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Back Again in a Familiar Place

April 13th, 2010 Comments off

So here we are. Out of the playoffs again and hoping to win the lottery. Classic Panthers Hockey!

It’s been a hard season to bear, let alone watch. I’m glad I took a pause from the calamity of it all. Probably saved my sanity in the end.

Can’t say the same about my sleep unfortunately. Many sleepless nights racking the brain as to why we suck so badly. Like most of you, no doubt.

Nonetheless, what I spelt out in the previous post is still true. Whilst having not posted for a long time, I’ll try to write a new one every once in a while. Kind of like the Panthers; you can’t expect too much consistency, but when things are good — a couple of pearls might fall out of an otherwise pigswill sky.

Now, let’s hope for our number coming up and that the organization doesn’t trade the first overall pick for another bag of pucks, shall we?

Categories: Misc, Rants & Raining Rats Tags:

Year of the Roblogg

December 17th, 2009 1 comment

If there was a ‘year of the rat’ that spawned hockey success in South Florida; why not a ‘year of the Roblogg’ as well?

I have come to the conclusion that I bring luck to this team.

(And bad luck too; but I try not emphasizing this part, you know, kind of like the Panthers official website—digging out anything remotely positive—and positively ignoring the rest).

Fact of the matter is that every time I bash the Panthers they then go out and prove me wrong by winning games out of the blue; usually against opposition superior to us.

Just last week I looked at the awful performances of the Cats to that point in time—the road ahead—and, in all my wisdom, decided to write this team off:

“Florida then face Atlanta on Wednesday on home ice, after having lost both previous games to the Thrashers this season, and having gone 1-6 against Southeastern rivals overall. This could very well mean that the Panthers are effectively out of the playoff race by this time next week”.

One week later and, believe it or not, the Panthers sit in eighth spot of the Conference… Like I said; I bring this team luck by bashing them… We can no longer afford to ignore the mounting evidence…

Come to think of it, last season I was optimistic of making the playoffs, and we then tripped at the last hurdle: Maybe I was being too positive?

I shall try and be more negative from now on, I promise.

But… I just can’t help it… The latest wins have me all hoping again—against all reason, and, that’s not even mentioning history—so if we lose points against the horrendous Hurricanes in the upcoming double-header; I guess I’ll have to take my share of the blame as well…

Damn Cats, why do they have to be so freakin’ moody?

 

Anyway, today it is one year since I started this blog and it’s been a busy time.

I’ve written 160+ articles, almost one every other day, received some additional 160+ comments, and had some 6500 unique visitors—combining for 27275 article reads.

Not too shabby for an independent blog about the Panthers, which—face it—doesn’t have the largest fan-base in modern sports to begin with.

But, my point here isn’t to crow on about such stats, it’s rather to reminisce a little and also to take the opportunity to say a couple of words about this blog and its future.

 

Starting with the reminiscing…

The blog started with an article named “Stepping Up” on this very day of the waning year that was 2008. Looking at it today (click here) it might as well have been written today, the similarities are not only striking, but downright uncanny.

Beguiled by the Panthers’ sudden turnaround of the 2008/9 season, I could no longer keep my opinions to myself. And like many of my generation could not resist shoving those same repellent views down the throat of poor unsuspecting surfers of the net… Yes, that’s you…

And you’re welcome, you ungrateful ****.

Just joking. Sort of.

Anyway, what was a side project at first—soon snowballed—and literally hours on end was daily spent updating the site, its widgets, and writing long articles.

Of course, behind every deranged man is a woman with a patience of gold and, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, has unwavering belief that her man actually has some sort of clue of what the h*ll he’s doing. This is for you love. Cheers!

And whilst on the soppy speech credits section, I would also like to thank the Panthers’ entire franchise for the startling instances of comedy, slapstick humor, and ever-wishful-thinking, it has provided in this season past.

Who can forget the recent events of Ballard playing baseball with Vokoun’s head, Allen’s headshot on Campbell, or, the flight of the Penguin—Jacques Martin—to Montréal, the subsequent long, long, long, hunt for a replacement GM and—of course—the signing of Ville Koistinen this past summer to a two-year $ 2.4 million deal…

If only some of it had been funny I would be crying of laughter—rather than just howling aimlessly at the dark cruel hands of fate.

Nevertheless, this is the Panthers we’re talking about and if you want to follow this team you need the patience of an angel as they rollercoaster their way through another season of faint playoff hopes—getting, most likely, squashed at the very last moment—as they were last campaign.

OK, enough reminiscing already. I’m getting increasingly depressed myself just writing this—can’t imagine how you poor fellows must be feeling reading this miserable rant.

 

So to the future instead…

Apart from the blistering Florida successes in hockey we are no doubt expecting to see around the corner (that’s your cue to scoff and go off on a rant of your own) I will be continuing this blog, but will do it more on a part-time basis.

It’s simply taking too much time and endeavor to keep up a pace of an article every other day; in addition to keeping up widgets and additional pages.

So, as some may have noticed, my homemade widgets have to a large extent been replaced by automated ones and the Southeastern Rivals Watch on Twitter has been discontinued as well.

I’ll keep writing articles when inspiration hits, or I need to vent my frustration, but it may be on a more irregular basis, perhaps one or two articles per week at most.

I was also appointed Featured Columnist on the Bleacher Report at the start of this season and shall continue to double-post my best articles there as well, till the end of the campaign anyway.

After the end of this season I’ll have to see again how much time and effort I’d like to put in to this blog, but it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to keep up maintenance as well as I did this previous year.

This because to some extent I’d like to add my name to the ever-growing list of failed novelists and shall try to give that particular endeavor the attention it deserves. After all, we can never have too many starry-eyed wannabe novelists, can we?

Hopefully however, you’ll still deem this site worthy of your time and the strenuous strength required to make that ‘click’ on the mouse—so you can continue to come back and visit the blog on a frequent basis and read any future articles. Perhaps even comment a bit as well—if I’m anyway wishing—as that makes the effort of continuing this site much more worthwhile.

Here’s hoping the coming year will be a successful one that brings the post-season back to South Florida. God knows we deserve it!

And here’s a ‘thank you for reading’ and hope you come back, y’all!

Don’t be a stranger. You can most likely not be stranger than me anyway, so you are in good company here…

 

/Rob

 

The Top 10 All-Time Greatest Florida Panthers

December 4th, 2009 Comments off

With the club currently floundering at the lower echelons of the Eastern Conference, I thought it might be interesting to—and perhaps cheer me up in the meantime—to have a subjective look at the teams history and try to pick the Top 10 All-Time Cats.

No doubt this is not only subjective but also controversial; nonetheless, I gave it a try, studied the stats, reminisced, and came up with this…

Background

The Florida Panthers have a short but colorful history with some real characters that have graced the artificial ice in the Sunshine State.

The club was formed in 1993 and participated in that year’s expansion draft (in Quebec) together with fellow newcomers Anaheim.

The Panthers drafted successfully in that expansion draft and set the platform for a string of early triumphs—for the team that was based in Miami at that time.

Indeed, of the 24 players selected by the Cats; four of them would make their way onto this list and several others were in serious consideration for a spot on this Top 10.

Florida had the best first year in NHL history and only two seasons later the Panthers would storm through the Eastern Conference to claim a place in the Stanley Cup Final versus Colorado. The Avalanche swept the Cats 4-0 to end the Cinderella run—which saw hockey in South Florida reach fever pitch and the ice invaded by rubber rats upon goal celebrations.

Nevertheless, the franchise would after this climax—which was the “year of the rats”—start to fade and today the franchise holds the ignominious record of not reaching the playoff in 9 consecutive years and counting. The team has also moved out of Miami to Sunrise in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area.

Whilst those halcyon days of boisterous hockey sensation seem a distant memory these days, the Panthers have still had some accomplished players amongst it ranks and made this selection a very difficult one to make.

Names like: Bill Lindsay, Jay Bouwmeester, Ed Jovanovski, Jesse Belanger, Radek Dvorak, Gord Murphy, Nathan Horton, Ray Whitney, and Tom Fitzgerald—to just name a few—did not make the cut.

The competition, despite the short history of the franchise, was fierce.

And as a final note: With the “The Greatest Panthers” I mean the players that performed best with the Cats and do not judge the players upon their level of skill or success outside of this club. I only looked at what they achieved in South Florida—and nothing else.


No. 10 Viktor Kozlov, C

Born February 14, 1975, Tolyatti, Russia. Played for the Panthers 1997-2004.

Kozlov may not be the first player you think of in such a list as this, but fact is that his stats make a compelling argument for including him on this Top 10.

Viktor joined the Panthers in November 1997 from the San Jose Sharks and would go on to experience career years—in a Panthers jersey. No doubt this was in part due to the fact that he would center a Russian line with goal poacher Pavel Bure on his right wing.

His best season came in 1999/2000 when his 70 points helped the Panthers reach the playoffs. It was also the last time we would see a post-season in South Florida.

During his 7 years in the Sunshine State, Kozlov would amass enough points to place him in 3rd overall place—when it comes to points collected in a Panthers uniform—with a total of 291 points.

In 2004, Viktor was traded to the New Jersey Devils. And today, at the age of 34, he is playing in his native Russia with Salavat Yulaev Ufa.

Viktor Kozlov’s Panthers Career Stats:
414 GP (#9 on club’s all-time list), 101 goals (#5), 190 assists (#4), 291 points (#3), 118 PIM (#44).




No. 9 Rob Niedermayer, RW

Born December 28, 1974, BC, Canada. Played for the Panthers 1993-2001.

Drafted 5th overall by the Florida Panthers in the 1993 Entry Draft, Rob Niedermayer would become a staple in South Florida; playing some 8 years of hockey here.

The younger brother of Scott Niedermayer joined the Panthers immediately after the draft and quickly became a leading point scorer for the team. His career high season came in the 1995/96 season when he amassed a total of 61 points and helped the Cats on their improbably journey to the Stanley Cup Final.

Unfortunately injuries derailed Rob’s career after this high-point; specifically concussions in the following years made him unable to reach the same heights ever again in a Panthers jersey.

Nonetheless, Rob has remained an accomplished two-way forward that helped Anaheim win the Stanley Cup in 2007. Today, at the age of 34, he plays for the New Jersey Devils.

Rob Niedermayer’s Panthers career stats:
518 GP (#5 on club’s all-time list), 101 goals (#6), 165 assists (#5), 266 points (#5), 435 PIM (#8).



No. 8 Roberto Luongo, G

Born April 4, 1979, Montreal, PQ, Canada. Played for the Panthers 2000-2006.

Had the Panthers opted to keep Roberto in South Florida rather than trade him to Vancouver, in a deal widely seen as the worst in franchise history—if indeed not league history—the goaltender would undoubtedly be in contention for a much higher spot on this list.

However, Luongo may only have been with the team for 5 seasons, but during his time in Florida the goalie developed into one of the premier net-minding talents of the league.

Despite being a goalie, he ranks 16th on the club in games played (318) and holds most of the goaltending records with the club, including:

Most wins in a season (35), most shutouts in a season (7), all-time leader in shutouts (26), all-time leader in games played by a goaltender (318) and all-time leader in wins by a goaltender (108).

Now why did we trade him again…?

Too big contract demands, you say? Well, one might be able to put together a compelling argument—based on his performances in Florida—that no contract could have been too big to keep him on the team…

Today Roberto, at the age of 30, captains the Vancouver Canucks. He is the only current goaltender to be captain of his team and seventh overall in league history.

Roberto Luongo’s Panthers career stats:
318 GP (#16 on club’s all-time list), 7 assists, 26 shutouts, 108 wins.




No. 7 Brian Skrudland, C

Born July 31, 1963, Peace River, Alberta, Canada. Played for the Panthers 1993-1997.

On this list it would be hard to overlook the first Florida Panthers Captain—between the years 1993-97—who led his team all the way to the 1996 Stanley Cup Final.

It could be argued that the inspirational captain should be higher up on this list, but the stats don’t quite support that idea.

Of course Brian was mainly a defensive forward and widely seen as one of the better players in this role during his time here in Florida—and so the stats can also be a bit artificial in this respect—and fail to showcase his true greatness.

Nonetheless, Skrudland was a finalist for the Selke Trophy in 1994 and led the Florida Panthers as the team captain for 4 years; playing 256 games.

Skrudland left the Panthers in 1997, and two years later he was instrumental in helping the Dallas Stars lift the Stanley Cup.

Brian Skrudland’s Panthers career stats:
256 GP (#28 on club’s all-time list), 32 goals (#31), 67 assists (#21), 99 points (#26), 401 PIM (#10).


No.6 Pavel Bure, RW

Born March 31, 1971, Moscow, Russia. Played for the Panthers 1999-2002.

The Russian Rocket was undoubtedly the most gifted player to ever wear the Panthers uniform. Had he only played for more than the 3 seasons that he did with the Cats, he would undoubtedly have made the podium of top three all-time Florida players.

However, if Bure’s stay in Florida was brief—it was also sweet and greatly laden with individual achievements from the Russian.

During the 1999/2000 season, Pavel led the league in goal scoring with his 58 goals— winning the Rocket Richard Trophy. His offensive efforts helped propel the Panthers into the playoffs; in what would be their last appearance for nine years and counting.

Bure topped his previous record by scoring 59 goals the next season and again winning the Rocket Richard Trophy. Unfortunately his efforts were not enough and the Panthers failed to make the playoffs that season.

With no secondary scoring, not even Bure could single-handedly take Florida through to the playoffs. He did however set an impressive NHL record by scoring some 29.5% of his team’s total goals that season.

Bure was the Panthers co-captain in the 2001/2 season, before being traded to the NY Rangers at the March trade deadline that same campaign.

Pavel, who had been one of the most feared Soviet forwards during the eastern empire’s final death throes, retired from hockey in Moscow in November 2005.

Pavel Bure’s Panthers career stats:
223 GP (#31 on club’s all-time list), 152 goals (#3), 99 assists (#12), 251 points (#6), 134 PIM (#39).


No. 5 Robert Svehla, D

Born January 2, 1969, Martin, Slovakia. Played for the Panthers 1995-2002.

For pure longevity alone, the Slovakian defender deserves a place on this list’s upper echelons. During his eight years in Florida he played no less than 573 games—making him the player with most all-time appearances in a Panthers jersey.

The fact that Robert was a defenseman didn’t stop him from racking up the points either. He recorded 229 assists during his time in South Florida, making him second overall in the assist-department as well.

During the 1995/96 season he reached career highs in assists (49) and points (57) as Svehla was a driving force behind Florida’s run to the Stanley Cup Final.

However, Robert Svehla was not just an offensive defenseman that could rack up the points—he was also an accomplished defenseman when it came to the defensive and physical side of the game as well.

Apart from his 8 years with the Panthers, Svehla only played one more season in the NHL—with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2002/03 season.

Robert was a very durable player that only missed six games in his 9 year NHL career.

Robert Svehla’s Panthers career stats:
573 GP (#1 on club’s all-time list), 61 goals (#11), 229 assists (#2), 290 points (#4), 603 PIM (#5).


No. 4 Paul Laus, D

Born September 26, 1970, Beamsville, Ontario, Canada. Played for the Panthers 1993-2002.

A fan favorite, the hard-hitting Paul Laus takes home the unofficial price of having spent most time in the penalty box—by a wide margin—with his impressive one thousand and seventy-two penalty minutes.

The gritty defenseman and enforcer was a determined and hard working player that became a workhorse in the Panthers defense over the years.

Playing for a record nine season’s in Florida, Laus spent his entire NHL career with the club.

It is easy to understand why the fans loved Paul Laus, who suited up for the Panthers 530 times in his career; which unfortunately came to an end after a couple of injury plagued years prior to 2002.

Together with Pavel Bure, he captained the side in 2001/2, but his greatest moments came when plugging the defense in the 1995/6 run to the Stanley Cup Final and eating up big minutes in defense.

The Panthers have since Paul Laus retirement never had a player with his hard-nosed characteristics combined with his defensive nous and know-how. He is missed.

Paul Laus’ Panthers career stats:
530 GP (#4 on club’s all-time list), 14 goals (#56), 58 assists (#25), 72 points (#37), 1702 PIM (#1).

 

No. 3 John Vanbeisbrouck, G

Born September 4, 1961, Detroit, MI, USA. Played for the Panthers 1993-1998.

A possible bone of contention is where to place the Panthers first No.1 goaltender Vanbeisbrouck. It is always hard to compare goalies with forwards and defenders, but John should definitely be somewhere here or about—when making the final judgment.

Not only did he become an early fan favorite and backstop the Panthers run to the Stanley Cup final, but he also arguably had his best years of his career with the club.

Posting a club record, all-time 2.58 goals against average, Beezer was unyielding between the pipes. During the inaugural season he played some 60 games and had the second best save percentage in the league.

The following season was equally impressive as John earned himself runners-up honors for the coveted Hart and Vezina Trophies. In the run for the Stanley Cup during the 1995/6 season he was third choice for the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Beezer continued playing for Florida until he was traded in 1998 to the New Jersey Devils. He would again come close to winning the Stanley Cup, but would ultimately never lift the coveted trophy.

He finished his career with the Devils and hung up his skates in March 2002.

John Vanbiesbrouk’s Panthers career stats:
268 GP (#22 on club’s all-time list), 8 assists, 13 shutouts, 106 wins.


No. 2 Olli Jokinen, C

Born December 5, 1978, Kuopio, Finland. Played for the Panthers 2000-2004; 2005-2008.

The Panthers’ leading point-man of all-time, Olli Jokinen would be the No.1 on this list if only he would have achieved as much on the team-front as he did individually.

The big Finn was synonymous with the Panthers for several years during a difficult time when the club had no successes whatsoever on the ice.  

Unfortunately for the player it is this lack of success—combined with his lazy-looking appearance—that he’ll typically be remembered for in Florida.

He captained the side during his time in Florida as well and was its franchise player up until he was traded to Phoenix in the summer of 2008.

Jokinen is easily the most impressive player in franchise history when looking at stats alone. In total, Jokinen played only six games less than Robert Svehla and scored a club record 188 goals, whilst assisting on another record 231 occasions.

However, when judging the greatness his team contributions must be weighed in as well—and here they run embarrassingly dry for Olli.

Whilst struggling a bit in his last season with the Cats, Jokinen still managed a team leading 71 points. The memory of Olli’s spell in Florida was unfortunately marred further by the accident he was involved in that almost cost fellow teammate Richard Zednik his life.

Fortunately that incident had a happy ending and eventually Olli was sent packing the following summer. His stay in Phoenix didn’t last long and now the—soon to be 31 year old—plies his trade in Calgary with the Flames.

Olli Jokinen’s Panthers career stats:
567 GP (#2 on club’s all-time list), 188 goals (#1), 231 assists (#1), 419 points (#1), 597 PIM (#6).


No. 1 Scott Mellanby, RW

Born July 11, 1966, Montreal, PQ, Canada. Played for the Panthers 1993-2001.

Scott Mellanby became in many ways the face of the infant Florida Panthers franchise and was an informal leader that helped bring success to the budding hockey market of South Florida.

He scored the first goal in the club’s history on October 9, 1993. He went on to score another 29 goals in that inaugural season and a total of 157 goals in his 552 games in 8 seasons with the Panthers. He was also the club’s second captain; between the years 1997-2001.

He became an early fan favorite in Florida with his solid and gritty two-way play. He was also the one whose rat killing knack spawned the famous rubber rat goal celebrations—that rained down on the ice—all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in the 1995/6 season; which henceforth became known as “the year of the rat” in South Florida.

The Cinderella run wasn’t followed up by continued on-ice success and eventually the failures of the franchise in the league would leave fans dejected and frustrated.

Scott Mellanby however continued his goal scoring exploits, although never surpassing his 1995/6 70 point total, until eventually he was traded to the St. Louis Blues in February 2001.

Mellanby went on to have several more successful seasons in the NHL before retiring in April 2007. Today he works within the Vancouver Canucks organization.

The trade of Mellanby in 2001 signaled the end of an era in Florida Panthers history. And while his franchise records have since been surpassed (by Olli Jokinen), no one can surpass him when it comes to overall importance to the club, the creating of Panthers folklore, or popularity with the fans.

Scott Mellanby’s Panthers career stats:
552 GP (#3 on club’s all-time list), 157 goals (#2), 197 assists (#3), 354 points (#2), 953 PIM (#3).

Panthers Join Slapstick Circus; Ballard Gives Vokoun Some Stick

December 1st, 2009 Comments off

As if this Florida team didn’t have problems enough with injuries; goalie Tomas Vokoun suffered a sickening hit to the head from his own teammate in yesterday’s game in Atlanta.

To add salt to the wounds, the Thrashers won the game with five seconds remaining on the clock; to put the Panthers firmly out of their misery.

Yet, it is not the 4-3 loss to Atlanta that boggles the mind on this particular next day of scratching-the-head-time. It is rather: What the hell was Keith Ballard thinking?

How is it possible to miss the goalpost, which he was obviously aiming at, and hit his own goaltender over the head instead—with a vicious whack of the stick?

Yes, we can understand why a player might get frustrated after Atlanta’s star sniper Ilya Kovalchuk had just put the home side 2-1 up in the first period. But, what happened next defies logic: Keith Ballard wildly swings his stick at the goalpost and knocks the poor unsuspecting Vokoun cold.

Bizarre, brainless, reckless, or right on dumb; call it what you want, but it will no doubt be lighting up the blooper reels for years to come.

Personally I’m going to settle for the adjective slapdash; meaning careless, hasty, and unskillful. I think that adequately sums up that moment of madness from Ballard.

The fact that the word slapdash reminds me of slapstick (which now takes on a whole new meaning, doesn’t it?) and, somehow as a consequence, of hockey—makes it all the more appropriate.

Indeed, as tragic as that hit to Vokoun’s head was—Tomas was stretchered off the ice with a lacerated ear, although he’s now back in South Florida without any apparent long term consequences—the sequence does make for some absurd chuckles.

One can merely—with an acquiescent sneer—scoff at the bad luck that is declawing the Cats one paw at a time.

Keith Ballard’s unfortunate foray into the world of baseball reminds me of what the English, a breed of people always able to see a laugh in any amount of calamity, would jokingly say about this particular play: Vokoun got some stick from his teammate’s.

In English-English, giving someone some “stick” would translate as; taunting, profanity, and snide remarks in general toward a person—not uncommon to be an athlete of an opposing team. Of course, in this case it was more than words—and from a teammate to another—and the whole double-meaning joviality would almost certainly seem a lot more amusing if I didn’t have to explain it.

Nevertheless, as inexplicable as this incident is, and my attempted wittiness not even mentioned; fact is that the Panthers have had some bad luck of late—even if some of it was their own doing.

 



 

The injuries are mounting…

David Booth is not looking like he’ll return for a long time, with his concussion showing no signs of receding. Cory Stillman is also expected to be out for a while with a knee injury. Nick Tarnasky meanwhile, is yet to make an appearance this season. And finally; Kenndal McArdle injured his shoulder last Saturday in Nashville—in a mistimed brawl.

Hopefully Tomas Vokoun won’t join that growing list of casualties.

The Florida Panthers are not blessed with limitless talents on the roster and so the injuries to Booth and Stillman have especially had a crippling effect on the team’s offense in general—and power-play in particular.

Only the defensive corps has avoided the injury bug to this point, knock on wood.

Considering the thinning ranks of the forwards, it is no wonder the Panthers are finding it hard to find the back of the net and are regularly being outshot by opponents.

Unfortunately the Cats have also a nasty habit of making ill-timed turnovers in their own zone and at times becoming hemmed in by the opponents in their defensive third.

After having not lost a game in regulation for eight straight games, the tables have now turned firmly in the other direction and Florida has lost five straight games to bookend the month of November.

It is a scenario that the fans are well acquainted with.

After another horrendous start to the season, the Cats clawed their way back in to contention—only to start losing again and drifting behind the playoff pack.

It is hard to imagine that the end product will be any different this time either; another near escape from the playoff specter seems on the cards once again.

I know that is a contradiction in itself, but then how else to explain this club if not with a paradox?

It seems there is little else for Panthers fans to do than grin at the irony of fate and keep on dreaming.

Dream of better days, and, hopingly hallucinate of a post-season on ice in South Florida.

A paradox, you say?

You get my gist.

Cramming Clemmer into the Line of Red-Hot Fire?

November 20th, 2009 Comments off

The Florida Panthers travel to Hockeytown to play the Detroit Red Wings who, despite a slow start, has posted a 7-2-1 record in their last 10 games. The Cats too have a good 10 game streak coming on; posting a 6-3-1 record in their last 10.

However, this is the Red Wings we’re talking about. A team that boasts the likes of Datsyuk and Zetterberg and recently mauled the Columbus Blue Jackets 9-1.

They then disappointingly lost their last home game to Dallas 1-3 and will thus be motivated to get their mojo going again against us.

So, with this background coach Peter DeBoer takes a hard long look on the schedule and decides to put Scott Clemmensen between the pipes…

Yes, the same goalie that called out his teammates after letting in 7 goals against Washington—whilst still remaining positively philosophical about his own poor performance.

And yes, the one and the same goalie that posts a 5.13 GAA.

So, this is the goalie you decide to go with against one of the most high-powered offensive lineups in the NHL, Pete?

Well smack me and call me Judy; I think we just threw in the towel for this one!

There must be something here I don’t understand.

To investigate we shall dive into the complex inner workings of the head coach and the cerebral ongoing that must have preceded this shocking decision.

OK, ready? Let’s delve into the unknown…

Hmm, Tomas Vokoun has been playing a lot lately and very well too—or I would have been quick to pull him otherwise, and he’ll eventually need a rest. But does it necessarily have to be tonight against the Red Wings?

No, I guess not. Vokoun is a workhorse and thrives when playing as many games as possible and being worked hard in those games—which is why I sometimes instruct the boys to let the shots rain down upon him.

It is still early in the season and he could definitely play both tonight and tomorrow against the Rangers if need be.

However, he will need a rest sooner or later I suppose and Clemmensen is probably, to some extent anyway, playing so poorly because he hasn’t played much hockey for a long time.

If he’s ever to get better—he needs games—and seeing as he has a big contract it would look bad for my boss if he never got to play.

Fair enough. Clemmensen needs game practice and Vokoun will need to rest at some point. But why tonight?

Well, after Detroit we have Conference foes NY Rangers (twice) and Pittsburgh Penguins in line. And if we are to lose any of these four games I’d prefer it to be against the Red Wings; seeing as that wouldn’t impact our improbable bid to make the playoffs as much as losing points to teams in the East would.

OK, that sounds good!

We forfeit tonight’s game, although token resistance must be upheld for appearances, and then blow our steam in the upcoming games instead. Brilliant!

Also, if Clemmer makes a crapper of the Detroit game as well, we can always pull him after a couple of early goals and put Vokoun in there to steady the sinking ship.

And who knows, maybe the boys will feel sorry for Clem and decide to outdo themselves and salvage something from the Joe.

That is not my main goal here, but miracles do happen and at this point I’ll take any point I can get—whilst still remaining realistic and not really expecting too much.

That will make anything gained a bonus!

And who doesn’t like being rewarded when they least expect it!?

 

Scott Clemmensen thinks he might have found another reason why his GAA is as high as 5.13...

Scott Clemmensen thinks he might have found another reason why his GAA is as high as 5.13...

 

OK, so that wasn’t the inner workings of DeBoer, gee, I do wonder what gave me away…

Anyywaaay!

I’ll file this away into my new little rants and sarcasm folder and hope for the best tonight.

I try, I really do! But sometimes it’s just so hard to remain positive and hopeful when it comes to the Cats. We win a few games and suddenly I’m expecting the roof to cave in on me. I just can’t help it.

I think I might need help.