| 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 Jr. Panthers ’98 Squirt Travel Team. Peeke's Points Archive
There’s an album by Pat Metheny…“The Way Up”. It should be played at tonight’s game against the Flyers instead of the hard rock (except my 11 yr old would debate that). The jazz music would require last minute choreography changes by the Ice Dancers, but at least the message…the way up…would be heard throughout the arena.
Here we go again…another pitiful start…and this one is almost as bad as it gets. The NUMBER ONE item on everyone’s ‘what the Panthers need to do to make the playoffs’ list…get off to a great start…has fans quickly checking their list to see what item number two is. Ooops…there’s a big drop off to the second item. That’s because THE WAY UP has always proven to be too much of a climb for this team and only gets them ‘oh so close’ at the end.
Now, the Panthers will want to quickly remind us that we should not panic again, that we are merely four points out of a playoff spot. Then again, maybe not. Maybe they know we are so tired of early season excuses that it’s best to say nothing. Last year, it was grasping Coach DeBoer’s new system. This year, all efforts to say the exhibition travel and Finland openers would negatively affect the team have been held at bay. Still, who arranged that hideous travel schedule? If the team wants to get away from South Florida then hold training camp at Germain Arena across the state and arrange exhibition games with Tampa and Atlanta. But of course, that’s not an excuse.
The reality is that we are where we always are this time of the year…looking up. Why can’t we be the early season surprise and get some positive press like Colorado? Any coincidence that their early start has anything to do with Craig Anderson’s full time netminding and a 1.99 GAA??? I hated to see him depart, especially since he signed for only $1.5 million this season. It seems every time I listen to NHL on XM, he’s all I hear about.
Should we be in panic mode yet? A loss tonight and I would say yes. How’s that for some first game pressure Mr. Clemmensen. He will be asked to do what Anderson did for us the last couple seasons…come in and help right the ship. This is a team that has scored half the number of goals (10) than we’ve given up (20). Through five games, Horton, Stillman, Olesz and Booth have combined to score three goals. THREE GOALS from those four players in perhaps the most critical time of the season… and their combined salaries this year are a whopping $12.8 million. Right there, those four, need to step it up. And Stillman’s going to have to do it on the third line tonight.
Like most Panther fans that share their opinions with me, I am not a pessimist…I’m a realist. The reality is that we are in a pressure-cooker, must-win game situation tonight. On the positive side, if we actually “show up”, get huge contributions from the four players I mentioned earlier, and get Anderson-like work from Scott Clemmensen
, it could be an exciting game and result in a huge win. The BankAtlantic Center could really be rockin’ tonight…or should I say “jazzing” as we follow the beat of “THE WAY UP”.
As always…I enjoy hearing from fellow Panther fans…contact me at email@example.com