Month: January 2014

Florida Panthers Haven’t Given Up Yet

The Florida Panthers haven’t given up yet as they continue to fight for the final wildcard spot in the Eastern conference. After back-to-back wins on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres, the Cats have earned four points in twenty-four hours and a pat on the back.

Although their opponents stood at polar opposites in the standings, these were two huge victories for the Panthers who have struggled to establish consistency all season long. Ask any Panthers fan and they’ll tell you that one of their most frustrating traits has been how the quality of the teams they face has been reflected in the quality of their effort.

Yet one night after spanking Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Florida Panthers pounced onto an airplane, flew into Buffalo, and fed upon the worst team in the NHL with that restless, hungry feeling every sports fan wants to see from their favorite team as they set their sights on that final wildcard playoff spot.

For the first time all season, the Panthers seemed to understand that celebrating a win against a first rate team would have been premature. After all, there’s really no reason to celebrate a win against a great team if you’re going to lose against a worse team the following night. At the end of the day, each victory is worth two points after all.

That’s exactly why I was happier to see the Panthers beat the Buffalo Sabres than the Pittsburgh Penguins. To be totally honest, the Penguins were probably just as guilty for coasting against lesser competition as everyone else does. But beating the Penguins is always a victory worthy of being proud of, and it’s always important for lesser teams to build off that type of momentum.

That’s exactly what the Cats did.

The fact that they were able to come out and earn two more points in regulation on tired legs after playing against the best competition in the world spoke volumes about their character and development. One of the biggest challenge any team faces is bringing their ‘A game’ against the worst team in the league.

That’s because in the world of sports it’s easy to feel like you don’t need to work so hard against lesser teams. I can understand if champions struggle to find it within themselves to play their hearts out against some the lesser teams in the league every now and then, but with the twentieth-anniversary logo printed all around the Florida Panthers and not a single Stanley Cup banner waving above them, they shouldn’t have to look too far outside of themselves to find reasons to bring their A-game every night.

But they do.

Let’s be honest here, none of these guys are responsible for what’s gone on for the past twenty years. Finnish sensation and Florida Panthers leading scorer, 18 year old rookie Aleksander Barkov wasn’t even alive when the Panthers were born. So if there’s going to be a transformation within the Florida Panthers locker room, it won’t be coming out of a sentimental advertisement harping on a twentieth anniversary, nor from any other marketing ploys conjured up by the Florida Panthers advertising department.

So where’s this spark coming from?

Perhaps some of their spark is trickling down from the front office now that Dale Tallon and Vincent Viola are bringing in the type of stability and investment that the Florida Panthers organization and their fans have never seen before.

Maybe some of it can even be attributed to the return of Captain Ed Jovanovski, who’s been contributing both offensively and defensively upon his return to the panthers lineup.

But at the end of the day, if there’s going to be any serious type of metamorphosis occurring within the Panthers organization, it’s going to have to spring forth from the hearts and farts of the guys inside the locker room.

Particularly, it’s gonna have to come from the young guns.

Panthers GM Dale Tallon has been harping on building a Stanley Cup contending team here in South Florida by selecting the right players from the draft to build around. For years now and he’s been filling up the squad with a young core of extremely talented, yet high-character players.

With the additions of Erik Gudbranson, Nick Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau, and most recently – and perhaps importantly – Aleksander Barkov, the Panthers have established the core foundation of the heart and soul of this team.

And if anything we can gather anything from their recent play against the Buffalo Sabres last night and the Pittsburgh Penguins the night before that, it’s the fact that the Cats are appearing too mature to be celebrating prematurely.

Here’s a few reasons why:  

1)  Huberdeau is passing through his slump.

2) Bjugstad is still pouncing fearlessly towards the net.

3) Gudbranson wasn’t accused of murder while defending.   

4) Barkov can rack up the points while injured (bless his soul).

5) The lines outside of the Killer B’s are clicking

6) Great Goaltending

So what’s next for the Panthers?

With their next game against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday, the next thing the Panthers have to prove to themselves and the rest of the NHL is that they can take two steps forward without taking one step back.

Panthers need to win.

Don’t forget to share this article and to follow me on twitter at @Cats2theCup 

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Panthers Need To Trade For More

The Florida Panthers made another bold move last week by trading AHL players with the Edmonton Oilers. I wonder what bright light lit up inside Dale Tallon’s mind when he looked at the Panthers atrocious power play and lack of offensive fire-power and then decided to trade Steve Pinizzotto and Jack Combs for Ryan Martindale and Derek Nesbitt.

Okay, okay, i’m just kidding. I know Tallon is just trying to make sure our boys coming up through the AHL aren’t playing on a losing team, and we got some pretty good players in return. But the Panthers need work.

And with Tallon recently pouring a few nourishing words into Panthers fans starving ears upon his announcement to the media that Vinnie Viola had given the green light to spend to the ceiling cap, I think every Florida Panther fans heart fluttered with excitement when they first heard there was a trade. Unfortunately, the trade hasn’t had any foreseeable impact on the Florida Panthers roster, nor is it the kind of blockbuster trade that should turn the San Antonio Rampage into perennial contenders.

It’s hard to tell if this trade addresses a problem or reveals a bigger problem; has Dale Tallon assembled a Florida Panthers roster full of players that have no trade value? Looking back to earlier in the season, he essentially had to pay the Blackhawks to take half of Versteeg’s contract even though he received two NHL hockey players in return. The fact that two NHL hockey players in exchange for Kris Versteeg alone wasn’t deemed a fair enough trade frightens me when I think of how much we’d have to pay to trade a guy like Tom Gilbert.

I understand that trading players we had to suck for an entire season to get via the draft is not the solution to rebuilding a franchise, but surely Tallon should be able to find trade value for people like Shawn Matthias, Krys Barch, and Tomas Fleischmann. And if he can’t find any teams willing to put these players on their team, maybe that’s sheds a little bit of light on why we are a losing franchise.

I know Dale Tallon might deem it wise to wait until the trade deadline to make any moves so he can get more value from teams looking for that extra boost in the postseason, but Panthers fans deserve more than what we are getting out of the team right now and making us wait until we miss the playoffs is absolutely preposterous when we’re playing the way we are.

If we judge Tallon – and the rest of the gang that thought Club Red was a good idea – based on their actions instead of their words, the message that Dale Tallon and the Florida Panthers organization is sending to the Panthers fan base is clear: “You are investing your time and energy in a defective product and you’ll have to wait a long time before we fix it.”

When’s the last time that was ever an appropriate way to treat your customers disenchanted by bad service anyway? Where else in the world could you go where that is an appropriate response to low quality performance? Can you imagine receiving a defective meal from a restaurant and yet still returning again and again after the manager tells you that “you are investing your time and energy in a defective product and you’ll have to wait a long time before we fix it” in hopes that one day your meal will taste like a meal from a five star restaurant?

This actually sounds a lot like the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Unfortunately for me, that loud and resounding message is clearly not enough to keep me away from paying attention to the Panthers squad in my free time. Even though we are one of the regular bottom feeders of the NHL, I really, really hope that Dale Tallon can reward us with a free dessert  a high scoring power forward down the road for making us put up with the worst power play in the league and another year of mediocrity.

A new Florida Panthers blog

Although the Florida Panthers play a sport, it sure as hell ain’t all fun and games. There aren’t nearly enough bright spots between the losses nor enough literature on this franchise to occupy my mind in my downtime, so I figured it was time for me to shed a little bit of light on the darkness springing from my heart game after game by making some solid contributions to the Florida Panthers universe.

Since this is my first blog post on here, let me get this outta the way and tell you a little bit about myself and how I’ve come to write about the Florida Panthers. The Florida Panthers managed to capture me during those precious formative years of my childhood. I became a die-hard Panthers fan in 1996 during their magical run to ruin when they were just four wins away from winning Lord Stanley’s Cup and lady luck left them for the enemy. I saw the spell of the rat become the curse of the rat before my very eyes when those Colorado hippies knocked the Panthers out of the playoffs as swiftly as Scott Mellanby’s hockey stick launched a thousand plastic raining-rats in South Florida.

Looking back now, I realize the pangs of that loss may have reverberated into my bones and spilled out into my life in ways I haven’t yet understood. Perhaps this blog may just be a repercussion of the pile of losses the Florida Panthers have pounded into my skull over the years. Maybe it’s serving as a coping mechanism because I’ve grown out of screaming into my pillow after the decade of irrelevance.

These days the bandwagon’s almost empty, but I’m still here cheering on all the mediocrity and mishaps that continue to haunt this franchise as they chase Lord Stanley’s cup from a far. Besides using this blog to get the words out of my head, I hope to provide the Florida Panthers organization and their fans with a loud voice of belligerency and senseless reason to combat the sounds of laughter booming from other NHL teams and their respective fan bases as they continue to joke and jeer about our fan base and our franchise after we beat them.

I guess that’s it for the first post. Cheers.

Here’s to another win after the sun sets in sunrise.