Cliff Peeke, a Panther season ticket holder since DAY ONE, is back blogging on FloridaPanthers.com 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.
Before the season, I went on record as saying that the way the Panthers will make the playoffs is to take each ten game increment and earn 12 points. In doing so, they would end up with 98 points, which will be good enough to earn a playoff spot. Through 40 games, they did just that…48 points.
Friday night’s loss to New Jersey was game 41, and while disappointed with the outcome, I am extremely happy with where we are. Actually, it’s unfamiliar territory. For so long, we’ve grown accustomed at this point in the season to be where Carolina is now (10 points out of a playoff spot) and thinking things like “well…if we win the next five in a row, we’ve got a chance”.
Not this season. Now, we are in the mix. We are there because of the good start, which allowed some room for a slump, injuries, etc. Yet, while this team has battled through way too many injuries the past month, we still earned 10 points in the last 10 games. Not great…but not too shabby either considering the patch-work lineup for many of those games.
The next seven remaining games in January are looking to be very important games. That’s exactly what we’ve wanted after all these years…games that really matter in January. Home games against Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Boston, and Philadelphia and road games against Colorado, Chicago, and Winnipeg. We have to win at least four of those.
Here’s why…Washington’s in 10th, only four points removed from us and two games in hand. Winnipeg’s in 9th and only three points away.
Still, fans have to be happy that we are in this situation…huge games in January coming up…starting with a big one vs. Vancouver. I know it’s a Monday night game but lets try to pack the place.Some POINTS…..
- Tough to stomach those three Holiday games against Toronto, New York, and Montreal, especially the New Year’s Eve game against the Habs. I hate going to my arena and feeling as though I’m at an away game. Schedule the Lightning next year and we’ll still fill the place up. It’s a great night to go to a game. Sure, it was great we won, but for me the home game atmosphere was poor.
- What’s up with the NHLPA for rejecting the realignment plan. The NHL needs cooperation between players and management. The players need to know that this kind of posturing is extremely unfavorable in the eyes of loyal fans. This makes no sense. What’s around the corner with the CBA. Why should we even have to worry about this stuff. Still, it’s easy to solve this mess…just switch Nashville with Winnipeg…done deal…move on.
- It’s been nice to see the Panthers gain media attention, especially from the Yahoo hockey writers. These so-called experts finally admit to incorrectly assessing the Panthers prior to the season. I’m happy that we’ve proven many wrong…lets keep it that way. Now, we’ve got to figure out why the Sun-Sentinel keeps us on page three.
- VERY IMPORTANT – Following up on the highly successful Thanksgiving Tournament, the Saveology.com 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 Saveology.com 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.
- Interesting how the two early “surprise” teams in the first half, the Panthers and the Wild, both have the same exact points at the half-way mark…48 points. Neither is top echelon Conference leaders, but both have surprised and it would be nice to see them in the playoffs which is further proof that some hockey “experts” don’t have good crystal balls.
- My vote for the best Panther off-season acquisition is BRIAN CAMPBELL. He is second in defenseman scoring in the NHL and leads the league in power play points. He sees the ice so well, navigates perfectly and slows the game down. It’s rare that a defenseman can have such offesnsive upside, yet play very well defensively and yet he does. Considering the net amount we pay him after jettisoning Rostislav Olesz’ contract, he is worth every penny.
- My vote for best young Panther AHL call-up is MICHAEL REPIK. As he plays with more confidence, he’s making much more of an impact on the ice. And this kid can skate.
- Ranking goalies that have played 20 or more games, Jose Theodore ranks #11 in save percentage (ahead of Roberto Luongo). I felt all along that if our goaltending is at least above average, we would have a chance. It has.
- For anyone that still cares, Jay Bouwmeester has only one goal and is a minus -11. Granted he eats up minutes, but on a team that is in disarray.
- The EAST… (1) Boston, (2) Philadelphia, (3) Washington, (4) NY, (5) Pittsburgh, (6) Florida, (7) New Jersey, (8) Buffalo. Panthers and Capitals in first round. The Panthers may surprise and finish #1 in Division. It's possible and certainly what we all hope for.
- The WEST…(1) Detroit, (2) San Jose, (3) Vancouver, (4) Chicago, (5) Los Angeles, (6) St. Louis, (7) Dallas, (8) Nashville
- Little did most of us know that the trade for Krys Barch would be as good as it has turned out.
- Let’s get the Jason Garrison contract out of the way. Get it done.
- Mikael Sammuelson and Marco Sturm for David Booth? Yes, any day.
- Keep cheering for Colorado this season. Don’t forget their trade with Washington, giving up their #1 pick in the 2012 draft to the Capitals for Semyon Varlamov. The Avalanche can not be a lottery team.
- How much longer before Scottie Upshall, Jack Skille and Sean Bergenheim return?
- Remember Byron Bitz…or not? Well, the Canucks placed him on waivers. He cleared and is now in the AHL.
- Panther fans…let’s make an impact at the arena for these next few games. This is a very important stretch of games coming up starting with the Canucks Monday night.
Go Panthers! We are halfway there. I can sense the playoffs this season and us fans are finally having some fun.
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