Rinne, Predators stymie Panthers 3-1

SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 03: Colin Wilson #33 of the Nashville Predators hits Shawn Matthias #18 of the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center on March 3, 2012 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

After a humiliating loss on Thursday night to the Winnipeg Jets, you would assume the Panthers would come out with some bees in their solid plastic bonnets against the Nashville Predators. The bees were there, but unfortunately the bees don't score goals. The Panthers again struggled offensively, dropping the game 3-1 despite outplaying the competition for most of the game. Florida was not without its chances though; 40 shots and numerous scoring chances were laid forth, but goaltending deity Pekka Rinne would do his best Gandalf-in-Mordor impression. Panther netminder Scott Clemmensen didn't fare as well, and Florida has now lost two straight at a time where the games in hand they have against the other Southeast Division teams could be turned into very valuable points. This slide is starting to really look dangerous, and if it doesn't correct itself, it's only a matter of a few days before the Panthers find themselves back on the outside looking in.

Additional coverage at On the Forecheck and SBN Tampa Bay



Scoring Summary

1st

2nd
3rd

Observations

  • Kevin Dineen might have found himself a new line. The trio of Goc, Wolski and Fleischmann was the best offensive group for Florida in the game, and not only scored but generated tons of scoring chances. Let's hope that line stays healthy and together.
  • The Panthers need to find a big centerman that can maintain puck possession and make space for guys like Kris Versteeg and Fleischmann. Flash is so incredibly dangerous with some open space to work with and right now the opposition keys on him because he's generally the only real threat to score on whatever line he's on.
  • The passing by the Panthers at times was so weak and lazy. If I were Dineen and Craig Ramsay I'd be harping on that on every shift. That's a big part of the reason the Cats struggle so much to clear the zone.
  • Sean Bergenheim took a very dirty and very nasty slash from Sergei Kostitsyn in the second, and left the game for a few shifts, apparently in a ton of pain. He would return pretty quickly though. The Cats can ill afford to lose Bergenheim, who has been an offensive catalyst at times for the team.
  • Shawn Matthias was really dominant with puck possession during the game. In my opinion, he should be centering the top line with Fleischmann and Versteeg, because he's so big and uses that size to shield off a single defender and almost always draws a second one to him, creating space for the other forwards. He's got good enough hands to create plays and between the size and skill, he's the best choice to center the top two wingers. All he has to do is work on his faceoff draws.
  • The lack of production on the powerplay as of late is really hurting Florida. The old-hat methods don't seem to be working much (letting Jason Garrison wind up and rip it), and the traffic in front isn't where it needs to be, namely in front of the friggin goalie. There wasn't enough traffic obstructing Rinne's vision and he was able to make a lot of simple saves.
  • The Cats again outshot the opponent but have another loss to show for it. This team needs finishers, badly. They definitely miss Versteeg.
  • Standings alert: Tampa is hot. Very hot. Steven Stamkos is scoring game winners like a boss. Better start winning, Cats.
First Star

Tomas Fleischmann. He did everything he could to generate offense for a team that seems completely unable to do so otherwise. You almost feel bad for the guy when he busts his hump to beat three defenders and make room in the slot, only to pass it to someone who fans on the shot.

Worst Star

Tomas Kopecky. Basically invisible offensively, turned the puck over nearly every time he had it. Whiffed on shots, turned the puck over on passes as well. If he doesn't start doing more with his ice time, he should be scratched.

Up Next

Back to back games haven't been kind to the Panthers this season. Neither have the Ottawa Senators, who are the next opponent. Panthers need to pick themselves back up after two tough losses and try to break the losing streak against the Sens on Sunday. Scoring some goals would greatly help that cause, no?

Ed. Note: No Caterwaul Sunday; back to standard procedure on Monday
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