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Bomber's Blog: Down The Stretch

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Former Panthers forward and current radio analyst Bill Lindsay will be blogging on on anything that crosses his mind.

Lindsay who spent seven seasons (1993-2002) with the Cats and played in 506 games and collected 165 points is now a radio analyst on 790 The Ticket.

Lindsay will always be remembered in Cats history for his series-clinching goal in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Boston Bruins in the '96 playoffs.

Bomber's Blog Archive

We are getting down to crunch time in the NHL season, and the race is on to make the playoffs. The good news if you’re a Panther fan is that the Cats are one of the few teams headed north in the Eastern standings. An amazing run since the start of the New Year has the Panthers poised to end their long playoff drought.

Florida is a team on the rise, which is more than can be said for some of the other teams in the East. I wrote in an earlier blog, that I would much rather have a player that performs well in the second half of the season than the first half. That adage would hold true for teams as well. This is money time, when you really start to find out about your hockey club.

Three teams that had good first halves and are now headed south are the Rangers, Canadiens and Penguins.

The New York Rangers are a team that looked to be a shoo-in to make the playoffs after a strong first half, but are now in all kinds of trouble. I, for one, do not like the Rangers one bit and am not losing any sleep over their recent trouble. How great would it be to have the Panthers in the playoffs and the Rangers out of the playoffs. The Rangers are so desperate that it looks like Sean Avery is headed back to be a Blueshirt. I can’t say I blame them as they need a spark in the worst way. The problem is the spark might ignite the dynamite and blow the whole thing sky high. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the Rangers are grasping at straws.

As for the Montreal Canadiens, this was supposed to be their year. It was their 100th anniversary as a franchise, and of course that meant the hockey gods would automatically  anoint Les Habitants with a Stanley Cup. I mean heck it’s been long enough without a Cup for the Montreal faithful. This still might happen, but…well that’s exactly it but. Carey Price was to be the savior in net, but he has had his troubles. His calm demeanor was suppose to be one of his best attributes, now he’s being criticized for not having enough passion. Alex Kovalev  was no longer a coach killer after a strong 07-08 season but he has reverted back to coach killing. It's gotten so bad for the immensely talented Kovalev that the Canadians left him behind for their current road trip. Guy Carbonneau was the coach to take them over the top but now some are wondering if he is the guy for the job. What a mess! At least the Montreal press are having fun.

Finally I have to mention the Pittsburgh Penguins. After a berth in the finals last year, and two of the game's best players they were a lock to make the palyoffs. Not so fast, they do have Crosby and Malkin but that’s about all they have. Michel Therrien has been fired in an attempt to shake up the Penguins. I don’t think it will be enough. The problem in Pittsburgh is the Penguins have the depth of a kiddie pool. Crosby and Malkin are great but they need help. Unless Pittsburgh makes a huge deal at the deadline it could be a long summer for Crosby and company.

A sign of a good team is that they grow and get better throughout the course of the season. This is exactly what we have seen from the Panthers. Peter DeBoer has done an amazing job getting the most out of his team. The Cats have climbed rapidly toward the top, but the question is can they continue their ascent on the Eastern Conference standings. Florida is hot when it matters most, and the team seems to be working in harmony. That is a lot more than can be said for some of their closest rivals. DeBoer should be mentioned as a coach of the year candidate for his efforts with the Panthers, especially if his team improves even more from now until the end of the season.

Everyone thinks making the playoffs would be a huge accomplishment for the Cats. I for one  think it’s a good start, but my expectations are beginning to go beyond just making the post season. This is a team that has shown it has the ability to compete with anyone, and could make some noise in the playoffs. If you ask the coaching staff and the team they will likely tell you that they have much higher aspirations.

It is going to be a great ride to the finish line. Dare to dream Panther fans, this team has at least given you reason for hope.
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