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Eight Is Enough: Panthers fall to Avs 3-0; Trail Boston in Postseason 'Hunt' by Eight Points

8enough AVALANCHE 3, PANTHERS 0

BY GEORGE RICHARDS

DENVER – Five times this season the Florida Panthers have won three straight games. They've yet to extend their marginal winning streaks to four.

And that's one of many reasons why the Panthers will not be part of the Stanley Cup playoffs for an NHL record-tying ninth straight season and record-breaking 10th year.

Thursday, former Florida goalie Craig Anderson hammered yet another nail in the Panthers 2009-10 coffin as he stopped 27 shots to beat his old mates 3-0 in front of a sparse crowd at Pepsi Center.

The shutout was Anderson's seventh of the season and 14th of his career.

“This was disappointing. They were the better team,'' Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said. “The result was deserved. Both goaltenders played well. We didn't give ours enough support.''

The Panthers continue to claim they are in a playoff chase, and mathematically, they are. Barely. After Boston and Montreal each won on Thursday, the Panthers slipped to eight points out of the eighth and final playoff spot.

To add to the points problem, Florida has three teams sitting in front jamming things up. The Panthers only have 16 games remaining and need to go on a long winning streak to have any chance of making the playoffs – and they have yet to prove they can do that.

Losing streaks are another story. The team has had four losing streaks of four games or more this season. The Panthers haven't been to the playoffs since being swept in the opening round of the 2000 postseason.

The Panthers are running out of daylight – and have a new suitor joining them in their “race.” Carolina, which started the season with losses in 16 of its first 18 games, won on Thursday and now are tied with the Panthers in overall points with 64.

“[Thursday] isn't what put us in this position,'' defenseman Keith Ballard said. “You look back through the year and losing six or seven in a row, or not showing up some nights. We put ourselves in this position. But until the numbers say we're out of it, we're not going with the mentality that we're out of it.''

Colorado, meanwhile, is in a legitimate playoff fight and needed a win Thursday to keep up in a crowded Western Conference. Former Panthers goalie Craig Anderson has been instrumental in helping the Avs rise up from the conference cellar – where they resided last season – and into the thick of the postseason conversation.

Anderson, who started his 22nd straight game on Thursday, didn't get challenged by his former teammates very much in the early going. The Panthers went half of the opening period before registering their first shot of the night, and ended up taking just five shots in the opening period.

The Avs got a huge lift from Paul Stastny five minutes into the second period when he knocked a loose puck past Tomas Vokoun at 4:54. Vokoun went into the second break down 2-0 as Stastny scored a second goal with 4:39 left in the period. The Panthers put themselves in a tough spot as Cory Stillman (serving a bench minor) and Radek Dvorak (roughing) both went into the penalty box to give the Avs a 5-on-3 advantage.

Stillman had just come out of the bin when Stastny – camped out and by himself along the goal line – snapped a shot off a Chris Stewart pass into the net.

Anderson made two good saves on Stephen Weiss in the first six minutes of the third and ended up stopping 13 in the final 20 minutes. Anderson was able to relax with 3:34 left when Matt Hendricks drove in and beat Vokoun for the Avs third goal as the Panthers were slow to get back on defense – bringing sharp words from Vokoun to his bench.

The Panthers have been shutout seven times – five since the start of 2010.

“Both goalies were good,'' said DeBoer. “We didn't do enough for our guy.''

-- Weiss was seen coming out of the X-ray room at Pepsi Center following the game. He said he was OK but looked to be in pain.

Comments

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it has been over 2 years since this team has won 4 in a row why would anyone think that they can make the playoffs.

Look at the history of this group and when they need to win they fail!

The lack of character and accountability has been a big problem here.

There is no pressure put on the players by the front office, the media, (one newspaper doesn't even cover the team anymore)

The front office has always treated hockey as a filler for the arena.

We don't have the leadership in the lockerroom either no one holds their teammates accountable if they did there wouldn't be the number of games where we don't show up.

A perfect example would be to compare Eric Staal and Nate Horton. Statistically they are very similar, however in attitude and accountability they are as different as day and night.

We need to bring in guys that are winners not players such as Bouwmeester whose only time in the playoffs including Juniors was when we loaned him to the Chicago Wolves and they ended up losing in the playoffs anyway.

Scout guys with a hockey mentality instead of guys that fit right into the country club atmosphere of the Florida Panthers

Well it will be another interesting summer at least. Is there any talk of replacing Sexton or DeBoer? I'm not saying that is the right move but shouldn't they be interviewing or contacting other candidates for the GM job? 29 other teams would not have given an interview to Sexton if they were looking for a GM. I don't know, maybe he is the guy.

The only game left I want the Panthers to win is on the 23rd in Toronto when I'm there. Otherwise, getting a better draft pick sounds fine to me.

In George's video, Cliff and Stu mentioned that Randy will be evaluated after the end of the season.

George- stop wasting time writing about the Panthers and hoping to make the playoffs...unless of course, the Herald is paying you for every word you type.

Let's do some research about the upcoming draft, pending RFA's and UFA's...that sort of thing.

So the Caps are coming in here on Tuesday? They've already locked up the division with a month to play. They score goals in bunches. And their defense? Not quite up to their offense, but good enough. They added grit at the deadline and didn't have to give up much to get it. So they're ready to make the big push to the Cup this year. So maybe Washington takes the night off--and MVP Vokoun stands on his head? Not likely, but stranger things have happened. . .

There will not be a postseason for the Panthers again! How many years does it take to figure this out?

This team is run like a country club and has been for years. When we bring people in to hopefully fix things, there's complaints about too much change. Then we try to add stability and hang on to the deadwood.

Face it, unless there is significant movement of players off this team in the summer, nothing will change.

Too much inconsistency and too little heart and charachter. No leadership and very little hockey sense.

Everyone thinks that Weiss is so good. I challenge you to watch him play and see what he does on every shift.
Then watch the other teams number one center.
Believe me there is no comparison. We have to stop trying to build around a soft, injury prone, gritless player. If he's such a good leader, then why where are the attributes?

He should be the first to go.

Other players have been too inconsistent, and were unfortunately rewarded with fat contracts.

If not for Vokoun, we'd be 29th or 30th, and still find a way to screw up the draft.

Unless we can get a younger goaltender who is just as good as Vokoun, then he needs to be signed to an extension for two more years in the summer.

Purge the roster! Look at Toronto, they haven't been to the playoffs in a few years, and there is only one player left from the last time they made it.
You will see them get better, while we continue to spin our wheels.

I don't blame Weiss only because on 29 teams in the NHL he would be a 2nd or 3rd line center at best.

We overreached on a lot of players that we drafted and signed as free agents, I agree that we need to purge the roster, I don't blame the players that are here because it is not their fault that the organization makes them all seem like superstars when they aren't

I'm not blaming Weiss, or any other player for that matter. The organization did the same thing to Weiss as they did with Rob Niedermayer and expected way too much.

My point is that he and some others have been here way too long and are associated with losing. Time to move on and get some fresh faces and fresh attitudes.

NO PLAYOFFS! All of us Panther fans knew this two months ago. Yet the media and Panthers management would have us think otherwise. WOW. Hey Panthers owners, stop f***ing around with your fanbase and get us a real team and fire Yormark.

the fish stinks from the head. Gut it and move on

GR:

your article today says it all, (DeBoer has to motivate players)

These players have not been motivated to play winning hockey in the panthers organization for years.

This starts at the top with ownership (that has changed) then goes to the CFO Yormark.

It starts with the organizational decision that the arena is the priority over the hockey product until this ends we will have players that are not accountable for winning but only players their to have a product for 41 days.

Fire Yormark and Sexton now!!! save the Panthers from extinction

i just cant believe the contracts guys like olesz have what a joke no ones is going to want him were doomed

Taffe has been called up in case little Stevie can't play due to a sore foot!
This guy is always hurt. Congrats to him for attempting to play through his minor cuts and bumps, but for godsakes, I'm tired of his frail history.

what a frigin embarassment. looks like the sharks are playing my mens league team from incrdible ice.

They won!

This is a conservative wish list for next season that calls for a large salary dump in preparation for future free agents signings whether in this offseason or next.

4 free agents signings or through trades; drafted top ten pick to start; salary dump and in this scenario Vokoun stays.

New Lines
TOP LINE: Booth - Frolik - Horton/(free agent signing)

Second line:(free agent signing)/Horton - Matthias – (free agent signing)

Third line: Repik/Dvorak – (drafted rookie center) – Bitz

Fourth line: McArdle – Tarnasky – Kreps/Campbell

Defense: Kulikov/Ballard; Garrison/ (free agent signing); Ellerby/Allen

Gone from team – this would be huge salary dump but necessary:
Mcabe, reinprecht,Oslez, kreps/orCampbell, Weiss, Stillman

Get rid of Kreps and Campbell too. They are RFA's and shouldn't be given qualifying contracts.

Part of the problem with this organization is the fans are over reactionary. This team needs a top line, as they have a good second line in Weiss, Horton, and Booth. None of them are top line players.

Weiss as a leader? A lot of the qualities a true leader will show, will never be seen by the fans. Dirk Graham would be a good example of a captain who didn't produce a lot of scoring on the ice, but was a true leader in the locker room.

And I love how some people come out and try to make a name for themselves by saying things I did before gettin a ban on HF back in '05.

Kittens, your line-up sucks. Sorry to be brunt. Frolik would be a less talented top line center. Mathias needs to play more on a third line and produce before being handed a top two spot and Horton should never play the left side. And your defense is too inexperienced, unless you're hoping to finish near the bottom again and hope the kids grow with the losing experience. Problem is, the Panthers have done that for close to ten years now and it hasn't worked yet.

Look at the Coyotes, who play in Sunrise this week, and tell me that you NEED a top line to be successful. We've got 1 guy I think at 20 goals and no true go-to guy this season. In previous year, that would've been Shane Doan, but he's been inconsistent this year and hasn't had to carry the team on his back because it seems like every week someone new steps up.

THAT is what the Panthers need and what they can afford. They're not going to sign Kovulchuck in the off-season as a free agent, they need role players and guys who play EVERY shift and both sides of the ring.

panther fan in AZ is right, as is Clash, we need better role players, and players with heart and character that will not put up with losing

Where was Tarnasky all season? I know he was a healthy scratch most of the season--but DeBoer might be looking more towards that scrappy player that other teams hate. The Cats need to be a tough team (Philly) that makes other teams dread them. Bring up Duco next year to instigate and McIntyre to back him up. Keep McArdle and Tarnasky, of course. Campbell is then no longer needed as a scrapper--who in my opinion hasn't 'won' a fight in a loooong time. Then get 2 REAL snipers on the wing and a REAL bonafide top Center.

What happened to George? Did he fall asleep on the trip back and not remember to post his blogs?

I was thinking the same thing. Nothing from SJ?

How's Horton doing??

Clash,

My thought process was to have a team be young and grow together. Dump salary so they can acquire more talented players YOUNG free agents and keep the players that are good.Overall objective would be to dump guys that are older veterans that have too high salaries for their overall production. This is what the Hawks and Pens did. I put Matthias and Frolik at the top because they would have more experience than the top ten rookie center for the beginning of the season. The money could be used to try to lure a top free agent and sign Markstrom in the offseason. I also think Frolik just had the usual sophmore slump this season. I think that the defense is fine since they will have plenty of games under their belt this season. I still have issues with Ellerby starting but he is on the last line.

Basically, the overall problem of this year as injuries, bad personnel off season decisions by Sexton and still having issues with leadership due to breakdowns in the third period. Why Sexton thought to spend all the money on guys like Moore and Reinprecht is still a mystery when there were plenty of these types of guys already in the AHL. The guys on the team were unable to step it up and overcome all the injuries. Sexton failed because he brought more of the same players to this team instead of addressing the overall lack of scoring. And why we had all left handed defensemen is another issue. I would be very happy to see Sexton gone after April.

Having a team too young, with no veteran leadership, can do some serious psyche damage to the kids you desire. YOUNG free agents, of the unrestricted variety, are that way because they are deemed to be a bust. Think Anthony Stewart. Restricted free agents will do more hard by forfeiting top draft picks for a guy like Dustin Penner, than they're truly worth. The Hawks and Pens didn't really dump salary. They committed to building through youth. In fact, the Pens had a period of years they tried to find a way to win only to suck with Mario leading the team on ice. Both teams benefitted from draftin highly. The Panthers did that, but due to mismanagement, they have sucked. They've abandoned player development, mostly out of the arrogance of the GM to replace anything and everything with the previous GMs' names stamped on it. And no free agent is going to sign with a team that is dumping salary just to give cheaper, inexperienced kids a place to develop. Top free agents want a chance to win the Cup, unless they're looking for a working retirement.

Guys like Moore and Rhino are necessary. As much as people bag on Rhino, he's a solid second line center who can play both wings, mostly the left tho. He's had time on top lines with guys like Doan and Iginla. He'll never be a Crosby or Thornton, but is it his fault if you expect that out of him without knowing his history and style? And sign them when there are guys like Taffe and York in the AHL? Cause even if those two succeed in the A, they're playing mostly against kids and should dominate, but they barely role players at this stage of their careers. The problem with no stepping up with injuries is more about a lack of organizational depth than anything, but that then relates to those guys you want playing in the AHL.

As for left handed defensemen, there is a larger portion of defensemen playing left handed than right. Philly has a defense of all left handed shots. The Pens have one right handed shot. Having all left handed shots isn't a big deal. You people REALLY sweat inconsequential things.

I want Sexton gone. Hell I'd love to be the one to replace him. I'd even work for $50,000 a year, traveling expenses, and a house in Pompano Cresthaven or Pompano Highlands. My traveling expenses would be astronomical tho, as I'd be flying all over Europe and North America scouting pro leagues, looking for a gem in the rough.

the vast majority of the fans would love to see a cleaning out of the front office from the President, to the GM to scouting.

Lets only hope that the new owners agree and realize that we lack the scouting and development of players

Yes, but having guys like Rhino and Moore were not replacements for speedy guys like Peltonen and Zednik...There were not even near adequate replacement to those guys.

I think the team should go younger, look at the Avalanche, they are doing great with their young group of guys there. Its a matter of finding the right guys to fit in, I think signing vetrans and seeing if that lifts the team (especially ones who near a career lift) are dumb moves for this team. If they are serious about rebuilding, they should go young and also look overseas for some good free agents. Yet, this is all for nothing if they can't find real scorers in the mix. The Panthers seem to draft good defensemen and goalies, yet anything to do with offense forget it.

But to do all of the above, they have to clean out the management staff. It sucks!
Sexton made the team worst in the last offseason, how is that possible when they were so close to making the playoffs last year! Only in Florida!!

Again, since I'm in AZ, I'm going to use the Coyotes as an example...

Last year, they had a VERY young team. A few veterans, but even more rookies. They were doing well until the about the mid-point of the season before they imploded. The youngsters didn't know how to turn it around and started to beat themselves.

This year, the youngsters are in the AHL getting solid minutes. Meanwhile, the Coyotes have added veterans to replace them.

Instead of fighting for the first overall draft pick, they're now fighting for home-ice advantage in the playoffs. Don't underestimate veterans.

...and a good coach :P

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