COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Still in the great state of Ohio, getting ready to fly off to a real garden state. Actually, there are parts of New Jersey that are very pretty. Very few of those parts are near Newark.
So, if you are really depressed about the State of the Panthers these days, fly on up to Newark this weekend. You'll feel better about things, hockey notwithstanding, in no time.
Pete DeBoer gave the guys a rest day today; some went to the Newark Maximum Security Arena -- AKA The Rock -- for a skate, others just worked out at the hotel and watched News 1.
Scott Clemmensen will be back in net at The Rock tomorrow, only it will be for the Panthers. Tomas Vokoun returns Saturday in Florida's final game at The Igloo -- unless, of course, they make the playoffs and face the Pens.
So, we can just say Saturday is the final Cats game in The Igloo, right?
Pete on Clemmensen starting: "[Being in NJ] is part of it, playing back-to-backs is part of it. We’re in a tough part of the schedule and him playing his old team makes some sense, although ask me about that tomorrow night after the game and we’ll see.’’
As far as Clemmensen's psyche goes, Pete doesn't seem so concerned. Clemm was pulled in his last game, but that was circumstantial and I think he knows that. The team in front of him was playing like horse pucks so Pete made a move to try and create a spark.
"I hate to rehash a game from a week ago, but we needed a spark at that point. In that situation going into Washington, we were on the backend of a back-to-back and really needed a first star performance from someone, the goaltender or someone else. As a coach, you have to roll the dice sometimes. Guys at this level have to have thick skin about some things. Guys are paid to handle things like this.''
So how does Pete keep his team's head up? Accentuating the positive.
“The games we’re playing aren’t getting any easier. We just have to keep looking at the good things we are doing. I think our work ethic has been pretty good, our attitude toward team play has been pretty good. We’re just not finding that key goal right now, either the one that puts us ahead and allows us to win or one that ties a game. We seem to be in every single game.
“We had a chance here last night to tie it late. We have to keep pushing ourselves to be better and to find those ways to get ahead. With the lineup we have, we’re not going to score five goals. But we have to find a way to be on the right side of these 1-1, 2-2 games at the end.''