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Playoff Presure? Nope, Not Here ... Jiggs McDonald to fill in for Randy Moller

2009-nhl-playoffs

So, those who e-mail me saying I should stop talking about how the Panthers haven't made the playoffs since 2000 can relax.

According to a couple players and coach Pete DeBoer, that doesn't bother them all that much.

Sure, its a postseason drought that could tie an NHL record if the team fails to advance once more this season.

Some might think that pressure weighs heavy on the players and coaches.

For some, it may just be. For others?

“Listen, we have nothing to lose here,'' said Keith Ballard.

“No one expects us to be in the playoffs because we haven't been in the playoffs in forever. I haven't been there, a lot of guys in this room haven't been there. Lets just leave it out there.Ballard3 We don't need to be in the playoffs today or tomorrow. We just need to be there after Game 82.''

DeBoer says the current crop of Panthers shouldn't have to be completely linked to the failures of the past. There are only a handful of players – Stephen Weiss, Nathan Horton, Rostislav Olesz – who have been with the franchise for more than five years. Players like Ballard, Bryan McCabe, Jordan Leopold, Cory Stillman and Dennis Seidenberg have only been with the team for two seasons.

“I don't think our group carries around that nine year baggage with them on a daily basis,'' said DeBoer. “Maybe that should upset people who think it should. But the reality is I've only been a part of this a couple of years. There's only a few guys who have been part of it more than a handful of years. I don't mind playing the underdog role and flying under the radar.''

Of course, the longer the Panthers stay out of the playoffs, the more that stigma sticks to players like Weiss. When the Panthers were in Toronto earlier this month, The Globe & Mail did a feature on Weiss and how he's carrying the franchise's flameless torch much like Olli Jokinen, Roberto Luongo and Jay Bouwmeester had in the past.

Weissislanders If the Panthers don't make the playoffs again this year, Weiss (barring injury) will have played close to 500 regular season games without participating in the postseason.

During the lockout of 2004-05, the Panthers had Weiss and Bouwmeester playing for their AHL affiliate in San Antonio; when the playoffs came, the Panthers loaned them to the Chicago Wolves so they could get some postseason experience.

Those are the only pro playoff games either player has participated in to date.

The Panthers hope that changes this spring. Florida came into Sunday in 12th place in the east, four points out of sixth place. The team has talked about what it needs to do to stay in the postseason hunt, and Ballard said looking at last year's Carolina team can give the Panthers hope.

Last season, the Hurricanes were out of the mix but stormed into the playoffs and knocked off New Jersey in the opening round. Carolina lost to the Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals.

“In the second half, there's always one team that steps up as another takes one step forward and two steps back,'' said Ballard. “We can't be that team. We have to put something together. We've gotten some points and we're starting to do the little things well. We had a meeting and talked about where we want to be at the Olympic break. We want to make a run for it.''

To make it, the Panthers have to win games or at least pick up the odd point here and there. The Panthers have won two straight and have taken five of the past six available points.

After Monday's game against the Thrashers, the Panthers travel to the New York area for games against the Devils and Islanders. The Islanders came into Sunday holding the eighth and final playoff spot in the east.

“There's always a team that catches fire in the second half and charges into the playoffs,'' said DeBoer. “It has to be us this year.''

Moller2  -- Radio voice Randy Moller had a health scare after Saturday's game and was taken to a local hospital.

Thankfully all is well. Moller is said to be resting up and doing fine. He was released from the hospital Sunday and is back at his home in Palm Beach County.

Jiggs McDonald, a Hall of Fame broadcaster who once called Florida games on radio, will replace Moller in the booth for Monday's game at least.

Jiggs McDonald, best known for his work calling Islanders games during their dynasty years, could travel with the team for the upcoming trip to New York.

Aside from working for the Panthers and Islanders, McDonald -- who resides on Florida's west coast -- has also worked for the Kings and Flames as well as national outlets.

Feel better Molls!

Comments

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One thing DeBoer has to realize, that although the TEAM hasn't been walking around with the playoff drought on its back for almost a decade, WE the fans have! It gets tough after all this time in South FL hearing "Why do you like hockey so much?", "Do we still have a team in FL?", etc.

I had a neighbor point to my license plate and say, 'Wow you really like lions!' When I explained that its the Panthers, he deadpanned me and said, "Carolina Panthers???".

The playoffs mean everything to us Season Ticket Holders as it does to the players.

How about this, it is January 18th and the Panthers have already sent out their renewals for season tickets............

What are they thinking? Wait they want our money now since if you do not pony up by Feb 13th you do not get any of the good stuff, and they are scared that if they do not make the playoffs again they will lose even more fans....

I hope Randy's OK.

Been listening to his game calls and lately it seems he hasn't been doing the funny movie quotes after the Panthers score. I miss them. Yeah, it's goofy and all but it's entertaining. Did he decide to stop or something?

I don't think that we can blame the current crop of players for mistakes made in the past for not making the playoffs.

However, we can certainly blame people like Randy Sexton - previous GM's and the current ownership who have not put enough talent on this team to make the playoffs. Each year, the Panthers have been close but make poor decisions were made at the trade deadline. You don't win games after the trade deadline by adding people like, Eminger.

ya can't blame the "Current" ownership, they didnt put this team on the ice, the Cohen era did. Viner and Siegel are mopping up the mess. I know Viner and have met Siegel and I assure you they are as passionate as we are. I speak with Viner at every game and sat by him for the 3rd period talking with him at the most recent game vs Tampa and again I assure you he cares. He was the first to stand up with less than 1 minute to play and throw his hands in the air. The new ownership wants this to turn around and as a long time Season Seat Owner AND fan I feel pretty confident they will turn this ship around and soon. I was speaking with Mr Viner on the way out of one game when Mr Bill Torrey came out and I remember seeing the respect in Torreys eyes. Viner said in passing that this level of play could not continue and Torrey assured him a new team on the ice in the next week or 2.....Next game we blew out the Stanley Cup Champion Penguins 6-2. They have control of this team and will get us there.....

Forgot to mention: it'll be good to hear Jiggs do the call again.

glad to hear that Mr. Torrey has the ears of the new owners.
He was put to the side by Yormark/Cohen.
As far as caring belief me, Mr. Cohen cared he just listened to the wrong people i.e. Yormark/Keenan/Martin/Sexton
This team is not talented or deep. Look at Washington and what they have done since the lockout compared to the panthers, look at the depth of talent that Washington has including the AHL as compared to the panthers.

Too many missed opportunities in the Cohen years and it will take time, I would like to see us get rid of the Cohen people Yormark/Sexton/scouting staff and see us build up the front office so that we can have an organization that competes not for the 8th playoff spot but for the Stanley Cup.

It starts with the right director of hockey operations i.e. John Davidson in St. Louis, Yzerman in Detroit. Let this person run the hockey operations instead of the circus leader Yormark.

Jiggs McDonald is a huge upgrade. The broacast team of the Panthers is the worst in the league. Goldie and Billy Lindsay make you want to throw a brick at the TV. Billy Lindsay couldn't hold Denis Potvin's jock. Worst color commentator ever.

Uh, it is nice that the two new part-owners (people seem to forget AC is still around) are talking to the fans. But I see no action to back it up... I would love to see this accountability that they are talking about, instead all we see are signs going up to buy tickets for next year. Promoting Salesman like Yormack to run hockey operations... Sounds like the old crew is still running things...If the new owners really wanted to change things, they would have brought in NHL talent to replace Booth while he was out of the lineup. Still not enough talent on this team to make the playoffs...

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