By Rogerio Istiraneopulos of The Rat Trick
After having the five-game winning streak back in December (yes, this might seem insignificant to other teams but to us Panthers fans it is one of the few bright spots this season) there was a mutual understanding in the locker room that in order to make a push for the playoffs the Panthers would have to be a .500 team come Sochi. Well, the Panthers find themselves very far from .500 (22-29-7) with 26 games left in their season. Post-game interviews after the 5-1 loss to Carolina expressed the feeling of realization of another playoff-less year in sunny South Florida. The long rebuild process will have yet another chapter after the Olympics when deals can resume up until the trade deadline. Dale Tallon has his work cut out for him.
On a bright note, we are about to witness one of the best Olympic hockey tournaments in history. Cats fans are excited and ready to wake up early to cheer for our 18-year-old rookie Aleksander Barkov. He will be skating on the big ice for Finland. News broke that he will be centering Finland’s top line of Mikael Granlund and none other than Teemu Selanne, one of Barkov’s idols. This is character building at its finest and we look forward to everything Barkov can soak up from this experience. Sochi hockey 2014: Tape it, record it, YouTube it, do whatever you have to do to watch it because it doesn’t get any better than what is about to follow.