Relax Panthers fans, it is just one regulation loss!

First off, social media has to be the most jacked up thing ever invented. When I first joined MySpace and then Facebook in 2005, it was a way to stay in touch with friends from high school and connect with new people.

Now, people use it to attack just about everyone and everything!

What are you going to achieve by dogging a player that is an elite athlete in his sport for having a bad game, making a mistake, or just because you don’t like him? I guarantee you all have bad days at your jobs and I would say none of you are anywhere close to being elite at whatever it is you do. I can also assure you that these guys do not care about you or your opinions. So, calm your tits and take a deep breath before the “Knight sucks” or “Weegar is terrible” posts start flying in.

On top of that, why bother talking shit to a group of guys who enjoy writing about your team and a sport you like? Aren’t we all in these groups because we have the same interests? What is wrong with people having fun and sharing their thoughts with others? Did your mommy not like your finger paintings in kindergarten and now you take it out on strangers online? Were you not hugged enough as a child so now you pick fights with rando’s from the safety of your keyboard?

Now, on to last night’s Rangers game.

Most of the time after a loss fans will come in here and say “well the Panthers just sucked” or “they were bound to lose one eventually”; however, that is not the case at all. There was a lot of good things that came from the game.

Realistically, the Panthers were not going 81-0-1. At some point they had to lose even if the Rangers weren’t the better team last night.

Once the puck dropped, the Panthers really controlled the pace of play. They outshot the Rangers 11-9 in the first, 17-6 in the 2nd, and 17-3 in the 3rd.

The biggest difference maker in the game came between the pipes, Igor Shesterkin. Iggy made save after save on the Panthers. And these were not simple, easy saves. They came on phenomenal chances including a Franky V breakaway in the first.

Shesterkin ended up saving 42 of the 45 shots he faced with 15 of them coming from the “high-danger” areas on the ice. There are times a goalie steals a game and this season it seems as though Iggy has done just that for the Rangers.

On the other side of the ice, Knight made 14 saves on the 18 shots faced; however, that may not be a fair assessment of what he actually brought to the table. Certainly, this may not have been his sharpest outing of the season; however, with the poor defensive zone play and opportunities given to the Rangers, he did better than expected.

The goals scored against him came from a PP where Kreider was left alone digging for the rebound, Fox being left alone in the middle of the slot, Miller beating Weegs wide and having a clean break towards the net (nasty goal), and finally a 2-on-1 where Strome buried it home. As I said, his numbers will not be a fair representative for how he actually played. No, he did steal us a game, but as a 20-year-old kid who is in his first full-time NHL season, he played well enough to give the Panthers an opportunity to win. Especially at Madison Square Garden!

Do not take lightly the fact that MSG is one of the worst arenas to play in and not just because of New York fans. Madison Square Garden is the oldest active arena in the NHL, having opened its doors in 1968. Each year the players are polled and it is consistently voted as one of the most difficult arenas to play in due to locker room size and conditions. The Cats were at a disadvantage before the puck even dropped.

The best part of the game, for me, was seeing the Cats claw their way back and never give up despite the score.

Many teams would have said, “screw it boys, let’s pack it in” and just tried to ride out the game as best they could. Especially when down 4-0 going in to the 3rd period.

Instead, Luostarinen scores 20 seconds in to the 3rd period and the Panthers got right back on the horse. As mentioned above, the Cats outshot the Rags 17-3 in the 3rd, so they did anything but try to ride the game out.

And their efforts were rewarded with a pair of goals from Reinhart and Horny within the last 90 seconds of the game.

Unfortunately, it proved to be too little too late and the Rangers handed them their first regulation defeat of the season, but to see them put forth the effort and not quite was awesome.

And not to beat a dead horse, but when you have a goalie play as well as Iggy has been, you cannot be devastated by the loss. Shesterkin simply stole a game that the Panthers should have won.

Some more good news, the Cats get to faceoff against the Devils tonight and take out their frustrations on a team that doesn’t have a buzzsaw in net.

Let’s go Cats! In Zito we trust!

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