Let me rummage through my bag of convenient excuses for a minute...nope, nothing. There aren't really any major gaffs that led to the Florida Panthers' shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild, but instead strategic weaknesses that are costing Florida big in the standings as the Cats repack their bags after a 0-3-1 homestand. It's not about a shootout specialist, though that would have helped. The problem lies in the anemic offense that manages 43 shots but only sinks two goals. There aren't a lot of dynamic qualities to the Panthers' game, and offense is without a doubt the most flat of them.
I know Kevin Dineen is a rookie coach working with a less than ideal roster continually torn apart by injuries. I know he's not supposed to do everything right in his first year. But tell me, how hard is it to take home ice advantage and go first in the shootout? Here's what I was led to believe by the broadcast; neither team has been great in shootouts, Backstrom has struggled in those situations, Minnesota has a shootout specialist. Yet Christensen is the first guy out there, beats Theodore easily and wins the game right there. Not the decision I would have made, and this isn't the first time Dineen has been burned by it. What good does it do to throw out the same snakebit top line when teams have obviously figured them out? Why is Ellerby playing on the penalty kill? These are minor faults in an otherwise sterling portfolio of Dineen, but they have been, and are still, costing Florida points during the most important stretch of the season.
-1:14 Matt Cullen(13) assists to Heatley and Jered Spurgeon
-Eric Christensen GOAL
-Kris Versteeg MISS
-Matt Cullen GOAL
-Sean Bergenheim MISS
- Of course we all know by now, but it would be #614 for Stephen Weiss, landing him on top of the franchise games played list. Not only is it a tremendous monument to stick with an up and mostly down Panthers squad for some 600 games, but a monument playing 600 NHL games period.
- It might not be a winning streak, but the Cats are streaking. Despite Darroll Powe's best efforts, Florida hasn't surrendered a goal in the first five minutes since coughing one up early against the Isles.
- A heap of transactions would see Nolan Yonkman sent back to San Antonio with the return of veteran Ed Jovanovski, along with the recall of Michal Repik and Jon Matsumoto to fill in for injured Matt Bradley and Marcel Goc. Jovo wouldn't accomplish much, I heard Matsumoto's name maybe once and Repik wasn't anything to swoon over.
- Mike Santorelli and Sean Bergenheim seemed to be the only forwards moving their feet early on, they'd take several lead passes but those plays would dead end with no one to pass to. Panthers are slow? Who knew.
- Gotta wonder if anyone would be interested in Krys Barch at the trade deadline. My gut feeling is "hahahaha of course not" but I've been wrong before. I hold nothing against the guy, but he is kind of a pylon when not in the penalty box, and even then he's just a player in the penalty box. We'll see what comes of him by Monday at 3.
- Fun fact: Jed Ortmeyer is the only NHL player with first name Jed. He's also the only person I've even 'known' named Jed.
- 6 periods without a goal with the 0-0 score after twenty. I am not amused.
- Florida would have a nice powerplay in the second period, and someone must have heard the pleas for a big body in front as Erik Gudbranson would be camped out in front for the last part of the man advantage.
- The first goal of the game would be a Florida powerplay marker twelve seconds in, Weiss would send a shot from the halfboards which would carom to Sammy with an empty net to shoot at. The unsung hero in that sequence? Tomas Kopecky wreaking havok in front to pull Niklas Backstrom out of position.
- Since when has Kyle Brodziak been a 20-ish goal scorer?
- What happened to the Panthers who never took penalties? As long as Jason Garrison is out of the lineup(or worse, traded), Florida desperately needs to stay out of the box.
- Bergenheim has a career high of 15 goals in 59 games, but already has 13 in 39 this season. Maybe that long playoff run with Tampa gave him the taste of success he needed to turn the corner. Bergy sure seems to be the best player on the Panthers lineup right now.
- I can safely say I've never been so thrilled to drag a game into overtime. A point is a point, and the first in what is becoming the dark age of the season.
- Now I know we all hate shootouts. It's obvious. But maybe, just maybe, if we supported the shootout--gave it a little love and a positive environment to succeed we might fare a little better. Think positive thoughts, no worries; be happy.
- We lost in the shootout? @%^#*^@#%@& SHOOTOUTS I HATE THEM!!
Chris' First Star: Bergenheim sweeps the polls. Jose Theodore was also commendable with a 26 save effort.
Chris' Worst Star: Everyone on the blueline. Way too many scrambles for my liking.
Up Next: Another faceoff with a team we should theoretically beat but will probably hang around just long enough to burn us in the end. The road warriors travel to scenic Raleigh, North Carolina in the high flying, action packed film Can Panthers Survive in a Swirling Mass of Low Pressure? Yes, I am trying too hard. Panthers at Hurricanes, Saturday at 5.