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Saying Goodbye in Style: Florida Panthers End Losing Streak with 1-0 Victory over Capitals ... Tomas Vokoun Gets Shutout, Salutes Fans

Conan2 PANTHERS 1, CAPITALS 0

Pete DeBoer likely coached his final game with the Florida Panthers on Saturday night. Tomas Vokoun may have backstopped his final game with the team as well.

If that is indeed the case, the two leave South Florida in winning fashion.

Thanks to a late goal from Bill Thomas and 28 saves from Vokoun, the Panthers ended what has turned into a miserable season on successful terms as Florida beat Washington 1-0 in its season finale at BankAtlantic Center.

Vokoun, who hadn't played since injuring his back March 27 at Pittsburgh, recorded his sixth shutout of the season, 44th of his career and 23rd since joining the Panthers in 2007.

“We've been talking about this for two month. [My emotions] are mixed,'' said DeBoer, who could learn his fate as early as Sunday. “I have had a lot of time for this to sink in. I'm not just dealing with it overnight. Again, we got the guys ready to play and they played right to the buzzer in the last game. I'm proud of the effort, not of the results.''

Vokoun had been working with the Panthers for a week saying he didn't want to have his season cut short because of a back injury as last season had. He looked forward to playing Saturday as the Panthers saluted their fans – an announced 18,371 were on hand – as Vokoun said afterward that they deserve plenty of credit for sticking around a team that hasn't made the playoffs for what is now an NHL record 10 straight seasons.

“What can you say? It's been tough,'' Vokoun said. “I'm glad for everyone that we ended that losing streak and we can go on a high note .-.-. start fresh next year, whatever, someone will next year.

"We're disappointed being out of the playoffs for 10 years and I've been here for four of them. This showed a lot. These fans can support this team. If there was a team that could have put wins and playoff position, this building will be pretty full. It's impressive how many people showed up for a game that didn't mean anything.''

Said DeBoer: “Hopefully he's back. If he's not, it's a fitting way for him to end his time in Florida.''

Panthers management has not said whether or not DeBoer and his coaching staff will be retained although it appears the franchise is leaning toward a change. DeBoer, who has a year remaining on his contract, is 103-107-36 in three seasons with the Panthers.

On Saturday, the rag-tag Panthers gave DeBoer yet another gutty effort as they went hard against a rested Washington team that wasn't playing for anything anymore.

The Capitals, for the second straight season, will go into the playoffs as the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Washington opens against the New York Rangers after Carolina's bid to jump into the top eight failed as the Hurricanes were upset at home to a Lightning team also not playing for anything on Saturday.

The Panthers, on the opposite side of the Eastern Conference standings from Washington, had the most of the scoring chances on Saturday yet failed to convert until late in the third when Kennedy controlled the face off, got the puck out to Patrick Rissmiller who found Thomas. Thomas' soft shot toward the net somehow found its way home.

Vokoun did the rest.

As has been the case all season, the Panthers struggled to score. Florida played in a league-high 48 one-goal games going 19-18-12. The Panthers also scored two goals or less in 48 games this year, with Saturday's win just the fifth in such contests.

“If there was a game to sum up our season, this is it,'' DeBoer said. “A one-goal game, [David] Booth misses an empty net in the crease. Thankfully we ended it on the right side. You saw a little of everything we dealt with all year: The tight games, the inability to get more than one or two goals and the reliance on great goaltending to find wins.''

-- Center Stephen Weiss ended up playing in Saturday's finale after DeBoer said he wouldn't play on Friday. Weiss has been struggling with a groin injury, but with Shawn Matthias re-injuring his bothersome ankle in the second period of Friday's loss in Tampa Bay, Weiss told DeBoer on the plane ride home that he could play Saturday.

Matthias, Scott Timmins (concussion), Darcy Hordichuk (oblique), Alexander Sulzer (groin), Ryan Carter (concussion) and Steve Bernier (shoulder) all missed Florida's finale.

-- The Panthers named Weiss team MVP for the season with Jason Garrison earning defenseman of the year honors. Vokoun earned 'three stars' of the season and Marty Reasoner was voted on by his teammates to be the team's nominee for the King Clancy Trophy. Booth will be Florida's nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy.

FLORIDA PANTHERS LOWS*

TEAM POINTS
60: 2001-02
63: 1997-98
66: 2000-01
70: 2002-03
72: 2010-11

POWER PLAY GOALS
35: 2010-11
44: 2009-10

INDIVIDUAL GOALS
23: David Booth 2010-11
23: Kristian Huselius 2001-02

ASSISTS
27: Pavel Bure (56 games before traded) 2001-02
28: Stephen Weiss 2010-11

POINTS
49: Weiss 2010-11
49: Bure 2001-02

GAME WINNING GOALS
4: Nathan Horton, Cory Stillman 2009-10
4: Marty Reasoner 2010-11

(*) Not counting the lockout shortened season of 1994-95.



Comments

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George, do you really feel that Pete is gone? I have been vocal on how I think he deserves to be here, but is it that much of a forgone conclusion that he won't be given a chance?

It looks that way although he deserves to finish this...

Also, Panthers end with 72 points

George,

Why don't you show Vokoun a little more respect and actually look at him during your interview. You kept looking at something else during it and that is extremely rude.

Horrible job.

Without Vokoun get ready for a real trainwreck season next year.Clemmer cant handle a full season here.We had better get 2 seasoned defenceman to replace McCabe/Wideman/Allen.My gut tells me Tallon is going to draft that highly rated defenceman.Howden cant be relied on next year so the rubber hits the road when we see how serious Yormarks gang is in free agency.I like DeBoer but maybe a more emotional coach is needed.I will believe it when I see it.

You have to credit this classy organization for what they did after the game tonight. To thank all the fans that came out for this last meaningless game, they actually threw out "Little Fockers" foam fingers and Pep Boys bobbleheads instead of sticks, gloves, etc... How pathetic can they get?

Sorry for the perceived rudeness...was watching DeBoer go around the room shaking hands with his players...and you only caught the part when the cameras showed up...I had already been talking to Tomas for a few minutes before they got there

wow litespeeddvb you are so little knowledged it hurts! theres is a 0% chance florida will be drafting a defense(you know that highly rated guy you dont know the name to) BTW his name is Adam Larsson. And im pretty sure if vokoun doesnt resign it wont be clemmensen playing the whole year. You know we have a guy whos the goalie of the future names Jacob Markstrom. and even though he had a tough year last year im sure hell be playing in the NHL next year with the guidance of Clemmensen or whoever Tallon brings in.

Oh and great job with the interviews all year long GR. thanks for all of the stories to.

The panthers will be drafting with Gabriel Landeskog or Sean Couturier. They defnitly need a big name up front now that they already have Kulikov and Gudbranson.

Ryan Strome should be the pick. Couturier is a fraud. Landeskog is a bum.

I agree with Kevin- if we do in fact get the 3rd pick, Tallon will probably choose Gabriel Landeskog, and rightfully so. I hear the offenseman is the most NHL ready out of them all, and we really need scoring NOW.

With repsect to TVo and PDeB, I hope they offer contracts to both. Markstrom is the goalie of the future, but unfortunately, he's not ready to be THE guy yet. Clemmer isn't a #1. I hope they give TVo a 2-year deal, and he accepts.

I still don't think PDeB had a chance to show his stuff yet. He hasn't had the talent that other coaches have had.

GR- good job this year...oh, and keep us updated on things over the next few months. We enjoy complaining on your blog. Peace-

Pete deserves the job for one reason... he's a good coach! He won in the minor league system, and he has proven he can get the most out of his players on a consistent basis.

I agree with EJ on Markstrom. He still is at least a year out (if not more) and I would love Vokun to be back for a couple of years or so. Last night was proof how important a great goalie is to our team.

Tallon will be dealing with his picks and may work on a second first round pick. I would expect 2 forwards at this stage and the jury is out on who they will be.

I also agree with the board that GR has done a great job this year. In times like this when the team has not been good, the creativity and humor add so much to the blogs, and it is a treat to read his work.

I think Pete DeBoer is a great guy but I think he is a goner from this hockey club. And, with his stats as Panthers coach, he probably deserves to be sent packing. He has not done much as Panthers coach, even with the little he had been given.

Vokoun is a goner too and probably for the best. He has been very inconsistent and is aging.

I hope GR sticks around and keeps reporting. This little blog is one of the high points of another losing season.

Is offenseman really a word? Haha.

Thanks for another great season, GR. Looking forward to the draft and free agency! Keep the great coverage coming!

Sad to see Pete go. As I said on another board, which incidentally David Neal posted on his article yesterday, Scotty Bowman couldn't have gotten this AHL team to the playoffs. Sad to see Pete go, but I understand Tallon wanting to bring in his own guy and have a fresh start.

By the way, if you missed the Frozen Four final yesterday between Minnesota-Duluth and Michigan, you missed one of the best hockey games played in a long time. A goal by Minnesota-Duluth in OT capped their run to an improbable first-ever national title D-1 win.

Truly a great game.
Go Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs!

It's finally over! We can now look forward to the draft and free agency like every other season for the last ten years.

I really think that Weiss and Vokoun showed once again that they are the top players on the team. It is no secret that they got a win with both of them in the lineup yesterday. It really shows the lack of talent or perhaps player development on this team.

Good luck to Vokoun with whatever he decides, whether to stay or go.

I think Deboer will make a great NHL coach, but it is time for him to move on. The Panthers really need a veteran NHL coach of maybe 10 years if possible. They need a coach and a coaching staff that can develop all these first round picks.

It would be nice if the Panthers finally sign someone like a Laus Clone to a long term deal. Whether its Hordi or someone else.

P.S.:GR, Great job covering the Panthers through another terrible season.

A O Panthers I agree with you on Weiss and Vokoun, yesterday I was not as sure on Vokoun but being at the game it was obvious that if Clemmensen was in net they would have ended with a loss. Vokoun would be first choice but there is a need for a number one goaltender. Markstrom is the goalie of the future, not the near future.

With all due respect to DeBoer, he needs to move on. Yes there is a lack of talent on this team but coming in last in the conference is unacceptable. DeBoer had a decent team in his first year and he failed to make the playoffs. He had Belak sit on the bench or in the pressbox while the team got runover. That type of coaching led to the Flyers and Richards knocking Booth out for the year. He coaches a passive team and a passive team will always get runover. He got into argument with Boynton and sent him home from a road trip even though the team needed his grit, ironically Boynton went on to win a Stanley Cup and DeBoer took the Panthers down the standing every year.

They need to draft a scoring forward and trade for some as well. They need a new coach and a better defense since they traded much of it away. If Alexander Sulzer is the best they can do then expect another lottery pick next year.

They need to give the few Panthers fans that watch the low rated Panthers broadcast a reason to watch by upgrading the color commentary and finding someone to replace Billy Lindsay. He is as enjoyable to listen to as fingernails on a blackboard.

Time for Tallon to put up or shut up. Put an offer sheet on Stamkos for $50M over 5 years and make Tampa match or lose their scoring leader. Spend the money on top end talent and build this team to score goals and bring back the fan base... by the way, I did NOT renew my tickets for the first time in 11 years...

deboer is a great junior coach not an nhl coach. theres a difference. deboer can go back to kitchener and we can have steve spot

Always good to see good conversation on these posts...hope it keeps up...I'll be doing a lot of different things this summer, but the Panthers are going to keep me busy. How do I know that? Bill Torrey told me so. "You're going to have fun with this one,'' he said.

Cool!

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