Thursday, February 19, 2009

Panthers 0 - Blackhawks 4

For those of us who have not paid a lot of attention to the Chicago Blackhawks this season, welcome to your wake up call. 4-0 win over the Panthers. Florida kept it tight for the first 2 periods, trailing just 1-0 after 2, but the 'Hawks were clearly the better team. A game that got out of hand in the end, but was thoroughly exciting for the first 50 minutes. Two high paced, aggressive, offensively minded teams going at it. Chances for both sides. Good stuff.

-But... for the first time in awhile, a team looked faster and hungrier then the Panthers. The Blackhawks defense looked better then Florida's, and that's saying something. Quicker, more aggressive, Chicago took it to Florida from the drop of the puck. Florida prides itself on being the more aggressive, quicker, faster, harder working team. Tonight, they met their match. Florida never got their forecheck going. Chicago's speed wouldn't allow it. The Panthers got out of their system and started chasing, and never really got back to their style. Instead, it was Chicago who played Panthers' hockey and showed why they are one of the top teams in the league.

-It wasn't for lack of effort though. Florida had chances, but it was just one of those nights. Cristobal Huet was outstanding. On another night, Florida gets a couple bounces the other way, and it's a different game.

-A couple good quotes from DeBoer and Vokoun; ""I think we got the deserved result tonight," Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said. "I think they were the better team and that's a team that we have to bring our A-plus game against or they expose you, and they did tonight." And from T-Vo; "Obviously, you're going to play only good teams from now on," Vokoun said. "If you want to make playoffs, you've got to beat good teams too. So I don't care how good they are, I think we could have played better -- all of us. And we just didn't." So true. So true.

-The save on Nathan Horton was incredible. In one second, I'm yelling at Horton for trying the fancy pants, pretty, showy move and not shooting the puck! SHOOT IT!!!! Then I'm screaming "WOW!! HE PULLED IT OFF!! WHAT A GOAL!!" The next... silence. I couldn't believe it. That was the true end of this game.

-DeBoer pulled the goalie with 4+ minutes left down by 2. Within seconds, the Hawks get the put away empty netter. I'm not sure I understand this strategy, although I've seen it in a couple other games, too, so maybe it's the new thing. Personally, I hate it. Under 2 minutes, down by 2, sure. Take the chance. But asking your guys to score a goal before the other team gets a shot on net, with 4 minutes left... a little much for me. Oh well, if they scored, I'd be saying DeBoer is the smartest, guts filled SOB in the league.

-Kind of sort of good news from around the league tonight. Montreal and Buffalo lost, so the Panthers are in the same spot they were before tonight's game. But Carolina and Pittsburgh both won, so they are now 2 points closer to the pack. Florida will try to close out the homestand with a win Saturday when the league leading Bruins come down. From there, it's on the road for the most important road trip of the year. But first things first, Boston on Saturday.

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