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Peeke's Points: One Month Off

Friday, 12.5.2008 / 9:29 AM ET / Blogs
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Peeke\'s Points: One Month Off
Panthers Blogger Cliff Peeke
Cliff Peeke, a Panther season ticket holder since Day One, is back blogging on 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

I had to take a month off from the Panther blogging. I had to… I could not find any new way to express my frustration after a 4-6-0-1 start. The start was eerily similar to almost every start of this decade, and after writing this blog throughout last season… I just got tired of being frustrated.

Then after losing the two games to the Kings and Ollie’s Coyotes, I pretty much resigned myself to another pitiful season as we fell to 4-8-0-1. So I decided to take a month off. Since then, an injury-plagued Panther roster has somehow put together a very respectable effort collecting 16 out of a possible 24 points in the last twelve games as they’ve climbed out of the cellar and worked their way to the middle third of the league. Not great yet… but getting there. 

But the interesting thing is how they’re getting there without the services of several key players… Allen, Horton, Stillman, Zednik, and Booth. Well, for one, my favorite goalie Anderson has been a huge part of this resurgence. Sound familiar? The main reason the Panthers made a push last season (at season ticket renewal time) was because of Anderson. Only this year Coach DeBoer is giving him minutes well before the season is officially doomed. So perhaps this season we can make it to the All Star break in the playoff mix… and again we can thank Anderson. In the sport’s most important position, he leads the league with a .947 save percentage. That’s almost 20 points higher than Luongo. It is 20 points higher than another ex-Panther Alex Auld… what?... that means he’s at .927… and when he was here two years ago he finished at .888… figures. Anyway, it’s our guy Craig Anderson who leads the league and has no doubt played an integral role in our recent upswing.

But it’s not just him. I still love our defense, and while Bryan Allen is sorely missed, once again Cullimore steps in after entering the season without a contract (again) and helps round out a strong group. Yes, I know the Sabres had 46 shots last night, but many were from manageable angles and others were stopped without screens (not taking anything away from Andy who did play great). 

What I really like is the “team-play” concept… and we’re getting it done up front without the big name players. It’s been a long while since I’ve seen us winning so many battles along the boards in the offensive zone. It’s not “pretty” hockey… but it frustrates the opposition, wears them down, and wins games. And it’s the workman-like efforts of our third line… now becoming our top line… of Peltonen, Dvorak and Campbell. They are setting the example and have raised the bar on what it takes to win games in this league. Who would have figured?  Then, every once in while, we do make the “pretty” play and you start thinking that maybe, just maybe we do have something special going on down here. I mean, did you see that pass from Frolik to Campbell last night… a thing of beauty. And he’s another player contributing in a big way. Frolik plays with so much intensity and is also very talented and creative. There is no doubt in my mind that he has a bright future ahead of him.

I’m glad I took the month off from writing these blogs. I was so close to throwing in the towel only to see this turnaround change my perspective on the team. Now I’m back to listening to XM 204 (NHL), following all the internet hockey sites, talking Panther hockey with my friends, and getting deeply concerned about the contract status of our hot-glove goalie… Anderson.  Keep it going Panthers… it’s so much more fun writing these things when there are positive things to talk about.

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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


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
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
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