Typically this space is reserved for a couple of comments, some stats from the game, and a little banter to close it out. Not this time.
Why does it appear the Panthers have not a single "signature" play, i.e. one that works regularly? Or roster cohesion - beyond Stephen Weiss, David Booth, and sidelined Nathan Horton - which occasionally results in a productive line once a month or so? How about some lineup consistency, as in not consistently recalling bodies from Rochester (thereby depleting the already drained local stock) before they're ripe? We're all aware of the burnout a prospect can suffer when spending a dominant amount of his time away from the game in airport terminals, but has any group been forced to undergo the callup/demotion roller coaster with more professionalism or simple gung-ho than Shawn Matthias, Keaton Ellerby, Michal Repik, Steve MacIntyre, Jason Garrison, etc? These guys are heroes for nothing more than sticking with the program. And if they are worthy of a recall on a scoring-deficient club, why demote them in a flash? Is Rusty Olesz suddenly going to bloom?
If the Cats - in some Nyquil overdosed bizarro sci-fi fantasy - were to win the Stanley Cup this season, the parade route begins at Blue Cross Arena.
What really grabbed my goat tonight was coach Peter DeBoer leaving Matthias in tonight's game to take the final faceoff - in a 4-1 laugher - across the dot from Carolina agitator Steven Goertzen, immediately following a scrum featuring those very same players. Of course it got heated, the young Florida center stormed off the ice, probably in a state of confusion as to what his role with this organization truly is.
Otherwise this evening was standard procedure for the Cats: play catch-up, allowing the opposition to gather momentum, and leaving their goaltender - a hard-as-nails competitor who deserves far better than this decrepit mess - in the dust.
Chalk up another one-goal losing effort to Florida. That'll go a long way toward respectibility come April, when the same group is bumping into each other while sailing to the 11th overall draft pick.
Fear not, though, since free agency is around the corner! And it's no secret that South Florida continues to rapidly rise up the wish lists of prime-talent free agents, phenomenal new training facility or not. What A-lister wouldn't wish to partake in all of this?
Based on recent history chances are strong it'll be another summer of Steven Reinprechts and Richard Zedniks and Martin Gelinas and Josef Stumpels: great guys, for sure, but hardly game - or season - breakers.
Either DeBoer and assistants Jim Hulton and Mike Kitchen are so far into genius realm that their troops can't keep up, or - more likely - the club has tuned them out, presumably fatigued with the as-yet ineffective "systems". In any case, it's not working.
GM Randy Sexton has promised in recent days that changes are coming. OK. Whatever. Will those changes occur at the conclusion of another failed season or just afterward at the draft, when Tomas Vokoun is unloaded?
Where is the accountability fans were promised? Season tickets are currently being pushed, and this is a preview of the coming year? It's more truth than rumor that longtime fans are not renewing, and the club would be wise to look deep within itself to find an answer. And then look far outside.
The fun is simply not there anymore.