The panthers walked down the hall to their dressing room after an admirable 4-5 win against the Carolina Hurricanes, Thursday December 20th. The Cats who came out in the 1st period slumping, pulled it together during the intermission and hunkered down for the rest of the game. It was a back and forth game the whole 3rd period, The Cat's would tally one, and then the next play Carolina would get one right back. At one point in the game the Cat's were down 3-1. Something was different about this game than any other ordinary game. The desire to win. It was there last night. The Panthers are prone to giving up if they are down anymore than 1 goal. Not last night though, last night was special, they knew they could come back to the Canes, they knew they could and they did. Thats what the Panthers lack, or maybe lacked, now. The team did not believe in themselves, as Tomas Vokoun said last night post game "They are starting to know their potential." I believe T-Vo nailed it on the head, this team knows they can play with the rest. Granted the roster has its core but beyond that it isnt anything so called glamorous. They have to achieve their wins by playing a hard working system, and working for every goal they get and trying to capitalize on the other team's errors. The thing that helped them the most last night was the drive in their eyes, they were determined, and thats the way they will and can win games, is by being determined to beat the opposing team, something they haven't had in years. The Panthers are starting to believe in themselves. Going into this season I knew it would be a crucial one, no Roberts, Nieuwendyk and Gelinas. This team has been stripped of it's veteran leadership for one main reason- learning how to win for themselves. The young kids in Weiss, Horton, Olesz and Bouwmeester, heck.. even Jokinen are learning how to win for themselves. During last season they can just look at Gelinas or Nieuwendyk for support during intermissions. Not anymore they look at themselves. This season is a very important one for the team, and although early season struggles, they are sitting 8th in the east (tied for 7th actually, with Pittsburgh) and not doing too bad, even over .500, granted by a game but thats still over .500. The Panthers are coming together now. Jacques Martin said it at the beginning of the season, there wont be trading to bring in help, you guys will learn how to play with eachother and win as a team.
This is exactly what is happening.