A Disappointing End to a Playoff Dream

Written by WJWhite30

The Sunshine State Rivalry comes to a disappointing end for the Florida Panthers who have not won a playoff series since 1996

And just like that, the cold streak continues with the Panthers making it 25 years without a playoff series win. The Panthers last playoff series win came in 1996 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals. How many of my readers were even alive in 1996?

As a fan, this has been one of the most exciting and frustrating postseasons to watch. There have been some incredible highlights, like Spencer Knight’s performance in games 5 and 6, yet there were as many disappointments, for example Weegar’s entire game 6 performance.

Let’s start with Spencer Knight. His performance, be it a small sample size, truly showed that he is the goalie of the future. The four playoff goals scored against him in the 2 games were really tough breaks:

  1. 2-on-1 0:53 seconds in to Game 5
  2. Weegar fumble fucked the puck while trying to stop a pass from going towards the front  allowing Fat Pat to whack it in (I still believe and in my opinion it looks like Weegar knocked it in, but I am not going to argue with the NHL Stats guys – PS: you are going to read a lot of frustration directed at MacKenzie Weegar today so if that triggers you, best to exit this blog now)
  3. Stamkos hammered a beautiful one-timer top titty where momma keeps the peanut butter on the PP – no one in the league was stopping that puck (especially not Boobtitsky)
  4. Point dangles through every Panther on the ice and beats Knight for the 3rd goal last night

Besides Knight, the Panthers also got phenomenal play out of Huberdeau and Barkov. Going in to last night’s game, Hubby was tied for the league lead in playoff points this postseason. He and Barkov put the team on their backs and tried to will the Cats to the series win.

Now on to the not-so-fun stuff and what cost the Panthers this series in my opinion.

First of all, until games 5 and 6, the goaltending for both teams was subpar to say the least. Everyone is raving about what an amazing job Vasilevskiy did; however, I do not think the Panthers truly challenged him last night or in this playoff series. Last night the Panthers took quite a few shots, but most of them were from a distance and they were unable to get the rebounds. The Panthers did a great job moving the puck around the perimeter, but did not have a lot of quality scoring chances.

With regards to the Panthers net minding, Bobrovsky was a $10-million joke. I mean we literally paid the man to sit in the press box the last two games. There are not a lot of contracts that look as bad as Boobtitsky’s right now and the only one I think that may rival it is Karlsson’s monster deal for the Sharks. Dreidger played alright; however, he did not live up to his regular season magic. This left Knight to steal the show and send Bob for popcorn with the other healthy scratches.

Inconsistency in the Panthers offense was another huge factor. How do you go from scoring 4-5 goals to getting shutout? The Lightning were playing a very defensive game after getting an early lead and did a great job of boxing the pussycats’ forwards out of the dirty areas. The Lightning simply wanted to win the game more and the Panthers were unwilling to go in to the dirty areas and score the gritty goals. The Panthers moved the puck very well, but it was all around the perimeter. You cannot score on an elite goaltender from out there unless you take the shot and fight for the rebound.

Furthermore, Vasi was leaving rebounds fatter than Shakira’s ass (big fan) and the Bolt’s defense was able to clear those pucks out before the Panthers could even get a sniff. This is where guys like Bennett, Horny, and Lomberg should be thriving; however, they weren’t able to get in there. Remember the old saying, “no one asks how, they ask how many”. And the Panthers answer to that last night was 0.

Defensively, the Panthers were outmatched and looked like my kid’s peewee team. Weegar [in my opinion] scored on his own net in the first period then later in the game flubbed the puck at the blue line giving up an odd man rush. Not to mention that in the offensive zone, it was like Weegar was looking for Tampa players to hit with shots. He would skate out of a clear shooting lane just to blast a clapper in to one of the Bolts’ shins.

As a Florida hockey fan, I want to know what type of idiots are promoting either Weegar or Ekblad as Norris trophy candidates? Probably the same type of guys who wear their beer league jersey to an NHL game (see my last Facebook post’s comment section for the reference). I am not sure what is worse, wearing your own adult league jersey to a game or saying that Weegar/Ekblad are Norris quality defensemen? You want to see what a Norris trophy caliber d-man looks like, look across the ice to a guy like Hedman. Do not ever mention Weegar or Ekblad in the same sentence as Hedman because they are in two different leagues. It would be like comparing Paul Bissonnette to Connor McDavid – fucking stupid.

And speaking of my kid’s peewee team, Nutivaara tripped over the blue line giving up a breakaway late in the 3rd period. Fortunately, Knight was able to stop it and keep the game 3-0, but that is pre-season bullshit and should never be seen in an elimination game. I should invite him out the next time the kids are doing the power skating lessons at the local rink.

And to prove that I am not dumping on all of the Kitty Cat’s defensemen, I would like to mention a player that really surprised me, Gustav Forsling. Last night he seemed to be in all the right places offensively and defensively. He had a couple good looks from the point (unlike Weegar who was blasting clap bombs in to Lightning player’s shin guards) and also seemed to make the smart, simple plays on D. He reminds me of a player like Reilly on the Bruins. When he is at his best, no one will ever hear his name. Quiet, simple, and effective.

My hot take, with as mediocre as the Panthers’ defense played, it was a huge mistake to scratch Yands and put in Strahlman. I get Yandle can be a riverboat gambler, but he is also a guy who has over 1,000 NHL games played and can provide a sense of leadership to go along with that offense. With a tendy as great as Knight, let the Sonk Daddy do some gambling and try to generate something from the backend!

In summary, going in to this season, I did not have high hopes or expectations. Yet these guys made me believe that the Cats could make a run. And just like everything else in South Florida, the wheels fell off and you are left with the perennial blue balls and disappointment of underachieving. Hopefully the team can take this shortened season and build off of the good things, like Spencer Knight’s performance, and can become a legitimate contender for years to come.

Gambling with the Goalie:

Now that the Panthers have been eliminated, you are stuck reading about my mediocre gambling picks for the rest of playoffs.

For tonight’s games:

  • Maple Leafs Puckline -1 ½ +110 – this will be another dominating performance by the Leafs giving them their first playoff series win since 2004
  • Predator’s +1/2 or +1 in Regulation (depending on your book) – The last 3 games have gone in to extra time and I do not foresee a reason why tonight would be any different. Saros has been a difference maker in this series and held the Preds in it. See what type of odds you can get for the Preds to keep it close. Maybe even Parlay Leafs ML + Preds +1.5 to see if you can get decent odds.

Let me know what you guys think of my article and gambling picks. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments!

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