With some new skill on the roster, the Panthers' fate in shootouts was a question mark in the offseason. With the help of some late powerplay heroics and strong goaltending, the Cats would need only two shooters to sink the Flyers.
After two periods, it seemed like the Florida Panthers had slipped into bad habits once again. In what turned into a sleepy game characterized by stunted Panthers offense and bad defensive penalties, the Flyers were perfectly content to mail in their victory with 20 left to play. When the Panthers finally did receive a chance to change the game, Stephen Weiss netted a big goal and Jose Theodore shut the door to send the teams to overtime and a shootout. From there it was pure skill that stole Florida an extra point.
While the Panthers have snagged 5 of 6 points on this road trip, the deficiencies and weaknesses are still present. But the difference of late has been that the Cats have been playing as a team, and teams can overcome setbacks that individual players couldn't overcome back in January. No one played a spectacular game for Florida, but the team as a whole was able to hang around in the game long enough to stage a comeback that should earn them confidence heading into the final game on the road trip.
- Alexei Kovalev and Keaton Ellerby would be scratched against the Flyers, with Jack Skille and Erik Gudbranson in as replacements. Skille played well in limited icetime and Guddy had a solid game paired with Campbell.
- Florida started the game off exceptionally, keeping sustained pressure around Ilya Bryzgalov for much of the first five minutes. The new Flash-Weiss-Mueller line looked good, with several quality shots from Fleischmann. Anymore, quick starts are almost a necessity for the Panthers to have success. Very quiet in the Wells Fargo Center.
- I know Jack Skille is a bust. He isn't good at a lot of things that NHLers should be good at. His strengths are speed and the ability to crash into things. But I like him, and he really does deserve to be rewarded after strong performances in forgettable games. Skille scored his first goal in a while since missing the end of the 2011-12 season and playoffs with an unspectacular but well timed goal, followed by an ear splitting celebratory scream afterwards.
- Filip Kuba has been victimized on some pretty weak calls over the last two games, both of which ended in a PPG for the opposition. I really don't think he's as bad defensively as people have asserted lately, because there really hasn't been a good defenseman playing on the Panthers thing year to use as a benchmark. Ellerby yesterday, Kuba today, Weaver tomorrow. It's a carousel of blame.
- Tomas Fleischmann received a awkward check midway through the first period which seemed to pain him as he sat on the bench. The Panthers trainer was checking his right bicep and shoulder. Flash would be back to start the second.
- Matt Read would score his 4th goal against the Panthers in just 2 games off a walk in goal after George Parros lost his man. I watched Shore on the entire shift, which made me notice a few things. When Brian Campbell and Sean Couturier battled behind the net, Shore was right there to help force a turnover, but instead skated to the other side of the battle waiting for the pass. As this happened Mike Knuble joined in and overpowered Campbell, taking the puck to the post trying to jam it into the net. This left Shore and Tyson Strachan out of position, forcing Parros to help out and leave Read open for the rebound. A lot of the danger on that play could have been mitigated if Shore had helped win the battle along the boards.
- As the game went on, my faith in the Flash-Weiss-Mueller quickly died. What parallel universe are we in when Dineen won't roll FWV? Instead of having a good second line and adequate 1st, both of which had chemistry to begin with, the Panthers have nothing.
- I'm getting really tired about hearing about the Panthers getting wronged at the faceoff dot. Good hockey teams adapt in the game, and that means when the refs start kicking the centers out you need to change how you're taking draws. Complaining to the linesmen during a break isn't going to help, Stephen.
- I'm liking the speed of the Panthers minus Jovanovski and Kovalev. Maybe this could be a new thing for Kevin Dineen? Please?
- Stephen Weiss would finally net his first goal of the season on the powerplay via a stupid Bruno Gervais penalty. Good positioning by Weiss and a screen from Mueller led to the goal. Flash with the assist, who seemed to have shaken off his first period injury.
- Gold stars for Erik Gudbranson and Tyson Strachan; the only Panthers defensemen who didn't take dumb penalties in the game. Good work boys!
- Jonathan Huberdeau in shootouts, wow. Peter Mueller in shootouts, wow. Wow. Cats win.
- Catch the Flyers perspective over at Broad Street Hockey
Next up is Adam Oates' Washington Capitals, who like the Panthers have been an early season disappointment. The Panthers haven't been particularly good in Verizon Center over the last few years, but with the Caps sleepwalking through the season, that needs to change if the Panthers want to be serious. Cats at Caps, Saturday at 7.