Sports Outside the Beltway

To hell with them- Florida beats New Jersey 4-2

Why can’t the Panthers play more often like they did tonight?

Scott Clemmensen made 26 saves to beat his former teammates, Michael Frolik scored twice and the Florida Panthers ended a four-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.FL-NJ

Jordan Leopold and Shawn Matthias also scored, and Nathan Horton and Stephen Weiss each had two assists to help Florida improve to 2-5-4 in its last 11 games.

Brian Rolston and Dean McAmmond scored for New Jersey. The Devils who had won four in a row and seven of their previous eight.

Florida jumped out to a 3-0 lead but Rolston’s goal cut the lead to 3-1. Then early in the third period, MacAmmond scored. It looked like the same old Panthers at that point. Build a good lead then fail to hold it.

Then Frolik scored his second goal a minute later. For the rest of the game Florida easily dispensed with any and all threats New Jersey made at scoring again. Overall, tonight may have been Florida’s best win of the year other than their pummeling of Buffalo a month ago. Still, I remain unconvinced that the Panthers can end their nine-year playoff drought in 2010.

A few other notes about tonight’s game-

*- Shawn Matthias, given a chance to play on the second line, got his 2nd goal of the year and played a great game. Still when Florida got up 4-2, Peter DeBoer began using Peter Oreskovich rather than Matthias on the 2nd line. Florida Panthers announcer Billy Lindsay this was a move made for defensive purposes. I’m not so sure, DeBoer has shown little confidence in Matthias to this date.

*- With New Jersey down by two goals, Devils coach Jacques Lemaire did not pull Goalie Martin Brodeur till their were about 25 seconds left in the game. In similar circumstances of 2 goals down, other teams yank their Goalies with two minutes left or even more. It seems to me that Lemaire conceded the game to the Panthers well before the final buzzer.

Update- Rumors are flying that Florida is shopping around Goalie Tomas Vokoun. They have an excellent goaltending prospect, Jacob Markstrom, who is playing in the Swedish elite league and eligible to play in the NHL next season.

The move not surprisingly wouldn’t just be based on the prospect of Markstrom joining the club, but due to Vokoun’s contract. It has one more season to run and will hit the Panthers for 6.3 million dollars.

The Panthers are mediocre at best this year, Markstrom is the team’s future but Vokoun or the injured David Booth are the Panther’s best players at this moment. I can see why to make the trade, and why not to. If Florida is thinking long term, sure shop Vokoun around but don’t do another Luongo deal where the Panthers got shit for their goaltender.

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