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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

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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