The cats lost to Atlanta last night 3-2. This defeat was the nail in the coffin for the Panthers post season playoff hopes.
Florida hasn’t made the playoffs in eight years. The longest non-playoff streak in the NHL at present. Half the teams in the league make the playoffs every year, and some how Florida keeps missing the boat.
This year should have been the perfect opportunity. The Southeast Division is weak, and the conference not a whole lot stronger. Florida has the personnel to win- Tomas Vokoun in Goal and Craig Anderson is more than a solid backup, Olli Jokinen is one of the top scorers, behind him we had Nathan Horton, Jozef Stumpel, Stephen Weiss, Richard Zednik, David Booth(who I think can be a bigger scoring threat than Jokinen once he gets more experience), Rostislav Olesz and solid defensemen in Jay Bouwmeester, Bryan Allen and more.
What went wrong? The team quit far too often, or played scared. Four defeats in February after gaining 2-goal leads in a game(3 of them in the final period) marked this team as a non-playoff material. The talent is present on this team, but they have little heart. I think Florida is the biggest underacheivers in the NHL.
Where does Florida go from here? Coach Jacques Martin is likely to fired this post season. I’d have a hard time defending the coach. However Florida has had little continuity in management and coaching in its short existence. 9 men have coached this team, only two brought them to the playoffs. Is coach #10 going to change anything or just be more of the same? Note- Martin is the winningest coach in team history.
I’m going to wait till the 07-08 Panther season is history before I do more in-depth postmortem. This should have been the year for Florida.
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