Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Panthers 4 - Devils 0

Bring them on! For one night, the Florida Panthers can say they are a serious contender in the eastern conference. They soundly beat the New Jersey Devils tonight, 4-0, the same Devils team that sits 2nd in the conference and just recently beat the top seeds in both the east and western conference. Florida out worked, out skated, and flat out out played the Devils tonight. Every line was aggressive. Every player pushed past their limits. 4 goals. 4 different scorers. A power play goal. A shut out. I am loving this team.

-The Booth, Zednik, and Horton line is awesome. Booth with the speed and energy that is impossible to match. Zednik with the vision and playmaking ability. Horton with the finishing touch. Yes, I am slowly, finally becoming a Horton fan.

-Karlis Skrastins might just be the best true defenseman on the team. It feels like he blocks 41 shots a game. His stick is always in the right place. On a team full of offensive, puck moving defensemen, Skrastins holds his own in his own zone (say that 3 times fast).
-If Richard Zednik is not the comeback player of the year, then the award needs to be discontinued. Granted, I'm biased. But he almost lost his life on the ice just over a year ago. And now he's leading this young team into places it hasn't been in nearly a decade. He stayed hot tonight, notching a crucial power play goal.

-What a great story Tomas Vokoun is becoming. Can you imagine that, at one point this season, there was a "goaltender controversy?" No disrespect to Craig Anderson, but Vokoun has been nearly unbeatable. His positioning is near flawless. He never makes a hi-light reel save, because he never has to. He makes the first stop, and either swallows the rebound, turns the puck to a safe area, or has great defensive coverage.

-Was it just me, or did it sound like there was an actual home crowd in the building tonight? With actual atmosphere?

-In other action tonight, the Hurricanes lost to the Bruins, so they are now 5 points behind the Panthers and Sabres. Speaking of the Sabres, they beat the Leafs to keep pace with the Cats. That means that there are 4 teams with 66 points, with the Rangers and Canadians joining club 66. Teams 5-8 in the standings are tied. The 4th seed Flyers are just 3 points up on the pack. And it will probably stay this tight for the rest of the year.

-For a young team, confidence is everything. And right now, these guys must be on cloud 9. 13-4-3 since January 1. Let me say that again. 13-4-3. No time to rest, however. The Chicago Blackhawks come to town Thursday. Chicago beat the Lightning tonight, so at least it won't be an angry team coming in from Tampa as has been the case lately. Until then...

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