I don't know what to say. Down 2-0 in the second period the Panthers played comeback hockey once again and instead of taking a break with a tied game, they forced meaningful offensive zone time and played defense to finally earn a full two points for the first time since late October. I'll give credit to Horachek for pushing his team to finish a game and show up with a great effort in the final 20 minutes, but big holes were again exposed and the Panthers looked horrid against the league-leading Ducks during the first half of the game. The Ducks don't lose too many games after taking a two goal lead, so this one has to leave the Ducks with some questions.
Congrats to Peter Horachek on his first win as a head coach, and to the assistants as well. Firing Dineen was the easy option for the head honchos of the team, but it wasn't very justifiable given the players he had to work with. With that said, Horachek may have inherited some better individual efforts by virtue of having lifted the chains off this team, or he might just be the coach who can squeeze a maximum effort out of each player. The big question here is whether or not the team play in the huge 3-2 victory is sustainable, or just part of the predictable surge that players show to impress their new coach. The answer may take a while to realize, but the impending five-game road trip should provide a good indicator of the new identity of the Panthers.
- So the Ryan Whitney experiment has officially been written off as a failure with #6 slotted for time in the land of the Alamo, and some guy named Mike Mottau would be called up to replace him. Despite playing over 300 NHL games, I have only a vague recollection of the existence of Mottau. Dale signed him in the offseason along with all of the other players whose salaries could have brought in a real NHLer.
- It took an impressive 40 seconds for the Panthers to go down 1-0 thanks to blown coverage, weak defensive presence, etc. Same old story of the Cats' early struggles.
- A comprehensive list of things Tomas Kopecky is good at: 1. Throwing his body into the boards to stop outlet passes 2. Falling over and losing his helmet. 3. Missing the net on an odd man rush.
- Tim Thomas looked awesome tonight, but the 32 save clinics simply cannot be counted on to float a team with huge defensive holes. Florida's forwards need to start scoring first and bring up the team's G/G.
- If there's one word to describe the Panthers overall performance over the last two seasons, that word is weak. Florida is weak on the forecheck and backcheck, usually can muster only a weak offensive rush, shoot weak shots, Florida is ridiculously weak on the puck and has the weakest defense in the league. Strength in those areas aren't going to undergo a huge gain with the swapping of one or two players, but it may help. The best shot at changing the culture in Florida is if Horachek can get the players to play his new system, and whether that will happen after the coaching honeymoon is in question. Tonight was a tale of two games, with the Panthers falling into the same weak play as they had in the previous nine games before completely shifting gears and putting together their strongest effort of the year in the second half of the game.
- Yeah it's Teemu Selanne, but I'm slightly disparaged that Florida allowed a 43-year old to walk all over them throughout the night.
- Florida would tie the game on quick goals by Matthias and Upshall(apparently he wasn't injured by the Kreider cross check). This happens pretty much every single game I watch, the opposition puts up a few goals, falls asleep, Florida mounts a comeback and.....? Florida pulls ahead and snaps a nine-game skid?
- I think Scottie Upshall is tired of being the punchline of my jokes. Uppy played another great game and drew the defender away from Brad Boyes to net the game winner off of his earlier shot attempt. This is the Upshall we've been waiting to see.
- Remember back in the day when Tallon traded Bryan Allen for Sergei Samsonov? I'd sure have liked to keep Allen around considering the ever-revolving door of defensemen who have replaced him and the other long gone blueliners from just a few seasons ago.
- Sean Bergenheim was very quiet tonight, as he has been in the last few games I've watched.
- Head on down to Anaheim Calling for the road team view.
Next Up: Florida rolls out on a five-game, former Northwest Division road trip starting Friday in Minnesota to take on the Wild. The Panthers earned one of their paltry 4 wins against Minnesota earlier this season in the shootout, and will need some heavy lifting all around the team to post another road victory. Cats at Wild, Friday at 8pm.