missed time? Compare that to Sami Salo.

    That explains everything.