I Hate Shootouts. I Know You Do Too!

In an effort to add some spice to the NHL, and hoping to bring all the fans back, there were a number of rule changes that were implimented after the lockout of 2004-2005.  A few of the rules have changed the game for the better, starting with the elimination of the red line nullifying the two line pass that previously created offsides.  And by the way it’s offsides, not offside!  That rule change alone has made the game faster, more exciting, and has seen many breakaway’s created by a puck moving defenceman with a knack for making that long breakaway pass which has led to numersous scoring chances.

The one rule however that just causes my blood pressure to reach it’s boiling point is the shootout.  Call me a traditionalist, call me old, or even old fashioned, but this rule has more than worn out it’s welcome in my mind, and makes a bit of a mockery of this glorious sport.  And judging by my timeline on Twitter, there are a number of hockey people both media and fans who have similar feelings.  Maybe it’s because I grew up watching games that sometimes ended in ties, that I feel such hatred for this rule, but be that as it may, I cannot wrap my brain around why this is a good thing.  Yes, the league was making an attempt to give the game more appeal, and felt that by having a sort of skills competition at the end of a shortened overtime, fans would be on the edge of their seats. Previously it was felt that teams may have been coasting in overtime, hanging on to survive, and willing to sacrifice some offence in fear of giving up a game winning goal, and were willing to walk away with at least a point if the game ended in a tie.  Of course there’s the old saying that a tie is like kissing your sister……but after watching the past few years of shootouts, I’d actually rather…..nevermind.

Naturally when your team wins the shootout your feelings are likely much different.  Your happy, elated, but mostly I would bet relieved.  Of course depending how your team ended up in that situation also has a direct reflection on your thoughts of the final outcome.  Did you give up a late goal in regulation, or did you score in the final minutes to “tie” things up, forcing the game to overtime? I’m not going to get into any statistics regarding the shootout, as my thoughts are void of that research for this article, and really don’t care to dissect this rule that way.  This is more of an emotional feeling that I likely share with many of you reading this, and even some who aren’t.

The NHL needs to come up with a better way to end games and credit points. In the “old days”, teams would go to a full 20 minute overtime period after being tied after regulation.  As soon as one team scored,the game was over, and the extra point was awarded.  Two points for the winner, and one for the loser.  The rule was changed for a number of reasons, but mostly because it was felt that a winner needed to be decided, and that games ending in ties were disappointing.

Losing in a shootout to me is more frustrating than a game ending in a tie.  Sure, like any other fan I enjoy seeing some (not all) of the slick and fance moves by some of the games most skillful players.  The Chicago Blackhawks actually posses two of the best shootout players in the game today as this video shows.  Jonathan Toews isn’t slashy, but he’s extremely accurate.  Patrick Kane on the other hand is both flashy, and virtually automatic.  Some might even call some of his moves “sick”.  On the opposite side of this coin is the losing goaltender who may have played a superb game in regulation, but has no clue whatsover in the shootout, and ends up on the wrong side of the score.  Hard to feel good about yourself when one shot decides the game, after you’ve played so well to that point.

At the most recent GM meetings there was discussion of making some subtle changes on how to decide overtime.  What if anything actually comes out of it will be determined likely after this season.  My suggestion is the following:  If there is a tie after regulation, continue to keep things as is and play five minutes of 4 on 4 hockey.  If the game is still tied after that, play 3 mintues of 3 on 3.  Should no one score after the additional 3 minutes, then, game over.  Thanks for the effort everyone and goodnight.  But here’s the “kicker” that could make things more enticing.  After regulation, each team is of course credited with one point.  However, if a team wins in overtime, give that team an extra two points for the win.  That would hopefully prevent teams from coasting, and or becoming ultra conservative as they play it safe until the shootout.

Here’s the rub:  No other major sport uses a skills competition to decide games.  Imagine if baseball used a home run hitting contest, or the NBA used free throws, or the NFL had a field goal kicking contest.  Tell me you wouldn’t feel a little empty inside, especially if your team lost.

The game of hockey is a fantastic sport, and in this writers mind the best that there is.  It’s a game that involves teamwork, skill and grit.  It shouldn’t be left to individuals to determine the final outcome of a game with a ballet like performance.

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.

Panthers vs. Bruins. Like Just Another Stranger Waiting To Get Blown Away

FLORIDA PANTHERS: 3-8-4 (10 PTS.) vs. BOSTON BRUINS: 8-5-1 (17 PTS.)

GAME DAY SONG: Point Blank, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

After a six game homestand which many thought would help the Florida Panthers get out of their early season funk, the Cats now find themselves on a three game road swing that takes them to Boston tonight, and then onto Ottawa and New York to play the Rangers this Saturday and Sunday.  Did I mention that the Panthers are also in the midst of a six game losing streak? A road trip like this isn’t necessarily meant to be the antidote for what ails them, however things could be much worse, and maybe a little bonding away from the Florida sunshine might do them some good.

With the way the Panthers are playing lately it’s hard to find anything positive to talk about.  Playing a full 60 minutes has been the major issue with this club, and it was on display again with their overtime loss on Tuesday to the Edmonton Oilers.  A team by the way who’s given up the most goals in the NHL, and has exactly one more win than the Panthers.  Florida has now lost to Edmonton, Buffalo, and Philadelphia.  Those three opponents, and the Panthers find themselves bringing up the rear of the NHL.

The organization must turn things around immediately or risk losing an already fragile fan base that’s been patient to this point.  New ownership which was the first step taken this season, has promised to make the necessary moves to put a winning product on the ice, and those moves could be and should be imminent.  While waiting for the “other shoe to drop”, general manager Dale Tallon has given head coach Kevin Dineen a vote of confidence, despite the teams horrifically dismal performance.  Tallon had this to say after Tuesday’s loss:

“There will be changes though,” Tallon said outside the arena. “I don’t make rash decisions. None of us are happy. I have to fix this and I will. We’re better than this.”

You’ll find more quotes and analysis here from George Richards at the Miami Herald.  While Tallon has indicated that changes will be made, the sooner they happen the better so that players who aren’t going anywhere can play with less nervousness than they already have.  The Panthers had four complete days off last week, and that may have been the perfect time to make a change, but now that there have been two more losses, this bunch is likely the most fragile it’s been.  Adding to the pressure is the fact that after this short three game roadie, the Panthers come home to play Anaheim on Tuesday, then embark on a five game Western conference road swing.  The season is on the brink, and that road trip could be damaging for the balance of the season if they’re aren’t a few wins after they come home.  So with eight of the next nine games on the road, Florida has their work cut out for them.

Rather than discuss the matchup for tonight, it’s time to realize that a shakeup is in order.  Jameson Olive wrote a fantastic article yesterday, and everything he says is spot on.  The hard part of all this is that the Panthers are stuck in a losing environment that isn’t healthy, especially for the youth of the organization.  We can talk till we’re blue in the face about putting together a 60 minute effort, tighten up the defence, etc, etc.  But unless there are results, and quickly, this movie that seems to be on a spiral, will kill the season.  And we aren’t even at Thanksgiving.

Many feel that building through the draft and sprinkling in some free agents and a subtle trade or two is the way to make yourself competitive, the Florida Panthers are having zero success with that formula.  This team can’t wait for this summer to spend money on free agents, and make bold trades.  The time is here to act, and do so in a big way.  The team needs a superstar, or at least two highly skilled players to help turn this around.  In addition, by having those players now, it will be easier to attract some of the bigger free agents next season.  The Panthers haven’t had a goal scorer for years, something that isn’t a secret.  Suffice it to say, Olli Jokinen was the last real scoring threat the Panthers had, and he was traded away for two defencemen, and ultimately Olli’s points were never replaced.

It’s hard to say what happens on this three game stint, but if anyone thinks that keeping games close, only to lose late or in overtime is acceptable, then you better have your pulse checked.  This is a results oriented business, and right now the Panthers aren’t getting results.  It will take more than a bandaid to fix what ails this team, and it’s apparent that management is full aware of that.  It doesn’t matter if you think that Dineen has “lost the room” or if the players as a group just aren’t connecting, they’ve all had a full training camp and 15 games to work out the kinks.  The inevitable is going to happen.  The only question is, who will remain standing when it’s all over.

P.S.  Watch the vintage recording of today’s game day song.   Classic Bruce.

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.

Florida Panthers’ Offensive Player For October: Aleksander Barkov

The first month of the season comes to a close tonight and after 12 games it’s quite easy to pick the offensive player of the month for the Florida Panthers.  Rookie center and the teams’ number one draft pick this past summer, Aleksander Barkov is showing why the Panthers chose him over defenceman Seth Jones.  Granted it’s only been 12 games, and we all know that’s a small sample, but there’s no reason to doubt that Barkov is exactly what Dale Tallon and the rest of the Panther’s front office thought he would be. Tallon and his scouting team addressed a need for offence, and a need to have what hopes to be a true number one center in the near future.  If Barkov is able to continue to develop his game, and maintain consistency, that’s exactly what they’ll have.

Barkov has 7 points on 3 goals and 4 assists, and his first goal, as shown above came in his very first NHL game. That game against the Dallas Stars on opening night was the most complete game that the Panthers have played all season.  Barkov looked more like a veteran than a rookie.  The goal he scored came from an area that the Panthers need to have more presence in, the goal mouth.  And that type of play is what Barkov was known for during his time in Finland, where he played with adults, rather than in juniors where most top picks come from, playing with their own age group. You’ll see in the video replay that after winning the face-off, Barkov rather discretely skated towards the net, stood his ground, found the puck, and stuffed it past Stars net-minder Kari Lehtonen.  It’s been those kind of plays that Panther fans hope to see more of from the 18 year old rookie.

Barkov has also been effective in the face-off circle, and has been responsible defensively as he’s proved his willingness to back-check.  He’s also seen time on the power play where he’s scored two of his three goals. His shooting percentage is one of the highest on the team at 16.67 percent. With 7 points (3g-4a-7p), Barkov currently sits 5th in rookie scoring tied with 1st overall pick, Nathan MacKinnon. For such a young player you have to be impressed with Sasha’s hockey sense, his vision, and his ability to completely change a game as all 3 of his goals are either game-tying goals or game winning goals.

There’s still a lot of time for Barkov to grow and get better, but so far, he’s been the most complete offensive player for the Florida Panthers this month, and he’s looking as though his future will be a bright one here in Sunrise.

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.

Game Day Preview: Florida Panthers vs. Dallas Stars. Show A Little Faith, There’s Magic In The Night



It’s been more than five months since I wrote one of these, so pardon me if this one seems a bit rusty.  Tonight the Florida Panthers open the season with the first game of a four game road trip, which will be a real test to the start of the season.  The Panthers roster that’s dressing for tonight’s game is a far cry from the final game of the 2013 lockout shortened season, and for the better.  Not only are there new faces on the ice, but with new ownership now at the helm, the Florida Panther roster that general manager Dale Tallon has quickly assembled is poised to surprise.

The new additions feature veterans Scott Gomez, Joey Crabb, Krys Barch, Brad Boyes and Jesse Winchester on offence, with Tom Gilbert and Ryan Whitney on defence.  And let’s not forget Tim Thomas in goal.  You could say that the youth movement has been tossed out, but with all the veterans having been signed to one year deals, there really isn’t much to lose, and gives the youth more time to develop.  No need to rush them.

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Panther Parkway Celebrates Its One Year Anniversary

It’s hard to believe that just one year ago Panther Parkway was born.  I’ve made many decisions in my lifetime, some good, and some….. well…..not so good.  However the decision to leave the network that we were affiliated with for three years and start our own website, has turned out to be one of the best decisions that I could have made.  On September 7th of 2012, this story was published telling our loyal readers of the good news.  While The Rat Trick was where we started, leaving that site and starting Panther Parkway has turned out to be a bigger success than we originally thought.

We still have some work to do on the site itself, however I truly believe that we have established ourselves in the blogosphere as a premiere site for all your Florida Panthers information, as well as other stories of interest in and around the NHL.  As we approach the start of the regular season, we’re looking to make some cosmetic changes to the site which will include a new format, a new design, and some additional surprises along the way.  Our podcast, Panther Parkway Radio, hosted by Paige Lewis has received rave reviews, and we’ll continue to do those on a regular basis.  We also have plans to do some very unique “in game” and “post game” work for our home games this season.  We invite you to continue coming to our site on a daily basis.   In addition, please make sure that you continue following all of us on Twitter, and if you haven’t already, go and “like” our Facebook Fan Page!

Life has been significantly better for me at least since the move was made, and I want to personally thank all of our loyal fans that read and interact with us on a daily basis.  We appreciate your feedback, and really enjoy the conversations that we have.  I’ve made a number of friends the along the way, and while I also seem to have lost a few as well, I would like everyone to know that my passion for this sport runs very deep.  Don’t take anything that I say to heart.  It’s that passion that all of us here at Panther Parkway share, and is also what motivates us to do the work we do.

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The Perfect Mentor For Aleksander Barkov?

Reading a lot over the past few days about how “mature” Florida Panthers’ first round pick (2nd overall) Sasha Barkov is for a 17 year old player.  Yet, there is going to be a mountain of expectations from him, and the pressure of making an immediate impact on a team that needs everything he brings is enormous.  Barkov has been receiving a number of positive accolades since the Panthers drafted the big centerman, and most of them seem to all match up.  Many Panther fans are still trying to decide if picking Barkov over defenceman Seth Jones was the right move, but those fans are likely complaining about things that they know absolutely nothing about.

From an ability standpoint, Barkov has all the tools.  He plays hard, goes to the net, can score and is big.  We need all of those ingredients for our number one center, should he fit into that role this season.  Barkov also plays mean.  Not that he fights, but he’ll get “charged up” once in awhile and toss his still growing large body around.  All this said, a player that’s so youthful in a completely new environment will need to adjust, and quickly with the role he’s expected to play.  Granted playing in the Finnish Elite league with adults has been a godsend for the youngster as he’s been competing with older players, but coming to the NHL is going to be a culture shock.  He may have the persona to adapt, but still, do the Florida Panthers need to have someone take him under his wing?  And if they do, who would that be?

More after the break [Read more…]

Panther Parkway Headlines: Hawks Stay Alive, Bruins Advance and More

 This is how you do a pregame.  Thank you HNIC


* The Three Stars for Saturday night. Puck Daddy.

* The Chicago Blackhawks and Jonathan Toews bounce back in game five.  Faith and confidence prevail.  Committed Indian.

* Preview of the Eastern Conference Final between Pittsburgh and Boston.  NHL.com.

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Panther Parkway Noon Headlines: Playoff Schedule, Sacco Fired, Awards, and More!

What better way to spend your lunch break than catching up on all of last night’s amazing NHL action that you may have missed! Here are the top stories and videos from the all of yesterday’s action around the NHL.

  • Watch Flyers’ goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov sounds off against the Philadelphia media.

  • Lightning forward Martin St. Louis becomes the oldest player to ever win the Art Ross Trophy. [TSN]
  • The 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff schedule has been released. [Puck Daddy]

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Panther Parkway: Noon Headlines: Don Cherry, Wild Clinch, Luongo Awful, And More

While you’re having Sunday Brunch catch up on all of last night’s amazing NHL action that you may have missed! Here are the top stories and videos from all of yesterday’s action around the NHL, starting off with Coach’s Corner:

* The Three Stars for Saturday night. Puck Daddy.

* All 16 playoff teams have been decided.  The seeding will be finalized after today. NHL.com.

* The Hart Trophy should go to the most outstanding player.  The Hockey News.

* Not much of a playoff tune-up for Luongo, as the Oilers score 7 last night. TSN.ca.

* Here’s a look at 12 potential head coach’s and general managers. Sportsnet.ca.

* The Minnesota Wild clinch a playoff berth, while Columbus is eliminated.  Pro Hockey Talk.

* 30 Thoughts from Elliotte Friedman. CBC Sports.

* The Chicago Blackhawks are hopefully going deep into the playoffs.  Here are two sites you must check out daily for all Blackhawk news.  The Committed Indian, and Second City Hockey.  I’ll be putting in my own articles here, but these guys are in Chicago, and are connected to the pulse of the city.

* Finally, we can expect the unexpected in the playoffs.  Globe and Mail.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: me @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Josh Luecht @eyesonsunrise, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, Scott Mullin @GreatScottsman,  Gabby Kiger @gabbykiger, 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


Panther Parkway. Morning Headlines: Pat Foley, Kipper’s Farewell,Tavares, Selanne, and more.

What better way to spend your lunch break than catching up on all of last night’s amazing NHL action that you may have missed! Here are the top stories and videos from the all of yesterday’s action around the NHL.

* This video montage is in tribute to Pat Foley, the voice of the Chicago Blackhawks for the past 30 seasons.  He was honored last night before the Hawks played Nashville.  As a former Chicagoan, I can honestly say he’s one of the best, and had the pleasure of hearing all the calls in this video.

* The Three Stars from Friday night via Puck Daddy.

* Erik Gudbranson is out for the weekend, and Filip Kuba returns.  On Frozen Pond.

* Kevin Dineen refers to the New York Rangers as “Cookie Monsters”. NYDN.

Please [Read more…]


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