Sports Outside the Beltway

Craig Anderson completes his 2nd straght shutout, Florida beats Boston 1-0

The Panthers backup goaltender is hot right now.

BOSTON – Florida goaltender Craig Anderson followed his record-setting shutout two days ago with a 40-save win over the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night. Nathan Horton scored 22 seconds into overtime to give the Panthers the 1-0 win.

Anderson stopped 53 shots in a 1-0 victory over the Islanders on Sunday, the most ever in a shutout since shots on goal started being kept in the 1955-56 season.

Alex Auld made 30 saves for the Bruins, but was beaten by Horton’s wrist shot inside the left post on the first shift of the extra period.

The Panthers won for just the second time in five games. Boston, coming off an embarrassing 10-2 loss at Washington on Monday, lost for just the third time in 10 games.

With 13 games to go in the season, Florida is 5 pts behind division leader Carolina. Carolina has one less game played than Florida. The Panthers face a daunting task to make the playoffs.

The last month has driven this Florida Panther fan up the wall. Four times, REPEAT Four times Florida blew two goal leads in the 3rd period. Three of those losses coming in OT and the other in regulation. The Southeast Division and Florida has had their chances to take the lead and can’t get over the hump.

Anderson is hot right now, but the Panther offense is non-existent, so the Goalie needs to be nothing less than perfect. Florida Captain Olli Jokinen has been almost unheard from since the Richard Zednik incident. Some say it shook Olli, but I’ve had my doubts about the will of this team all year.

Now Jacques Martin is seeing it may be a good idea to play Craig Anderson some. Tomas Vokoun has been good, but I as I said before, I felt Florida needed to give the Czech Goalie an occasional rest. In the first 60 games of this season, Anderson started less than 10 games. Why?

Untill the last two games, I think Martin had no faith or confidence in Anderson. For what reason, I don’t know. His stats were good, his won loss record so so but Anderson only had one bad outing this year. His losses were 3-2, 2-1, 3-2.

The Palm Beach Post’s Brian Biggane hasn’t even let the 07-08 end, before starting to write a revisionist history of it.

Acquired in a trade with Chicago before last season, Anderson spent most of last season in the minors before going 1-1-1 over five games in a late-season callup. That brief stint prompted the Panthers to release both Ed Belfour and Alex Auld – who was in the Boston net Tuesday night – in favor of the 26-year-old from Park Ridge, Ill.

Florida let go of Auld because he played like crap last year. Belfour was let go because Anderson was a cheaper alternative. Coach Martin had so little faith, confidence, or trust in Anderson’s abilities last year that he trotted out the 41-year-old for over 20 consecutive starts. Tell me what that and Anderson’s bench warming this year say about Martin’s use of his goaltenders.

If Anderson had been played more, maybe Florida would be a little closer to the division lead. Other than a game against Montreal at Florida, after a long road game the night before, can I point to a game where Martin was undeniably dumb in his choice of goalies.

Can Florida still make the playoffs? Yes. Do I expect them to? I’m negative on this team, so I say no. If Florida doesn’t make the playoffs, I don’t expect Jacques Martin to be back as Coach or GM. Based on this year, firing Martin seems reasonable to me.

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