USA TODAY Sports
Cats continue to struggle, losing to the B's 4-1.
Not much to say about this one. Poor goaltending, complete lack of quality offensive pressure sustained throughout the game, no puck possession time, many defensive breakdowns ... all the hallmarks of the 2012-2013 lockout-shortened Florida Panthers season. The Boston Bruins would host Florida and handle them easily by a score of 4-1, scoring on only their second shot and not requiring too much effort to keep the Panthers off the scoresheet. Aside from an eye-popping goal by Shawn Matthias (who may end up on SportsCenter more than any other NHL player this season if he keeps it up), the Cats were mediocre at best and have lost their fifth straight game. Their goal differential now sits at -38. If they can keep up this pace, they may finish the season with a worse goal differential than last season's bottom-dwelling Columbus Blue Jackets team, who finished with a -60. And that was in 82 games.
- I wouldn't be doing him any justice if I didn't mention the effort from Matthias tonight. He scored what was one of the prettiest goals I've seen in the entire league this season (video above), tallying a shorty on a Boston powerplay by busting his butt to make a play and beating Tukka Rask with a great move in tight. I've been a long-time Matty supporter; when he plays hard and uses his size and speed, he's capable of being a second or third line guy on just about any team in the league. He's been playing the best hockey of his career as of late and seems to be playing for a contract as he's an RFA after this season is up. With the passion he's been displaying on the ice, Dale Tallon will have to think long and hard about keeping Matthias after this disappointing season is over.
- Erik Gudbranson would have the honor of serving as an assistant captain in this one. I'm not sure if it's because he's earned it with his play (he has), or if there's just a lack of bodies to give it to. I'm going to go for the former, as Gudbranson's been one of the best Panthers in terms of consistency and tenacity. He's been a bright spot for the Panthers all season and is starting to round into what the Panthers hoped he would be when they drafted him third overall.
- I really noticed Jerred Smithson tonight. He was hitting everything in sight and working his ass off the entire game. He's one of those guys who rarely shows up on the scoresheet but puts in the effort nearly every game. Unfortunately for Florida, that's pretty much the only type of player they have on the roster right now outside of Jonathan Huberdeau.
- Florida's powerplay looked pretty abysmal against the Bruins penalty killers. Florida generally win games when they score powerplay goals. They lose games when they don't. Seems pretty simple, no? The lack of offensive depth up front is evident, but what's worse is the lack of scoring on the man advantage from the blueline.
- Mike Santorelli is done in Florida after this season. Not that I'm stating the obvious, but some wondered if he would come back from his AHL demotion with a chip on his shoulder, and start to display the scoring he showed two seasons ago. He's back to playing pretty timid and ineffective hockey, not using his speed or exhibiting any sort of creativity with the puck.
- Scott Clemmensen got the start, and Scott Clemmensen let up a pretty weak goal on only the second shot he faced. Not only did Zdeno Chara score from a shot from the point that wasn't all that much of a blast, but he scored short side next to the post. Clemmer was again too deep in his net, a recurring problem that I can not believe he nor the coaching staff can seem to remedy.
- Drew Shore's been really quiet. We haven't seen much from him lately in terms of offense, though he has had some chances. That entire line is not quite playing as well as they were earlier in the season, but for a line full of very young players dealing with the kind of adversity the Panthers deal with every single game, I'm not sure I can blame them for maybe deflating a bit.