Florida Panthers' Special Teams Stumble as Montreal Canadiens Secure 4-1 Victory

USA TODAY Sports

The Habs never looked back after taking an early lead, leaving the Cats again searching for answers as they leave Canada without a point.

While it was better than the embarrassment in Ottawa, the Florida Panthers just can't seem to pull things together. Again the Cats played a game devoid of speed, intensity and backchecking, and again they leave the rink with zero points. Florida has never been gifted with great luck, but last year hard work and determination led them to the playoffs. While 3 games into a 48 game schedule you can't harp too much on playoff chances, without the same hard work and determination things aren't looking so good right now.

Something needs to click if the Panthers want to start climbing up the standings. As it stands now, through the past 8 periods Florida has two goals to eight allowed. Besides goaltending, every area needs to improve. The offense is weak, the defense is shaky, special teams are unimpressive. The 4-1 loss was ugly all around, and the Panthers need to find some bite for two home games in Sunrise.

Observations:

  • It was Drew Shore Night in Montreal, which means I was happy. While I hoped to see him make the team right out of camp, a debut three games in isn't too shabby. I didn't see much of #50, which annoys me a bit since he's been lighting up the AHL while the other Panther forwards struggle to light up sprawling goalies and empty cages. The small bits of Shore I saw were alright, nothing fantastic.
  • Scott Clemmensen made his season debut in net, looking exceptionally colorful in his new red pads and yellow mask. Clemmer would lose his first ever game to the Canadiens with four goals on 33 shots, but like Theodore the night before; you can't pin the blame on the goalie for the final score.
  • The Hurricanes must have been absolutely terrible, because outside of that game the Panthers do not look like a first period kind of team. Again the opposition walked all over the Cats en route to early dominance, and an early lead thanks to Tomas Plekanec.
  • The terrible play of the Panthers of late immediately reminds me of the Peter DeBoer days, but at least back in those days the Panthers were one of the least penalized teams in the league. Last year the penalties increased, but they never got too out of control. So far this season, penalties are becoming a huge thorn in the Panthers side--heck, Florida looks shorthanded even when they're not on the kill.
  • Outside of the disastrous Senators game, Peter Mueller looks similar to the player I saw before sustaining a season ending injury back in 2009. Unfortunately without similar skilled young players(Huberdeau may fit the description in midseason form, but not with 3 games under his belt), Mueller's skill looks like it's going to waste with his current linemates. Florida needs him to be hot, and it's just not happening as is.
  • Every time I badmouth Tomas Kopecky he makes sure I eat my words. First goal in 5 periods comes from a sweet slap pass from Tomas Fleischmann across the dots to a wide open Kopy who fired a one timer right past Carey Price.
  • The forwards need to take some time after practice relearning the art of sending receivable passes back to their defensemen.
  • When I've seen Kovalev play in the last two games, I don't believe he's suffering from a lack of effort. I think he's just way too old and a bit too washed up to help the Panthers on a consistent basis. Kovalev is either late on his defensive assignments, out of position in the attacking zone or causing his linemates to go offsides. I'm no longer excited to have him on the ice for 2nd line minutes. Marcel Goc, please come back soon.
  • Michael Caruso was injured in the first period when his hand was crushed between the boards and Brandon Prust. He would not return to the game.
  • You could sense frustration from several players tonight, the most vocally being Tomas Fleischmann. But after a boarding hit, Flash would find himself fed with punches by the Canadiens Ryan White, earning a 2-5&10. Flash would be alright, but you have to imagine George Parros will introduce himself to White should the two meet again.
  • Outside of the anomaly game vs Carolina, the powerplay has been atrocious. Maybe losing Garrison had more adverse effects than originally guessed. Whatever the case, someone needs to step up as a finisher on the man advantage.
  • Check out Habs Eyes on the Prize for a Canadiens' view of tonight's game.

Next Up: The Cats will travel home to face...the Senators, again. At least they're getting those 'ohhhh no' games out of the way early. Sens at Panthers, Thursday 7:30. LBC has you covered.

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