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Peeke's Points: A Must-Win Game

Sunday, 10.12.2008 / 1:49 PM ET / 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.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

 
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