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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 MTL 64 41 18 5 172 142 87
2 NYI 66 42 21 3 211 185 87
3 TBL 66 40 20 6 217 173 86
4 NYR 63 39 17 7 197 155 85
5 DET 62 36 15 11 182 160 83
6 PIT 63 36 18 9 182 158 81
7 WSH 66 35 21 10 194 164 80
8 BOS 63 31 22 10 168 165 72
9 FLA 65 28 23 14 159 185 70
10 PHI 65 28 25 12 173 187 68
11 OTT 62 28 23 11 176 167 67
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 65 26 34 5 175 199 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 65 22 17 -8 39
J. Huberdeau 62 10 28 2 38
J. Jokinen 64 6 29 0 35
A. Ekblad 65 11 23 7 34
B. Boyes 63 11 21 9 32
J. Jagr 60 12 19 -10 31
J. Hayes 56 17 12 -5 29
B. Campbell 65 3 20 1 23
A. Barkov 54 10 12 -7 22
D. Kulikov 56 3 15 -5 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 23 16 11 .921 2.37
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
 
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