Bomber's Blog

Bomber's Blog: Down The Stretch

Friday, 02.20.2009 / 9:29 AM ET / Blogs
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Bomber\'s Blog: Down The Stretch
Former Panthers forward and current radio analyst Bill Lindsay will be blogging on on anything that crosses his mind.

Lindsay who spent seven seasons (1993-2002) with the Cats and played in 506 games and collected 165 points is now a radio analyst on 790 The Ticket.

Lindsay will always be remembered in Cats history for his series-clinching goal in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Boston Bruins in the '96 playoffs.

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We are getting down to crunch time in the NHL season, and the race is on to make the playoffs. The good news if you’re a Panther fan is that the Cats are one of the few teams headed north in the Eastern standings. An amazing run since the start of the New Year has the Panthers poised to end their long playoff drought.

Florida is a team on the rise, which is more than can be said for some of the other teams in the East. I wrote in an earlier blog, that I would much rather have a player that performs well in the second half of the season than the first half. That adage would hold true for teams as well. This is money time, when you really start to find out about your hockey club.

Three teams that had good first halves and are now headed south are the Rangers, Canadiens and Penguins.

The New York Rangers are a team that looked to be a shoo-in to make the playoffs after a strong first half, but are now in all kinds of trouble. I, for one, do not like the Rangers one bit and am not losing any sleep over their recent trouble. How great would it be to have the Panthers in the playoffs and the Rangers out of the playoffs. The Rangers are so desperate that it looks like Sean Avery is headed back to be a Blueshirt. I can’t say I blame them as they need a spark in the worst way. The problem is the spark might ignite the dynamite and blow the whole thing sky high. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the Rangers are grasping at straws.

As for the Montreal Canadiens, this was supposed to be their year. It was their 100th anniversary as a franchise, and of course that meant the hockey gods would automatically  anoint Les Habitants with a Stanley Cup. I mean heck it’s been long enough without a Cup for the Montreal faithful. This still might happen, but…well that’s exactly it but. Carey Price was to be the savior in net, but he has had his troubles. His calm demeanor was suppose to be one of his best attributes, now he’s being criticized for not having enough passion. Alex Kovalev  was no longer a coach killer after a strong 07-08 season but he has reverted back to coach killing. It's gotten so bad for the immensely talented Kovalev that the Canadians left him behind for their current road trip. Guy Carbonneau was the coach to take them over the top but now some are wondering if he is the guy for the job. What a mess! At least the Montreal press are having fun.

Finally I have to mention the Pittsburgh Penguins. After a berth in the finals last year, and two of the game's best players they were a lock to make the palyoffs. Not so fast, they do have Crosby and Malkin but that’s about all they have. Michel Therrien has been fired in an attempt to shake up the Penguins. I don’t think it will be enough. The problem in Pittsburgh is the Penguins have the depth of a kiddie pool. Crosby and Malkin are great but they need help. Unless Pittsburgh makes a huge deal at the deadline it could be a long summer for Crosby and company.

A sign of a good team is that they grow and get better throughout the course of the season. This is exactly what we have seen from the Panthers. Peter DeBoer has done an amazing job getting the most out of his team. The Cats have climbed rapidly toward the top, but the question is can they continue their ascent on the Eastern Conference standings. Florida is hot when it matters most, and the team seems to be working in harmony. That is a lot more than can be said for some of their closest rivals. DeBoer should be mentioned as a coach of the year candidate for his efforts with the Panthers, especially if his team improves even more from now until the end of the season.

Everyone thinks making the playoffs would be a huge accomplishment for the Cats. I for one  think it’s a good start, but my expectations are beginning to go beyond just making the post season. This is a team that has shown it has the ability to compete with anyone, and could make some noise in the playoffs. If you ask the coaching staff and the team they will likely tell you that they have much higher aspirations.

It is going to be a great ride to the finish line. Dare to dream Panther fans, this team has at least given you reason for hope.




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
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18 is the official Web site of the Florida Panthers. Florida Panthers and are trademarks of the Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks and NHL Draft name and logo are trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2016 Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.