Which NHL Playoff Team Should You Root For?

Panther Parkway Playoff Preview

We’re hours away from puck drop for the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs and it donned on me (and on all around good guy Jameson Cooper) that there may be thousands and possibly millions of you readers out there who don’t have a vetted interest in a team this year. Your team may have not made it to the post-season, you could be a new fan or you could have amnesia…if that’s the case, thanks for reading and consult a physician immediately after reading this post. Whatever the reason may be, if you need to latch on to a team for the post-season then do I have a piece for you! There are 16 teams in this year’s post season, some are good, some are really good, some are really really really good and some are just OK. Let’s take a look at which team may be a good fit for you.

Anaheim Ducks

Do you like Disney movies about a scrappy gang of youths melded together by the bonds of teamwork, being poor, and national pride? If so then the Ducks could be the team you’re looking for. Don’t be confused by their captain’s lack of hair – he’s amazing at hockey and will not let you down if you’re looking for a deep playoff run. The kicker is 92 year Teemu Selanne, who is retiring at the end of these playoffs, so if you’re into nostalgia and crying then you’re on the right path.

Boston Bruins

Nobody in their right mind should cheer for the Bruins so if you’re not in your right mind you can cheer for them I guess. Also I hate you.

Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks have been the toast of the NHL for a while now. If you’re that person who wants instant gratification then hitch your horse to the wagon and hang on for dear life. If you’re the person who has never seen a Rocky movie, watches Rocky 4 ,and then tells everyone that you love every Rocky movie then cheer for the Blackhawks.

Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche is made up from a group of young players with an excessive amount of high-end dynamic talent. Players like Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene (injured, but still), Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O’Reilly and Paul Stastny, will surely make your eyes pop out of your head. They’re also coached by a crazy person. Their playoff hashtag is #whynotus, so if you’re into innovative playoff hashtags, you might want to look elsewhere for a team to support.

Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets have made the playoffs for the 2nd time in their history. Good for them right? If you like an underdog and or jokes about fellatio then you should fit right in with this fanbase. The Blue Jackets are this year’s working class blue-collar team so if you get a kick out of those Ford F-150 commercials where the announcer is pretty much reading everything on the screen, then go ahead and cheer for the Jackets.

Dallas Stars

Jamie Benn, best player by far, has led his Stars to the last playoff spot in the West. I’m sure all of Texas is behind them but if you feel like hootin’ and hollerin’ and ho-downin’ and other Texas slangs, then hop right on this chuck wagon!

Detroit Red Wings

Detroit has made the playoffs 23 years in a row. They have won only 4 Stanley Cups in that span, so if you like high winning percentages, then don’t root for the Red Wings. If you like Sweden, rookies, cool breakaway moves and great coaching, then they may be right up your alley.

Los Angeles Kings

All of LA’s top C list celebrities are totally into the Kings so if you want to head to Staples Center and snap a selfie with Matthew Perry then you’re in the right ballpark. The Kings are a team that Wayne Gretzky used to play for so if you want to impress your friends with that bit of trivia when explaining your fandom, then wear that silver and black.

Minnesota Wild

Minnesota is the self-proclaimed “State of Hockey” which would be accurate if Michigan, New York, New Jersey, California, Missouri, Florida, Arizona, Ohio, Illinois, Tennessee, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Colorado, Texas and Pennsylvania all didn’t have hockey teams too. Liars.

Montreal Canadiens

Montreal has won the most Stanley Cups out of any NHL franchise with 24. They haven’t won one since 1993 so if you’re looking to get on board with a group of self-entitled history-clutching crazies, who are desperately waiting to see a cup win in their lifetime then mon ami/e you are knocking at the right door. Poutine is fantastic too, that should be good enough.

New York Rangers

The Rangers are one of three teams in New York (keep thinking of that third one). They’re like the Yankees if the Yankees have only won 4 World Series ever and haven’t won one since 1994 and the one before that was in 1940. If you like not having lofty expectations met, then go put on a blue shirt.

Philadelphia Flyers

They sing America the Beautiful instead of the Star Spangled Banner so if you like alternate forms of patriotism then cheer for the Flyers. They’re also historically violent, made the Red Army team refuse to play against them because of it, and their fans have the reputation of being a-holes. If this made you mad then you’re probably a Flyers fan already.

Pittsburgh Penguins

If you like cheering for the best at anything then step right up and feast your eyes on Sidney Crosby. Supporting the best hockey player in the world is reason enough to cheer for the Penguins and fans have been doing just that since 2005. I’d like to point out that former arguably best player in the world Mario Lemieux partly owns the team and will be shown frequently on TV throughout these playoffs so if you like passing torches from generation to generation then grab a Pens jersey and get ready to be disappointed by Marc Andre Fleury.

San Jose Sharks

The Sharks have never won a Stanley Cup and have the unfortunate reputation of being “playoff chokers.” If you like great teams with great players, then cheer for the Sharks. If you like teal, then cheer for the Sharks. If you like the Jaws theme song, then cheer for the Sharks. If you want to get offended every time someone mentions the word “choke”, then sheer for the Sharks. If you want to be part of their first cup win, then don’t cheer for the Sharks because they’re kind of chokers.

St. Louis Blues

Another team without a Cup win ever. A lot of people don’t like the Blues so if you’re a fan of being the outcast who sticks up for their team no matter what horrible thing they do that makes everyone else angry, then cheer for the Blues. American almost hero Ryan Miller is their starting goalie. You probably heard of him a few years ago.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Led by elite sniper Steven Stamkos for now, the Lightning are one of those cool teams that doesn’t end in an S. If you like the Oklahoma City Thunder then DEFINITELY cheer for the Lightning because then you can make your twitter handle @ThunderandLightning and you’ll be really cool.

By now you should have a team that suits you perfectly. If you’re still undecided, then refresh this page and read the post again. Go Hockey Go, enjoy the playoffs folks.

Panther Parkway Radio: Game Recap, Brad Boyes, College Cats, Trading & Free Agency

Tune in to tonight’s show where we discuss the biggest Florida Panthers news of the week!

Host: Paige Lewis

Guests: Jameson Cooper, Mike Lewis (no relations to Paige) and Mike Obrand!

Topics

  • Montreal Game Recap
  • Should the Panthers finish season on a high note?
  • Brad Boyes slowing down without Barkov
  • What position do the Panthers need to address first and foremost?
  • College Cats
  • Should we trade out first round pick?

New Episode Here

We welcome your comments and feedback!

Follow Paige on Twitter @PaigeLewisFL

For All Your Florida Panthers’ Updates Follow Panther Parkway on Facebook

Follow Panther Parkway on Instagram @ PantherParkway

Panther Parkway Post-Game: Panthers vs. Canadiens

Stars of the game

1st: Max Pacioretty (2G-1A-3P)

2nd: Thomas Vanek (1G-1A-2P)

3rd: Carey Price (36-37 saves – .973 sv%)

Goals (Canadiens 4, Panthers 1)

MTL: Thomas Vanek (27) Assists: P.K. Subban

MTL: Max Pacioretty (34) Assists: Alexei Emelin, Daniel Briere

MTL: Max Pacioretty (35) Assists: David Desharnais, Thomas Vanek

FLA: Brad Boyes (19) Assists: Sean Bergenheim, Brian Campbell

MTL: David Desharnais (15) (Empty Net) Assists: Max Pacioretty, Mike Weaver

Highlight

Brad Boyes scored his team-leading 19th goal of the season in the 2nd period.

Quote of the game

“They capitalized on their chances. We gotta clean those areas up and stop shooting ourselves.”

-Brad Boyes on Montreal’s offense

Tweet of the game

It’s a tough time for Leafs fans. Welcome aboard.

Video of the game

Next Up

The Florida Panthers take on the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center, on Monday at 7:30 p.m.

Tune into FOX Sports Florida to catch all of the action!

Thanks for reading and we welcome your thoughts in the comments section below!

Follow Paige on Twitter @PaigeLewisFL

For All Your Florida Panthers’ Updates Follow Panther Parkway on Facebook

Follow Panther Parkway on Instagram @ PantherParkway

Game Day Preview: Panthers VS Canadiens

FLORIDA PANTHERS: 27-39-8 (62 PTS.) vs. MONTREAL CANADIENS: 42-26-7 (91 PTS.)

GAME DAY SONG: Snowbird by Anne Murray

It’s game 75 for the Florida Panthers as they take on their Atlantic Division rival (that still sounds weird) Montreal Canadiens. The Panthers come in looking for a win to end their 3 game home stand on a high note after being blanked by the Hurricanes 3-0 in Sunrise on Thursday. On the opposite side of the coin the Habs, who are in the midst of a 4 game roadie, come to South Florida from Motown after just escaping the Wings with 2 points.

Where they’ve been

The Panthers returned home from their Western road trip looking for some positivity and got just that when they came back from two down to send the Senators home gaping at the dazzler that was Vincent Trocheck in the shootout. Against the Hurricanes, the Cats ran into the Kazak Krusher Anton Khudobin who turned aside all 35 shots (35!) he faced for the shutout to send the fans home with the burning desire to destroy their Borat DVDs. The Panthers are 3-6-1 in their last 10 and are continuing on their quest to end their season on a high note by spoiling the March break of thousands of visiting Montrealers.

Across the rink, the Habs are quite hot posting a 7-3 record in their last 10, winning 7 of their last 8 and have won 4 in a row. It’s not all roses as the Habs stole one in Detroit after hanging on for a 5-4 win over the decimated Wings.

[Read more...]

From the Outside Looking In

What do you call a Snowbird that just never goes back up north? Smart?

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a “Snowbird” is someone from a cold climate that migrates south for the winter only returning home when the weather gets bearable again.

As a born and raised Montrealer, every winter I would do what pretty much everyone else on the island does: Go to Florida for Winter Vacation. And so I did, for 25 consecutive years. I’d hop on the snowbird express and spend 2 weeks in South Florida. As the years went on and when I was able to plan the trip myself and not conform to my parents’ itinerary, I thought it would be pretty cool to see the Montreal Canadiens take on the Florida Panthers in Sunrise.  So, for many years I would join my fellow Montrealers from Surfside, Bal Harbor, Sunny Isles, Hallandale, Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, Boca, and Deerfield, and venture West away from the beach for an evening of Habs hockey.

We’d come in, be obnoxious, chant “Olé Olé Olé” and make Panthers fans wish we got stopped at the border.

This isn’t going to be a piece about Habs fans or a piece about the Habs, actually this is probably the last you’ll hear about the Habs from me on this site.

This is going to be a piece about what a Montrealer, who is a frequent flyer to South Florida, has learned about the Florida Panthers and where they’ve been, who they are and where they’re going.

On top of coming down every Winter, I’d also be in Florida 5-6 times per year so I know what it’s like down here. I know the market, I know the fan base, and I know the intricacies and complications that the Panthers face on a day-to-day basis because I lived on the opposite side of the fence my entire life.

The biggest thing that I took away from my frequent visits to Sunrise was that while the Panthers fan base isn’t large by definition, it is proud and passionate. Very passionate.

So before we get into this, a tip of the hat to the Cat fans out there who bleed red and show up when everyone expects you not to.

Now onto the Panthers.

Pleading for patience is something that I’m sure you all have heard countless times. Patient is probably the last thing you want to be as Panthers fans. You have been patient for years. You’ve been waiting for a stable contender since the Stanley Cup run of 96, and who is to blame you for wanting to win?

I’m sure you’ve heard the “this time it will be different” line before, but this time, THIS time will actually be different.

Why will it be different this time?

Because of Vincent Viola. For as long as I can remember the Panthers have separated Hockey and Business. For some reason the two couldn’t coincide. They’d ice the team and put on the promotions and try to fill the rink however they could. With Viola, I think the Panthers’ brass know that Hockey IS the business. Viola is letting his Hockey Operations department spend to the cap. This alone makes all the difference. You have to give yourself the best chance to win, and using finance to do that is part of playing in the NHL.

Viola understands that if you build it, they will come and he’s letting his team…build it.

I’ll ask again: Why will it be different this time?

Because of Dale Tallon. In the off-season of 2011 he went on a signing spree and inked players who are now part of the Panthers core. Players like Bergenheim, Fleischmann, Kopecky, Upshall and Campbell are cemented in the “We See Red” movement and are ideal pieces in putting a winning team together. Fast forward to this year’s free agency, he brought in Brad Boyes and steal of the season Tom Gilbert, who are the players you want on your team if you’re going to build a winner.

Oh and then there’s the recent acquisition of one Roberto Luongo.

Luongo is the first time Tallon employed the combination of business and Hockey in a transaction since the start of the new regime. It didn’t take long. What I alluded to earlier is exemplified perfectly in Roberto Luongo. He’s a fan favourite, he’ll bring fans in, and he’ll help the team win. Business and Hockey.

Luongo is an elite NHL goaltender who will give his team a chance to win every night. That is the bare minimum for a goalie and that (and more) is what he’s going bring to the table for the next few years.

The Panthers are in more than capable hands with Tallon, that much is clear. He has a plan and is sticking to it and isn’t afraid to be patient in order to achieve his goal. He’s building his team the right way.

So again: Why will it be different this time?

Because of Peter Horachek. Horachek spent 10 seasons in Nashville under Barry Trotz, the model of consistency in the NHL. If there’s one thing you want from a Panthers’ coach its consistency. Horachek brought in his philosophy of hard work, discipline, responsibility and skill to his team that has undoubtedly benefitted from this mantra. The team went from 3-9-4 or 3-13 before Horachek to 21-23-3 when he was brought in. The basic record alone shows a massive improvement in play.

Beyond the record, you can tell that by watching the games the Panthers are a “never say die” team. They don’t coast, they don’t watch, they play to the whistle and to the final buzzer. Its cliché, but it’s true. Horachek learned in Nashville that stability, strong team defense and team perseverance can go a long way to making waves in the league. Add a roster with more raw talent than he had in Nashville, and watch the sparks fly.

One more time: Why will it be different this time?

Because of the youth.

Oh boy, the youth.

The core. Barkov, Huberdeau, Kulikov, Gudbranson and Bjugstad. All players with off the charts high-end talent. All players who are growing and will continue to grow with the Panthers as the team joins the league’s elite.

Outside of that core? A crop of supremely talented, unheralded young players who you’ll fall in love with quickly. Brandon Pirri, Vincent Trocheck, Dylan Olsen, Drew Shore, Quinton Howden, Colby Robak and my personal favorite, Jimmy Hayes. This group may not have the high-end talent possessed by a Huberdeau or a Barkov, but they’re young, learning and will surprise us all.

On top of all of this? The players who aren’t pros. Among many, Ian McCoshen, Rocco Grimaldi and Mike Matheson will play NHL Hockey and lucky us they’ll be doing it with the Panthers.

These players will grow together, not just as players but as people, as professionals. That’s how a team wins and that’s how a team keeps winning.

It’s a slow burn but the train is on the right set of tracks. It just needs time to gain momentum.

So that’s what I’ve learned, from the outside looking in as a transplant Floridian with a passion for Hockey.

The Florida Panthers aren’t there yet.

But that’s a big, big “yet.”

Go Cats Go

Thanks for reading and we welcome your thoughts in the comments section below!

Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeObrand

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Mike Weaver Traded to Montreal in Exchange for 2015 Fifth-Round Pick

Just days after acquiring F Brandon Pirri from the Chicago Blackhawks, Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon is making moves yet again as veteran defenseman Mike Weaver is headed to Montreal in exchange for a 2015 fifth-round pick according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

Weaver, 35, competed in 246 games for the Panthers since signing as a free agent in 2010, scoring 44 regular season points (3-41-44) and one playoff goal during the team’s improbable playoff run during the 2011-12 season.

A product of Michigan State hockey, Weaver has accumulated 86 points (7-79-86) in 585 career NHL games split between Florida, St. Louis, Vancouver, Los Angeles and Atlanta.

Known for his responsability in the defensive zone and willingness to sacrifice his body when called upon, Weaver blocked a whopping 414 shots during his time in South Floirda – leading the team in that category from 2010-2012.

[Read more...]

Game Day Preview: Panthers vs. Canadiens. Desire & Hunger Is The Fire I Breathe

FLORIDA PANTHERS: 16-20-6 (38 PTS.) vs. MONTREAL CANADIENS: 24-15-5 (53 PTS.)

TSN GAMEDAY

GAME DAY SONG: Because The Night, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

The Florida Panthers embark tonight on a crucial three game road swing with this evenings game against the Canadiens, and then stops in Buffalo and New Jersey before returning home on January 14th to face the New York Islanders.  Though the Panthers still sit towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference, they have shown a great deal of upside lately that makes you wish the first 30 days of the season could be wiped off.  While that’s unrealistic, the Panthers will shoot for their third victory in a month over the Montreal Canadiens.

The Panthers who just completed a five game homestand, finished with a 2-0-1 record in the last three games with coach Peter Horacheck feeling the team is having positive results:

“The main thing for our team is that we’re moving forward, that we continue to go in the right direction,” coach Peter Horachek said.

If the Panthers win tonight it will be their seventh win in 11 games on the road, a statistic that truly shows how improved they are since Peter Horacheck took over as head coach.

A positive for tonight will be the return of defenceman Erik Gudbranson who has been out of action after having orbital bone surgery.  The burly defenceman’s return is defintely a boost to the confidence of the team, as he was expected to be out much longer.  Gudbranson will be skating with a full cage to protect the surgically repaired portion of his face.  Even better is that he’s be paired with captain Ed Jovanovski on defence just as they were in the Panthers playoff run in 2012.  Jovo came back from a serious hip injury and appeared in his first game since April 2012 this past Saturday playing just over 15 minutes, in all situations, including the power play.  Regardless of what people think of Jovo and his contract, the intangibles that he brings to the team cannot be measured.

The “Killer B’s” line of Aleksander Barkov, Brad Boyes and Sean Bergenheim continue to be the catalyst for the offensively challenged Panther offence.  They have been the team’s most consistent line year to date, and Barkov even though he’s only 18 seems to be a perfect middle man for the two experienced wingers.  Jonathan Huberdeau who has been in a bit of a scoring funk, may have busted out as he had two assists and a shootout goal on Saturday against the Nashville Predators.  Florida needs Huberdeau to score and be an effective player if they’re going to be successful.

While Scott Clemmensen has been in net for the previous victories over the Habs. Tim Thomas could get the call tonight.  Thomas has a 9-4-0 record against Montreal in his last 14 games with a 1.83 GAA.

Montreal has been running hot and cold as of late, and has given up 17 goals in their last 4 games, something they’ll want to tighten up.  Max Pacioretty who has been the subject of trade rumours has six points in his last three games, but is scoreless against the Panthers in his past 4.  P.K. Subban may be playing with a bit of extra flair tonight as he makes one more bid for his election to Team Canada for the Olympics in Sochi.  With final rosters being announced tomorrow, the energetic defenceman will be looking to make a lasting impression.  Like Mad Max, Subban also has 6 points in his last 3 games.

This matchup is always an entertaining one, and both teams will use their speed and aggressive attack to generate scoring chances all night long.  The game will likely be fast, rather chippy, and should be one that will entertain from start to finish.

The Hot List:

* Brad Boyes has 5 points in 3 games.

* Sean Bergenheim has 5 goals in 5 games.

* Tom Gilbert has 3 points in 3 games.

* David Deharnais has 5 points in his last 3 games.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

Rumor has it that I’ll be on Montreal Hockey Talk Radio tonight at 6:50 to help with today’s preview.  Make sure to give them a listen.

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.

Game Day Preview: Panthers vs. Canadiens. The Hungry & The Hunted….

FLORIDA PANTHERS: 11-17-5 (27 PTS.) vs. MONTREAL CANADIENS: 20-11-3 (43 PTS).

TSN GAMEDAY

GAME DAY SONG: Jungleland. Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band

The Florida Panthers embark on a four game Candian road trip tonight that I honestly wish I was joining them on.  With tonight’s tilt starting in Montreal, the Cats will travel to Toronto, Ottawa, and close things out in Winnipeg on Friday before coming back to sunny South Florida.  It’s an opportunity for team bonding, getting to know each other, and make up some ground in the Atlantic Division where the Panthers are 12 points behind both Tampa Bay and Detroit.

The Panthers have admittedly had an up and down season so far that’s been loaded with inconsistency, yet they appear to be jelling under new coach Peter Horachek.  Not sure what he’s doing either in the dressing room or on the ice, but it appears that the Panthers are starting to put things together slightly.  They’ve won four of their last five games that included an epic shootout victory over the Washington Capitals on Friday night,in a game that was very fast paced and entertaining.  As much as this writer feels that the shootout should be abolished, I have to say that I was very pleased for Panther netminder Scott Clemmensen who normally gets eaten alive in those skill competitions.  Friday night, Clemmer stood tall to the task en route to the win.

Part of what Horachek has done is settled things down with his lines.  Prior to his arrival, Kevin Dineen was mixing things up not only each game, but at times each line change looking for consistency.  Horachek meanwhile has stuck with his lines for the most part, only making subtle changes on occasion, which gives the units a better chance to develop that ever eluding chemistry.  Not to continue to gloat about this defensive paring, but the Dylan Olsen and Erik Gudbranson pairing is making Horachek look like a genuis.  Olsen has six points in his last five games and Gudbranson has 3 in his last five, and was virtually invisible offensively until Olsen arrived in Florida in the Kris Versteeg trade.

Special teams could play a significant role in this contest as the Panthers are 0 for thier last 14 power play chances, and Montreal has killed 25 of the last 26 chances against them.  Both teams are fast and when they use their speed, can produce offensive chances, but the Panthers will need to be careful to stay out of the penalty box.

Montreal has gone 7-2-1 in their past 10 games, and is coming off an overtime victory last night against the New York Islanders when Max Pacioretty scored the game winner (the only goal of the contest).  The Canadiens also recently went a stretch of 10 games where they allowed only 19 goals.  They’ve given up 73 on the season which puts them at 5th best in the NHL, as Carey Price has a solid 2.00 GAA on the year.

Pacioretty leads Montreal in goals with 12, followed by Tomas Plekanec with 11.  Defenceman P.K. Subban leads the team in points with 34, as he makes his push for Team Canada.

Montreal is is 14-6-1 against the Panthers since December of 2007, which includes a 6-2-1 record at home.  The Panthers hopefully can catch the Habs on tired legs, and score an early goal to take the crowd out of it.  According to George Richards of the Miami Herald, Scott Clemmenson was the first off the ice at totday’s morning skate, a good indication that he’ll be in goal tonight for the Panthers.  Panther forward Jonathan Huberdeau took a shot off his foot yesterday, is a gametime decision.  If Johnny is out, Jesse Winchester will be back in the lineup with Scott Gomez and Mike Mottau the scratches for the Panthers.

Remember, kickoff faceoff is 6:00 P.M. Eastern time.  Watch today’s game day video.  One of the greatest saxophone solo’s you’ll ever see.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.

Rest No Help To Panthers in 5-2 Rout

With the Eastern Conference-leading Montreal Canadiens arriving for Sunday’s contest with the Florida Panthers less than 24 hours after playing in Tampa, you could make a reasonable assumption that the Cats, with ‘fresher legs’, would be in a spot to put the Habs under pressure from the opening face off. Seems like a logical theory but, in practice, it was absolutely wrong. After a three goal third period in a comeback win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, Montreal kept right on rolling in the first period Sunday, scoring two goals in the opening 8:42 on its way to a 5-2 rout.

After giving up a goal on the first shot in two consecutive games, Jacob Markstrom stopped the Habs first effort. The same can’t be said for the third shot, as David Desharnais scored with a wrister from the top of the left face off circle that beat Markstrom’s glove just 1:46 into the game. Michael Ryder doubled the lead with his deflection of PK Subban’s point shot for a 2-0 lead with less than ten minutes gone.

After settling down over the next 30 minutes of play, it looked like the Panthers might get out of the second period only down by that margin. However, late period goals from Montreal captain Brian Gionta and Francis Bouillon (of course, his first of the season) all but put the game on ice for the Canadiens.

Florida did show a little push back in the third, thanks to the third line of Tomas Kopecky-Shawn Matthias-Jack Skille. Kopecky was credited with a goal with what was a Bouillon own goal in reality eight minutes into the third. Matthias‘ goal, his seventh on the season, at 13:57 made things interesting until a Kris Versteeg holding penalty gave the Habs a power play two minutes later. Ryder made them pay for the mistake with his second deflection of a Subban point shot on the night ended the night with less than five minutes to play.

Over this three-game losing streak, the Panthers have been outscored 15-5 with two of the games coming on their home ice (but, make no mistake, Sunday’s game felt like the game took place at Centre Bell). With the season slowly slipping away (Florida is 8 back of the 8th sport in the East), and a schedule that features many more games on the road than at home, frustration is really starting to mount in the Panther dressing room. To wit, take a look at Matthias in Sunday’s media scrum:

Peter Mueller, who sat with full gear on, minus his sweater until the media began to shuffle out of the room had this to say about his squad’s play:

“We didn’t show up. It’s not fun, definitely not fun from the drop of the puck. We were out there for a minute and a half and they got the momentum just like that. We were battling up-ice since then.”

It doesn’t help that this loss comes on the heels of a Sunday morning report from the Ottawa Sun some Panthers might find themselves elsewhere in the near future. It’s not inconceivable that, in the very near future, Dale Tallon might look to move a player or two if he can get the right deal. Fans have been expecting some sort of move from him almost from the opening few weeks of the season. Is this loss the one that makes him decide to change some of the chess pieces on his board?

Thanks for reading! Any and all comments are welcomed and appreciated!

Follow All Panther Parkway writers on Twitter: Me @davidlasseter, Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, Josh Luecht @eyesonsunrise, Scott Mullin @GreatScottsman, Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Gabby Kiger @gabbykiger, Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530 and Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop. Visit our Facebook fan page here and give us a like and share anything you wish with us.

Game Day Preview: Montreal Canadiens vs. Florida Panthers. In The Crowd I Feel At Home

MONTREAL CANADIENS: 16-5-4 (36PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS: 7-12-6 (20 PTS.)

TSN GAMEDAY

GAMEDAY SONG: Out In The Street

The past week of hockey for the Florida Panthers has been a repeat performance of the entire season.  One word that you might use to describe the results is schizophrenic.  After a solid win at home on Tuesday against the Winnipeg Jets, the Cats followed that up with a clunker in Washington on Thursday, and then a spirited effort at home against those same Jets Friday night, only to come up on the short end of the score.  Again.  The Panthers can’t seem to buy a two game winning streak, and probably would miss the handout if they were being given away.  This is how the season has gone.  When things are working and when they’re prepared, the Panthers compete.  Yet when they start slow, such as they did both Thursday and Friday, they either never catch up, or when they do, they run out of gas in late in the game or in overtime.  We’re at the midway point of the season and you would have hoped that by now the Panthers would have found some sort of happy medium.

With injuries mounting, and with the Jekyll and Hyde performance, the Panthers are running out of time and falling further behind the pack.  Making the post season at this point is likely to happen only if the Panthers win the division.  And that is an extremely tall order even now.  Unless they can string some wins together soon, they’ll be on the outside looking in.  Preparation has been an issue as the Cats are continually suffering from sluggish starts to games and falling behind quickly.  Each game at this portion of the season now becomes a must win, and with that being said, we’ll try not to type that in each preview since we already know it to be so.

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