In years past, the Panthers were a victim of the stat sheet on more than a few occasions. Remember when the Panthers would outshoot a team by 10 or 15 and lose by three or four? Many times this year, the Panthers have been the team taking advantage of limited opportunities.
Like this night in Nueva York.
Shots: Rangers 41, Florida 22.
Scoreboard: Florida 2, Rangers 1.
The Panthers won tonight basically because they hung around long enough. And the Rangers are not very good right now. Tom Renney came out in today's papers and told reporters that he thinks John Tortorella is ''the right guy'' to get the most out of this Blueshirted bunch.
Right now, the Rangers need more than just Torts.
What they need is some goals.
The Rangers have lost 12 of 14, and in each of those loses, they've scored two goals or fewer. Talk about wasting a great job in goal by Roberto, er, Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers had chance after chance after chance tonight. Empty net chances. Breakaway chances. Where were they shooting that puck?!? chances. Craig Anderson made the saves when he had to, but truth be told, he had a lot of help.
From the Rangers.
No matter. ''We were lucky to get the two points,'' Pete DeBoer said. ''And we'll take them.''
Playoff teams steal a game or two or three on their road to the postseason. The Panthers have been shoplifting some points lately.
Does that make them darn good or just darn lucky. I don't know. Sometimes hard work creates its own luck. The Panthers work hard. They've earned everything they've gotten. And now they took two points from the Rangers, pulled into sixth place and trudge on. A good result for a decent effort at a much needed time.
Will the Panthers be ready? Probably. As long as they stick around.
-- PS: I can't wait to make my return to Newark. Can't. Wait. Just a great place. Friendly people everywhere around the house that Lou Built (and the NHL should have checked out before opening).
-- Tonight was Florida's first third period comeback win against a team other than Toronto. Florida came back from third period deficits to beat the Leafs twice in a one-week span. And that's been it. Until tonight.
-- Florida hasn't lost consecutive games (in regulation) since the New Year's Montreal/@Islanders debacle.
-- Nathan 'Nate' Horton had one shot tonight. It was a peach, hon. Horton's goal tonight stood up as the game winner. In 28 games against Torts, Horton has 17 goals. It's quite impressive. He's kind of a big deal.
-- Randy Moller stayed behind in New York tonight (veteran move there) while the rest of the team moved on to Jersey. He has an excuse: Molls is joining NHL Live tomorrow at 12:45 from the NHL Store (that has a lot of Hartford Whaler throw-back gear, FYI). You can hear Molls on XM/Sirrius Radio as well as watch live on NHL Network.
Think he throws some movie lines out? Molls told me today that he has over 1,000 requests on standby. For a team that can't score.
My fake Moller call from tonight: ''He shoots, he scores! Nathan Horton goes top shelf off a terrific pass from Richard Zednik to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead! You ate a whole wheel of cheese? I'm not even mad! I'm impressed!''
-- Thursday's Scores (and how they affected the Panthers, although probably not personally): Carolina beats the Beefs in a shootout 2-1, so the Canes pull into a tie for eighth with Buffalo; both are a point back of the sixth-seeded Panthers and Rangers. And that was it.
-- Friday's Games (and who the Panthers would be pulling for if they weren't living large in Newark. OK, the guys will be watching): Check back tomorrow.
-- The Updated Standings (presented by Denis Potvin and courtesy of TSN.ca/nhl)
|3||New Jersey||61||39||19||3||81||186||151||20-10-1||19-9-2||7-3-0||Won 1|
|7||NY Rangers||63||31||24||8||70||153||174||18-10-4||13-14-4||2-5-3||Lost 4|
|13||Tampa Bay||61||20||29||12||52||155||196||11-12-8||9-17-4||3-5-2||Lost 1|
|15||NY Islanders||61||18||36||7||43||148||204||12-13-5||6-23-2||2-6-2||Lost 2|
|1||San Jose||60||42||9||9||93||203||145||26-2-3||16-7-6||6-2-2||Won 1|
|12||St. Louis||61||27||26||8||62||170||180||16-11-5||11-15-3||6-2-2||Won 2|
|13||Los Angeles||60||26||25||9||61||157||173||13-13-8||13-12-1||4-4-2||Lost 1|