Florida—Carolina: Breaking the Stalemate; a Battlefield Viewpoint

Robert YoungContributor INovember 5, 2009

SUNRISE, FL - NOVEMBER 4: Goaltender Tomas Vokoun #29 and Bryan McCabe #24 of the Florida Panthers go to the ice to block the shot by Matt Cullen #8 of the Carolina Hurricanes in the second period on November 4, 2009 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

No one was going to break the stalemate. It was obvious. These opposing forces were never going to find a way to smash the deadlock that had descended upon Sunrise.

The Hurricanes of Carolina huffed and puffed, but could not blow down the Floridian fortification amid the swamps. No less than 21 shots were hurled at the fort and it seemed that the gates would crash any minute under the sheer brute force of this Carolinian aggressor.

But it was not to be.

Nothing could or would rattle the impenetrable Floridian gateminder—who’d exuded poise and perfect composure to refute any and every ravenous shot aimed his at his direction.

Shepherded by this growling Czech, Tomas Vokoun is his name, Florida’s elite force of ‘Panthers’ looked defensively fierce—but lost and bewildered when leaving that comfort zone of the fort behind.

When finally finding their way past a perilous and mined no-man’s-land, the Panthers’ forward scouts also learned that Carolina’s wagon train was held with gritty determination.

Further advances in this area were easily Ward-ed off and futile it seemed.

Field Marshal Cam Ward and his force of punishing blue-line mercenaries, the celebrated ‘Canes’ or ‘Hurricanes’ as they’re known—held these forward arrays at a safe distance and forced the Panthers to shoot from the perimeters.

Some Cats, however, snuck through and tested the defensive line via flank attacks and circling maneuvers in front of the defensive crease. These assaults increased in the third stage of this Southeastern clash, yet no breakthrough looked imminent.

More and more, this conflict started to resemble the slogging trench warfare of World War I; with constant mass frontal attacks and subsequent counter attacks, but it was to no apparent avail and at the end of the day—no ground had been either won or lost.

Abhorrent crimes of slashing and roughing started to accumulate and the penalty boxes soon filled up with criminals of war. Carolina tasted the letter of the law of this punishing institution on eight occasions—whilst Florida felt the belt seven times.

The numerical advantages rollicked back and forth and still neither side was able to make a decisive breakthrough of what was rapidly becoming a looming stalemate.

It was clear that this war of attrition was not going to be broken any time soon...

And yet, when frustration was reaching its zenith, the Panthers found the soft underside of the belly of this invading beast. A Carolinian defector, Cory Stillman, kept jabbing away and finally found that opening he must have known was there all along.

His shot ricochet off the protective shin pads of forward predator Steven Reinprecht and the bullet wriggled through Carolina’s Field Marshal, Cam Ward, to effectively puncture the deadlock and deflate the storm.

Once a hole had penetrated the visitor’s defense, the Cats could careen forward at will and drive the invaders firmly away from the state line of Florida.

The Hurricanes had run out of vapor and forward raids by the Panthers firmly scattered the Canes’ hopes of recovering steam. Cory Stillman and Bryan Allen both hit home and firmly settled the score in Florida’s favor.

It was a victory, which together with previously successful incursions into Dallas and St. Louis, gained the Florida Panthers some much needed plunder to add to an otherwise bare war chest.

Word is that the Panthers now have their eyes set on an ambitious foray upon the Capital of Washington...

As preposterous as this may sound, the Floridians may have reason for optimism.

Washington’s charismatic leader, the fiery Russian Alex Ovechkin, is apparently not fit for fight—and unless he makes an astonishing comeback—the Cats may be able to prowl the streets of the Capital in his absence and fetch more loot for the cause.

The Panthers have been unable to graze those alluring fields of green that blossom in northern springtime’s—for many years now.

It is starting to become an obsession to finally break out of the Southeast and reap the bountiful rewards of spring. The felines have been kept quietly at bay in the Floridian swamp lands, but now, they have found that missing bite and look poised to try and fight their way north again.

Follow that compass Cats—and we can defy those very laws of nature that have bound us to the delicate chains of extinction.

There is life in these felines yet and they are now trying to claw their way back.

To continue this streak of triumphs, the Panthers need to continue to soldier on through inescapable setbacks and injuries that beset all warring camps.

The defense must remain secure and help Vokoun herd the attacks to the flanks and not let any stray shooter find gaps to explore down the gateway. And then, if an opportunity arises, these reserves must be flung into forward action to try and tip the balance of the fight to Florida’s advantage.

The attack must be aggressive and constantly keep the opposition on their back feet. Pry for weakness and then crash—full force—upon their outer defensive crease. Attempt circling maneuvers and fight for every inch on the battleground.

The Panthers lack firepower and thus must rely on pack-attacks and overwhelm the opposition with sheer numbers and willpower.

Special Forces must also start finding the right explosive chemistry to help Florida benefit from numerical advantages that might occur.

There is still much to perfect, but the general battle plan remains intact; run, gun, and score victories—big or small—by committee.

A Panther unaided can be singled-out and subjugated by a determined foe, but a pack of ferocious Panthers—crashing camp at the rays of dawn—can strike a sharp blow to any rival challenge.


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