Good news for the Florida Panthers. They won’t be leaving the state of Florida for over three weeks over a span of 12 games. Aside from a quick trip to Tampa on March 6th, the Panthers will be playing in the friendly confines of the BB&T Center where they are 13-9-3. The Panthers have played 7 more games on the road which has them at 13-16-3 away from BB&T. Tonight’s game is more than just hockey. It is the first home game since the tragic Parkland school shooting. If you have been living under a rock for the past 8 days what happened was that on Valentine’s Day, a shooter got into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and killed 17 people. Teams across the NHL have been holding moments of silence for the victims. Tonight is the Panthers first home game. Parkland is Panthers territory and this organization takes care of the territory. I know I took shots at ownership in Repercussions, but Vincent Viola and Doug Cifu as well as the rest of the organization are very classy individuals. They are great with the off ice stuff. I was complaining about the on ice stuff in Repercussions. The Panthers will be hosting a blood drive. Last night, BB&T was the sight of a town hall which had Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson in attendance. I’m not going to get political here but I do want to say this. The Florida Panthers have been phenomenal in how they have handled this tragedy. Time and time again this organization proves its classiness. Now that the ownership praise is over it’s time to examine the on-ice stuff.
This homestand is no picnic. The team has to deal with 5 teams currently in the playoffs. In order to have a prayer at the postseason they have to get 9 points during this homestand. Roberto Luongo will likely be the goalie. You got Ovechkin, Crosby, Matthews, Hall and Giroux coming into town. Can the Panthers balance both the emotions of this tragedy and their stuff schedule? We will see.
My prediction for the homestand:
Tonight vs. Washington L 4-3 SO
Saturday vs. Pittsburgh L 5-2
Tuesday vs. Toronto W 2-1 SO
March 1st vs. New Jersey W 4-3
March 2nd vs. Buffalo W 6-2
March 4th vs. Philadelphia L 3-1
Record: 3-2-1; 7 points