Comeback Cats: Saturday’s may be team’s most impressive comeback

Gustav Forsling scores the game winning goal for the Panthers, AKA the Comeback Cats
Photo Credit: FlaPanthersPR

The game was all but over, until the Comeback Cats showed up.

Down 6-2 to start the third period in New Jersey, fans of both teams would have told you to put this game on ice. The Panthers have staged several comebacks this season, but this game felt different. Whether it was the 12:30 start or a late night before, the team simply had no juice through the first 40 minutes.

Whatever was wrong, they fixed it during the second intermission.

The Panthers reminded everyone a game is never over against the Comeback Cats, and turned what might have been the worst showing of the season into their greatest resilience story to date. Four goals in the third and the game winner in overtime left the home crowd stunned. For the Cats, it was nothing they didn’t already know they were capable of.

“There was no doubt in the room. We’ve been doing that all year. This was a big win for us” said Brandon Montour, who’s third period goal started the comeback. “The game’s not over until the 60 minutes are done. We believe in each other in that room.”

Admittedly, the team did not earn the “Comeback Cats” moniker for nothing, but this game is likely their most impressive. For 40 minutes, the team earned the 6-2 score they faced. In fact, one could argue that this was one of their worst games of the season. Knowing that another game awaits them tomorrow, most teams would not have even had the energy or ability to make this game competitive.

The Panthers are not most teams, and this year has proven that. They have their eyes set on a much bigger prize than winning their first round series for the first time since 1996 — they want to win it all. They want their names etched on the Stanley Cup for eternity. Games like Saturday’s show they can do just that.

Managing to beat a young and motivated Devils team on their home ice by only showing up for the third period marks a team confident and talented enough to go deep into the playoffs. They’re good and they know it. Head coach Andrew Brunette said after the game, “We’ve shown we’re a gritty team, we have resilience… You felt it on the bench after we made it 6-4 that anything was possible. A proud group of guys that are never out of it.”

If anyone needs more of a reason to believe in this team, just look at Saturday’s game. While the true test for this team lies in the playoffs, they have earned their status as a legitimate cup contender. In a season that has raised the bar for the franchise, the team keeps finding new ways to impress.

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Vladimir Tarasenko Update

The Vladimir Tarasenko trade talks have simmered down recently, but that doesn’t mean that something won’t happen. The former star and the Blues have unfortunately made their relationship un-mendable leaving Tarasenko, and the Blues organization, in a less that ideal spot. It started with the shoulder injuries that he previously sustained however, it ended when the organization wanted a list of teams he’d be willing to go to. There is a lot of points that I didn’t touch up on, if you want to read about the other points I missed, you can go read the article link I’ll paste at the bottom of this article but for now I just want to talk about the options still available to the Blues.

Vladimir Tarsenko’s injury history has scared many teams away however, knowing the potential he has to become that player he used to be has kept teams interested. From multiple articles and research done, it appears the main candidates are the Islanders, and the Devils.

New Jersey Devils

The Devils have been making a big stride this off-season with the signing of Dougie Hamilton, Tomas Tatar, but still could use more offense. Right now they have a solid top six defense, but their offensive lines are fairly weak. Adding a player with the talent of Tarasenko could be vital given their current situation.

Looking at what Tarasenko would offer them is going to be the best argument a person could make, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. To anyone who follows the NHL, they know that Tarasenko isn’t the same star he was, that is clear however, there is more to it than that. The big reasoning behind Taraenko’s decline as a player is due to the injuries he’s sustained in the past couple seasons, and the fact he hasn’t had time to fully heal. Should he heal and be 100%, he could come back and be a top player in the NHL in no time.

The Devils as I stated above have a good situation on the defense, but are looking to obtain some stars on their offensive lines. Tarasenko, when healthy, could easily become their best player and be a player that can help them win. The depth on their offensive lines needs to be considered as well, but being able to gather a player like Tarasenko gives you another option while the players in the AHL develop for another year or two.

Not saying that Tarasenko makes them a competitor this year, but with his help, they could try making a run sooner rather than later.

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders are close to getting to the Stanley Cup but need another addition to their offense. With that said, there are a few names that should be considered, but the cheapest and the best available at this point is, Vladimir Tarasenko.

The Islanders are obviously so close to making it to the Stanley Cup after losing game seven to the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0. Being as close as they are, they need to find a way to add another superstar that can help put the puck in the goal for them. Prior to the off-season, I considered them a contender for both Sam Rhinehart and Jack Eichel, but after Rhinehart was traded, and not much on the Eichel front, Tarasenko is the best available option. Being able to tag Barzal and Tarasenko on a line together could be incredibly dangerous looking forward.

The Islanders have been partially linked to Tarasenko for most of the off-season, and given the lack of cap space for the Blues, they have to get rid of his contract. Islanders who seem almost excited to get Tarasenko seem like the best opportunity for the Blues. The amount they’d get in return isn’t going to be much, but would help the Blues clear some cap space in order to not keep them as tight financially as they currently are.