Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Little Help, Please?

The Florida Panthers are doing their part. Last night, the Cats earned their 3rd straight win via a 5-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators. The 2 points kept pace with the 7th seed New York Rangers, who won Monday night, and the 8th seed Montreal Canadiens, who also won last night.

While last night's game wasn't the best the Panthers have played, they were able to capitalize on their chances, and Craig Anderson stood tall yet again. Special teams were the difference. The Panthers' penalty kill was 2 for 2, while the power play continued to produce. Florida got 2 more goals on the man advantage last night, giving them 6 PPG in the last 3 games. The key for the power play is to get the puck to the net as quickly as possible. Pass quick, shoot quick, score. When the defensemen hold the puck too long, the penalty killers are able to reset and get in lanes. Recently, it's been catch and shoot from the blue line. Keep it up.

Another big reason for the Panthers success is that they continue to get production from all 4 lines. Last night, all 5 goals were scored by a different skater. Florida now has 11 different players with 30+ points, as well as 11 different players to hit the 10+ goal mark. When the Cats click, there is no "top line." Instead, there are 4 very balanced, equally dangerous lines that make it hard to match up against.

Craig Anderson made 30 more saves last night in the win. And as long as he keeps winning, he will continue to get the starts. Whether that's "fair" to Tomas Vokoun doesn't really matter at this point. Obviously, you can't blame the entire slump the Panthers went through in mid-March on Vokoun. He was getting very little scoring help. But he gave up too many weak, untimely goals, and Anderson got the chance. He's made the most of it, and will be in net in the Panthers' next game, Friday night against the Thrashers.

Speaking of next game, how on earth can 2 of the final 5 games of the season not be televised locally? That's like not broadcasting the final series of the Marlins' season when they're a half game out of the playoffs. I cannot begin to imagine what programming genius at FS-FL decided a college baseball game is more important. Simply unbelievable. The Thrashers home network is broadcasting it, and they've been out of the playoff race since November. Thank God for NHL Center Ice...

Anyways, off my high horse. The Canadiens remain 1 point up on the Panthers, while the Rangers sit 2 points up. Both MTL and NYR play Thursday night, so Florida will know the situation when they take the ice Friday. Should both win Thursday, the Cats' game Friday becomes a must-win to keep pace. Should the Habs or Blue Shirts drop, Florida will have a chance to catch and\or pass. Enjoy tonight, get some rest, then get your scoreboard watching glasses ready for Thursday.

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