Thursday, December 4, 2008

Panthers 2 - Sabres 1; 35 seconds = 2 points

Craig Anderson made 45 saves and the Panthers scored 2 goals in a 35 second span to earn a 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. It's the 3rd straight win for the Cats, and the 6th straight in which the team has earned a point. And that, my friends, is a streak. A legitimate, bona fide winning streak.

Yes, the Panthers were out shot 46-25 in the game, but Anderson was there to make the stops and the defense did a great job of clearing any rebounds. As the Buffalo goal scorer, Ales Kotalik, said, "I'd rather be the worst team for 59 minutes and end up getting the win." Now, to be fair, the Panthers had stretches where they had solid, offensive pressure. The CPR line (Greg Campbell, Ville Peltonen, and Radek Dvorak) chipped in another goal (even though it was Campbell who scored while the rest of the line was making a change, Frolik got the assist. From their own end to the goal scored, there were no fewer then 5 superb passes to set up Campbell with the open net one timer. It was one of the better goals of the year). But one of the key, under appreciated stats, is hits. The Panthers outhit the Sabres 30-18 overall in the game, and many of those Buffalo hits came late when they were pressing for a tying goal. The Panthers were all over the Sabres in their own end, causing numerous turnovers on the fore check. It's taken awhile, but Coach DeBoer's system has finally taken hold. Dump it in, out race the defender to the puck or put him through the boards, create turnover, crash the net, score. It doesn't always work. It can backfire and lead to odd man rushes the other way. But more often then not over the past 2 weeks, it's been run to perfection.

Shhhh, don't tell anyone, but the Panthers are now just 1 point out of the 8th spot in the east. Yes, I am fully aware that it is only December 4. But considering just over 2 weeks ago, this team was living in the cellar of the NHL, it's worth mentioning. Just when you thought the schedule might lighten up, the conference leading Boston Bruins visit the BAC on Saturday night coming off of a 3-1 win in Tampa tonight. It'll be interesting to see if Tomas Vokoun makes his return to the crease with a chance to prove he still deserves the millions of dollars he's currently being paid to sit on the bench. As always, news and thoughts will be posted if anything comes up. Stay tuned...

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