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Peeke's Points: Fifth Place

Monday, 12.22.2008 / 3:23 PM ET / Blogs
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Peeke\'s Points: Fifth Place
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

The Panthers rank #5 of the fifteen Eastern Conference teams in a very important statistic… Goals Against Average/Game. Excluding empty net goals, we are at 2.65 GAA/game through 32 games. We are only .05 from the #2 slot (Montreal). Boston is #1 at 2.33 GAA/game and it’s no surprise they are #1 in the Conference as well. The top four teams in this category rank in the top six in the conference standings. 

What made me think of this? I was just talking to a neighbor about yesterday’s thrilling 3-0 victory over the Avalanche. He has “average” hockey knowledge but did make the comment that the Panthers defense was the key to the victory. And I couldn’t agree with him more. Here’s what I saw… an almost flawless effort by the defense (that was also one of Bouwmeester’s better games), outstanding goaltending by Tomas Vokoun (especially in the third period) and super back-checking by all of our forwards. But what I really liked in the game was the effectiveness of our “first pass” out of our zone. We are so much more improved in that area from the beginning of the season and it’s a drastic improvement from last season. Granted, we have stretches where we seem to be chasing… but when we collect the puck it’s head-manned quite well. From there we are able to better utilize our speed. 

We are not going to be a high scoring team. Personally, I don’t care. Our point leader is a defenseman (Bouwmeester), but we distribute the scoring and it seems there’s a new hero with each game. But I love a strong defense… and we certainly have one. And consider that our defensive accomplishments have come without Bryan Allen (I/R). The defense we have now, in front of the best one-two goalie tandem in the league will have a lot to say about us gaining a favorable position in the top eight.

And that’s why I’ve been a fan of General Manager Jacques Martin. Go ahead and check on my articles from the pre-season… I said it then… he did a great job assembling this defensive corp. And I was one of the few that liked the return we got from the Jokinen trade to Phoenix. Ballard and Boynton have really strengthened our blueline, and if I’m not mistaken, we also received a second round draft pick… Colby Robak… projected to have been mid-first round and “a smooth skating defenseman with a lot of upside”.  Ballard and Boynton’s combined points are 20… while Jokinen is at 21 (by the way, 6 of Jokinen’s 10 goals have been on special teams). 

If we continue getting strong goaltending from Vokoun and Anderson, if our defense just plays the same, and if we utilize our speed up front to create three goals a game… we are going to win enough to make the playoffs. Martin seems to know… success starts in the net and works its way out through the defense and to the forwards. And while all that’s going on… it makes a low scoring game like last night a very exciting home victory.

But we have to keep pace and pursuing the Capitals should be our goal. Tomorrow’s game should be entertaining especially with Belak back in town and Tarnasky and Vokoun going up against their old team. Every game now is huge… we can’t afford a letdown. Let’s get a good, loud crowd to the stadium and gain another two points.

One last comment… when it was announced at the arena yesterday that the Jets lost to Seattle… wasn’t it great to hear the cheering?

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

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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