It's hard to say the wheels have fallen off after losing 4-1 to a near-perfect opponent, but it's evident that the wheels were never on. The Florida Panthers are faceless. The Florida Panthers are on life support. The Florida Panthers fit every cliche for a team with no direction or confidence. Against the Boston Bruins Sunday, Florida offered little resistance in a 4-1 loss; and it wasn't too groundbreaking. Jonathan Huberdeau, Drew Shore and Jacob Markstrom can't float a team consisting of dead weight.
The shift in focus for the Panthers needs to move from playoffs to salvaging the season in other ways. The goal of a postseason berth can remain, but there are corrections that absolutely need to be made on the team before dreaming about playoffs. One of them is trading center Stephen Weiss as soon as possible for whatever they can get. It's time to part ways, even if it leaves a hole in the top line. Its not like that line has been producing anyway.
It's nice watching the young blood of the Panthers take over the reigns in less than 20 games(or 2 for Marky), but it's a huge reality check for the Cats. There is a young core in place, but nothing to support them when they can't carry the team through an individual game. Big decisions are looming on the horizon, and I'm welcoming them. We have expectations after last season that aren't being met.
- Afternoon games are the worst. Markstrom with the start, recently recalled Colby Robak would skate in place of Filip Kuba and Alex Kovalev would enjoy his 40th birthday in the pressbox. Hope Dineen at least got him a cake.
- Kevin Dineen has done everything imaginable to try to make Stephen Weiss effective, but nothing is going to work. Weiss doesn't deserve to be rewarded with linemates like Jonathan Huberdeau and Peter Mueller, he deserves to be demoted to the third line. In the end the coach would recognize that nothing could be done for #9, and he'd only play 1:14 in the final frame.
- Filip Kuba may be injured. In the Pittsburgh game his final shift was at 15:50 of the third and only lasted 11 seconds. And immediately after Robak was recalled. If it is an injury, it's an unfortunate break for the Panthers as Kuba had played well in his last few games.
- Drew Shore is awesome; I don't want to hear any complaining about him not scoring when he's in full play-making mode. Bump him up to T-7th in rookie scoring with a great setup for a Tomas Kopecky tap-in.
- I understand the frustration about referees missing calls lately, but the Panthers don't use it as an excuse and neither should fans. Good hockey teams might benefit from getting every possible call, but they don't need them to win. The Panthers shouldn't either.
- If Weiss is hurt, he shouldn't be playing. At this point he is more detrimental to the Panthers than beneficial, and I have very few non-depth reasons to think the Panthers would be worse off without him. He can't skate. He can't backcheck. He can't score. His trade value is plummeting to the point that Keaton Ellerby might end up being more valuable.
- I'm convinced Kevin Dineen makes line combinations with one of these.
- Colby Robak put together a really solid game for his 2013 debut, a total of 14:53 TOI and a handful of smart plays. I agree that Robak has been overlooked in favor of Petrovic, but Robak has never been a slouch. If one(or both) of Jovo/Strachan aren't on the team next year, expect Robak to be the new kid on the block.
- Jacob Markstrom looked good for the most part in the game, with his only bad goal due to not cutting down the angle on a great individual effort from Zdeno Chara. It was a tough save anyways, and one he wouldn't have been called upon to make if his forwards hadn't fallen asleep on the play. Marky is making a case for himself, too bad the scoring support just isn't there in these tough games. I don't think he's getting sent back for a while, if ever.
- Isn't it so Panther-like to have a 4 minute powerplay and get outshot 3-0?
- This certainly felt like one of those games that the current team has no business winning and the best the Panthers could do was keep the score respectable. That's not to say Florida doesn't have the potential, but it takes a defensive effort from the entire team, speed and the correct line combos. I didn't see much of that until the game was out of reach. It didn't feel like a bad game, but it sure felt typical.
- Stanley Cup of Chowder has your Boston Bruins view of the evening.
Florida will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins yet again in the second game of a three game home stretch, this time looking for a better result. Pittsburgh on the other hand is probably looking for some payback for Erik Gudbranson's hit on Evgeni Malkin, who is undergoing concussion tests. Don't think Parros will be scratched for that game. Pens at Cats, 7:30 pm Tuesday.