A quick comparison of Florida's primary statistics between the past two NHL seasons understandably highlights yet one more cause for pain and doubt among fans; in almost every major category (including such heavyweights as wins, points, goals per game, power play, and penalty killing, to name but a few) the Panthers regressed. Like that's news to any of us.
It wasn't all bad, though. Look a bit deeper and several minor silver linings can be located amongst the wreckage.
Sorting through numbers collected from the Cats' 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons (via NHL.com, which is not allowing for a direct link to FLA's stats. Apologies.), a few positives were found; obviously not enough to trend an overall improvement for the club, but fascinating no less.
In the "Real Time" statistical category, numbers suggest Florida actually made progress in a small variety of areas from Year One to Year Two of the DeBoer Era. Among the rather surprising positives:
- HITS: up from 1562 to 1810
- BLOCKED SHOTS: up from 1105 to 1403
- MISSED SHOTS: down from 910 to 897
- GIVEAWAYS: down from 602 to 512
- TAKEAWAYS: up from 494 to 514
- FACEOFFS: winning % up from 47.9 to 49.9
Granted, goal scoring was predictably down this season (202, from 231 in 08-09), effectively negating these improvements. But still, it's something...
The challenge for next year is in building on this foundation while ratcheting up the offense. Too much to ask from this lineup...or this coaching staff? Are we seeing buried in the numbers a commitment from the players to Peter DeBoer's strategy, which was wobbly at best a year ago?