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VanMurph's View: Gotta Love Winning

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Murphy and Vanessa Burch
Murphy Burch is back for his second season of blogging. He will be sharing his views on the Panthers during the year, along with fellow fan blogger, Cliff Peeke (Peeke's Points).

Murphy, an airline pilot originally from North Carolina, is better known as vanmurph on the Panthers message boards and he, along with his wife Vanessa are two of the most vociferous fans at the BankAtlantic Center.

VanMurph's View Blog Archive

To paraphrase Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh from the movie Bull Durham, "I love winning! Ya know what I’m sayin’? It’s, like, better than losing!"

The Panthers have put together a very good string of games after starting the season off poorly with a 2-7-1 record. In the last eleven games, our guys have posted an impressive 8-2-1; including the recently concluded three-game road sweep of the Sabres, Red Wings, and Rangers. That road trip, which featured some gritty performances by our goaltending tandem, has not only lifted the spirits of a lot of the fans, but it also has the potential to build the type of confidence that can very quickly turn our season around and create a cohesiveness in the locker room. That cohesiveness is one of the things that’s been missing, and it’s what I was alluding to when I wrote after the Philadelphia beat-down that our guys needed to start standing up for each other. I honestly think that each Panther is starting to take pride in his individual role on the team, and having realized that pride, our play will continue to improve. No player wants to be the one to let his teammates down, and that simple sentiment can serve as the driving force behind winning. Once the winning becomes consistent, the team’s confidence will be hard to shake.

You know, with things looking so abysmal just a few weeks ago, there was not much to be happy about, and not much reason for optimism. But now, a quarter of the way through the regular season, we have watched our team piece together an outstanding stretch of games and I think a lot of the fans are realizing that these guys will come out and put forth the effort needed to win hockey games. I don’t think this turn of events could have come at a better time for a fan base that desperately needs something to feel good about. After the less-than-stellar start, there were grumblings about tanking the season and ensuring a higher draft pick. Needless to say, those sentiments were ridiculous and were just born out of frustration and a well-deserved lack of faith; but they are also a testament to the desperation some of our fans feel after not having been to the playoffs in such a long time. Fortunately, racking up points in 9 of the last 11 games has quieted some of the naysayers for the time being, and allowed for some cautious optimism among Panthers fans.

As was the case in the early part of last year, injuries have plagued us throughout the first 21 games. But just the same as last season, our young guys from Rochester have stepped up and helped to kindle the recent turnaround. Losing David Booth for an extended period of time had the potential to be a devastating blow to our chances for success. And recent injuries to Cory Stillman and Gregory Campbell have furthered the need for everyone else in the lineup to carry their own weight, and for the AHLers to step in and fill the void. While Jeff Taffe, Michal Repik, Shawn Matthias, and Jason Garrison have all contributed, in my opinion two of the key components to the about-face have been Kenndal McArdle and Victor Oreskovich. Both of these guys have played an up-tempo game replete with aggressive checking, strong gritty play in the corners, and even getting onto the scoresheet. McArdle has also added some spark by dropping the gloves on several occasions, and one such occasion was his bout with Wayne Simmonds of the Los Angles Kings. That fight brought the crowd to life and helped to energize the building and the team. Both McArdle and Oreskovich skate hard every shift, and they have let their work on the ice stand as a strong statement of their desire to stay in Sunrise. Personally, I hope they are rewarded with that opportunity. I love the way they play, and I like what they bring to the lineup.  

It’s my sincere hope that the Panthers’ success in recent weeks will pay off with some large crowds at the BankAtlantic Center in the coming days. If there was ever a home stand where a team needed the support of its fans, this is it. Tonight we’re taking on the defending Stanley Cup Champions, and on Wednesday we face a New York Rangers team that will be looking for some retribution after the Panthers marched into the Garden on Saturday night and left with two points. Then on Friday the Toronto Maple Leafs come to South Florida and there will be no shortage of Ontarians in the house trying to make their presence felt; even though they will be cheering for the worst team in the National Hockey League…There are some pretty good deals on tickets, so I’ve called a lot of my friends and neighbors to ask them to come on out and help cheer for the Panthers. So far I’ve had a few takers, and at this point, against these three teams, I’ll take any and all support we can collectively drum up!

That about does it for this entry. Thank you to all of you who emailed and sent messages to me on facebook after the arena comparison from Dallas. I enjoyed corresponding with each of you.   If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, or if you just want to say Hi, I can be reached at:

Thanks for stopping by the blog.

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