Panther Doubleheader: Cats vs. Canes





The Florida Panthers enter the weekend with four possible points against the Eastern Conference and NHL’s current dormat, the Carolina Hurricanes.  Always a nemesis of the Panthers, this weekend’s matchup is one that the Panthers cannot afford to screw up as their focus and mental capacity will be tested.

Three wins in their last four games has given Florida some confidence and has currently in the playoff picture as they are 3-0-1 after a 1-5-4 stretch.  Let us not forget though that Wednesday night against the Thrashers the Panthers coughed up a three goal lead in their building, only to have Michael Frolik save the night with the game winner with 1:21 left in regulation.  Let me also remind you that this was only the fifth Panther home victory.

There are a bunch of players for the Cats experiencing some hotness right now.  Lazy Ass has 6 points in his last two games which includes a hat trick against the Islanders.  He leads the team with 34 points but only has eleven goals.  Why amI so tough on him you ask?  He was drafted as a goal scorer due to the fact that he has a terrific shot.   I don’t think we drafted him to be an assist man so it’s time for him to start shooting more.  

Stevie Wonder is second on the team in points (31) and first in goals with 16, well on his way to a career year.  Provided his body can hold up at this pace.  It’s a long time coming for Stevie and it will be a long time before I’m prepared to admit I’m satisfied with his performance.  So just keep it up, and maybe you’ll shut me up.

Michael Frolik has been given time on the top line lately and has responded very well, getting the winner Wednesday night after Stevie did his spinorama,and Frolik banged home the rebound.  Frolik now has 10 goals for the year after getting 21 last season, and is expected to continue at this pace.

The season series between these two is even with the Panthers winning the last time they met 3-0 at the Bank Atlantic Center.  Carolina comes in with a league worst 22 points, but is 3-2-1 in their last six games after a five game losing streak.  The Hurricanes record on the road is an awful 1-12-4 and in 16 of those games they have been held to three goals or less.

Tuomo Ruutu, former first round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, at the draft that was held here in Floirda ( Is hook his hand too) has been hot for the Canes lately with 4 points in his last two games and the same can be said for Eric Staal who always has a good game against the Panthers.  Don’t forget about Ray Whitney, former Panther, now a Panther killer.  At 37 years old he remains dangerous and still has a alot left in the tank.  It’s amazing that the Panthers traded him to Columbus for a 4th round draft pick (Michael Woodford) and Kevyn Adams.  Another brilliant move by the Cohen regime!

The Canes are 28th in both scoring and goals against and that should bode well for Florida as they attempt to continue their x-mas push.  They are almost at the end of a ridiculous 24 games in 43 night stretch that has been brutal to say the least.  But all in all it could have killed their season.  I was giving DeBoer some “heat” for all the days off between games especially after losses, and it seems to be working.  So far.  Yesterday was an optional practice however a few Panthers were told to be there.  Jury is still out for me on whether this is truly working or not.

We’ll see how the team responds starting tonight.  Word is the Tomas Vokoun gets the start, most likely against Carolina goalie Cam Ward, with Scott Clemmensen probablygoing for Florida Saturday night.

Four huge points on the line this weekend.  If I have said it once, I will say it 100 times.  Games against Carolina are always meaningful and have a way of potentially derailing us.  We need all four.  Not three and definitely not two.  It’s not to early to call these two games must wins, but if the Panthers have any expectations of making the playoffs and being a legit playoff team, these are games you HAVE to win.

Here’s a quote from the “Most Interesting Man in The World”

Translation:  Stay Hungry Panthers!

Thanks for reading.