On This Day In Florida Panthers History: 03-19-2009


Hi.  Everybody hanging in there?  I hope so.  It’s a pretty surreal time right now, and while I don’t want to focus on the hysteria, I would like to know that you’re all taking the necessary precautions to keep yourselves healthy.  Yes, this is a tough time, and it’s only the beginning, but I am still hopeful that we start moving forward sooner rather than later.

Okay.  Today’s featured game is from March 19, 2009 when the Florida Panthers hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bank Atlantic Center.  This would be the first season behind the bench for Panther head coach Peter DeBoer, and it was quite a debut season.  The Panthers despite getting off to a habitually slow start to the season with a 6 game losing streak between late October and early November, rebounded from that, but fell one point short of the post season.

Though they never had a winning streak of more than 3 games during the season, the clawed their way into contention, which made for an exciting finish to the season.  While DeBoer was seemingly learning on the job as a young head coach, he ultimately was pulling the right strings as the Panthers finished the season with a 41-30-11.  93 points just wasn’t enough to make the post season, but left the faithful fan base with hope for the next season.  But hope is not a plan, as the Cats did a 180 degree turn the following year.

The lineup for this game included Stephen Weiss who scored the games first goal with someone other than him in that uniform.  And when you look at the roster, there really wasn’t any top line players, except for Tomas Vokoun, who stood on his head most of the time.  He really played exceptionally well for Florida during his time here.  Also on the roster were David Booth, Keith Ballard, Jay Bouwmeester, Karlis Skrastins, Richard Zednik, and Cory Stillman among others.

The team was scrappy.  They were far from flashy, and needed to work hard for every goal they scored, and to prevent everyone from being scored against them.  As the season wore on though, they appeared to get what DeBoer was preaching.  Although there was this little tidbit of drama in late February where the Panthers actually benched a player, and ultimately sent him home for awhile.  You can read about it here.  Many think that this significantly hurt the Panthers chances of making the playoffs.

This was during a time when the goal scoring wasn’t their strong suit as they finished 17 out of 30, but their goals against was 10 in the league.  Mostly because of Vokoun, but the blue line wasn’t too bad.    Besides Bouwmeester, and Ballard, there was Bryan Allen, Bryan McCabe, Skrastins, Nick Boynton, and Jassen Cullimore, who if memory serves me correctly often lined up at forward.  In any event I would like that group a heck of a lot more than the current one.  What say you?

The Panthers won this game by a 3-1 score.  Richard Zednik and Ville Peltonen (remember him) scored the other goals.  Weiss had a two point night as did David Booth.  Vokoun made 37 saves, which was pretty much the norm for his during his career as a Panther.  Lots of rubber came flying his way.

Toronto had a roster that made me wonder how they won anything that year.  Jason Blake, and a host of regular guys made up their roster.  Alexei Ponikarovsky (I loved saying that name.  Don Cherry said it much better Lol), Pavel Kubina, Jeff Finger, Boyd Deveraux and Andre Deveaux, and Martin Gerber in goal.

Mikhail Grabovski scored the lone goal for the Leafs, as they struggled through the season.

Here’s a nice recap for you with Goldie calling the game:

Jay Bouwmeester had over 26 minutes of ice time on this night.  Yikes!  Oddly, nasty Nick, Nick Tarnasky played just under 5 minutes, and Brett McClean played just under 8.  Lots of stress on the other 10 forwards.

Deboer was determined to do things his way.  He was a rookie NHL coach, and he was trying to establish himself, as well as get buy in from his players.  I think some bought in, and I think others eventually tuned him out.

Thanks for reading.

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