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Rapid Fire: Sitting Pretty, Hurricane Protection And More

by Steve Goldstein / Florida Panthers
Welcome to Rapid Fire. Panthers broadcasters Steve Goldstein and Bill Lindsay will hit five different thoughts on a daily rotating basis. It's up to them as far as what topics they want to talk about as teams, and more specifically the Panthers, make a push towards the playoffs and the Stanley Cup.

Steve Goldstein takes his shot at the five things he's thinking about after Tuesday's play around the NHL.

1. Play Nice Boys: The Rangers and Devils have always had a great rivalry. I remember as a kid going to the Devils' second game ever, a Friday night at the Meadowlands against the Rangers. New Jersey managed a tie and the rivalry was born. It's ugliest moment came Monday at Madison Square Garden when the Devils started three tough guys up front. The Rangers responded with their own. Puck drops, and away we went! Three seconds of play and three simultaneous fights. I like a good hockey fight as much as the next person but the staging of this one, on the Devils part especially, seemed more wrestling premeditation to me. I love rivalries and tough play but Monday may have crossed the line. And the game was an intense playoff type game as the Rangers won 4-2.

2. Protecting Against Hurricanes: The Panthers are a perfect 4-0 vs tonight's opponent, Carolina. The success has been due to stingy defense and timely goals. Carolina has only five goals in the four meetings. The last time they played here in Carolina was a turning point in the Panthers season. Following a winless 4-game home-stand, the Panthers trailed the Canes 2-0 with 7 minutes left. Tomas Fleischmann and Wojtek Wolski came up with goals to tie it and Stephen Weiss won it in the shootout. The Panthers are 9-3-1 since and driving towards a playoff spot.

3. OV Heating Up: Don't look now but Alex Ovechkin is at 32 goals on the season. The Capitals have hold down the final playoff spot in the East and keeping the pressure on the first place Panthers. If Ovechkin stays at the level he is playing at right now, it's hard to imagine Washington not reaching the playoffs.

4. Huge In Philly: Scott Clemmensen came through again last night with a 35-save game in a 2-1 win against the Flyers. The only Philadelphia goal deflected in off a Panther skate. He was making his first start in 17 days. The Panthers have now beaten every team in the Eastern Conference this season, as they had been 0-2-1 against the Flyers before last night.

5. Sitting Pretty: A very modest 5-5 finish would give the Panthers 95 points and all but guarantee a playoff spot. Considering that the Cats are 15-4-2 against their remaining opponents (only counts Carolina once despite playing them twice), 5-5 seems to be a low number. Buffalo would likely have to go 9-0 the rest of the way to beat out a decent Panthers finish to the season.

Author: Steve Goldstein |

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