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The Panthers Have Fallen; Can They Get Back Up?

Fallen PHILADELPHIA -- Truth be told, the Panthers played a pretty good game against the Flyers Tuesday night. They controlled the puck, worked down low, kept the home crowd muttering ''not these darned Panthers again.'

OK, maybe they weren't muttering that, but, like a few weeks ago, the Panthers came to Philly and outplayed the Flyers. Only difference was the final result.

Two weeks ago, Florida wins when goalie Craig Anderson gives up two goals. Tuesday, Tomas Vokoun gives up two and the Panthers lose, leading coach Pete DeBoer to offer this less-than rousing endorsement.

''Yeah, well, you know -- he was all right,'' DeBoer said.

The bottom line: Anderson won here, Vokoun didn't. Their games, however, were quite similar.

Vokoun, like Anderson here a few nights ago, probably could have given up more than two.

Both goalies left up some juicy rebounds and both were out of position a few times leaving the Philly crowd groaning when the Flyers couldn't connect.

The Panthers didn't get that kind of charity. If they were around the puck, Martin Biron was around to keep it out of the net.

It's been some time since the Panthers really played a stinker of a game, although the same can't be said for the team's offensive production. One goal against Johan Hedberg and the Thrashers on Friday; one goal against a Martin Biron who was in a funk.

Now here's the rub: How do the Panthers get back? They have two games left and really need some help to make the playoffs. Montreal needs one point to finish in front of the Panthers. Yeah, the Habs are in trouble. But don't you think they probably at least pick up one point in their final two games? How about the Rangers? All they have to do is win one of their final two games.

Fallen2 Can't blame missing the playoffs on losing to the Flyers. You can, however, blame it on the loss in Buffalo. The two on Long Island to a vastly inferior team. The back-to-backs against Tampa after Christmas. The third period collapse to Columbus.

There are a lot of places you can look to find those very valuable points. Florida may very well pick up four points in these next two games, but it probably won't be enough.

But, despite what you are going to read from people who don't know a lot about the Panthers, it won't be the same old story.

This team didn't miss the playoffs because of a lack of effort, nor a lack of heart or toughness as they did in the past.

No, the Panthers didn't make the playoffs because they just weren't all that good. They were a better team than in the past, but individually, not enough talent. Pete DeBoer squeezed what he could out of them, tried to push the right buttons, but in the end, he's going to finish ninth in the east. JM the GM will try to improve the team in the offseason, and will be going after some scorers. Has to be. He's going to keep his eye on the defense, but even without Jay Bouwmeester, that should be fine.

Florida's biggest problem this season was that it couldn't support its goalies when it really needed to. One goal is not going to cut it in the NHL 95 percent of the time. Sure, Vokoun should have made the save on Carter in the third. That was a bad goal to give up. But giving up two goals to Philadelphia through 60 minutes should mean a win -- at least a trip to overtime.

How big would one point look right now? It might have been the difference on the boys playing golf come Tuesday or postponing those tee times for another few games.

Will update things tomorrow when I get to Atlanta. Will be interesting to see if DeBo sticks with Vokoun or goes back to the bullpen. He looked kind of disgusted tonight.


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Hey George,you forgot to put up refs on top next too Jeff Carter's goal. I dont care what anybody saids yes they should of won all of those games u just sed but the refs miss that call on the cross-check and that goin to make the panthers to miss the playoffs i cant believe it. And if JM dont go and get a 40 goal scorer we are going to keep missing the playoffs becuz thats what we were missing this year no doudt about man.

If this team just wasn't good enough - talent wise - shouldn't the general manager be held accountable?

I agree with everything you said George. But I also don't get why JM gets a free pass. Going into this season everyone and their grandmother knew this team did not have scoring talent to make the playoffs. through hard work and a strong system (aka, good coaching) they competed more than most thought they were.

not one player on this roster qualifies as a first-line player. horton might have the talent but he sure as hell doesn't use it consistently enough to be considered a first liner. booth is a good second liner, as is weiss. age is catching up to cory stillman so at this point you'd have to pencil him in as a "marginal" second line player. frolik was a pleasant surprise but again, 20 goals, 40 points is a marginal second liner at this point. zednik, dvorak, peltonen, campbell, stewart, olesz, tarnasky, kreps, mclean.....all 3rd/4th liners. way too many of 'em.

mclean, zednik, peltonen and (this wont be popular) dvorak should not be re-signed. let kreps, olesz, weiss and campbell take the PK duties and use the money saved on a true scorer. or two. or three.......and then we might have a first line and some playoff hockey.

JM should have picked up centerman Brendan Morrison when he was on waivers the day before the trade deadline. He's a Weiss clone who's had 6 goals and 3 assists since then for Dallas. Instead JM pissed away Welch and a pick for some healthy scratch/3rd pairing schlub.

At least that was the turning point my hindsight sees thru this familiar purple haze of depression.

put a fork in the Panthers they are done.......I hope they did not print their playoff tickets.......

Get ready to give out some free tickets with the Playoff Promise!!!!!

BTW not only should Martin be gone but Yormark should also be given the gate...I am a season ticekt holder that might not be anymore!

JM is completely responsible for allowing the team to dress in October without a first line goal scorer. Worse, when PD squeezes out a playoff run from a team devoid of offense, he had every chance to add a goal scorer like Antropov (yes hue can play center jaque! ) who scored again to lead the rangers last night, or Guerin, etc. He failed to give his team and the fans a better chance. For all that he may pay the ultimate price.
And please PD stop blaming the goalies, the goal a game team wouldn't win with roy in net...you need to look at your brilliant move of benching Boyton, your huge rookie error...

George: I agree with almost everything, except if the rangers lose both their games in ot and we win both games then tied in wins and we win the head to head tie breaker.

Montreal plays Boston and Pittsburgh so there is still hope!

Where I agree is that this team is not very talented. We have had the same GM for 3 years now. His best move was getting DeBoer (yes he made a mistake with Boynton or was it Martin sending a message)

As I said earlier this team is slightly above average in goal, below average up front and good in defense.

I say average in goal because we do not make the big saves like Biron did last night, there are at least 10 number 1 goalies that I would take over Vokoun. Anderson is good for a few games at a time then he loses his focus.

No finishers, see where Eric Staal is closing in on 40 goals, we drafted Horton instead of Staal.

The young players are not that young anymore, Weiss will be going into his 8th season.

This team has a long history of poor drafts, poor trades and we continue to pay for it.

It is going to be another interesting off season, starting with the Bouwmeester situation
will history repeat itself and Cohen not allow his GM to spend the money (that is what happened when they traded Bure)

We have a lot of unrestricted free agents as well.

I would keep Booth, Allen, Ballard and Fralik, after that you have a lot of forwards that are 3rd or 4th liners and the d-men that should be 3rd line d-men.

Vokoun we can keep for a year and see what Luongo does (will he come to So. Fla for family reasons, Jovo didn't).

Do we keep JM, I do not believe his conservative style works, I said it at the deadline and I will say it again, with the few assets that this organization has he should of traded Boumeester for some assets.

The goal of an organization in the NHL should not be to make the playoffs it should be to win the stanley cup and compete for the cup every year.

Until Cohen spends money on scouting and development we will be a below average team fighting every year to make the playoffs.

George I agree that this team worked hard and has heart and that it lacks talent and it was the coach that got the most of the talent.

JM the GM has had 3 years to turn this franchise around, the flyers were able to turn around in this time period and have far more talent than the panthers

Change is coming again to our panthers.

You said that if the Rangers lose their 2 games in OT, then they would make the playoffs. Actually, (if the panthers won both their games) and the rangers lost both in OT then the panthers would make it because they would win the tiebreaker. In that case the panthers and rangers would be tied in the win column and the next tiebreaker is the season series between the teams, which the Panthers have won.

It is a very unlikely scenario but still very possible. I am not losing hope yet because anything can happen in 2 games. All we need is either the habs or rags to lose 2 games in a row. It's not over yet!

The season is over. It was more fun than years past, but still the end-result is very disspointing.

George- did you mention anything about all those shootout loses? If we had a natural goal scorer, we might have won a few more of those.

PDeB's comments regarding TVo sound as if he wouldn't mind if his expensive goalie were to be traded. I wonder if JM is thinking the same thing?

JayBo is gone after the season and his money will go into David Booth's extension. However, I wonder what ownership will do with the rest of payroll? I can see them allowing JM to resign Zednik...but not Dvorak or Ville, and that's okay with me.

Good points all around GR, it's good to put things in perspective. In October\November, did anyone realistically think that we'd be seriously talking about the playoffs in April? I know I didn't. Every NHL preview and pundit said Florida would have trouble scoring. It was obvious. A nice season from Booth, a good rookie year from Frolik, but in the end only 3, 20+ goal scorers? Not gonna cut it. Now we're going to lose J-Bo for nothing. A few other UFA's too. Long term deals with guys who don't look like they'll amount to more then 3rd line checkers. The trade deadline may have cost the Cats the postseason. It's easy in hindsight to say we should have traded Bo and gotten some kind, any kind of scoring. Sigh...

This offseason should be interesting... if JM keeps his job, it has to, HAS TO be playoffs or bust next season. It's great to have all the heart and character in the world, but if you can't get the puck in the net, you aren't going to win.

Yes, there is still hope. Both the Rangers and Habs have 2 tough games left. But that's assuming Florida wins their 2, and that's asking a lot on its own. Here's hoping for the best.

thanks andrew, you are absolutely right...florida would win that tiebreaker in that scenario...I fixed...

One thing that bothers me. Every team around the Panthers picked up scoring help. JM did nothing to help the scoring. He sent a message to the team that he wasn't trying. The excuse is that he didn't want to disrupt the room. I have no problem with not trading Jaybo. Smallish forwards like Peltanon, Weiss, are expected to pound into the corners and win the puck over large defensemen. When we ask about getting a tougher guy like a Chris Neil--we are told he doesn't score enough. Like the team can't afford another guy who scores 10 goals. With the odds that we are losing J Bo. The money will be spent on replacing the 5-6 free agents and here comes some more Brett McLeans--players we will be told should flourish in Pantherland. How many more years will the rebuilding go. This reminds me of the movie Major League--where the ownership wants to move to Miami--- except in this case the Panthers move from this area because they are inept.

Peltonen and Dvorak should be kept. With Cambell they form a solid 3rd line. Say what you want...its the truth. Cambell stepped up his game big time this season. And Dvorak has proved his worth on the PK amd how he can use his speed to create chances. And Peltonen is still a solid player. And the 3 of them have something more important, something that you can't spend money to bring to the team: Chemistry.

Stewart, Maclean, Tarnasky, hell even Olesz and Zednik...those are the expandable guys.

3rd line should be kept intact. JM will probally not keep Dvorak and/or Peltonen...and it will show why you don't make a lame duck coach with no mangerial experiance a GM. That guy needs to be fired. He's a bad coach, and an average GM.

when thing's go wrong, everybody thinks they're a GM.

For those of us that prefer the numerical form of playoff scenarios, here are the ways the Panthers could still get in:

A) FLA 2-0-0, MON 0-2-0
B) FLA 2-0-0, NYR 0-2-0
C) FLA 2-0-0, NYR 0-1-1
D) FLA 2-0-0, NYR 0-0-2
E) FLA 1-0-1, NYR 0-2-0

And I agree that the Panthers probably just didn't have the talent to go very far in the playoffs. But I still think you could make an argument that the effort was inconsistent. We were in great position with a few weeks left in the season.

The Buffalo game was definitely the turning point. Giving up a game with a 3-1 lead late in the 3rd period was really painful to watch.

I'd like to see us go after some closers this off-season. Tough players, clutch players, strong-willed players, players that finish games.

Not that fighting really says all that much, but hockeyfights.com has us listed as having 33 fights this year, and we won 6. That, too, was painful to watch.

Next year I don't care if we give up 10 goals every game in the first two periods. I just want to see us finish games strong. And this year we certainly didn't finish games, and we didn't finish the season.

some of you people... really need to be hit upside the head with a clue stick. yeah - JM did nothing and showed the team he wasn't trying. yeah - the team didn't finish games strong (uh, the most certainly did, up until a bad stretch in march). JM has built this roster from the net out, the way it SHOULD be built. they had enough scoring get into the playoffs if they'd played their systems consistently. boston got in with less last year, as did the rangers. we'll end up with more goals than the rangers again this year, BY FAR. sorry, i disagree with GR and most fans strenuously on this.

they still may get in but even if they do not, this team has made GIANT strides this year and will have learned from these games. they'll get some help up front most certainly, they'll also need to spend money on either jay or a someone to take his place (NO, this D is not fine without jay - the reason bally and caber have done so well is because the load was not squarely on either's shoulders).

in short, they are headed in the right direction, no question. the rangers, for all their flailing and spending and shipping of assets will get bounced quickly. the panthers, meanwhile have been very smart with their assets and look to be positioned well for the next few years. they'll need to keep getting better and improving the talent level but all evidence indicates that JM is and will continue to be an extremely wise steward; i think we'll be fine. if not this time next week, certainly this time next year.

Real smart with their assets so much so their best player is leaving via free agency for nothing. You're a moron.

Trading bouw was the right thing to do we wouldn't have gotton what we needed in return. You do realize that by not trading bouw and taking on another contract we will now have the money to sign booth and go out and try to get a big center which is really what this team has lacked with the money we will be saving from not signing bouw. I love bouw but i don't think losing him is gonna as big as a blow as many think Garrison & Ellerby have played well in rochester so it'll be nice to see some young defenseman up here which we haven't had here in a LONG time and I for one have faith that we will make the playoffs. If we can get by atlanta you know washington isn't gonna play their top guys very long on saturday cause they are not gonna wanna risk injury. Go Cats i still have faith.

Glad to see everyone has faith and I agree this team is more desperate than ever, but even if they sneak in the back door, you can't get excited about their COLLAPSE...I hate to be negative, but I stuck up for JM earlier in the year--and truly thought he would do more.. I realize he's dealt a bad hand here that's not really his fault due to POOR DRAFTING and lots of mismanagement, but he has to take some of the blame here for not doing more @ the trade deadline....There has to be some sort of standard set for performance. And even though I was a supporter of JM's moves prior to the season, now he has to be held accountable for not coming through when it counts...Way too conservative...He played his cards and thought this team could back its way into the playoffs. Yes I realize people would be ripping into him if he would've made moves and they missed the playoffs, but he had his chance. Now send a message that this won't be tolerated...

The team needs an overhaul. They have dead weight they need to throw out. They've had a lot of it for a long time, and not enough is being done to get rid of it. PDB has done all you could've asked for, but you can't expect these same guys to come this close EVER again-- they've already squeezed it out, it wasn't enough, and they'll never be able to improve on what they've done with this current cast of characters....So while yes I'd like to see some playoff hockey down here, maybe it's for the best they don't make it...That would just give them more excuses to justify AVERAGENESS!!

I almost I wish I could live in zeroG's world and think everything will always be better, but bottom=line is that these guys are pretty boring even when they win. I'd rather see them draft some players that hit and scrap and fight, not just goons, but players that know how to keep the play alive, aren't afraid to get their nose dirty(Horton), and then you'll find some excitement in hockey. Right now they just try to tread water and hope one of their picks comes through, but somehow they all end up to be 3rd and 4th liners, that probably are not NHL players on other teams. Yes it is one of hockey's better qualities that you can find chemistry on certain lines with lesser talent, but not year in and year out....

At some point it has to change. They have to put and exciting product out there to catch fan's interest. Yes sometimes that means more fighting to draw in newer fans, but also wise players will lead them to some sort of WINNING TRADITION...Please change the scouting squad, before they draft another goalie in the first round...There's not much talent in Rochester, so don't kid yourself there. They still have a long way to go to build a successful organization here--let's just hope someone comes in and isn't afraid to make some of these necessary changes!!!

George, I love you (as much as a person can love a stranger who is one of the few insightful - and many times hilarious - sources of information about my hockey team while I reside 3000 miles away from Ft. Lauderdale) but I'm actually going to disagree.

I don't think the team's issue is lack of talent. Everywhere you look on the roster you'll find 1st rounders, role players and even a kid who's been called "Baby Jagr." There's so many players who DOMINATED in their previous leagues. It is a completely fair argument to say that some people don't live up to their expectations, but I honestly believe that this is not the case here.

Last season, the team was expected to loose. There was one well known player and the game plan was to give him the puck and pray for a win. This season was slow going as everyone learned a new system, but now we watch a team where they go out and play to win.

If you look at the record from January to now, we ARE a winning team. This may (or may not) be enough to get us into the playoffs, but it is enough to convince me that the team is going in the right direction. When you look at us compared to the Rangers or Montreal, we are the team that deserves to make it. Both those teams, with well known, "talented" players have experienced a total melt-down from January on. The Rangers are only still in the mix because of Lundqvist and more than their fair share of shoot-out victories. Neither the Rangers nor Montreal are a complete team.

I believe in the work that JM has done down here. And I believe in the way that PDB has turned this team around in only one year's time. If anything, his comment a while back about Weiss convinced me so. He knows Weiss as the kid who dominated in the minors and was drafted #4 and will push him to live up to his potential in the NHL.

If we don't make the playoffs (AND THAT'S AN "IF," NOT A "WHEN") it will be because of the first half of this season when everyone was adapting to Deboer's system and not the flukes with the Islanders and Atlanta. (Remember a few years ago, when the Panthers were not a "complete" team, but had a phenom goal scorer, when the team actually, really sucked and we'd still pull off a few 6-0 wins against legit contenders... same story... only now, we're the legit contenders).

We should've scored more goals in a few games, but these games will happen to every team every season, and we've faired well in that regard. If at the end of this week, we're still on the outside looking in, we will have lost by ONE game, with less than THREE games separating us from the 4th seed. Those are hard facts to swallow, but in my eyes:

The Panthers are a young, talented team full of committed players. They pulled themselves up from LAST PLACE in the league and four months later are still alive and fighting. We have a GM who responsibly weighs his options and a coach who has given a team the one thing it had needed most: Confidence.

With all that said (and I apologize for haven written a novel) GO CATS GO!!!

You know what? I agree, there is talent here. They couldn't be winning without that. I think Stephen Weiss is a terrific talent; Frolik, Horton, McCabe, Bouwmeester, Ballard, Vokoun, too. But there is a reason this team can't score when it needs to. We'll see where they end up, and I think they're going to end up on the short end of things. But there needs to be more talent on the forward lines for this team to be complete. Too many third and fourth line guys logging heavy minutes for the Panthers to be anything more than what they are: a ninth place team trying to sneak up to eighth. Hey, that's better than it's been in years past, certainly, but...

I'm with you, GR. Too many character guys. Not enough pure talent. the top round picks have fizzled. they aren't rookies anymore. if they were going to be 30+ scorers in the NHL, we'd have seen it by now. It's a great core, a great foundation. Chemsitry is nice. But there just isn't the "go-to" guy, the top line that when you need a goal, you put them out and now they'll create chances. We had 5 shots on goal in the 3rd period against Philly. In a tie game, this point in the season? Remember the game against the Caps where they had 0 SOG in the 3rd? Talented teams don't let that happen. Guys who have been through the lows and know what it takes at this time of the year don't let that happen. Maybe this year will help with that.

I agree with George (I talked to a former panther player from the 90s at the beginning of the season and we agreed that this team was at best a 7th seed and should finish in the top 10) and completely disagree with zeroG, first lets look at his build from the back up(which is the correct way to build a team), we have Vokoun who has a history of giving up the soft goal at the wrong time that even DeBoer is now saying our goalie was just average and we have a career back up in Anderson who is a unrestricted free agent. I like Vokoun but he is an average goalie. Anderson is a good fill in who has a history of playing great for a few games before falling back to bad habits.

This team needs an upgrade in goal. Anderson is not resigning so we are going to have to replace at least 50% of our goaltending.

Vokoun is holding the fort until we get Markstrom.

Defense we have Bouwmeester who is an unrestricted free agent. His value on the trade market was highest at the trade deadline. When he was drafted his pluses were his speed, size and first pass, his weaknesses were no mean streak, never been on a winner and can't hit the side of a barn. Still that way.

Boynton is gone because JM gets rid of players that stand up to him, Callimore has lost a step and there is a reason he was not signed by anyone prior to the season.

Again 50% turn over expected in our d and this is the strength of the team.

The next important area is Center and this is the weakness of the team.

As George said I like Weiss as well, he works hard and is the teams best Center. When he was drafted the organization said he was the next Yzerman. Most other teams said he would be a solid 3rd line center that good blossom into a decent 2nd line center.

When we drafted Horton he was going to be a big goal scorer, we are still waiting, his biggest problem is that he appears disinterested most of the time. This was a big mistake in drafting him over Staal (yes Staal was drafted before him but we traded down).

After Jokinen was traded we were told not to worry about center because we have Matthias. He could not even make this roster that is extremely weak at center that should be a tell tale sign.

I expect a lot of the forwards to be moved or let go.

Now ZeroG's biggest assumption is that Cohen is going to allow the GM to spend the money saved by not signing Bouwmeester.

I was in the arena with a few other people that post on this site when Bure was sent to the Rangers for a bucket of hockey pucks. We were told that the money that they did not have to spend on Bure (about 10 million) would be spent on a couple of 5 million dollar players. Until this year, that money was never spent.

I for one do not expect the team to spend as much this upcoming year on players as they did this past season. I expect Cohen to have the team close to the bottom of the cap then the top.

Now JM the GM, best move he made was hiring DeBoer. Ballard was a great pick up.

He sent a letter to season ticket holders after the Luongo trade saying how much this would improve the team and that the team needed more assets.

He is too conservative; he needed to look long term which is where I agree with ZeroG, but he was too short sided and or greedy at the trade deadline with Bouwmeester (I have said all along if he wasn't signed they needed to trade him for assets, not to trade him like Bure and Luongo but more for what we received for Mark Parrish).

This team has a long history of bad trades, bad draft picks and bad free agent signings.

I hope they make the playoffs but just don't see it happening.

I hope I am wrong and Cohen allows the GM to improve this team by getting a sniper and getting bigger at center. I have been around this organization too long to get caught again with false hope.

It is time that Cohen either support the team by improving the scouting (Yormark told season ticket holders that the plan was to use video to scout to save money)and that Cohen continues to support having an AHL team or sell the team to someone who will.

Great post by season ticket holder one-Management is on a Cohen mandated WalMart budget and Martin agrees with that as long as he gets paid.Cohen will NOT fire Martin.DeBoer and Ballard were 2 good Martin moves.Our defense now rests on Ballard and a slight hope tha Allen will return to previous form before the Tarnavsky incident with Tampa.I doubt that will happen.They will use 3 million of JAY bouwmeester savings to give Booth a long term contract like Olesz.Zednik is expendable so that money may go or either be pocketed.We are stuck with average goalie Vokoun until Markstrom arrives.I hope they retain Dvorak and Peltonen one more year as these guys play hard.Tarnovsky is a hustler and good 4th liner grit and energy player.Emminger will be another WalMart defenceman to replace either Cullimore or fill in for someone else.So the way I figure it nothing much will be done here and maybe they will spend 2 million on a WalMart center after dumping McClean.We aint gonna make it folks and next year will be worse with no Bouw to neutralize top opponent scorers and no Anderson to bail out Vokoun every 3 games after he gets punchdrunk again.Only hope is a puck handling center/scorer and they are NOT going to spend the 5 million to get one.

Ok check it..Martin needs to be held responsible. He' has made a few good moves. His greatest was brining in DeBoer. Ballard and McCabe was a good pick up.

But be realistic...If your getting rid of a great player like Jokinen...you have to be an idiot to not get at least 1 good player back! He should of gotten More!

With McCabe...he only had 2 teams he was willing to go to! He practically fell in Martins lap! Toronto wanted to shed salary and were willing to take a chance with Van Ryn!

With Deboer...there wasn't alot of big time coaches available...San Jose, Atlanta both hired first time coaches...and after the success with Washingtons coach last year...how easy is it to follow the trend and go after one of the best coachs not in the NHL?

C'mon George at least you gotta agree with me!

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