I had my in-laws in town all weekend, so I was only able to watch yesterday's and today's games until tonight after they left. It was ridiculously hard trying to stay away from any sports related or social networking sites so I wouldn't see the scores.
Anyway, WOW. Just WOW. I almost had no thought that we'd win back-to-back games on the road. Just absolutely amazing. Prior to the Kings game, our playoff chances could have gone down to around 58% if we lost, but now with three straight wins, it's at 89.6% and we're four points ahead of the Caps now! The top line is back to their form from earlier in the season, the Goc/Bergy/Sammy line is playing outstanding, and goaltending has been stellar.
Unless we go on a bad losing streak at some point over the rest of the season, I see absolutely no reason why this team doesn't make the playoffs. The Caps and Sens are struggling and this is the right time to take advantage of that. With a win on Wednesday, that could be a big blow to Ottawa's playoff chances. Same goes with the Caps if we beat them on Friday as for beating us to the division lead.
Also, congrats to Strachan on his first NHL goal and great to see Robak get some playing time with the big club. South Florida needs to get more behind this team. I know the Heat are playing extremely well and people are excited about the Marlins, but we haven't seen such great play from this team in a very long time. One can't help but be ecstatic
Just finished watching the game (had it recorded while I was at work).
We played a very, very solid game. For the third straight game we've played a solid defensive system which has directly led to goals. Few notes:
Theodore played great. Giving up that first goal was good for him I think. Got him into the game and made him more focused. Getting him off to a good start was key and he had a great game. Controlled his rebounds really well tonight.
The first line seems to be clicking again. Versteeg and Flash are killing it right now. Weiss still looks a bit off but is trying harder now. This line seems to be coming back to life and it couldn't have happened at a better time!
Skille had a solid game. Good to see him back and get a goal. One thing I noticed from him, he did something that I've never seen him do once as a Panther before. He came down the wing, but instead of going wide like usual, he put the puck in the middle and tried breaking through two defenders. It wasn't successful but he's a big guy who can break through on those plays some time. Maybe it's something the coaches have been working on with him.
Tyson Strachan, what can I say? If no one ever told me he was an AHLer up to this point, I would NEVER believe that he's never been an NHL regular. The guy has poise. He's confident with the puck and smart without it. I really love him as a defender and am MORE than pleased with his play. Today's goal was just icing on the cake.
Erik. ****en. Gudbranson. WHERE HAS HE BEEN ALL SEASON? It is a NIGHT and DAY difference with this kid. He was a scared kitty earlier in the season. He made Ellerby look B-league tonight. He had that one shift where he broke up a 2-on-1 (caused be Ellerby), then proceeded to battle hard in front then block a JT shot. Stayed in the zone despite play and fought till the puck was out. He's becoming a serious player and is one of the main reasons our defensive play hasn't suffered despite losing Jovo and Kuli. We all thought playing with Jovo might have been hurting him, maybe that's true? For the first time today though, I truly saw what made Guds a 3rd overall pick. He's big and brutal on the ice but skates surprisingly well and handles the puck well too. I ****en love this guy. He was our best defenseman tonight by far.
Overall a great game, but we got to keep on trucking. Ottawa will be ready for us and that is (like all of them) a very important game. Let's not let this mini-streak get to our heads. It's only 3 games. As we know it's just as easy to lose 3 games as it is hard to win 3. Stay focused and on point.
Dineen has this team playing well and confident again. I gotta say I was questioning him a bit at one point during our slump, but his calm demeanor runs throughout the team. No panic, as shown by us after playing 3 solid games despite giving up the first goal.
I love looking at the standings right now, let's keep it that way!!!