Thursday, December 11, 2008

Panthers 2 - Oilers 0; Ugly is the New Beautiful

Dear Mr. Anderson, I'm sorry. I've doubted your recent run of success. I've given the skaters in front of you more credit then they have apparently deserved. I've often thought you get in the way more then make actual saves. I've thought you out of position many a-time. Tonight, you stole 2 impressive points from a hard working, dominating Edmonton Oilers team. I guess there is a method behind your goaltending madness. I apologize.

The Panthers were incredibly outworked, badly outshot, and horribly outplayed tonight, but Craig Anderson made the difference. All night, Andy was eating pucks like they were the biscuits they are so admiringly referred to. The Panthers did a good job keeping most of the shots from bad angles and kept the front of the net clear, usually. But there were no loose rebounds, no lazy saves, no swimming through the crease tonight. Anderson was calm, confident, and collecting rubber like a Goodyear store. 41 saves in all, Anderson earned his 3rd shutout of the year, and more importantly, the Panthers improved to 6-1-2 over their last 9 and moved within 2 points of 8th seed Buffalo.

Other then Anderson's play, there really isn't much to talk about. The Panthers managed just 16 shots on net, only 3 in the 3rd period, and looked flat out lethargic at times. For whatever reason, the aggression wasn't there tonight. Instead of forechecking like mad men and creating turnovers as they have been, too many times the Panthers tried to weave their way through 2 defenders and opted for the individual play. There isn't a guy on this roster that can beat 2 or 3 guys to get to the net. I'm not quite sure where it came from tonight, but a Stephen Weiss power play goal with about 5 minutes left in the 2nd period was enough, thanks to Mr. Anderson. And guess what, on the road, ugly is often a beautiful thing, and tonight it worked out.

The Cats head about 180 miles north on Route 2 to take on the Calgary Flames tomorrow night. Tomas Vokoun should be in net, and he'll have to be near-flawless if he hopes to get more playing time with the way Anderson has been getting results. I'll have a full preview tomorrow afternoon sometime.

No comments: