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Peeke's Points

Peeke's Points: A Must-Win Game

Sunday, 10.12.2008 / 1:49 PM / Blogs
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Peeke\'s Points: A Must-Win Game
Panthers Blogger Cliff Peeke
Cliff Peeke, a Panther season ticket holder since Day One, is back blogging on FloridaPanthers.com for another season, giving the point of view on the Cats from a serious, die-hard fan’s perspective.

A Michigan native who’s played hockey (admittedly average at best) most of his life, Cliff grew up watching Red Wings games at the old Olympia Stadium. His allegiance changed to the Panthers the moment it was announced South Florida would have a team.

Cliff has played in adult leagues at IncredibleIce and his oldest son (age 25) plays there as well. His youngest son (age 9) is a member of the Jr. Panthers ’98 Squirt Travel Team.

Peeke's Points Archive

“A Must-Win Game”

It’s hard to imagine the second game into any season, including football, to be considered a “must-win game”, yet last night’s overtime victory over the Thrashers was just that.

An explosive start Friday night in Carolina showed promise of a high intensity attack, only to come unglued as the Dive Team rallied to tie, take the lead, and win with several goals that appeared to be weak. As I’ve stated several times, including last year pre-season, the Panthers desperately need to get off to a quick start. Their season will be defined by how well they play in the first two months. Right now, this should be their “playoff hockey”. I was very anxious, what with a loss in the books, to be at the game last night for the home opener… a must-win game.

With a near sellout, cowbell-crazed crowd in attendance, and an energy in the stands not often found, the Panthers really had only one outcome available to them… win. The game last night was the opposite of the night before. Early penalty trouble had the Thrashers on the attack, and Vokoun was forced to endure a cavalcade of shots. This time he stopped them, and gave the Panthers an opportunity to slant the ice in their favor as the game wore on. After seeing the Panthers outshooting the Thrashers 18-5 in the third period and coming up empty as time expired in regulation, you could sense an overwhelming anxiety throughout the arena. Too often in the past, fans have exited the arena in zombie-like states, as their evenings were ruined by the opposition’s overtime or shootout victories. We have grown accustomed to dealing with bitter defeats… and we are tired of it. Had David Booth not scored in overtime, and had we ended on the short end of the score, the loss would have been devastating to the team… and mostly to the fans.

So… rather than zombies exiting the arena doors Saturday night, it was the complete opposite…nearly 19,000 high-fiving, energetic, loud and HAPPY Panther fans. Not only an Opening Night early season win… but an overtime win. A Must-Win Game. As a fan, I’ve fallen into the annual trap of being overly optimistic about the Panthers. Maybe, just maybe, if the Panthers play these early season games with playoff intensity, I can look at the remaining games from my season ticket packet at the end of November and know the season really means something.

It looks like we’ve got another must-win game Thursday against the Wild. Why not take that approach… I would if I was the coach or player… but anyway, I’m doing it as a fan.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 NYI 47 32 14 1 155 130 65
2 DET 48 28 11 9 144 123 65
3 TBL 49 30 15 4 158 131 64
4 MTL 46 30 13 3 126 108 63
5 PIT 47 27 12 8 143 120 62
6 NYR 45 27 14 4 135 110 58
7 WSH 47 24 14 9 140 124 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 45 20 15 10 111 127 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 49 20 22 7 134 149 47
13 CBJ 46 21 22 3 117 145 45
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 48 14 31 3 90 171 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 45 16 13 -1 29
A. Ekblad 45 6 21 5 27
J. Huberdeau 42 8 17 1 25
J. Jokinen 44 4 21 -2 25
B. Boyes 43 10 11 2 21
J. Hayes 37 13 7 -1 20
S. Bergenheim 34 7 9 1 16
A. Barkov 34 5 9 -5 14
T. Fleischmann 38 5 8 9 13
V. Trocheck 28 4 9 6 13
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 17 11 8 .920 2.43
A. Montoya 3 4 2 .891 2.96
 
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