From my seat, the Florida Panthers 1-0 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens doesn't fall under the blanket term of a heartbreaker. Though it had all of the characteristics of one, the Valentine's Day game against the Habs wasn't marked by the effort the team cheated out of a win should have had. Jose Theodore gave his team a lift, but until the very end his team was more interested in punishing the Canadiens rather than scoring goals; making it a waiting game for the more rounded attack of the Habs to break through. The Cats pushed it to overtime, but that's as far as they could go until the lack of scoring finally caught up with them. It wasn't a bad loss, but it was frustrating to say the least. What's new?
What is it about the Panthers? When the offense shows up, the goalie doesn't. When the goalie shows up, the offense skips town. Florida can't seem to find middle ground as they've swung from every extreme possible in the course of a quarter season. It seems like the Panthers are on the verge of a commanding victory one night and succumb to an embarrassing loss the next. It's not like the Panthers go through major shakeups each game; losing Versteeg or benching Kovalev here and there shouldn't throw off the team enough to have wild fluctuations in effort and intensity each night. Something is going wrong, and unless Kevin Dineen has a magical solution the Panthers might be singing this song for a while yet.
- Kris Versteeg would miss the game with an injury, allowing Shawn Matthias a chance on the first line. Billy calls it an 'opportunity', but is it really? Playing with Weiss and Flash sounds good on paper, but without Versteeg that line just isn't good. Flash is going to score no matter who he's playing with, and Stephen Weiss doesn't care. Matthias would be better off playing against weaker opposition.
- Kevin Dineen has tried every line combination, defensive pairing, goalie, power play unit, healthy scratch...and yet it still hasn't dawned on him that the key to success is giving Hubs-Mueller-Shore more playing time. It's been incredibly apparent that they're the offensive power of the Panthers, yet we still see them buried under the FW? line each game. Why? It better not be because he doesn't trust the rookies with the added responsibility, because the veterans certainly haven't shown much accountability themselves.
- It feels like every period without a goal scored is an 'escape' period, which isn't so good. Also, Mike Weaver would lead the Cats in TOI after the first period, in which he had a pretty sweet open ice hit on Max Paccioretty. Me likey.
- Lets be honest here, Brian Campbell doesn't look like he's working very hard out there. Last year it was alright letting Garrison cover for him when he wanted to play offensively, but anymore he seems to have lots of confidence in Filip Kuba to save his butt instead of hustling back. Very un-Soupy-like.
- I'll never complain about the Panthers playing physically, but they have to strike a balance between playing tough and playing with skill. Tonight Florida really wanted to punish the Canadiens, but the offensive game really looked slowed down. Florida will take penalties, but they can't draw them.
- OK seriously. What happened to the Panthers scoring/giving up a million goals? 2 periods of absolutely nothing. Though I did hear Jack Skille say a naughty word back in the first.
- Dmitry Kulikov put up 6 hits through two periods, and his ice time would jump up about 3 minutes from the first to second, putting him just a bit behind Brian Campbell for the team lead through 40. Ice time stats: A new Chris favorite.
- Florida Pantherzzzzzzzzz. Drew Shore and Jonathan Huberdeau seem to be the only players who can keep me awake. And generate chances.
- Dmitry Kulikov had a great game defensively and chipped in a boatload of hits. If he can continue to string together strong games like that, people will finally have a reason to lay off of him. Whether that will happen remains to be seen, but it's a good start after a forgettable quarter season from him.
- Loser points aren't getting the Panthers into the playoffs. As if that wasn't painfully apparent.
Florida takes on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, looking to avenge a loss doled out earlier in the season. Though you could say the Panthers are looking to avenge a loss from a lot of teams. This time its Tampa. So yeah. Bolts at Cats, Saturday at 3.