For all of about 50 minutes, it was fair to say there wasn't a single member of the Florida Panthers who was playing a good game. For the majority of the game the Montreal Canadiens had their way with Florida as they racked up a four goal lead and snuffed out any offensive rushes the Panthers could muster. An undisciplined, slow effort from the Cats set up another loss to contribute to their march to the bottom of the standings.
After those 50 minutes, a strange turn of events would see the Panthers pull back into the game before succumbing to a 5-2 loss. There's not much to be said for the Panthers at this point, but at least with a few shifts left in the game one line was able to awake from the slumber that plagues the Panthers at random over the course of the now half wasted season. A lot of credit needs to go to the Tomas Kopecky, Shawn Matthias and Jack Skille line, who now find themselves with as many combined goals as the rookie line. A bit unexpected, but a nice turn of events from a trio of players who've never really had any sort of a scoring touch.
Other than that, the tank rolls ever on and on.
- Markstrom needs to start drinking coffee before starting games, because he's been sleeping through the early shifts of his last three contests. We want Theodore.
- I honestly haven't seen the last two Panthers games, but if the first period of this game was a continuation of the last 6, it's obvious the Panthers are done. All that's left to do now is watch the rookies grow into bigger and bigger roles for next year's team.
- People have been jumping on Brian Campbell over the last few weeks, but I'd like to remind everyone that he's absolutely the most important player on the roster. Brian Campbell is not an expendable player, and one less than great season from him(and every veteran player) doesn't mean he's on the block or even worth trading in the first place. Moving the Panthers #1 defenseman is not an option.
- I can see it now; the best news the Panthers will receive in the remainder of the season will be when Nolan Yonkman gets sent back to the AHL. Though I'm pretty sure Rampage fans don't want him back either.
- I'm pretty sure the best scoring chance the Panthers had through the first half of the game was when Mueller winded up for an unobstructed slapshot from below the point. I'm not sure how the Panthers are expecting to win a game when they're playing like that.
- There are some benefits from having injuries on your team, and the Panthers are seeing some of the benefits by getting Drew Shore, Colby Robak and Jacob Markstrom some playing time. While they've all made mistakes from time to time, each has shown a lot of promise and progress in their development on a team which has hit terminal velocity in their free fall. But the problem with injuries is at a certain point, you're stuck with who you have; and right now Tyson Strachan needs to be replaced.
- I'm still lacking confidence in Dineen knowing when to replace his goaltender, because leaving a young goalie in for four goals after coming into the game looking shaky doesn't strike me as a good idea. He has to play through the lows, but being swarmed for 60 minutes is a lot to drop on a 23 year old backing up a defense comprised of stiffs.
- I feel bad for Peter Budaj, he has an easy shutout lined up 50 minutes through and Francis Bouillon scores on his own goal. Credit goes to Kopecky, things seem to be going well for him.
- Find the Canadiens' recap over at Eyes On The Prize.
Florida closes up the homestand on Tuesday with a divisional game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, who like the Panthers have flopped down the stretch. Watch for a Cory Conacher-Jonathan Huberdeau rookie of the year battle, and an Anders Lindback-Jacob Markstrom showdown for Galve, Sweden hometown bragging rights. Other than that? Two brutal teams fighting for 30th place. Lightning at Panthers, 7:30.