The Florida Panthers have slipped back into the dark ages with four consecutive horrid games. The saving grace from the last three games was that at least the score didn't reflect the effort put on the ice by everyone besides the goalie; but tonight even the goalies couldn't avoid the plague of terrible play that has swept through the Panthers locker room. The Cats have absolutely nothing going for them, and the 7-1 loss tonight proves it.
This has to be the worst game I've ever seen played by Panthers. Not only did Florida have defensive breakdown after defensive breakdown, take dumb penalties time and time again, barely muster any offensive pressure(the one Panthers goal was a cherry pick), but the worst part about it was besides the young rookies, none of the Panthers players seemed to show any anger or disgust at the disaster they'd created for themselves. This was no random bad game, the last three led up to this.
After the first Philadelphia goal, the Panthers gave up. I feel like Florida starts each game with a tiny bit of hope that the other team simply won't score a goal, and that their goalie will bail the team out of an impossible amount of breakdowns, penalties and giveaways. Once the other team scores, the Cats are toast. The problem is rooted much deeper than injuries.
As it stands now, no player has worked hard enough to make their spot in Florida safe. And as rumblings of trades become more and more substantial, I'm certainly welcome to whatever Dale Tallon has in mind for this phantom team.
- The Flyers have to be the league's biggest surprise so far in the young season, and for all the young reasons. Sharing 1-3-0 records with Florida and dead last in goals for entering the game, the Flyer's total lack of success has been dumbfounding. Shortened seasons are something else.
- Sounding like a broken record, but penalties are killing the Panthers. Whether it's lack of speed forcing Florida to cheat on their coverage or Dineen's player characteristics rubbing off on his players, it must stop immediately for the Panthers to have any measure of success.
- Since his debut in 09-10, have the Panthers had a defenseman who's been consistently worse than Keaton Ellerby? The only reason I can imagine Dineen keeping him in the lineup over Strachan is as a final tryout to prove why he deserves to be in the NHL. The Panthers had a surprising season last year, but the key to consistent success for Florida is when borderline AHL players like Ellerby(and to an extent Skille and Matthias) are forced out of the lineup by actual, skilled NHLers. Until then, don't get your hopes up.
- In related 'news', the defense is incredibly predictable as a whole.
- Jonathan Huberdeau really needs to put some force in his passes, any time he looks for his linemates his passes have been weak and easily intecepted. From what I've seen so far, Hubs has been weak on the puck. Easy to fix of course, but right now that's what I'm seeing.
- Rookie NHLers must love seeing the Panthers on the upcoming schedule. So far they've given up goals to what, 3 rookies in 5 games?
- The Panthers newest rookie Quinton Howden has some good speed. If this wasn't a complete nightmare of a season as far as injuries/offensive desperation, I don't think he'd be high on the list of call ups from San Antonio; but for now I suppose fans can at least be excited for the future as we endure the torture of the present.
- I never liked the Mike Weaver-Dmitry Kulikov pairing last season, and I'm certainly not liking it now. Both are good defensemen, but together they throw each other off to the point neither are effective.
- After a 3 goal first period, Scott Clemmensen would be given the reins over Jose Theodore. Theo wasn't directly at fault for any of the goals, but I'm glad Dineen realized that his team needed some new life. Clemmer wouldn't look too hot as he'd surrender a few softies as the game progressed.
- With all of the ridiculous first lines rolled out in the first 5 games, I'm wondering why Drew Shore hasn't been rotated into the top line, or at least the top 6. I really think the hype with Shore isn't just rookie buzz, the kid is really learning his way around the NHL through just three games. Put him back at center and look out.
- George Parros' zero fights through 5 games is getting really strange. Is there really not anyone who wants to fight him?
- One of the unsung heroes on the Panthers is definitely Jerred Smithson. What a great acquisition to the penalty kill and to help out with faceoffs, along with leadership, all for a 6th rounder.
- Peter Mueller's first goal as a Panther was a beauty on a breakaway, lifting a quick wrister over Bryzgalov's shoulder.
- Matt Read is one of my favorite stories and a heck of a player, but I wasn't too happy to see hats flying down at the BB&T Center for his first career hat trick. Read single-handedly blew the Cats out of the water tonight.
- Bad bad bad. Trade trade trade.
Catch your Panthers again on Tuesday night after a much needed break when they take on their cross state rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Of course many Cats fans will root for the Bolts on off nights and vise versa, but no love expected on Tuesday. The bitterest of rivalries, and LBC has you covered.