In what was almost a complete reversal of the season opener, in which the Florida Panthers destroyed a Carolina Hurricanes team that looked as though they've never played organized hockey before, the Hurricanes completely smashed the Panthers by a lopsided score of 6-2. The Panthers never looked even remotely ready for this game until sometime very late in the first period and barely made a push to make it a real game throughout. To add to the utterly deplorable effort on the ice, the Cats suffered several injuries to key players, losing starting netminder Jose Theodore, defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, forward Scottie Upshall (sorta) and forward Jack Skille (sorta). Skille would return but the rest would not, leaving Florida with a very short bench most of the game.
There just isn't much to say about this effort by the Panthers. If you can't get up and ready for a key game against a division rival in first place who is only four points ahead of you, then you might as well just pack it in. Once again, the effort was there in spurts, but reality is starting to set in for all of us, and confirmation for many others: this team is not very good at all. It's firesale time soon. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go dig through my couch for loose change to see if I can find enough cash to acquire Marcel Goc for my bowling league. I hear he puts a wicked spin on the ball.
- Tyson Strachan looks too comfortable. You could probably pin two goals squarely on his shoulders in this one. I thought he looked great to start the season, playing calm and collected and doing a pretty good job with the minutes he was given. Now that he's getting more minutes, the weaknesses in his game are getting exposed more. A few bad turnovers and some relatively mediocre defensive play helped highlight why he's not going to rise much higher than a bottom pairing defenseman in the NHL.
- This was yet another game where a team with a pretty tenacious forecheck just made the Panthers look like headless chickens while trying to get out of their own zone. I've said numerous times that Florida needs to adjust their game plan and breakouts to accomodate for this, but it still looks like that adjustment hasn't been made.
- Jose Theodore would start this game, but Scott Clemmensen would finish it, as Theodore left very early in the first with what looked like a groin or core injury. Theo looked pretty hurt so it wouldn't be a surprise to see Florida call up Jacob Markstrom yet again from San Antonio. Let's hope he sticks. That said, Clemmer wasn't horrible in this one considering he had very little help in front of him.
- Dmitry Kulikov would leave the game early in the second period holding his right hand/wrist aloft. He fell while trying to make an ill-advised pass up the middle and either fell on his hand or crushed it against the boards while sliding. This would be a huge blow to Florida's now-ailing blueline, which is now missing Mike Weaver and Ed Jovanovski and playing with an injured Filip Kuba. Losing Kulikov as well would really hurt since he's been one of the Panthers' best and most consistent defensemen for quite some time.
- Jack Skille would also leave the game early in the second with no apparent report of what was wrong. He did return in the third period.
- AAAAAAAAAND.... Scottie Upshall would not be on the bench after the first period in his first game back from what seems like his 450th injury since joining the team. No comment.
- On the bright side? Colby Robak looked pretty good, and Shawn Matthias had a solid game.
- I like watching Jonathan Huberdeau play hockey and not just with the puck. He gets into it with the opposition when warranted, something the rest of the team could learn. I believe it's called "passion." Maybe that should be introduced into the marketing campaign around the blueprint. I know you're reading this, Mikey Y. Make it happen.
- Stephen Weiss did something. He fought Justin Faulk after going after him with an elbow. On a team that was already down two skaters and a goalie, I'm not really sure what Weiss was thinking, but at least it's a sign he's alive and frustrated with how things have been going for both himself and the team.
- As a Carolina fan, or a hockey fan in general, watching Chad LaRose lay down like a toddler who just tripped on a rug is embarrassing. I really never complain about stuff the opposing team does (in fact I loved how LaRose was getting under Huberdeau's skin by holding his stick on faceoffs), but diving and trying to draw calls with trash like that is a joke. Even Kevin Dineen was talking to the refs and linesmen about it. Of course, that would require the Panthers players and coaching staff to command some sort of respect from any NHL officiating crew, which they do not.
- I love how the defensive play of the game on the FSF telecast featured Alex Semin. That tells you just how bad the Panthers were.
- More from the Carolina end of the equation at Canes Country here.