Here we are on the eve of one of the most miraculous times of year. We are in “The season of perpetual hope”. It is the time of year when we stop our busy lives to share special times with friends and family. It is that time when we all become one in the brotherhood of humanity. It’s the time of year when giving is better than receiving and all things truly seem possible.
The Florida Panthers will head into the holiday break facing a monumental task and maybe in need of a miracle of their own. Decimated with injuries, they will enter TD Garden in Boston to face the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins. The Panthers have so many key players out with Upshall, Goc and Skille already on the IR list. Now add to the growing list of absentees Bergenhiem, Samuelsson, Sturm and possibly Weiss.
If that was not enough the Boston Bruins statistically are ahead of the Florida Panthers in almost every category and coming into this game are well rested. The Bruins have won 5 of their last six games. The Panthers story is the complete opposite coming into this game having lost 4 of their last 6 and having lost a heartbreaker 3-2 the night before to the Flames in overtime and losing players every game along the way it seems.
Yes Florida your Panthers certainly could use a miracle. They are facing one of the hottest teams in the NHL and the timing could not be worse for the Cats to be playing this game. They have no chance to win in Boston without some assistance from either divine intervention or folly of the fates right?
Adversities are certainly difficult for teams to overcome. What adversity will show us and the team though is exactly who these Florida Panthers are and how they respond may demonstrate if they have the heart to compete with the elite teams in the NHL. While soul searching is a scary thing an honest look at oneself and ones shortcomings is what is necessary to becoming a champion.
It’s hard to believe that these challenges may in fact be the best thing that could happen to this team. It could give the new players called up from the AHL a shot to make it in the NHL and help their team. It could bring out another level of play from the teams stars. It could bring forth leaders that the team did not know they had. More importantly if these Panthers can weather this storm it may bring them together as a team. If adversity builds character then the Panthers will have a mountain of character if they can hold on and make it into the playoffs.
Why we should have belief in these Panthers? Well every game they have lost has been close and they have never given up or used injuries as an excuse. They have battled to the end in every game or at least got a point pushing the games to overtime. There already is plenty of character on this team and the knowledge of what it takes to win. The Panthers have already beaten the Bruins in Boston this year albeit with a full roster.
Coach Dineen and his team will not let themselves feel sorry for their plight and they will be ready to play hard regardless of the opposition or situation they are in. Call me an optimist but this will bode well for this team in the long run.
While an unlikely win in Boston would be nice, what would be better is if the Florida Panthers could come out of this difficult time surviving as a team. Perhaps with belief in each other, a never say die attitude and a quiet confidence in themselves, the Panthers can come out the other side of this injury run even better.
If there is any team that could use a break it is the Panthers. The Holidays will give them a much needed rest and some time for healing with the next three days off. Who knows, in the process maybe the Panthers can create some Holiday magic that continues for the rest of the hockey season and turn the season of perpetual hope into a hockey season of improbable miracles.