Anyway, my Cats preview is up over at FanHouse, and here's a bit from last year's tour de force:
Who's On The Hook: Jokinen. In a League in which more than half the teams make the playoffs each year, no one in the NHL has played more regular season games without a playoff appearance than the Panthers captain, whose streak currently stands at 641games. While the blame for the team's failure to make the postseason since the ridiculous-in-retrospect trade that brought Jokinen and Roberto Luongo to South Beach in exchange for Oleg Kvasha and Mark Parrish can't be heaped entirely upon the 28-year-old Finn, he's the guy wearing the "C," he'll be the team's all-time leading scorer by Halloween, and he has posted back-to-back career seasons that have been relatively meaningless, as the Cats finished in fourth place in the Division both years. Jokinen can't do it alone, of course, but it's time for him to start earning those big bucks the team shelled out to extend his contract back in March of 2006, and he can start doing that by leading the Panthers to the playoffs.You can't spell "Jokinen" without "joke."
Bouwmeester is now entering his fifth NHL season, and this is the year that his name should start to become a part of any and every Norris Trophy discussions for the next decade or so.
So how 'bout dem Kitties? Can they challenge for a playoff spot or are they headed back to Lotteryville? Which crappy Panther will own the Caps this season and win this year's Jon Sim Award (can anyone dethrone reigning award winner Kamil Kreps)?