On This Day In Florida Panthers History: 03-20-06


Happy Friday Florida Panthers fans!  At least I hope it’s a happy Friday.  I mean it’s the weekend, so why not be happy?  Although after not going to the office of my “regular” job daily, every day has seemed like the weekend.  I’m hoping you’re coping, and I’m hoping that you’re feeling good.

I would also like to think that these articles are helping to pass the time.  There’s really no other news to report about.  I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with my consecutive day streak!

Today we’re going all the way back to March 20, 2006.  The Panthers hosted cross state rival, Tampa Bay Lightning, in a wild game, that almost got away from the Cats.  Fortunately they were able to pull out a victory.

The 2005-2006 season was an interesting one for the Panthers.  It was the year after the lockout, and there were high hopes of at least being competitive.  They were as general manager Mike Keenan and Jacques Martin had a team of seasoned veterans mixed in with some you.  The roster had Olli Jokinen, Roberto Luongo, Jay Bouwmeester and Nathan Horton.  Also Gary Roberts (one of my all time favorite players) Joe Nieuwendyk (ha!  I spelled it right the first time!), Jozef Stumpl, Chris Gratton, Martin Gelinas and Gregory Campbell among others.

Martin’s attention to defence, and playing it safe, and sometimes extremely boring probably cost the Panthers a playoff spot.  Additionally, they were very inconsistent and streaky.  A 12 game losing streak during October and November (see a pattern here?) is what likely did them in, as they just couldn’t recover.  Even a seven game winning streak late in the season wasn’t enough.  You know the old saying, you can’t win the Cup in October, but you sure can lose it!

The final score of this game was 6-5.  The Panthers took the lead in the first when Rick Jackman (who?) got them on the board.  Very early in the second Ruslan Fedotenko tied the game up with his 22nd of the season.  But then the Panthers reeled off four goals in the second period, two by Stumpel, ending the second period witih a comfortable 5-1 lead.

But, as you might expect, Martin and the Panthers couldn’t step on the gas and put the Lightning away.  They either played scared, or played not to lose, and the team went into what I used the call Martin’s prevent defence.  Although they couldn’t prevent 4 Tampa goals in the third, with the tying goal coming just past the midway point.  Martin St. Louis scored a pair, and the Panthers would finish regulation with their tails between their legs.

Fortunately in the overtime period, Olli Jokinen would score his 33rd goal of the season to salvage a win for the Panthers.  Just another game that required too much extra effort for the Panthers.  It was an exciting game, but there was too much drama that didn’t need to be.

The Panthers would finish the year with a 37-34-11 record, and placed 4th in the Southeast Division.  They were 24th in the league in scoring, and 15th in goals against among 30 teams.

Not a bad year.  Could have been better, but the dreaded slow start was something they couldn’t recover from.

Thanks for reading.

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