It's funny how that tables turned tonight. Usually when the Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers lock horns, fans get to watch the Cats play their worst hockey of the year while the Sens put the hammer down. Not tonight though; in a rare Florida victory and even rarer Florida victory over the Senators, Florida didn't need any late game heroics or offensive outburst, they just beat the Senators straight. The Sens meanwhile appeared to catch a case of Pantheritis, even with the return of their star goalie Craig Anderson.
The Panthers have been better of late, and this was definitely one of the best victories of the dreary season. Scott Clemmensen stood on his head while the skaters put in a very good defensive game minus the first period Conacher goal. If it's a sign of things to come against the new division rivals; no complaints by me. Wins like tonight's are a reminder that even with dozens of injuries the Panthers still have the propensity to achieve, though whether that will manifest next season remains extremely uncertain. Florida remains just above the mathematical elimination line and one more slip will all but end it, but they're at least making the most of the final stretch.
- Just to point out something from last nights game against the Capitals, perhaps the non-suspension on Gudbranson is fair; but I don't see how throwing Erat into the boards long after he passed the puck away is simply finishing a check. It was dangerous, late and obviously a check from behind. Anything less than a boarding major would have been disgraceful, the referee absolutely made the right call.
- Lets all take a moment to laugh hysterically at the Tampa Bay Lightning for trading Cory Conacher and a 4th rounder for Ben Bishop, what was Yzerman thinking? Though of course this deal also screws Florida since the Panther-killing Ottawa Senators add another young talented Calder candidate. They had at least 3 lines worth of them before fleecing Tampa. Conacher would net the first goal of the night for the Sens on a defensive breakdown created by Silfverberg and Zibanejad.
- With the injury situation and lack of depth in the lineup right now, its unfortunate that Nick Bjugstad is having to play with Scottie Upshall and Jack Skille; two players who simply can't score or set up goals. Speed is a great commodity, but having Skille and Upshall be the ones breaking in a 20 year old player is pretty far from ideal. Unless this can change with Drew Shore being reinserted into the lineup and shifting the lines around, I really don't see any reason to burn a year of Bjugstad's ELC just so he can play with stiffs on a 29th place team. The count is 3.
- Just a note to the Panthers forwards: You aren't going to beat Craig Anderson by sending unscreened wrist shots from the top of the circles. Shocking, I know.
- There was no trade any GM could have made on the deadline to lift Tomas Fleischmann out of Dale Tallon's hands. Some players have trade values that are not equal to their value in the lineup, and the disparity between the two is the greatest for Flash. Flash is the Commander in Chief of Offensive Operations on the Panthers, and even with Huberdeau working his way up, I don't expect that title to change next season.
- Yeah, I have a feeling Guillaume Latendresse's 25 goal season was a fluke.
- It's no surprise that the Panthers are looking to save money when possible going forward, and despite the sentiment that Clemmensen is absolutely atrocious and shouldn't return, it's performances like tonight that should remind everyone that he's really not that bad. Of course Markstrom is the number one, but there's about a 1% chance that Tallon is looking to replace Clemmensen next season, when his contract expires.
- Just putting this out there: TJ Brennan has been the Panthers best defenseman since March 10th, his first game in red. Looking awfully slick out there.
- Find Senator hootenanny over at Silver Seven.
The Panthers will be back in action next Thursday when they face off against the Winnipeg Jets for the, you guessed it; final divisional match against the geographic rival Winnipeg Jets. You've probably already forgotten about that #13 guy the Cats used to employ, but his name is Mike Santorelli and he wants revenge. Well, not really. Some real playing time is a sweet consolation prize, and who wouldn't love Manitoba in spring? I heard the mosquitoes are finally emerging from their deep permafrost hibernation just in time to feast on the living...or is that just Antii Miettinen? Cats at Jets, bring a coat.