VanMurph's View: Epic Comeback
Thursday, 02.12.2009 / 9:01 AM ET / Blogs
|Murphy and Vanessa Burch|
Murphy, an airline pilot originally from North Carolina, is better known as vanmurph on the Panthers message boards and he, along with his wife Vanessa are two of the most vociferous fans at the BankAtlantic Center.
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“Hey, where you goin’? There are still 12 minutes and 13 seconds left! You’re gonna miss a heckuva comeback!” That’s what I shouted as many of our fans started leaving the BankAtlantic Center after the Leafs went up 4-1 in the third period Tuesday night.
I don’t know if I truly believed we were going to rally back from a 3-goal deficit with a little over half a period to go, or if I was just frustrated from seeing an already sparse crowd of Panthers fans heading for the exits and giving up on their team. Or maybe it was just a little false bravado in order to mentally toughen myself up for the seemingly inevitable long walk out to my car amid a sea of soon-to-be rejoicing Leafs fans. One thing was for sure; it was evident that the thousands of screaming and high-fiving Ontarians attending the game were staying in the building in anticipation of a victory celebration. But the crescendo of their cheering began to wane just 26 seconds later as Nathan Horton swept home the rebound of Nick Boynton’s slapshot from the point. Then over the course of the next six minutes the Panthers mounted an epic comeback that most of us will never forget. Capping off the overtime victory was a beautiful Richard Zednik one-timer from between the circles off of a perfect pass from Cory Stillman! That 5-4 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs ensures that the Florida Panthers will win the season series between the two teams for the first time in 13 seasons. The Panthers have won all three meetings so far, with the last two coming in dramatic overtime fashion.
As was the case in the Montreal game a couple of weeks ago, Panthers fans were able to stand up and stick it to a group of fans who’d been hopping around all night waving their signs for Canadian TV and being just giddy with excitement. I know it may seem puerile to some of you, but there is something very satisfying about being able to kick a little proverbial dirt onto people who have come into our house for nearly a decade and acted like they owned the place. As I said a few entries ago, “if the Florida Panthers are able to excise the gloom of the past decade from the subconscious of the fans by consistently winning, I believe the fans will, in turn, reward them with a real home ice advantage. They’ll do it by having the confidence to stand and cheer for their team, no matter the circumstances. Nothing rejuvenates a franchise like a fan base that, through winning, develops pride in their team.” Last night’s win will hopefully add to the confidence our fans are gaining in their team. That confidence is what’s necessary to keep cheering even when the score is lopsided in the opponents favor. Just stay on your feet and let our guys know you support them. You never know, they may just surprise you and score four unanswered goals to earn two important points in the standings! Sure, there are going to be nights when we just don’t put as many pucks in the net as our opponents, but I’m not going to let that dampen my enthusiasm or my confidence, and hopefully, you won’t either.
Listen, for those of you who left the arena early, you missed the most exciting 15 minutes of hockey so far this year. I can’t say I blame anyone who decided to try to beat the traffic, but I hope you’ll try to stay until the very end of the games from now on. With this group of scrappers we have on the ice, we just don’t really know the limits of possibility. If anyone had told me 12 months ago that the Florida Panthers would be having a season in which they were not only holding leads, but fighting back to win games, I would’ve had to see it to believe it. Well guess what, I’m seeing it. The excitement felt in those last 15 minutes is why I renewed our seats for next season. The opportunity to go from the edge of despair to peak of exhilaration in a matter of minutes is why I love this sport, and why I won’t leave my seat until the game is over… Oh, and even if we’re getting creamed in the closing minutes, it’s never too late for a fight!
The Panthers are in 8th place in the conference heading into tonight's game in Raleigh. We’re beginning a critical stretch in the schedule, and I bet the players would really like our support in the upcoming 5-game home stand. If you’re a season ticket holder with bonus tickets left, call your friends and see if they want to come out to the arena with you and cheer on the Panthers. Or tell people about the “First Timers” program, or any of the other promotions going on at the arena. Buying a hockey ticket in this town is as reasonable as just about any other form of entertainment, and who knows, you just might get treated to a come-from-behind overtime thriller…
Thank you for stopping by the blog. I hope you’ve enjoyed this entry.
If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, or if you just want to say Hi, I can be reached at:
Thank you to everyone who emailed me after the last blog entry. It was a pleasure to correspond with each of you.
Oh, in case you missed it, this is what sweet victory looks like: