Florida Panther fans had a good reason to be optimistic at the start of this season. Dale Tallon had overhauled the entire roster investing in some talented players like Kris Versteeg, Tomas Fleischmann, Brian Campbell, and Sean Bergenheim. Not only did the fans have a lot of new players to look forward to, but we had a first year NHL coach in Kevin Dineen as well. All these changes made for a renewed Florida Panther team including a new marketing campaign “Believe Red” due to the fact they were returning to their home classic red jerseys.
The Panthers started out above .500 with 6 wins and 5 loses but you could tell there was a little bit more spring in their step, and there was a new offensive punch with the players that were added. The season started out well and it got everyone more excited for the season.
Come the month of December, injuries were a major problem. It seemed nearly half the team was injured as the Panthers brought up many AHL players from the San Antonio Rampage to replace the injured guys. December brought along 7 wins and 8 losses but the injuries are what really hurt the whole team.
Then came the disappointing January. The team suffered as they only had 2 wins with 7 losses. Shootout loses became more prevalent and the team just didn’t look like the team that started the year. However, February came along and with that came a refreshed team getting 8 wins and 6 losses that month. Towards the end of this regular season, the Panthers struggled a little with all the pressure of making the playoffs, but once they had their last game vs the Carolina Hurricanes ended well. They looked a lot more comfortable, had better passes, more shots, and just looked excited to be in the playoffs.
Yes, indeed this season has had its highs and lows, and ups and downs, but you know what? We’re in the playoffs! It seems like nothing matters anymore because now we start fresh and have an opportunity to show the NHL, the Florida Panthers are playoff contenders.
This group has taken a lot of heat in the press from the beginning of the season when people thought the Panthers couldn’t do well even with all the new players. The most important thing this season is that they have proved not only to the fans, but to all the press, that they deserve to be respected. It is an exciting time to be a Florida Panther fan!
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