Dustin Byfuglien’s Sword Swinging Can’t Stop Jimmy Hayes

With just under three minutes left in Thursday night’s game, Panthers’ forward Jimmy “Jimmy Sticks” Hayes found himself on a breakaway after a beautiful feed from defenseman Dylan Olsen sent him barreling towards Jets’ goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.

Already down 4-2 to the Panthers as the 3rd period was heading towards a close, Jets’ defenseman Dustin Byfuglien decided he had seen enough.

As Hayes approached a helpless Pavelec, a frustrated Byfuglien did his best Ned Stark impression, using his stick as a sword and taking a massive chop at Hayes’ ankles.

Luckily for Hayes, Byfuglien’s attack was not very effective as the Panther forward not only scored the Cats’ 5th goal of the game, but also skated away unscathed, raising his arms in celebration.

Gif courtesy of SB Nation

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GameDay Preview: Jets vs. Panthers. I Walk With Angels That Have No Place

WINNIPEG JETS: 13-12-4 (30 PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS: 7-16-5 (19 PTS.)

TSN GAMEDAY

GAMEDAY SONG: Streets of Fire. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

This is the final game of a five game homestand that has seen the Panthers fall deeper into the abyss of the Eastern conference with each game they’ve played.  After beating the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1 on November 25th, the Panthers have lost three consecutive games to the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators.  With each loss, the crowd at the BB & T Center has become smaller and smaller.  Proof that people won’t come to watch losing hockey.  The effort appears to be there, yet the results aren’t even close, as mistakes, missed opportunities and zero confidence have crept into nightly routine.

Tuesday night’s game was another example of not being rewarded for effort, but also showed the lack of finish.  The Panthers took an early 2-0 lead on two power play goals in the first period.  It was the first time that Florida had scored two power play goals in a game since October 11th when the beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-0 in the home opener.  As both teams began to show no appreciation for defence, the Senators tied the game, and never looked back, scoring 4 unanswered goals on their way to a 4-2 victory.  The Panthers had to deal with being short handed seven times, as goaltender Tim Thomas who making his his 12th consecutive start, faced 45 shots. Could Thomas surpass the 27 in a row that Eddie Belfour started for the Panthers in 2006-2007?  That remains to be seen, but we wouldn’t be surprised would we?

The Winnipeg Jets feature three ex-Florida Panthers this season, Olli Jokinen, Michael Frolik, and Keaton Ellerby.  Based on the definition of the Ex-Panther Factor, don’t expect the Jets to be Stanley Cup winners this season, but do expect them to be a difficult opponent.  A team that has balanced scoring led by Bryan Little with 12 goals, Winnipeg however doesn’t have a great defence, and relies heavily on good goaltending.  Which isn’t something they get on a consistent basis.

The cliche’s have worn out their welcome for this team, as the losses continue to mount.  The fear is that the development of the younger players could be stunted if things don’t turnaround soon.  Players like Jonathan Huberdeau, Erik Gudbranson, Nick Bjugstad and Aleksander Barkov are the future of this team.  They need to experience success as part of their growth as hockey players.

The schedule doesn’t get any easier as the Panthers play the Detroit Red Wings twice, with a game against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks sandwhiched in between.  Coach Peter Horachek commented after a recent loss that “were all in this together”.  Based on the people not coming to the games, he might be wrong.

Video: Teemu Selanne Receives Standing Ovation in Final Game at Winnipeg

Still in the very early stages of his NHL farewell tour, beloved winger Teemu Selanne found himself tonight in the place where it all began – Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Possibly the greatest player to ever put on a Jets’ sweater, Selanne, 43, competed in 231 games for the Jets and while recording 147 goals and 159 assists for a total of 306 points. Famously traded to the Anaheim Ducks on February 6, 1996, Selanne also spent time playing for the Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks before returning once again to Anaheim in 2005.

While it may be almost two decades since Selanne laced up his skates for the Jets, it’s clear that no matter where his travels took him, he was never far from the hearts of the people of Winnipeg. In what will most likely be his last trip to Winnipeg before riding off into the sunset, Selanne received one final standing ovation from the fans that wished he had never left.

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Early Deficit Dooms Panthers In OT Loss

After enduring an absolutely brutal loss on Thursday to the Washington Capitals that saw them put the Florida Panthers in four-goal hole less than ten minutes in, one would’ve hoped that the Cats would have come out Friday against the Winnipeg Jets with some urgency in their game. Instead, for the second consecutive game, the opponent’s first shot beat Jacob Markstrom as Florida spent much of the evening trying to climb out of a first period, two-goal deficit in the 3-2 OT loss.
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Short-handed Panthers Have Enough To Down Jets

You’d have forgiven the Florida Panthers if they came out flat in Tuesday night’s game against the Winnipeg Jets as it’s been a rough few games for them. In addition to dropping a home and home weekend series against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Cats lost Jose Theodore, Scottie Upshall and Dmitry Kulikov to injures. Eight hours before game time, it was announced that Stephen Weiss, a pending unrestricted free agent and career leader in games played as a Panther, would undergo wrist surgery and miss the remainder of the season. But, instead of feeling sorry for themselves, Florida put together it’s most complete game of the season in a 4-1 win over their Canadian division opponent.
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Game Day Preview: Winnipeg Jets vs. Florida Panthers

WINNIPEG JETS: 10-10-1 (21 PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS: 6-11-5 (17 PTS)

TSN GAME DAY

Tonight’s meeting between the Winnipeg Jets and the Florida Panthers will be the third of five between the two Southeast division teams.  Each team has won a game on home ice, with the Panthers winning 6-3 on January 31st when Alex Kovalev scored the winning goal, and Winnipeg won on February 5th in overtime when Brian Little scored the game winner as the Jets beat the Panthers 3-2.  The Jets begin a four game road swing that takes them to Tampa on Thursday and then right back here in Sunrise on Friday before they head to New Jersey on Sunday to finish their trip.  They’ll be looking for their third consecutive road win this evening and are 6-4-1 away from the MTS Center overall. 

The Jets now find themselves in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff hunt after winning three of their last four which included two victories New Jersey Devils and one against the New York Rangers.  The winning streak came to a halt when the Jets were shutout by the Washington Capitals 3-0 in a game that saw Winnipeg outshoot the Caps 31-8 in the first two periods.  Brayden Holtby of Washington however played an outstanding game for Washington, and held the Jets at bay. One of the problems for the Jets has been their power play which sits near the bottom of the league with a 14.3% success percentage.  Claude Noel the Winnipeg coach spoke about it after the loss to Washington:

“We probably could have used one on the power play,” coach Claude Noel said. “The power play will probably be a topic because [the media] can’t think past the stats. I thought that our power play was better than it has been.”

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Panthers Fall To Jets Thanks To Late OT Goal

After needing a shootout to decide 17 of their games in 2011-12, the Florida Panthers had yet need one through eight games this season. With the way Tuesday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets ended, the Cats probably would’ve liked to try their hand at the skills competition. With just 16 seconds left in overtime, Bryan Little’s power play wrister from the slot beat Scott Clemmensen to give the Jets a 3-2 win. To compound the frustration, the Panthers had worked tirelessly to stymie the Winnipeg power play, only to have Little’s shot cross the red line with six seconds left in the 4-on-3 advantage.
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Preview: Florida Panthers vs. Winnipeg Jets. Everyday The Stakes Get Bigger

FLORIDA PANTHERS: 3-5-0 (6 PTS.) vs. WINNIPEG JETS: 3-4-1 (7 PTS.)

Game Day Song: Roulette, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

The Florida Panthers are in Winnipeg tonight for game two of a four game road trip that has started off with grit, character, and a much needed come from behind win.  After being down for the count 3-1 against the Buffalo Sabres Sunday afternoon, the Panthers literally shut down the line of Tomas Vanek, Jason Pominville and Cody Hodgson after the trio put the Sabres on top 3-1,  on their way to a 4-3 victory.  What was most impressive about the win was that the Panthers held the Sabres to only 10 shots on goal in the final 40 minutes making the job of Jose Theodore that much easier.  The lunch bucket style victory was a perfect example of what a road win should be as the Panthers simplified their game by woerking hard,minimizing their mistakes, and actually played some puck possession hockey.  All elements that lead to their success last season.

Tonight the Panthers will go for their third win in a row against a Winnipeg Jets team that has lost three in a row.  We all know these games can go one way or the other, but the Panthers would be doing themselves a huge favor if they can jump out to an early lead and quite the usually raucous crown of the MTS Center.  The effort that we’ve seen over the past two games has been a complete turnaround from the style of play previous to that for Florida.  Instead of standing around, missing passes, and making glaring mistakes, the Cats have regrouped, gone back to their old ways, and are beginning to play more as a team than a group of individuals. Brian Campbell who tied for second on the team in scoring summed it up best:

“We’re starting to come as a team a bit more now and have faith in coming back,” said Campbell, who had the go-ahead goal in the third Sunday. “Earlier in the season, we didn’t have a whole lot of faith and confidence. But now we’re starting to see our team develop.”

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Panthers Can Breathe Sigh Of Relief As Losing Streak Ends

It may seem like hyperbole to say game seven of a 48 game schedule is a ‘must win’ but, entering the game with a five game losing streak, the Florida Panthers were in just such a situation Thursday night against the Winnipeg Jets. After scoring two goals or less over their previous five contests, the Panthers exploded for six goals, including five in the third period in the 6-3 comeback win over their Canadian division foe. For the first time since opening night (not coincidentally), the Cats looked very much like the hard working, opportunistic squad that defied its detractors en route to the teams first ever division title.
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From Up Top: Panthers End Losing Streak. Beat Winnipeg 6-3

kovalev

Alex Kovalev. Image Property of Panther Parkway

With music blasting in the dressing room, Dale Tallon smiling, the atmosphere here in Sunrise was completely different than it’s been in the last few days.  A tight game at the beginning became wide open by the third period as the Florida Panthers defeated the Winnipeg Jets 6-3 to end their five game losing streak.

The Panthers had four unanswered goals in the final nine minutes of regulation with Tomas Kopecky getting an empty netter at the very end.  Lots of positives to take out of this one, and you can tell that the tightness while not 100% gone, certainly has dissipated.

The win which is only the second of the season, allows the Panthers to head out for a three game road trip with a positive attitude, and with something to build on.  Coach Kevin Dineen mentioned that a win like this is just one step to getting back to the way they know they should play.  He’s actually looking forward to the three game road trip, as everyone will be together for a few days, and not have any local distractions to take their mind off the game.  He’s looking at this trip as a way to continue building the chemistry on the team.

Peter Mueller who has now scored in three consecutive games was pleased with the effort, and was very happy for Jose Theodore.

Dave will have a full recap in the morning.

In closing, this was a much needed win, and the players knew it.  Hard work by everyone is needed for them to be successful.  Tonight they got it.

I told you it wasn’t time to panic!

Thank you for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

Follow the Rat Pack on Twitter: me @TheRatTrick , David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Josh Luecht@joshluecht, Patrick McLaughlin @PatrickRattrick, Scott Mullin @GreatScottsman, David Rodriguez @davidbub_2, Paige Lewis @RatTrickLewiz Gabby Kiger @gabbykiger, Adam Reid@AdamReid Chrissy Parente @chrissaay44, Justen Rosenberg @justenrosenberg, Lori Carpenter @lmcangel13, 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.

 

 

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