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Peeke's Points

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 MTL 74 46 20 8 195 162 100
2 NYR 72 46 19 7 219 167 99
3 TBL 74 46 21 7 242 191 99
4 NYI 74 44 25 5 226 205 93
5 PIT 73 40 22 11 202 181 91
6 DET 72 39 21 12 208 195 90
7 WSH 73 39 24 10 212 180 88
8 OTT 72 37 24 11 212 190 85
9 BOS 73 36 25 12 193 190 84
10 FLA 73 33 26 14 180 201 80
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 NJD 73 31 31 11 164 186 73
13 CBJ 73 34 35 4 198 228 72
14 CAR 72 26 36 10 165 199 62
15 TOR 74 27 41 6 193 237 60
16 BUF 73 20 46 7 138 245 47

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 70 12 32 5 44
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
J. Jokinen 72 7 33 -1 40
J. Jagr 68 13 24 -6 37
B. Boyes 71 12 23 9 35
A. Ekblad 72 11 24 8 35
J. Hayes 63 18 13 -4 31
A. Barkov 62 12 15 -4 27
B. Campbell 73 3 20 -1 23
B. Pirri 40 18 2 4 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 25 17 11 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
 
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