| 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
I read VanMurph’s View a few days ago and had to chuckle as he wrote about his reasons for not entering a blog for a while. I was able to relate. I’ve been contributing my entries on the Panthers website for over three years now, and it seemed like the exact same scenario each year. The poor start, stretches of hope, the climb in the standings at season ticket renewal time, a late fade, and the “close but no cigar” finish. The step forward – two steps back play in the first half made it near impossible to praise this team. Then, as Murphy experienced, I write something positive and am ready to send only to witness a defeat and have to tear it up. And I’m tired of being negative on this team.
My pre-season blog predicted this team would finish 7th in the East. My mid-season prediction altered that to 9th. After our January performance (8-4-2, 18 points), I’m more inclined to think we’ll make the playoffs. Looking at the separation that 5th place Ottawa is creating (9 points ahead of 6th place), it’s realistic to think the highest spot we can claim will be 6th. That would be great…it’s achievable. But to do that, we’ll have to win TWO OUT OF EVERY THREE GAMES the remainder of the way. I think that’s the way to measure the success over the next 27 games. And that’s why tonight’s game against Anaheim is a must. We lost to Washington, defeated the Islanders, and now it’s best of three tonight.
I wrote last year that I thought we should have traded Bouwmeester prior to the trade deadline and receive some good value in return. We didn’t, but Sexton did make a sweet pre-UFA deadline trade acquiring Jordan Leopold in exchange for Jay-Bo. Leopold is contributing nicely, with solid defensive play, and some nice offensive output as well. He’s scored 7 goals, and that compares well over Jay-Bo’s 2 goals in Calgary. Speaking of Calgary, what’s up with that trade yesterday??? Are they nuts??? Trading Dion Phaneuf and a couple prospects to Toronto for four players of which two will be UFA’s and one RFA after this season makes little sense to me. Granted, they are happy with Jay-Bo’s play, and had a lot of money tied up in both of them (over $12mm/year)…but still…their return on that deal is not significant. Now Toronto has loads of money tied up on the blue-line, and they will be offensively challenged.
After that trade was announced, it got me thinking, should Sexton make a move. I don’t think so. I feel like this team is really coming together, and I’ve been impressed in how they’ve handled injuries to key players…and continue to do so. We’ve battled hard on a more consistent basis, and I sense that the Panthers will continue to play that way through the end of the season…which hopefully lasts a few weeks longer than previous years. It’s going to require taking two out of three the rest of the way…we win tonight and we win the last set. Then it starts over again. Three game increments.
By the way, I’ve been saying this since last season…no one on this team passes the puck quite like Cory Stillman. If you pay close attention to his play, as I do, you’ll be treated to a passing clinic when he’s on the ice.
On the sports section of my company website www.olympiasusfunding.com
, I post my NHL power rankings. I finally have the Panthers in the middle-third at #18.
As always, I welcome feedback and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org