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Peeke's Points: Winning The Must-Win Game

Monday, 03.12.2012 / 10:29 AM ET / Blogs
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Peeke\'s Points: Winning The Must-Win Game
Cliff Peeke, a Panther season ticket holder since DAY ONE, is back blogging on FloridaPanthers.com for a fifth season, giving the point of view on the Cats from a serious, die-hard fan’s perspective in his own blog titled Peeke’s Points.
 
A Michigan native who’s played hockey most his life (admittedly average at best), Cliff grew up watching the 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 owns InXpress USA – South Florida (DHL international shipping and Freight).  He has a wife and two sons (Trevor, 29, and Andrew, 13).  Andrew has played on Tier 1 Jr. Panther teams since first eligible, and will be playing defence for the Bantam Minor, Tier 1, AAA, Florida Allliance in the ’11-’12 season..

Peeke's Points Archive
Please note that the views expressed in this blog are views expressed by the blogger only and are not necessarily the views expressed by the Florida Panthers Hockey Club.


Panthers absolutely had to win last night against Carolina. Had to. How’s this for a reason. The 2-0 shutout victory puts us on pace with the 2008-2009 Panther team. That’s right…after 68 games, that team was 34-25-9 for 77 points. We are now at 32-23-13 for 77 points. 

With the Panthers holding first place most of the season, the feeling has been that we are a much more improved team. I feel we still are, and we certainly have a much brighter future for sure, but that team coached by Pete DeBoer did collect 93 points. With 14 games remaining, we will need to collect 16 points to match that. If we do, and I believe we can, will it be enough?

And enough for what; first in division and a #3 seed or eighth in the conference? The Capitals are putting together some wins and they seem determined to grab that #3 seed. So what’s the likely number of points to secure first…96 or 97?

Play it safe with 97 points. That means we need to collect 20 points in the final fourteen games. That will only allow for four losses. Take a look at the remaining games on our schedule and it is easy to realize that we must beat the teams below us (and there are eleven of those). We do that and I believe we secure the #3 seed.

Jose Theodore played a great game against the Hurricanes and he will have to continue that level of play. Our defense did an awesome job of preventing some shots and redirecting others that appeared to be sure goals. That must continue. We played with a high level of intensity and that must continue. We are getting decent scoring chances, and of course, that must continue. We must play at our highest competitive level from now until season’s end…no nights off.

The goal differential of -25 is troubling. And we have the fewest goals of any team in the top eight. At this point in the season, it’s hard to ignore those points.

But help is on the way. We need Dmitry Kulikov and Kris Versteeg back in the lineup. The return of those two alone will provide a huge boost. It will be interesting to see how Scottie Upshall performs once he returns. 

I have always been a fan of Wojtek Wolski. Recall the 2004 draft when the Panthers selected Rostislav Olesz with the 7th overall pick. Wolski went 14 spots lower and was selected by Colorado. Of course, looking back, Washington got the steal of the first round selecting Mike Green 29th overall. Still, Wolski has been a productive NHL player and I’m glad Dale Tallon made the move to acquire him. I would try to figure a way to sign him in the off-season, but there are sure going to be some tough decisions. Hockey Futures places the Panthers #1 in prospects and there will surely be a few rookie forwards that may very well earn a spot next year; Jonathan Huberdeau, Nick Bjugstad, Quinton Howden and maybe Vincent Trocheck. Nothing like a crowded field vying for spots. Again, the future looks bright.

And even though this year’s team has the same number of points as that 2008-2009 team after 68 games, the biggest difference is that every real fan know that we genuinely have a present and a future. 

Go Panthers! Remember, there are bantam age players down here that have yet to see the Panthers in the playoffs. Figure out a way to win ten more games. These next few weeks are going to be an absolute riot.

I enjoy reading the comments (some from around the world) after one of these…so please share your thoughts…my email is cliffp@inxpressusa.com

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PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 50 37 9 4 163 112 78
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
7 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
8 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
9 NYI 50 26 18 6 135 126 58
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 50 23 18 9 119 130 55
12 MTL 53 25 24 4 142 142 54
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 49 16 21 11 37
J. Huberdeau 52 10 27 10 37
A. Barkov 42 16 19 13 35
J. Jokinen 52 10 25 12 35
V. Trocheck 52 17 16 4 33
R. Smith 52 16 15 11 31
B. Pirri 48 10 13 -4 23
A. Ekblad 48 10 12 21 22
B. Campbell 52 4 16 17 20
N. Bjugstad 37 9 8 -3 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 23 13 5 .930 2.13
A. Montoya 8 2 1 .931 1.93

 
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