The same issues continue to plague the Florida Panthers. In a 4-3 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida began the game in a hole and needed to play comeback hockey faced with two separate 2 goal deficits. Florida made the best of their opportunities and managed to tie the game, but then stagnated with a chance to take the lead and settled for a shootout loss and a single point for their trouble. Florida might be happy to play catchup during games, but the word hasn't gotten across to them that they need to play catchup in the standings, because they're going nowhere fast.
With a measly 8 points in 12 games, Florida has stolen some points to avoid slipping to rock bottom. Watching the games, it's obvious that Florida isn't as absolutely terrible as last year, but comebacks that fall short of the mark aren't doing them any good. Florida isn't going to win many games when they go down by 2+ goals in the first period; they need to write their own story. I'll give credit to Florida's resiliency when facing a team that had effectively mailed in a W, but at some point the Panthers need to take initiative and play a solid game with meaningful results.
- Brad Boyes was to be scratched for tonight's game(for defensive issues, if you can imagine that from one of the Panthers forwards) but would be re-inserted due to a sick Tomas Fleischmann. I really don't see how Dineen can call out a player for being defensively irresponsible, because every player on the team has the same problem. That's on coaching. And what's more? Boyes would score the game-tying goal in the third period and Florida's only shootout goal.
- Tampa Bay would score less than a minute in on a tip by Martin St. Louis. I was never one to say that Markstrom would be a Vezina winner, All-Star or even future-in-net for the Panthers, but it's obvious he'll never be one with the defense he has in front of him. Markstrom is not a confident goalie right now, and many goals have fallen square on his shoulders. But really, Tim Thomas is 39 and not really someone you'd want to rely on...Florida needs a young goalie who can compete once the Thomas Experiment concludes. Markstrom would undoubtedly play better with some confidence, coaching and defensemen to help out. Whether Markstrom really is the goalie of the future rests just as much on having a good team in front of him as it does on his individual development, and it's time for management to get real with the situation.
- Shawn Matthias finally scored! He can sleep now!
- I know that the Florida Panthers organization isn't trying very hard to build an "image" across the league, but did Club Red really need to three sections wide? I don't think I've ever seen it more than half full, and during the last few games it's been a ghost town. Can somebody please round up the 8 people who actually sit in their seats, move them to center ice and tarp off the other two sections? What an incredibly dumb move to build three sections of exclusive seating based on one short-lived season of success.
- Remember back during preseason when Gudbranson and Upshall were scoring? I'd like to see that again, though it really does prove the point that preseason games mean absolutely nothing when the real season begins. Upshall hasn't been too terrible lately and seems to excel in his role of skating around and making an attempt at being productive without actually scoring.
- Florida just can't find any momentum on the power play these days, which isn't all that surprising but unfortunate since the Cats were a good team on the man advantage not all that long ago.
- There was an odd sequence in the second period where Radko Gudas fell into the boards beneath the Panthers bench, Upshall squirted him with water and Gudas slashed his stick in half on the boards. Gudas got kicked out of the game for that display, but Florida received only a bench minor. Grow up Panthers, have some integrity.
- Jesse Winchester and Matt Gilroy are the Panthers' best players. It's nice to have surprises on the roster and guys who will step up to earn and lock into their spot, but Winchester and Gilroy should not be the players who stand out on this roster. There aren't a ton of proven goal scorers on the team, yet Winchester is the only one who looks good despite probably being the least skilled forward who played tonight.
- Florida would tie the game on goals from Bjugstad and Boyes(take THAT Kevin!), but never really tried to take the lead with 11 minutes left in the third period. What's the deal with Florida settling with being the comeback Cats and not the Win-in-Regulation Cats? If Florida can string together some consistency and make some gains in the standings, these extra points going the other team's way cannot continue. Teams that want to be bubble teams can't be generous in the standings.
- Catch up with the Lightning side of things at Raw Charge.
Next up: Florida closes out their pretty unspectacular home stand with a game against the St. Louis Blues. The sting of a 7-0 loss to the Blues just a few weeks ago surely hasn't worn off for the Panthers, but do they have the ability to make amends for that crushing loss? Find out Friday at 7:30.