Panthers buried under mountain of decisions

In five games since January 29th, the Cats have compiled a 1-4 record, scoring six goals while falling to two divisional rivals and two Western Conference foes. The lone victory came against a down-and-out Islanders club displaying little interest in the contest. In that span 13 goals have been allowed (credit Tomas Vokoun for keeping it that tight).

Here's the deeper ugliness: Those five games saw Florida take 135 shots while allowing 172, a difference of -37, or 7.4 per game.

Special teams? The Panthers were awarded 23 power plays, scoring on two. The penalty kill was even worse, allowing 5 goals on 17 chances. Not so "special".

Florida is now in the 12th spot in the East, having gone 4-5-1 over the last ten. Still good for two points out of eigth, but consider Atlanta has equaled that record, Tampa Bay is 7-2-1 and Carolina - left for dead several weeks ago - is 7-3-0; a mere 8 points back of the Cats.

Other than a few headline-grabbing snippets referring to free-agency curing what ails them and management (likely truthfully) claiming rip-off deals at every turn, very little has come out of the glass tower on Panther Parkway.

At least GM Randy Sexton admitted to the possibility of his club being a "seller" at the deadline. So he's got that.

The overriding question for Florida is thus: How much of the proverbial future can be allowably mortgaged by making a deal to improve the foundation of the organization?

Undeniably, rival GMs can take one peek at the Cats' record and smell blood, immediately going for the throat with low-ball counter offers including names such as Weiss, Booth, Horton, and Kulikov. Then it falls to the Matthias, Repik, and Markstrom group - with very little in between.

Hard to fathom an attractive offer coming forth for Steven Reinprecht or Scott Clemmensen (who?) which would immediately improve the team.


And what of the coaching staff? Pistol Pete DeBoer has shown some fire of late - at least in post-game pressers - but when will it translate to some semblence of success on the ice?

Who's tuned out whom? At this stage it's Can the Coach or rebuild the roster into a group which will respond to DeBoer's vaunted "systems".

Tough to believe adding one impact player will change the fortunes for this bunch.

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