With only six games to go, it'd be pretty nice if the Florida Panthers could find some kind of groove that gave everyone some hope heading into next season, which will be a very important one in regards to the future of general manager Dale Tallon. Instead, the club continues to have brutally slow starts and finds ways to make their lives on the ice very difficult. The Cats had some positive moments against the New Jersey Devils on Monday night, pulling within a goal in the second period after a horrendous start to the game that saw the Panthers with a one-goal deficit just 12 seconds into the first period. There have been some bad starts to games this season, but last night's first period ranks up there as one of the worst.
The Panthers should just focus on smaller goals for now, since winning consistently seems like too daunting of a task. Against the New York Islanders tonight, the Cats should attempt to eliminate the bad starts and come out prepared despite facing a team that is all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. The Islanders were expected to compete for a postseason berth this season, something that should have been possible considering how well they played under head coach Jack Capuano last season. They also made some noise in the playoffs last year, giving the Pittsburgh Penguins quite a run for the series. Alas, things have not panned out at all on Long Island, and there is yet another GM in Garth Snow who is likely nearing the end of his tenure as front office manager for the club, especially since there are now rumors of the team being shopped by current owner Charles Wang.
This is a tale of two teams with nothing to play for but pride. Let's hope Florida at least has some of that left. Expect to see Scott Clemmensen in net tonight, with Dan Ellis getting some rest after being shelled last night against the Devils.
Fresh from the oven, the LBC Game Thread will warm you with it's rich, flaky crust and warm, doughy center. And do the needful and check out Lighthouse Hockey, one of the best SBN hockey sites you're going to find.