Panthers Blow Early Lead to Senators, Drop 4-2

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Two power-play goals aren't enough as Ottawa silences the Panthers with 4 unanswered.

In the last two games I've seen from the Florida Panthers, effort hasn't been the problem. Against New York, Florida fell into a hole but battled to make the game competitive, even if the scoreboard didn't reflect it. Tonight against the Ottawa Senators, Florida played a relatively even game but couldn't keep up with the Senators' scoring despite generating good chances. Effort hasn't been a problem after the coaching change, but the underlying problem still remains that Florida lacks the talent to regularly win games. Under Dineen, everyone knew that the team wasn't going to excel; but the result of each game shouldn't be embarrassing. Horachek is getting the most out of his players, but effort simply isn't enough.

There's not a whole lot that can be done to solve the problem immediately, trading players is a risky venture and calling up new ones from the AHL only works when you have players that are ready to make a permanent impact. Firing the coaching staff...well that's been done. Right now Florida is in a grey area where the only real options are to start unloading players or pray that the team will improve despite stagnating progress. Florida has good pieces in the mix, but without a good teammates only so much upside can be realized.

Observations:

  • I really don't expect the BB&T Center to be packed with screaming loud fans every night, but tonight's attendance approached Phoenix nightmare/joke levels. Take the music between plays away and I would have sworn the game was played inside of a library. This snowbird division is really working out, right Gary B?
  • Dmitry Kulikov was a healthy scratch tonight after Horachek decided he'd seen enough over the past few games and played Mottau instead. It's nice to see a coach bench a player who's deserving of time off, instead of benching a guy like Brad Boyes just to make a point.
  • The Panthers would make good on a 5-on-3 as Jonathan Huberdeau would put a rebound though Anderson's wickets, and the power play time left over would result in another goal as Brian Campbell walked in and beat Andy glove side. Florida may have the league's worst power play but the Sens take the most minor penalties, and someone is bound to get lucky.
  • The luck didn't last too long, as the Senators would erase the two-goal lead with two of their own before the period would end. With penalties and two teams with shaky defenses there were plenty of rushes and quality chances, but both of the Sens goals would be from lackluster plays that should have been routine saves by Thomas.
  • Ottawa was really generating good chances out of nothing in the second period, either that or the Panthers were playing like they were out of gas. All against an opponent who's 6th in the division. The momentum would even out later in the period, but Anderson looked sharp on every Panthers opportunity.
  • Speed is killing the Panthers, whether it's a lack of speed from the forwards or that of the opposition's forwards forcing Florida's defense into bad spots.
  • Upshall is the best forward on this team, and that's unfortunate.
  • It's frustrating to see the Panthers parade to the penalty box on a night when the referees are calling a tight game. There was absolutely no attempt to adapt to this, a point proven when Upshall rammed Anderson without any attempt at avoiding contact. Florida was lucky that Ottawa's above average power play couldn't punish one of the league's worst group of penalty killers.
  • Bobby Ryan would put Ottawa up 4-2 with time running off the clock, which would be his first goal in the building.
  • Florida's forwards really didn't have a bad game; they generated good chances, put pucks to the net, made good passes and generally helped out in their own zone. Even so, going silent for 52 minutes as the Senators score 4 unanswered goals just wont cut it. Effort does not equate to points, and having a team full of 3rd line grinders isn't going to win many games.
  • Check out Silver Seven for a rousing recap from our division buddies.

Next Up: Following a Canadian team that doesn't draw well and no one in Florida wants to see comes another Canadian team that doesn't draw well and no one in Florida wants to see, the Winnipeg Jets. While the Jets are no longer in the Panthers division, Florida seems to have reasonable success against them. And hey, Keaton Ellerby is on their blue line for this matchup. Jets at Panthers, Thursday at 7:30.

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