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Habs beat Cats handily, 5-2. New Year can't come fast enough

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In an exclusive photo, Panthers coach Pete DeBoer (left) struggles to explain his club's offensive letdown over the past three matches to general manager Jacques Martin.

The cry - once again - goes out for a legitimate threat on one of the top two scoring lines. Whatever they may be composed of.

The Panthers cannot afford weeks like this. SO loss. Regulation loss. Another regulation loss. That's one point in three games. Two against a single division rival. Not to mention a late penalty assessed to Cory Stillman - completely out of frustration - late in the Montreal game, with the Cats in a 2-goal hole.

And let's not even get into the goaltending disaster which has been thrust upon the club. One week ago an argument could be made for Florida having the best tandem in the National league. Now? Anybody?

Florida went through a bit of a winning successful stretch a few weeks ago, when every one of their top forwards was on the shelf. That type of backs-to-the-wall hopelessness gave guys like Peltonen and Campbell an opportunity to shine. And they took it, winning more than they lost with a seriously depleted lineup.

We can look at this season so far any way we choose: blame it on injuries, blame it on new coaches, blame it on the election. The collective problem is "blame". Why couldn't a shotless powerplay on Monday be blamed as well? Maybe the shorthanded goal the Panthers allowed could share some of the blame.

The Panthers have shown a terrible lack of character early on in the season. They've shown a tremendous abundance of character when all hope was lost later. And now? Three losses in three games, with one point to show for it. Not just losses...bad losses.

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This guy's looking for some offense. Our GM should be too.

Broken record alert: GM JM should be actively searching for a top line center, and at this point I wouldn't rule out a claim for perhaps a depth guy up front. No matter what, the Panthers need scoring forwards. The DeBoer system has not yet connected on a consistent basis. When it's good, it's GOOD. When it's bad...you get games like this.

"We played terrible, they played terrible but unfortunately they were just a little bit better."

- Panthers defenseman Nick Boynton

In the end, the Habs played their game. And it was precisely what Florida did not need. Hats off to Maxim Lapierre and his natural hat trick.

DIVISIONALLY SPEAKING


Southeast Standings

GP W L OTL PT
Washington 37 23 11 3 49
Carolina 37 17 15 5 39
Florida 36 16 15 5 37
Tampa Bay 35 10 16 9 29
Atlanta 36 12 20 4 28

(updated 12.30.2008 at 4:15 AM EST)


Somehow, miraculously, the Cats remain only two points behind Carolina, with a game in hand. There were no other Southeast clubs in action on Monday. Today features the no-question-on-fire Capitals at Buffalo, who is looking to avenge Friday's road loss in DC, Montreal at the Lightning ('nuff said), and the Thrashers visiting Toronto.

Florida's next game (and last of the year) is tomorrow on Long Island.


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