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Peeke's Points

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

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
12 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 74 13 36 9 49
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
J. Jokinen 76 8 33 -4 41
B. Boyes 74 13 23 10 36
A. Ekblad 76 11 24 10 35
J. Hayes 67 18 14 -6 32
A. Barkov 66 14 17 -3 31
B. Campbell 77 3 23 2 26
B. Pirri 44 21 2 6 23
D. Bolland 48 5 16 1 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 26 18 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
 
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