Another underwhelming game for the Florida Panthers. Tuesday against the New York Islanders, Florida spotted the Isles 3-0 and 5-1 leads before making a goalie change and mailing in the final 33 minutes. It's a story we've all seen far too much this season, and claims that the team got better as the game went on tend to fall on deaf ears after knowing how the game started. A whole lot of nothing with 6 games to go.
The Islanders are a team with a purpose, and Florida is one without. If the Panthers weren't already in 30th place I'd comment how this 4 game road trip is really just a well disguised 4 game road trip to the bottom of the standings. There's really not much else to say besides that Florida looks disjointed and ragged, and painfully directionless. Go Tank.
- Very bad start for the Panthers, which is somewhat expected when you have a forward on each of the bottom 3 lines who shouldn't be in the NHL...no excuses for the veterans though. The Islanders knew that the Panthers can punish teams who sleep on them, but Capuano isn't going to let his team fall into a trap.
- Flash-Goc-Kopecky, Huberdeau-Matthias-Rallo, Skille-Bjugstad-Upshall, Howden-Shore-Parros. Yes, the season truly has been reduced to nothing more than a April training camp.
- It took a while for the Islanders to net their 5-on-3 goal, but it was a well executed 2-man advantage. I'll give the Panthers penalty killers credit because they were able to shut down the pass to the open player on the side of the net, but when the Islanders realized they couldn't make that play they turned to the point for shots, caught the Panthers defenders out of position and beat Markstrom.
- A few shifts after the 5-on-3 goal, the Isles would catch the Panthers sleeping with Michael Grabner finally scoring his first against the team that waived him. Two quick powerplay goals resulting from two ridiculously unnecessary penalties.
- ROOKIE REPORT: Markstrom- 5 tough goals against. No, you can't fault him that much on any of the individual goals, but overall he has to be better to take the reigns permanently. Right now he's not nearly consistent enough to be the starter, and those stolen games earlier in the season look out of place in comparison to the rest of his starts. When the Panthers are good, he plays well. When the Panthers can't offer him any help, he's going to get pulled eventually. Bjugstad- Jugs with Skille and Upshall...it isn't working. This was Bjugstad's 5th game, and it's absolutely not worth burning a year on his ELC to play 6 more games in a league he currently doesn't belong in. Huberdeau- #11 is one of the least frequent numbers I see on the ice, and that's a huge problem. Very quick to pass to his linemates. Shore- Back on the 4th line with Howden and Parros, he isn't going to accomplish much down there. Shore was able to match Howden's speed which is a good sign, as skating was his weakness in Denver. Howden- Looked a little timid on the forecheck to start the game, then had a nasty collision in the second period with an unintentional knee-to-knee. Good through the rest of the game. Speed alone isn't going to score many goals, though.
- Kevin Dineen must have absolutely hate Scott Clemmensen. It shouldn't take 5 goals to pull a goalie, and it doesn't matter if it's not the starter's fault. Dineen has to try to shift momentum before the game gets too far out of hand, and tonight he waited far too long.
- Jonathan Huberdeau is far from being a lock for the Calder. Consistency counts a whole lot more than being a good rookie on a bad team, and Huby hasn't scored since March 28th. If he doesn't win, once the initial 24 hours of complaints about how the NHL hates the Panthers is over, it won't matter one bit. Anything to give Huberdeau a chip on the shoulder for next season is fine by me.
- Nassau Coliseum was loud tonight, MTS Centre loud.
- Shawn Matthias wore an A for the first time in his Panthers career tonight, good for him, he was the leader of the team for stretches in this season and deserves the honor. But refocus to scoring and you'll notice that Matthias has zero goals in his last six, and has gone pointless in 28 of his 43 games this season. It was an unbelievable hot streak, but it was also predictably unsustainable. Trade deadline deal avoided for Matty, but someone needs to remind him that there's 6 more games until he cashes in a new paycheck.
- Find Islanders coverage at Lighthouse Hockey.
The final stretch is upon us with only 6 games remaining in the disastrous 2013 season, 4 of which will take place in enemy buildings. On Thursday the Cats will cross over to the other New York Island to face the Rangers, who share approximately the same goals/game figure as Florida, proving that flashing cash and trading/signing every 30 goal scorer in the league doesn't always equate to success. I'm rooting for one NY team to make the playoffs, and it sure isn't the Rags. Panthers at Rangers, Thursday at 7.