Monday, March 23, 2009

Good Effort, But...

The Carolina Hurricanes took 2 important points from the Florida Panthers last night. Was the loss deserved for the Panthers? Probably not. Did Carolina do enough to earn a win? Maybe. But this time of year, that doesn't really matter. Florida was unable to finish their scoring chances, and therefore have to settle for the single point.

Any points at all were in doubt until the final minutes of a tightly contested, ugly game. The Hurricanes' game plan from the opening faceoff was to neutralize Florida's speed, and they did so all night long. The result was a game fought in the trenches. The Panthers cycled the puck effectively enough, but the 'Canes kept the play on the perimeter much of the night. Florida had very few, if any, odd man rushes. It was a well played road game for Carolina, and a frustratingly solid effort from the Cats.

Should Carolina's 2nd goal have counted? Doubtful. Not only did it look like the 'Canes had about 12 guys on the ice, but the play looked suspiciously offsides as well. On the other hand, Florida got caught on a bad change of their own, and gave up a 3 on 2, that Carolina finished. But Florida got a break of their own, and were given a 5 on 3 power play with just under 5 minutes left in the game, and they were able to capitalize on that. The point earned tonight put the Panthers into a tie for the 8th and final playoff spot with Montreal. The Canadiens have played 1 fewer game, which they will make up tomorrow night.

There is no questioning Florida's effort tonight. From the first drop of the puck to Ray Whitney's game ender, the Panthers were gutting it out. If they play the remaining 9 games like they did tonight, there might still be hope in south Florida. I'm not sure whether to be excited that the Cats were able to fight through and earn a point when they were down, or to be frustrated because they just weren't good enough to get the full 2 points. Regardless, the Panthers start a vital 3-game road trip Wednesday night in Buffalo. 9 games left. Buckle up...

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