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Peeke's Points: Break Points

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Cliff Peeke, a Panther season ticket holder since DAY ONE, is back blogging on for a fifth season, giving the point of view on the Cats from a serious, die-hard fan’s perspective in his own blog titled Peeke’s Points.

A Michigan native who’s played hockey most his life (admittedly average at best), Cliff grew up watching the 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 owns InXpress USA – South Florida (DHL international shipping and Freight).  He has a wife and two sons (Trevor, 29, and Andrew, 13).  Andrew has played on Tier 1 Jr. Panther teams since first eligible, and will be playing defence for the Bantam Minor, Tier 1, AAA, Florida Allliance in the ’11-’12 season..

Peeke's Points Archive
Please note that the views expressed in this blog are views expressed by the blogger only and are not necessarily the views expressed by the Florida Panthers Hockey Club.

The Panthers are receiving front page attention from the Sun-Sentinel. Hockey writers are back-tracking from pre-season dire predictions. Fans are filling up the arena. Season ticket renewal is in full swing. Talk of making the playoffs is common. And there’s a positive atmosphere surrounding this team. What then, could be wrong?


I hate them. Even if we were 10-0 with shootouts, I’d still hate them. It’s neat to see shooter on goalie in the All-Star skills competition…but to take that into a regulation season game and award/lose a point using individual skill rather than team skill, still after all these years, does not make sense to me. If we have to add excitement, how about this; 4-on-4 for four minutes then if still tied move to 3-on-3 for four minutes.  If still tied after that then both teams skate off with one point. Imagine Tomas Fleischmann, Kris Versteeg and Brian Campbell against Claude Giroux, Jaromir Jagr and Kimmo Timonen. That type of open-ice action for four minutes just has to be more thrilling than a skills competition, and it still takes teamwork.

What else is wrong? The Panthers are off-track on the 12 points for every ten game increment plan. December and January have been tough months and in that period there have been a few games where the effort was just not there (remember the January 13 game vs. Penguins?). While we’ve had our struggles of late, it goes to show just how important that early season start is all about. But the fact is…we are sitting in seventh, and as of now, it looks like a dogfight between three teams for the 7th and 8th spot (Florida, Toronto, and New Jersey).

While I’ve been feeling pretty good about this season, I checked back to a recent season…the one where Peter DeBoer was the rookie Coach - 2008-2009 - to compare the two teams. Recall that we tied Montreal for the 8th spot but did not enter the playoffs because of a now-defunct tiebreaker. Our record now after 48 games is 22-15-11. Our record then after 48 games was 23-17-8. One point…that’s all! Now that I look back, I remember being pretty excited about our chances at the all-star break. In fact, here’s a couple comments I had written on PEEKE’S POINTS at this same time three years ago…

In less than four hours after I grabbed the Season Seat Renewal Kit from the mailbox, the Panthers treated me to an awesome experience at the arena last night. What a game! Should I have been surprised? Think about it…in past seasons, the Panthers have played their best hockey AFTER the renewal program gets kicked off. This year is different in two ways…(1) the Panthers are actually in the playoff race as opposed to figuring out a way to make up 15 points or so, and (2) this year’s renewals started a bit sooner. 

Here’s a couple more from the same blog…

Ville Peltonen makes a big difference. The CPR line has really blossomed, and as a fan, you get the sense that they have some great chemistry out there

It’s great to be sitting in 8th but let’s not settle there. Let’s shoot for the 5th slot…and that means defeating Montreal on Thursday.

That team in ’08-’09 fought hard. Our top line was Stephen Weiss, David Booth, and Nathan Horton. We had Richard Zednik, Cory Stillman, Michael Frolik and Rostislav Olesz. Gregory Campbell, Radek Dvorak and Peltonen had some good chemistry. And our defense with Keith Ballard, Nick Boynton, Jassen Cullimore, Bryan McCabe, Karlis Skrastins and Jay Bouwmeester played well. Tomas Vokoun and Craig Anderson were in net. I’ll take our roster this year over the ’08-’09 squad any day. So why are we just one point better? Anyone have an answer to that?

The way I look at it is that we have to come back from the break and play with over-the-top intensity like we’ve shown in many games so far this season. We have to play like that every shift…every game. Let’s try this…a decent winning streak. How about six or seven in a row? We’ve only won 22 out of 48 games…that far below .500. The next five weeks are critical.

Heck, even Ottawa has created a little space between them and us. Ottawa? Granted they’ve played four more games than the Panthers but no way did I have them slotted in a #6 spot. How can that be. How did Bryan Murray assemble a team that’s playing pretty well this year. Sure they have a nice blend of veterans and youth. Jason Spezza (50 pts), Daniel Alfredsson (38 pts), Sergei Gonchar (26 pts), and Filip Kuba (he’s still around?) are having good seasons along with youngsters Erik Karlsson (7g, 40a and a +5…wow), Nick Foligno, and Colin Greening. I mean their goalies are ex-Panther cast-offs Anderson and Alex Auld. Why are they five points better (and I know we have games in hand). I compare our rosters and I will take ours, hands down, any day. If a big difference is our horrendous showing in shoot-outs, then lets just win these games in regulation.

We’ve just got to get out of this “funk” and find a way to string many wins together. The fans are more excited about this team than in some time. We are getting great press. There really is the feeling that something special is brewing…not only now, but for the future as well. So just get back from this break and play hard every single game.

Here’s a reminder…. Following up on the highly successful Thanksgiving Tournament, the Iceplex in Coral Springs is hosting another awesome hockey tournament during Presidents Day weekend in February. Bantam age teams from Slovakia as well as ’01 and ’02 teams from Russia will be participating.  This event at Iceplex is enhanced by the international flair, and the players from Russia and Slovakia will need homes in South Florida to stay at. This is a tremendous opportunity for our local families to extend a warm welcome to these young hockey players and invite them into our homes for a brief stay. If interested in helping, please contact Alex Braverman at 561.213.1051.

Go Panthers! This next month will really determine if we have a legitimate shot. It’s so much more fun going to games this year. I can’t help thinking we are so much better than the ’08-’09 team. Time to prove it!

I enjoy reading the comments (some from around the world) after one of these…so please share your thoughts…my email is
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