Elsewhere in this fragmented corner of your Internet, Comrade Heisley has explained the urge to run away from a deserving kick in the face, or as it is often known here, Everton. Here, though, we will consider the Florida Panthers, who are half way through the end of a glorious season, or as it is commonly known here the Arsenal.
The Panthers are one of the most dynamic and exciting teams in the National Hockey League; They managed their coach’s canning in the middle of a 10-game winning streak and still crushed on the field. They finished with the best record in the NHL, scoring 25 more goals than anyone else, and revived a long-comatose market to the great delight of famed commissioner-ferret Gary Batman. They all had a win-win situation.
But here comes the kicker: they drew the ultra-pragmatic and cup-tempered Tampa Bay Lightning as their second-round opponent. Against anyone else, Florida talent was probably enough to carry them in a relative breeze. Against the Les Bolts, they are learning the essence of cruelty, not the joy of flying.
Florida lost 1 game of the series at home, 4-1, because Tampa did it before and Florida didn’t. Then they came back, playing significantly better, even controlling most of a Game 2 that seemed bound for a long and glorious overtime, leaving everything terribly in a single error performed simultaneously by only two Panthers. Nikita Kucherov, whose gifts were tested on the Solar System’s favorite website earlier this week, chased a hopeful over-purpose pass from Andrej Palat behind the net and gave an inspiring pass backhand to Ross Colton, who was completely absent for the game winner with 3.8. Seconds left, just enough time to line up to face and feel bad. It was originally thought to have 0.9 seconds left, with referee Chris Rooney, a wicked old jerk who just likes to pour salt, adding another 2.9 seconds to the Panthers’ evening spit-twisting pain.
Colton was irrational because both Gustav Forsling and Mackenzie Weiger went behind the net to chase Kuznetsov when they both had no compulsion to do so, such a mistake that Lightning somehow matched the opponent’s mind at the most appropriate time.
And with a potential franchise-bright prize waiting for them, the Panthers are now heading to Tampa for the two bad guys and for Game 3 and Game May The Last, as no team expects surgery like Ning’s. Even Colton’s original story seems generally tampastic – he picked up the fourth round of Vermont’s Seven Draft Classes who found himself as a regular third line center in younger Brandon Hegel just this year (after the same draft was drafted by Buffalo in two rounds) and spectacularly. Elder Corey Perry (taken so early in the first round that he could be on the Minnesota North Stars board).
Tampa does a lot of this kind of thing, finding mid-round talents and getting used to them. It also helps that they have a chit-code goalkeeper from Andrei Vasilevsky, who was part and parcel of the soul-crushing tamper experience through two cups and an Eastern Conference final. He catches your hope with a side salad and a frothy cup of old overcoat, dare, bread, salt and eats.
And this time, it’s being done for what the NHL hopes Tampa will become an archetype of rivals. It would be too early to count it as Lightning’s 10th consecutive winning series because of hockey and all that, but it’s a first-rate gut-punch that young and upcoming teams like Florida don’t recover until the 14th Predator Ridge. In mid-July. In Liverpool, fans of the unrest in various states poured joy from the stand at Goodison Park as their endless sucking was the last date of the year and it was Thursday. Panther fans are so mesmerized by their frustration-o-thorium that they’ve moved closer to the end of the best year in almost three decades because they’ve entered a team that knows more than the other students in the class. Today, finishing 17th out of 20 is infinitely better than finishing seventh out of 32.