Friday, March 19, 2021

Tough Night All The Way Around

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH 

At 2:38 ET, My brother contacted me with news that I’ve been expecting for the past 10 days.

My Aunt Tina Caplan passed away from complications due to dementia at the age of 78. 

During the past few years, it’s been painful as she’s experienced memory loss. So the photos I’ve taken with her truly indicate that a picture is worth a 1,000 words.

We had many great memories over the years. 

But the thing that stands out about her was when I was growing up as a kid, I had aspirations of being a Broadcaster when I was four years old. 

While hanging out with her boyfriend, I would always turn the volume down on the television and do play-by-play announcing for Detroit Red Wings games. 

The announcer I patterned myself after was Bruce Martyn.

She was impressed with my excitement and enthusiasm plus my knowledge of the game. 

My Aunt Tina is the reason and motivated me to get into Broadcasting and Sports Media.

This has been an interesting week.

It started with the Florida Panthers defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 6-3 on Monday Night.

If she had passed away earlier in the week, I would have been able to attend her funeral. 

Sure, I could have made the trip to Metro Detroit to say my final goodbyes. 

But my brother did an outstanding job keeping me in the loop about her condition.

Instead of traveling to Michigan, I remained in town. 

On Tuesday Night, the Red Wings defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 in Detroit. The Red Wings triumph snapped the Hurricanes eight-game winning streak.

With the Red Wings help, the Panthers remained atop of the Central Division tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning with 42 points. 

Florida and Tampa Bay sat atop of the NHL in the overall standings as well. 

Ironically, these two in state rivals share a top minor league affiliate for 2021 since the Charlotte Checkers aren’t playing this season.

As I drove to the BB&T Center tonight as the Panthers got set to face-off against the Nashville Predators, I knew My Aunt Tina was going to be here in spirit. I’m very thankful she’s been a part of my life for 58 years.

I’m sitting in this Press Box because of My Aunt Tina.

When I return here at the end of the month, the Panthers will be hosting the Detroit Red Wings.

What kind of a script would the Hockey Gods write tonight as the Panthers continue their quest to win a Stanley Cup?

On Monday Night, the Nashville Predators skated into Tampa and defeated the Lightning 4-1. 

They were looking to build off of that momentum in Sunrise, FL to climb back in the playoff picture.

The Panthers took a 1-0 lead with 1:22 left in the first period as Jonathan Huberdeau scored his 11th goal of the season. Huberdeau leads Florida with 35 points this season.

As we’ve seen many times this season, the Panthers aren’t shy about shooting the puck. 

They outshot the Predators 41-27.

But on this night, a single goal wouldn’t get it done. 

Florida encountered a hot goaltender. 

Juuse Saros stopped 40 shots to lead the Predators to a 2-1 win. The Predators beat the Panthers for the first time in four games. 

The win improved Nashville’s record to 13-16-1 with 27 points and are in sixth place in the Central Division.

Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky made 25 saves and lost for the first time in seven starts. The Panthers had their four-game winning streak snapped.

But the big gun for Nashville was Calle Jarnkrok, who scored a pair of goals.

His second goal gave the Predators a 2-1 lead at the 1:17 mark of the third period. 

Bobrovsky misplayed the puck behind the net and couldn’t get back before Mikael Granlund passed the puck from behind to Jarnkok, who fired the puck in from the slot.

After the game, the Panthers refused to use the misplayed goal as an excuse for this loss.

They simply took accountability knowing you can’t overlook teams in a shortened season.

Coach Joel Quenneville talked about how the Predators came out hungry and his squad has to come out on home ice Saturday at 2 PM with a chip on their shoulder.

“We battled but things weren’t generating. You’ve got to score ugly goals and we didn’t get them tonight.

“Games are going to get harder here...It’s going to be a good test for us to know that every night you need to keep pushing and every shift becomes more magnified in it’s importance.”

Huberdeau summed things up by saying, “It wasn’t our best effort, we’ve got to be better on Saturday.”

Bobrovsky, whose personal six-game win streak came to an end and stands second longest in franchise history behind only Roberto Luongo (nine wins in 2015-16) used a common cliche in sports.

“We focus on one game at a time. We’re trying to take two points every night. It’s definitely not fun to lose the game, but we still have a good team, a great group of guys and it’s great to be a part of it.

“It’s sad that we lost but I thought we played a solid game. We had a solid penalty kill, good puck movement in their zone. We had lots of good things. It is what it is. We lost one, we have to put it behind us and get ready for the next one.”

The loss dropped dropped Bobrovsky’s record to 12-3-2 and he has a 2.90 GAA. 

The Panthers saw their record drop to 19-6-4 with 42 points and are in second place behind the Tampa Bay Lightning (21-6-2, 44 points).

Florida’s all-time record against Nashville is 18-10-3-6. At home, the Panthers own a 10-4-1-4 mark.

When you summarize the evening, It was a Tough Night All The Way Around.

I’m at peace that My Aunt Tina isn’t suffering anymore as I watched her funeral the next day.

But at least she knew that I enjoyed doing what I’m doing and that’s covering Hockey Games.

For the Panthers, they’re having an excellent season and will have a chance to look to rebound on Saturday. 

Bobrovsky nailed it! 

Take one game at a time and move on to the next one. 

In life, we all have to take things one day at a time.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com. 

You can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth and Subscribe to his You Tube Channel for Free: South Florida Tribune to see all of his broadcasts.

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