Saturday, May 10, 2008

No Respect In Panthersland

This past season in the National Hockey League was one of the worst in history in terms of bad officiating, blown calls, and contested goals. Never before have the men in stripes resembled walking zebras so much. However, one team in particular seemed to bear the brunt of this incompetence.

No team had a worse powerplay differential than the Florida Panthers. At -59, the Panthers spent nearly two hours more this season shorthanded than on the powerplay. A ridiculous number like that might be understandable for a dirty team like the Anaheim Ducks, but the Panthers? The not scrappy, not grinding, not physical Panthers? It doesn't add up.

If that wasn't bad enough, one of the Panthers main rivals, the Carolina Hurricanes, had over a +60 powerplay differential. That means the Hurricanes spent over 4 hours more than the Panthers with an extra guy on the ice.

That's four whole hockey games with a man advantage.

If that's not ridiculous enough, the Panthers had two goals waived off towards the end of the season that, upon further review, were both clearly goals. One of these didn't even go to replay, and the other was obviously not reviewed long enough. Both of these goals ended up costing the Panthers games, and arguably, their season.

So why do the Panthers get every blown call against them? The answer may be simpler than you think.

What other team can you think of that has less star power than the Florida Panthers? Yes, many of us like to think that Olli Jokinen is a superstar, but he's simply the best player the Panthers have. He's no Ovechkin, or Jagr, or Kovalchuk. Those guys get calls because they're stars, and the refs hold them in higher places.

Think about baseball. If Tom Glavine is on the hill and he throws a borderline strike, he's probably going to get the call because he's well respected and he gets that kind of call. If that same pitch is thrown by say, Andrew Miller, he probably won't get that call.

It's the same deal in hockey. Without a genuine superstar, the refs will continue to walk all over the Panthers. The only difference is hopefully next season the Panthers will have a coach that might actually give a damn, instead of staring at the refs with a blank look every time the Panthers took a phantom penalty with two minutes to go in a one goal game.

Or maybe one of the higher powers will read this and go out and get that superstar. The Panthers will continue to get no respect until they do.


DSponge said...

Very true, I remember having a fit everytime the Panthers would get these BS calls, especially during the playoff race against Carolina.

Keep in mind that the Sawgrass Express (Horton, Booth, Weiss) are each becoming somewhat stars and maybe next year they will help get the Panthers some calls.

Stanley C. said...

The numbers are definatly mind boggling. But actually, penalties are a result of laziness, not hard work or aggresion. Hooking, holding, interference... all due to a lack of effort. And in the same respect, the Panthers' lack of effort and drive and toughness means the opposition doesn't have to work as hard, which means they won't take as many penalties. Teams that are scrappy, grinding, and physical often get calls because of the way they play.

I highly doubt that having that "star" on your team leads to penalty calls or power plays. Each player is not on the ice every play. A star might forward might get 12-15 minutes a game, a defenseman maybe 20. A pitcher gets a call every single time he touches the ball. In hockey, one player doesn't affect the game nearly so much. It's all in the way the team plays, not one player.

Jay Warman said...

I agree with Stanley C. The Panthers had some serious laziness this past season and have in the past several years. When some of the best players on a team are also some of the laziest it can lead to penalties and that is what we saw.

On the contrary, once they got a tough guy in Wade Belak they really turned things around for a while.

Imber said...

Belak made an immediate impact on the Panthers, as they were no longer afraid to hit their opponents. Perhaps having him for all of next year will cut down on these ridiculous numbers. A lot of it does boil down to laziness, led by captain lazy Nathan Horton. However, there were too many times where it was extremely obvious that the officials were looking for anything to throw the Panthers in the box for in the final two minutes of a one goal game. Those were the ones that drove me the most crazy. While a star isn't always on the ice, he does make a huge impact. In one of the last games in the Penguins/Rangers series, Jagr drew three penalties in one game, something nobody on the Panthers seem able to do. Also, if you watch guys like Crosby, it doesn't take much of a push for them to earn a penalty call.

Stanley C. said...

Jagr draws 3 penalties because he was, by far, the hardest working Ranger in that series. Sean Avery, when he was playing, drew penalties because he was aggresive and fiesty. No one knew who Sean Avery was before the Devils series. Superstar or not, its the style of play that garners penalties. (And Crosby went down far too easily in the Rangers series. He dove and it worked for him. I'll be surprised if he draws half as many calls in the Flyers series, which is sure to be even more physical.)

Belak definatly made an instant impact, and I am glad to see the Cats plan on keeping him around. New coach, new attitude... '08-'09 can only go up.

And as a former hockey ref, I can assure you no official "looks for" something to call on a team, especially in a 1 goal game with 2 minutes left, especially one as bad as the Panthers. Questionable calls happen, penalties are judgement calls. I'm a firm believer in a hard working team will often be left alone to earn their result in a game, while the lazy team that uses their sticks to slow an opposing player down instead of their bodies will get called.

FloridaPanthers4ever said...

The Panthers have got to start playing dirty then. I do not understand with all of these penalties called against them that they just don't go out there and start throwing knees around and start swinging sticks.

I'm sorry but this year was the worst when it came to the refs. Thank God they traded Salei away and hopefull Mezei will be gone soon. Both of them took the worst laziest penalties I've seen in years.

MIKE DUCO, That is all I ahve to say. This kid is the Fing next Theo Fleury/Avery type player. I love this kid, he is the guy I am mostly excited about because,

Matthias - who knows?
Frolik - Prob will re enter the draft (sadley).

Duco will give this team the GRIT, HEART, and Passion this team needs. If the Duco, Frolik, and Matthias aren't up with the team in 2008-2009 then this team has no idea what the future is going to be like in South Florida.