The Florida Panthers dressed a roster that had at least five players who spent time in the AHL this season. Maybe 6, but I’m not exactly sure. Either way, it showed. A bad, bad game that wasn’t as close as the 2-1 score indicated. It was a tough game to watch as the Panthers just seemed to go through the motions for most of it. They had some early scoring chances in the first few minutes and actually were outshooting New Jersey 10-3, but Marty Brodeur shut the door. This was Marty’s first start since February 6th when he injured his right knee.
The Devils who are now 17-2-2 in their last 21 games sit just nine points out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, trailing the Carolina Hurricanes. David Clarkson got New Jersey on the board first with his ninth goal of the year in the second period. Less than four minutes later a rejuvenated Brian Rolston took a slap shot from just inside the blue line which went past Panther goaltender Tomas Vokoun, giving New Jersey a 2-0 lead.
Marty Reasoner put the Panthers on the board with his 13th goal of the season with a bit less than five minutes remaining. At that point it seemed as though the Panthers woke up. Unfortunately, Devils coach Jacques Lemaire called a time out after the goal and read his team the riot act. New Jersey held on for the win.
The game was also the NHL debut for former first round draft choice of the New York Rangers Hugh Jessiman. Jessiman came over in the Michael Frolik trade, and played his first NHL game. George Richards from On Frozen Pond has a brief interview with Hugh here. Hugh played a little over nine minutes and had two shots on goal in 12 shifts. Not bad for his first time in the big show.
What continues to puzzle me though is why Florida plays certain games like tonight. They struggle early on, trying to get into a flow. Give up a goal or two and then all of a sudden wake up with not enough time left. Pouring it on in the waning minutes of the game, but eventually losing. While the roster is depleted due to injuries, the same thing was happening when we were healthy. So to say that this group is providing the most they can is just being an apologist. I know you can’t get blood out of a rock, but it concerns me that when you looked on paper at this roster, and saw how close they were at one point, it’s disappointing knowing that games like this have cost us a postseason appearance. Besides the goal calls that didn’t go our way.
With the trade of defenceman and captain Bryan McCabe to the New York Rangers, the Panthers had three players wear the A last night. Stephen Weiss, Bryan Allen and Marty Reasoner. Coach Peter DeBoer said yesterday that a new captain could be named after the trade deadline on Monday.
In any event, the trade deadline is tomorrow at 3:00 P.M. With tonight’s loss there could be more changes. The team was scheduled to leave in the afternoon for Carolina, but the flight has been delayed till about 5:00 P.M. I would expect that there will be additional moves made. Time will tell.
Here’s the TSN Boxscore.
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