Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Panthers 3 - Flyers 2

Florida hung on tonight to take down the Flyers, 3-2. Philly got on the board first with a disputed goal that went off of Simon Gagne's skate and into the net. It was ruled that no kicking motion occurred, and the goal stood. Florida answered back with 3 straight, before the Flyers got it back to within a goal early in the 3rd period. The Panthers held on for dear life for the remainder of the game, and karma was restored when the Flyers had a goal disallowed thanks to a cross checking penalty. In the end, the Cats were able to earn the all-important 2 points.

Michael Frolik continued his impressive rookie season, contributing on all 3 Florida goals (1 G, 2 A). This kid's emergence may be saving the Panthers' season. David Booth became the first Panther to reach the 20 goal plateau this season with his goal tonight. But after Booth, the next leading goal scorer is Nathan Horton, with just 13 tallies. Think it's a coincidence that the start of the year went started so slowly for both Florida and Frolik? And that in the 9 games since 2009 began, Florida is 6-1-3, and Fro has 8 points? Gotta love the way this kid has grown over the months.

As previously mentioned, David Booth got his 20th goal tonight on a beautiful redirection (with his stick, mind you) off of a Keith Ballard slapper. Booth has emerged as one of, if not the greatest, individual scoring threats on this team. Unfortunately, he's just one of a few guys that were being counted on to pick up the scoring after the offseason departure of Olli Jokinen. Nathan Horton has just 13 goals, Stephen Weiss only 9. On the plus side, Florida has 10 players with 20+ points. And with the way the defense has been contributing offensively (Bryan McCabe scored his 9th on the year tonight), the Panthers might just have a style that could prove effective. If a couple other guys can pick up the pace just a smidge, this team could sneak up on a lot of people. That, or a top tier scorer is acquired at or near the trade deadline in exchange for some Bouwmeester character...

A promising start to the 2nd half of the season. Florida went down early, fought back, took a lead, and held on when pushed. And with the New York Rangers win over Carolina, Florida now sees themselves back in that 8th seed. Tomorrow, the Pittsburgh Penguins head to New York to try to get themselves back into a tie with Florida. The Cats are off until Thursday, when they invite the Montreal Canadians to town. Until then...

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