|Panthers Blogger Cliff Peeke |
Cliff Peeke, a Panther season ticket holder since Day One, is back blogging on FloridaPanthers.com for a third 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 (formerly YourBLOG).
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 27) plays there as well. His youngest son (age 11) is a member of the Panthers ’98 Panthers Alliance Tier 1 Pee Wee team..Peeke's Points Archive
On January 2nd, I wrote an entry (link here
) with my Eastern Conference mid-season predictions based on number of points and subsequent playoff teams. I connected on all eight teams and was just a little off on the actual order…but not by much. I also wrote a pre-season entry on October 1st predicting the playoff teams (link here
). I was correct with six of them and wrong on two. The two teams I thought would be in the playoffs and did not make it were Carolina (picked them for 6th) and our Panthers.
In the Panthers case, I wrote that making the playoffs will only happen if they get off to a great start and avoid injuries. Neither happened. Instead, a dismal start to the season made it difficult to overcome the injuries to key players. When will this team ever understand that October and November games should be played with playoff-like intensity. Build a cushion, like Colorado did, and work your way through the remainder of the schedule…but get off to a great start.
Since we didn’t, I adjusted the mid-season predictions whereby the Panthers would once again be on the outside looking in. At least this year we didn’t have the furious finish and the ultimate tease job. Instead, once I realized early enough that the playoffs were a lost cause, it was exciting to turn my attention to the Junior prospects and the great benefits of having a very high draft pick.
Sadly, I had to spend the last two weeks silently cheering for the likes of the Rangers and Lightning when we played them. To me, if we can’t make the playoffs, let’s get a great pick. There is no benefit to finishing 25th instead of a much more desirable 28th. Needless to say, I was very happy with the way the weekend finished because we locked up an opportunity to have the number one pick in Tuesday night’s 8:00 pm lottery. We had a 14.2% chance of being able to select either center Tyler Seguin or winger Taylor Hall. Those odds would have been cut in half if we won both games over that weekend. While Edmonton has a 25% chance and ultimately won the lottery, our 14.2% was still not bad. Although we didn't get lucky enough to secure the #1 pick and we are now settled in at #3, a Mike Greene type defenseman is available…Cam Fowler. A talented, mobile defenseman can be a huge asset for us, although I am still seriously hoping for a shot at the two forwards I mentioned via a trade up. So, in a way, I was celebrating, confetti and all, after Sunday’s contest as really all that mattered was a better chance of getting lucky Tuesday.
So…how did I do on my mid-season predictions…take a look…here’s my prediction order with final finish then pre-season pick in parenthesis. Based on total points and not adjusted for divisional finish.
Washington (finished 1st, pre-season 1). Not too difficult to predict this…but to finish ahead by 18 points…wow !!!
New Jersey (finished 2nd, pre-season 4). Right on with this pick at #2. The most consistent NHL franchise…take lessons from this team.
Pittsburgh (finished 3rd in points, pre-season 2). Hard to go wrong selecting them in the top 3.
Buffalo (finished 4th in points, pre-season 8). Four for four on exact order…not too shabby.
Boston (finished 6th, pre-season 5). And to think they may end up with Hall or Seguin thanks to trade with Toronto.
Philadelphia (finished 8th, pre-season 3). Held off Olie Jokinen in shootout to barely grab the 8th spot.
Ottawa (finished 5th, pre-season 13). Bryan Murray actually assembled a good team.
Montreal (finished 8th, pre-season 10). 8th place again, only this time with Jacques Martin behind the bench.
My January 2nd playoff team predictions came true and I was even very close on exact order. How about the remaining seven.
Florida (finished14th, pre-season 7). This team was a major disappointment. But the silver lining is a great pick in the entry draft.
NY Rangers (finished 9th, pre-season 9). I was close with this pick. Hard to feel sorry for them.
Atlanta (finished 10th, pre-season 11). Got stronger after trading Kovulchuk???
Tampa Bay (finished 12th, pre-season 14). Having a 51 goal-scorer does not guarantee a playoff spot.
NY Islanders (finished 13th, pre-season 15). May contend next year.
Toronto (finished 15th, pre-season 12). I was hoping they would have tried harder not to hand Boston the gem pick in the entry draft.
Carolina (finished 11th, pre-season 6). They finished much worse than I predicted prior to the season and better than I predicted mid-way.
On to first round playoff predictions…
Washington over Montreal in 6
New Jersey over Philadelphia in 5
Buffalo over Boston in 6
Pittsburgh over Ottawa in 5
San Jose over Colorado in 5
Chicago over Nashville in 6
Los Angeles over Vancouver in 7 (long shot pick)
Detroit over Phoenix in 5
A couple more thoughts…
Anybody feel sorry that Jay Bouwmeester’s Calgary Flames did not make the playoffs. Wasn’t he supposed to be Sutter’s final piece to the NHL’s strongest defense? He couldn’t wait to leave here for a playoff contender (I still cringe at the thought we did not trade him for value at last year’s trade deadline). Anyway, the great Jay-Bo not only misses the playoffs again but fails to secure a spot on Canada’s Olympic team. Steve Yzerman knew what he was doing and Jay-Bo’s omission was pretty glaring.
I always enjoy reading your comments to my entries…so email me at firstname.lastname@example.org