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Cats & Bears: RD 2, GM 5

May 14, 2024, 5:53 PM ET [22 Comments]
Matt Ross
Florida Panthers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Have the Cats turned heel and become the new ‘bad guys’ of the postseason?

If you read the comment sections, listen to podcasts, and the between-period analysts, it certainly seems as though they have…

It seems forever that the Florida Panthers were considered a non-threat. Jokes about players heading to South Florida to retire, golf zings aplenty, etc., have plagued the organization for years and years.

But all of that changed up recently. The Cats started building winning teams, bolstered by guys that actually want to come here — something that has never really been a thing for Florida hockey.

All of this built up to a Stanley Cup appearance last season, and a current run this year..

In fact, Florida has a chance to advance to Round 3 with a win over the Boston Bruins tonight.

But most of the chatter isn’t about the above…

Hockey fans from all over have focused in on perceived bad officiating, with many conversations becoming heated across the various platforms these debates are taking place.

Here are my opinions — as a big Panthers fan — on the two hotly debated moments in this Round 2 series with the B’s:

1. Bennett’s Hit on Marchand

This was high speed impact, with Bennett extending his arm/hand into the face of Marchand. I felt it was a penalty, and still do. He got away with one.

2. Bennett’s Crosscheck Pushing Coyle Into Swayman

After the replay, I thought this was for sure going to be called back. In fact, I remember being so confused when they showed Bennett on the bench giving a fist bump to whoever was next to him after the ref made the post-review call. I was like, “Why is he celebrating…ohhhh!”

The goalie interference rule has so much gray area to it, that I don’t think fans or refs really know what the rule actually is. I’m still surprised (but very happy) the goal stood. I could see both arguments. On one hand, it looked very much like a “hockey play” that happens all the time when guys are jockeying for position at the crease. Cross checks like that are part of the way guys move the opposition to try and get better positioning. On the other hand, the cross check caused Coyle to lose his balance, fall on Swayman, who then could not properly play his position (though I don’t think he makes the save even with Coyle not on him).

I think if you flipped things around and Barky got knocked out of a game by a questionable hit, and the Cats were scored on with a controversial goal, we would all be screaming as Panthers fans.

But it’s part of the game. Sometimes the call(s) go your way, sometimes they don’t.

TONIGHT

The most interesting part of Game 4 for me was Boston’s approach.

It was obvious they were going to come out hot. No duh. But they also tried to borrow from the ‘70s Flyers and win by intimidation.

This was immediately evident when Maroon was jawing at players on the ice and waving his hand to try and coax them into a fight. Even Swayman, a goalie, slashed Tkachuk on the leg and then gave him the “come here” motion with his glove hand early in the game as 19 skated by…

All of this was for null, though, as the Panthers exercised good discipline and didn’t take the bait. I think it should be mentioned here that Matthew Tkachuk has shown great growth and maturity this postseason. Normally he would fall victim to the majority of these antics, but he has shown great restraint thus far.

That restraint by him and his fellow teammates is what I think “broke” the B’s back last game.

Rather than focus on getting the puck to the net, even with their fans screaming for them to shoot it, Boston seemed focused on the physical game and drawing Florida into bad penalties.

When the latter didn’t work, the Bruins had burned up a lot of the clock.

But the B’s weren’t without their chances. They had some really good looks that were turned away by Bob and Florida’s defense.

It’s going to be a tough one tonight. Boston will be in full desperation mode. While it was great seeing the Cats battle back being down two goals at TD Garden, let’s not take that chance again tonight…


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End it tonight! GO PANTHERS!
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