Tonight is actually my most anticipated game of this young season (not this past Tuesday). And the reason for that is:
1. The Reverse Retro sweaters make their debut (BTW - what’s the deal with the lack of RR merchandise online and the outrageous prices for the stuff that is available?)
2. The Calgary Flames are in town
Sticking with the latter, this is a big game given the blockbuster trade mere months ago that sent Hubie and Weegar to Calgary in exchange for Tkachuk.
The 9-7-1 Panthers and 7-7-2 Flames have not been playing like the teams they were last year, with both sitting in fifth place in their divisions. This is certainly not what fans of these two organizations were thinking would be the case when they circled their calendars for this date.
In terms of individual performances (and while I’m biased), Matthew Tkachuk has been stellar for the Cats. Sitting on 22 points (6G, 16A) in 15 games, his hard-nosed playing style is exactly what the doctor ordered for Florida. It’s just a shame the team has struggled to get into a groove thus far into the season.
On the opposite end of the ice, Jonathan Huberdeau has 8 (2G, 6A) points in 13 games. MacKenzie Weegar has 4 points (0G, 4A) in 16 games. Both seem to be struggling to get into a rhythm with their new team.
Despite team/individual play, everyone — especially the main three characters — will be ready to go for this one and I’m expecting great action and lots of drama when these two teams clash this afternoon!
But if the Panthers want to be competitive, they surely cannot play the same type of game they did on Thursday night in their 6-4 loss to the Dallas Stars. It was like they stepped into a time machine and went back to a couple years ago.
I mean…Florida did everything a team can do to lose that game. They turned the puck over constantly at the blueline, they gave up plenty of odd-man breaks, the defense was awful and allowed guys to get behind them all night, they tried playing catch-up after going down 4-0 in the first, and the list goes on…
I would say chalk it up to a bad night, but these Cats aren’t playing consistently well enough to say it was a fluke. Sure, they’re over .500, but they could just as easily be below it. There have been a fair amount of ups and downs in these first 17 games as Florida learns a new coache’s system after an offseason that also saw them lose some pieces, and then have a key defenseman go down with injury early on. Ironically, the defense has seemed more shaky since Ekblad’s return. But maybe he’s still settling in after his time away.
Either way, let’s get some good matinee action today!
Lu’s HoF CCM Pads
If you didn’t see it, CCM made some special pads to honor Roberto Luongo’s HoF induction. These are some sweet threads with a number of subtle nods to his career.