Today’s music video is the opening montage from CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada’s broadcast Saturday night.
Sunday morning I went out to pick up a few items from the market and proudly wore my Florida Panthers hat. A few people looked at me and smiled, acknowledging that they must be aware of Saturday night’s shutout victory over the New York Islanders. In a city that is predominantly a football town, the Panthers have a tremendous opportunity to win over fans who may have left, and fans who had lost faith and hope. With baseball over, a looming NBA lockout, and the stench from the Miami Dolphins horrific start, this somewhat fair weather sports town needs something to grab onto.
While the victory Saturday night was only one game, and it was against a team that is fighting a struggle similar to us, I think we saw the shape of things go come for this long suffering franchise. The new faces made an instant impression with Brian Campbell (Soupy) smoothly skating for over 30 minutes of the contest. Seems as though every time I looked he was on the ice. Creating chances, leading the rush, and also slowing things down when needed. Scottie Upshall used his speed and energy to get involved and while he was tossed for the Rob Ray Rule, it was nice to see a Florida Panther stand up for his teammate. STEEGER was his usual self, steady on the puck, taking shots and injecting a confidence we aren’t used to. Flash showed exactly why Dale Tallon picked him up. Outrageous stickhandling, a nose for the puck, and a hockey sense that can’t be taught, Flash along with the other new players all showed us a brand of hockey that’s going to be fun to watch.
The dump and chase, paint drying scheme of putting us to sleep is gone. No more playing not to lose. No more sitting on pins and needles in the third period watching with one eye closed. Coach Kevin Dineen has installed an uptempo, hard forechecking, puck possession style that will fit this club perfectly. Again, one game doesn’t make a season, but the pre season worries should be put to rest if this kind of play can continue. I see no reason for it not to be. People both during and after the game were impressed with the energy, speed and skill that they saw on the ice. It was a happy, as well as proud time for a city and it’s fan base that is thirsty for a winning product.
The player that I was most pleased with and happy for was Jose Theodore. His shutout performance was a complete turnaround from what we saw in the pre season. Proof we hope, that those games mean nothing. Jose wasn’t tested often in the first period, but as the game wore on, he was called upon to make some key saves, which he did. He looked calm, positionally strong and in control. He was helped by a solid defence as well, but you found yourself rooting for him as the game wore on.
If the Panthers can keep this up, play an exciting brand of hockey, and be competitive every night, the fans of our area will have no choice but to believe. I’m still smiling!
Here’s a few links for your Monday Morning:
George Richards from the Miami Herald and Jose Theodore standing tall.
Harvey Fialkov describes how the “newbies” contributed to the win. Sun Sentinel.
Dale Tallon hopes he has put together a playoff bound team. Sun Sentinel.
Jose Theodore has silenced the critics for now. Bill Whitehead at NHL Hotstove.
Sunday’s Three Stars from Puck Daddy.
Stu Grimson and others respond to Don Cherry’s remarks on fighting. TSN.ca.
NOTE: THE FIRST EVER RAT TRICK ROAD WATCH PARTY IS BEING PLANNED. MONDAY OCTOBER 24TH AGAINST THE MONTREAL CANADIENS. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED PLEASE EMAIL ME, OR DIRECT MESSAGE ME ON TWITTER.
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