Sunday, March 15, 2009

3 Straight Losses

Well, since I last wrote quite a bit has happened in Panther Land. JM chose to turn down every offer made to him for Jay Bouwmeester on the trade deadline and keep him until the end of the season. At the time, I thought JM made the right choice. Now, with injuries to Bryan McCabe and Nathan Horton, and watching Bouwmeester's play, I wish JM had traded him and I think he would have if he could have seen these things coming.

Last night, the Panthers gave up a 2 goal lead in less than 7 minutes to the Tampa Bay Lightning. I was at the game, and I could not help but feel as if I was watching the same old Panthers team from the past blowing it in the final minutes of the third period. They lost in the shootout, and watched a precious point slip right through their fingers. They should have had this game. Even in their worst times, the Panthers have shown that they can dominate the Lightning. We dominated for 2 periods last night, and then the Panthers got a few penalties in the 3rd which hurt them pretty badly. I was pretty much livid after I left the BAC last night. These were my thoughts right after the game ended. I kinda went and vented on The NHL Arena:

"This team has to be the most frustrating franchise in the history of sports, especially for the fans. It's like they always find a way to lose at critical points of the season. March is usually the time where the Panthers tease us by making it oh-so-close to getting into a playoff spot by having a rally of wins. This season, they come into March with a playoff spot and are fucking blowing it. I bet that even if the Panthers came into March in 1st place, they'd somehow find a way to miss the playoffs. Come on... blowing a 2 goal lead in 15 minutes when you know a win would put you back into a playoff position? Seriously, I knew once the Lightning tied it that we were likely going to lose if it went into a shootout. Our shootout is a fucking joke, no one can ever score. They might as well let Stanley C. Panther shoot, I think he has a better shot of scoring. I just hope McCabe gets back in the lineup soon, obviously we suck without him. Now the Panthers have lost 3 straight, so much for that "playoff promise" shit."

So yeah, as you can see, I was VERY angry after last night's loss. Before blowing the game against the Lightning, the Panthers lost to the Sabres on Thursday night and to the Penguins in the shootout on Tuesday night. So, now the Panthers are once again out of a playoff spot, sitting in 9th place in the Eastern Conference. The next few upcoming games are critical. We have Washington, Toronto, and Columbus coming up this week followed by a HUGE game against the Carolina Hurricanes on March 23rd. In fact, I think that game is so pivotal that I'm taking that Monday off work just so that I can go to that Panthers vs Hurricanes game. I'm hoping McCabe will be back in on Tuesday, we really need him back.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Trade Deadline Is Here!

Well, the trade deadline is finally here. I've already started watching TradeCentre. I'm curious to see what will happen with the Panthers between now and 3:00 PM. Will JBouw sign, stay until July, or get traded today? I think that's the big question on all Panther fans' minds right now. Bouwmeester signing is doubtful, and if he doesn't, my opinion is that JM will trade him today. Maybe JM will make some other surprise moves, but I doubt he'll do something real major that would disrupt the chemistry of this team. I guess all there is to do now is sit back, wait, and see what happens.

Yesterday in Atlanta, the Panthers finished their road trip 3-2-0. I'll take it, especially when we just wrapped up our toughest part of the schedule so far. No more Boston, Montreal, or New Jersey. Now we play teams behind us who are fighting for a playoff spot like the Blues, Penguins, Sabres, and Hurricanes during March. I'm not too worried since the Panthers usually play well in March (hey, we're 2-0 so far!), but the 9th and 10th place teams are only a few points behind us, one minor slip up can cost the Panthers bigtime.

Huge game coming up against the Penguins on Thursday night. I kinda hope Crosby is back in the lineup because lately, the Pens won every game that he's been out with that groin injury.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ride on the Panthers Roller Coaster

Since I last wrote after getting crushed by Boston, the Panthers had a 3rd period comeback win against the Rangers on Thursday night, Nick Boynton got sent home for disciplinary reasons, got crushed 7-2 by the Devils on Saturday afternoon, then won 6-2 over the Capitals the very next day. Can someone say "Rollercoaster"?? Ok, I'm going to start my commentary on the order in which things happened.

Panthers vs. Rangers- This game was basically a must win for the Panthers. They were 2-0-1 against the Rangers this season and considering that the Cats would face 2 of their toughest opponents (Devils and Capitals) after this game, this was one of their better chances of picking up points on the road trip. The Rangers scored first, and the Cats did not score until about halfway through the 3rd period, scoring 2 goals in about a minute, giving them a 2-1 regulation victory over the Rangers. This win was especially important because that same night, Buffalo and Carolina went into a shootout where Carolina won, but it was the worst possible scenario since 3 points were given out. Nick Boynton was benched in the 3rd period and appearantly he had a verbal altercation with coach DeBoer in which he was sent home and would not play for the rest of the road trip with the rest of the Panthers.

Panthers vs. Devils- With Vokoun still out with an ear infection, and Boynton and Stillman out, I honestly was not very confident going into this game. The Panthers played one of their worst games I've seen this entire season with the final score of 7-2. Pathetic.

Panthers vs. Capitals- Okay, I honestly thought that the Panthers were never going to be able to beat Washington again this season (especially at home), and I'm eating my words right now because somehow, without Vokoun, Stillman and Boynton and Booth getting injured during that game, the Cats skated off with a 6-2 win over the Washington Capitals. Not only that, but they scored 3 consecutive powerplay goals in the first period! I'm completely baffled as to how they were able to win this one. I guess they were embarassed and bothered about that humiliating loss in New Jersey the night before and really got their act together. You know, one of the things that I noticed about the crowd at the Verizon Center yesterday is that it was PACKED, I believe the game was sold out. I was thinking to myself "where were all these fans about 2 years ago when the Capitals were at the bottom of the standings?". Appearantly, VanMurph was thinking the same thing and posted a photo of the "crowd" at the Verizon Center during a game he went to in 2007 when the Cats were playing the Caps on his blog. I suggest you go check that out on the official Panthers website in "VanMurph's View" if you want to be amused. Well, I do have a couple of more thoughts but I'll post those later tonight. I'm off to work for now.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cats Crushed in Boston 6-1

Why, oh why did Tomas Vokoun have to get the flu AGAIN?! The Panthers lost 6-1 in Boston with Craig Anderson in net last night. I did expect him to be a little rusty since he hadn't played for a few weeks, but I wasn't expecting him to let in 6 goals. I'm not completely blaming him for the loss, but I can't help but wonder what the outcome would have been if Vokoun was in net instead. Panthers got screwed over by the refs for like the 3rd game in a row. It's really getting to be ridiculous. Again, I don't usually like to complain about officiating because I don't like to sound like I'm whining, but Kreps had a breakaway and he was hooked. There was a ref standing right in front of it, and he saw what happened. No call. It actually wasn't until there was about 20 seconds left in the game that the refs gave us a "powerplay". There have been times where the Cats were able to beat the refs AND the opposing team at the same time, which says a lot about them, but really... why should we have to play against the zebras in addition to the opposing team? Is it so hard for them to call a fair game for BOTH teams? As I said, this is the third consecutive game where the Panthers have clearly been shafted by the referees. When is this bias going to stop?

At least Carolina and Buffalo lost last night too so we didn't really lose ground. Carolina plays Buffalo on Thursday night so one of them has to win. Panthers really need to beat the Rangers that night to keep ahead. I hope Carolina ends up kicking Buffalo out of the playoffs when all of this is said and done. I don't like the Hurricanes, but personally I can't stand the Sabres.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Panthers Shutout Bruins

Going into the BAC for last night's game, if you would've told me that the Panthers were going to shutout the #1 team in the East, I would've betted against you with every cent I had in my wallet. Last night was another one of those nights were I was pleasantly surprised by the Cats. Vokoun was the difference for the Panthers, he made some INSANE saves and kept the Cats in the game for the first two periods until finally, Dvorak scored another shorthanded goal to put the Cats up on the board in the 3rd period. He followed it up with a 2nd goal a few minutes afterward and ALMOST had the hat trick when Boston pulled Tim Thomas in the last 2 minutes, but his shot was blocked by one of the Bruins players so the Cats won 2-0. The penalty kill was outstanding by the Panthers, but I can't say much about their powerplay because EVERY time the Panthers did manage to get a powerplay, it was quickly negated by another penalty by the Panthers. The only Panthers powerplay that was not negated was the meaningless one that the refs called with only 5 seconds left in the 3rd. We had an awesome time at the game with good company from my best friend Michelle and her boyfriend Laz.

Panthers still have a few tough games to go, facing the Bruins again at Boston on Tuesday, followed by games in Atlanta, Washington, and New Jersey. They need to keep it up and pick up as many points as they can on this road trip. Go Panthers!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Pre-Game Thoughts: Panthers vs Bruins

Well, here we go. The Panthers start their back to back games against the top team in the Eastern Conference tomorrow night. After last night's shutout against the Blackhawks I can't say I feel too confident going into this one. The Bruins lost 3 in a row before beating the Hurricanes Tuesday night, so I don't know what to expect from them or the Panthers. Panthers lost both previous meetings against the Bruins: 4-2 loss on November 21st, and 4-0 shutout on December 6th. The odds don't look good for Florida, but they have pleasantly surprised me many times this season so here's to a Panthers victory tomorrow night (or at least a point!). I'll be at the game!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ref-hawks Shutout Panthers

You may have noticed I titled this entry "Ref-hawks" shutout the Panthers. This is because the zebras were out in full force tonight.

Of all the Panthers games I have watched this season, this was the worstly officiated game I have seen (and believe me, I see plenty). The Panthers did not get their first powerplay until halfway through the 2nd period while the refs let several calls slide for the Blackhawks. Seriously, if the refs are going to call a close game, call it for both sides. If you're going to let calls slide, let them slide for both teams. I don't usually complain about the refs, but there was some serious bias against the Cats tonight.

The few powerplays that the Cats did get, they were either negated by a Panthers penalty shortly afterward or pretty much nonexistant because the Panthers did not capitalize on any of them. However, when the Cats weren't busy killing off penalties, they did not manage to get many shots on Huet- particularly in the 3rd period. Huet made some sensational saves against Booth, Zednik and Horton. For some reason the Panthers can't ever really score much on Huet. The way he played tonight reminded me of that 5-1 loss to Montreal in December of last season at the BAC when he was in net. He frustrated the hell out of the Panthers and ME! I was cursing at my TV screen yelling "f*cking Huet! F*ck you!!" pretty much every time he robbed one of our players of a sure goal. Horton had practically an empty net and he couldn't get one by him. Ugh... this game pretty much sucked all around.

Meanwhile, Carolina gained some ground by stomping the Islanders tonight. At least Buffalo and Montreal lost.

Well, the Panthers better take what they learned tonight and put it behind them quick because the Bruins are in town Saturday night. I'll be at that game and I hope I'm not disappointed!