Some of the problem areas I mentioned after the Dallas game bit Florida tonight in a 7-0 loss, namely the reliance on goaltending. Tim Thomas didn't have a bad game, the team around him did. After the first period the game was still within grasp for the Panthers only being down a goal, but when the second period started someone flipped the off switch on the Panthers defense and the Blues ran with it. If Florida wants to compete with the upper-tier of NHL teams like those who'll be waiting for them in the Atlantic Division, they simply cannot let Thomas carry the weight early in the game.
Defense cannot be optional for the Panthers, who will likely have trouble to keep up with high-scoring teams like the Blues. Now is the time for the young defensemen like Kulikov and Gudbranson to live up to their potentials, and veterans like Tom Gilbert and Ryan Whitney to justify their spot on an NHL roster. The forwards don't escape without criticism either, the only players who've stepped up to the occasion of regular season play are Goc and Barkov. It's time to see Matthias, Huberdeau and Fleischmann pick up some rhythm and chip in.
- When Brad Boyes was a member of the Blues, he had a 40 goal season. He's joined the Panthers trending down in his career, but it will be interesting to to see how his experience will impact the Panthers' two youngest players. Last season Dineen put a young, skilled player in Peter Mueller to center the kids, but this year having a mid-career player in this position may round the young ones into more-complete players.
- Florida has done a good job of drawing penalties so far this year, but the power play has looked pretty flat.
- Krys Barch was in for Drew Shore. Barch played 7:27 through 2.5 periods and was ejected without even dropping the gloves...but I'm sure Shore couldn't have done any better.
- Brendan Morrow scored his 250th goal to open the scoring for the Blues after knocking in a rebound on the rush. I'll give Brian Campbell a pass for having the NHL's worst +/- last season by virtue of being the most played player on the last place team, but I'd like to see him return to 2011-12 form soon.
- Florida is having a lot of trouble transitioning from breakouts to offense. after the defensemen and wings brought the puck out of the defensive zone, the next pass in the neutral zone would leave a Panther in all alone against multiple Blues with no one to pass to, and stagnation ensued. After starting the period well, Florida could only put one shot on goal in the final 8 minutes.
- Shawn Matthias has slipped from the first line to the fourth line since last season's trade deadline.
- The Blues scored again when Tim Thomas whiffed on catching the puck and Vladamir Tarasenko tapped in the rebound. It wasn't a huge mistake for Thomas since he had players in front, but with the Panthers offense spinning their wheels, it was only a matter of time before the buzzing Blues scored again.
- Erik Gudbranson had played well in the opening 5 periods of the season, but a misplay defensively would cause him to trip up Alex Steen on the breakaway, leading to a successful penalty shot attempt. In the second period, the Blues scored 4 goals in 8 minutes while the Panthers could only muster 6 shots during the entire period.
- Scottie Upshall played a really good game after one of his nine lives was spared against Dallas. Upshall has lost his scoring touch, but he still makes for an effective energy player on the fourth line on the rare occasion that he's cleared to play.
- Jacob Markstrom started the third period and promptly allowed 2 goals in four minutes, one to superstar Ryan Reaves and another on a complete defensive collapse by the Panthers as the Blues found Berglund wide open. Can't blame Marky too much, and I suspect that he'll be starting against the Flyers.
- See the Blues perspective of their victory at St. Louis Game Time.
Next up: Florida faces the Philadelphia Flyers for the first meeting of the year, with the puck set to drop at 7 Eastern.