| Cliff Peeke, a Panther season ticket holder since Day One, is back blogging on FloridaPanthers.com for another season, giving the point of view on the Cats from a serious, die-hard fan’s perspective.
A Michigan native who’s played hockey (admittedly average at best) most of his life, Cliff grew up watching Red Wings games at the old Olympia Stadium. His allegiance changed to the Panthers the moment it was announced South Florida would have a team.
Cliff has played in adult leagues at IncredibleIce and his oldest son (age 25) plays there as well. His youngest son (age 9) is a member of the Jr. Panthers ’98 Squirt Travel Team. Peeke's Points Archive
After our victory last night, which through two periods was tough to watch, I went to NHL.com and followed the remainder of the Bruins/Canadiens game. We didn’t get any help…and I think that’s what I hate the most…we needed help.
It didn’t have to be that way. Before the trade deadline, we were in the drivers seat with a 33-23-8 record and needed 20 points from the remaining 18 games…that 20 points out of a possible 36 points…basically playing a little over .500. We couldn’t get the job done. And if we want to use any injuries as an excuse, just check out St. Louis.
To me, the season was slipping in the five games following the March 4th trade deadline. We only won one of those, and collected two points via shootout losses. I wrote about this in my 3/15 blog. The one game that really bothered me was that Lightning shootout loss. That was a big point we gave away. Afterwards the Blue Jacket loss definitely was a back-breaker, but I still think that five game post-deadline was what really hurt us bad.
A fan would think that keeping the team intact without a major trade would have had a positive impact. I’m sure GM Martin thought the same. Martin was in a potential no-win situation with Bouwmeester (even though my limited survey said trade him for assets), and now he must deal with worst nightmare realized…J-Bo departing for nothing…and missing the playoffs. I am angry. Anyway, that Lightning game is the one game that I felt really hurt us. Here they are, parading Murphy and Welch, recent ex-Panthers, as their starting defense. I’m thinking there is no way we lose this. We all know the rest…we cough up a two goal lead in the third and lose in the shootout…devastating.
Which brings up another point…not getting points via the shootout. We are tied with L.A. with eight shootout losses. We won just three out of eleven. If we were just near .500 (5 wins), we would be playing for something Saturday.
Today is a tough day. My Panther coffee cups, glasses, and beer mugs are now put away. Panther jerseys and jackets are now in the dark recesses of my closet (the Bouwmeester jersey may never re-appear). I can’t listen to NHL-XM channel, and the thought of watching other teams in the playoffs is not how I planned the upcoming weeks. I am really angry.
I’m sure we’ll be hearing how the Panthers improved their point total, or how if we had been in the Western Conference we’d be playoff bound…fact is…we blew it shortly after the trade deadline…it was ours for the taking.
I’ll let the season finish up, give it a few days, and try to put together an end of season review/grading. Looks like my un-divided attention gets diverted to the Marlins much quicker than I had hoped.
As always, I welcome and value your comments and opinions. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org