A few times during the early stretches of Sunday's afternoon game against the Buffalo Sabres, it looked like the Panthers had perhaps patted eachother on the back a bit too much after earning their second victory on Thursday night. After digging themselves into a 3-1 hole with Buffalo pouring on the scoring chances, Florida got some help from unexpected hands to turn the tide of the game, scoring three unanswered goals en route to victory. As far as I'm concerned; George Parros has earned the belt in the locker room.
I'm not saying it was a flawless game. The Panthers defense was atrocious for most of the game, and Buffalo had many opportunities to put it away. Fortunately, either an active stick saved the day or the player simply missed the gap when the game was on the line, leaving me feeling like Florida escaped the game despite taking the bull by the horns at the end. Luck isn't sustainable, so the Cats still have some work to do.
Besides that, I think the resiliency shown when things were looking tough is a good sign. Since Dineen publicly called out his players, they've put up ten goals and fought back from some deficits, which in the five games prior immediately sunk the Cats. I'm not ready to say everything is right in PantherLand, but two wins in a row have injected some much needed life back into the Panthers.
- I think it's nice they sing O Canada at Sabres games for all of those poor embarrassed Leafs fans who have to travel to another country for some good hockey.
- There were scouts from 18 different teams at this game. I think it's safe to say Dale Tallon might be looking to make some trades.
- Every defensive pairing the Panthers roll looks off, either one of the defensemen is too busy covering the other, one is expecting a play the other wont make, or both are trying to do everything at once. It's clear that there is absolutely no chemistry to be found on the blueline. This is a huge, huge problem. Even with Jovanovski out for the road trip.
- Good for Shawn Matthias, for the first season ever I don't have any complaints about any aspect of his game. Matthias sent a shot right past Ryan Miller after Jerred Smithson won a clean faceoff. Two of the hardest working Panthers this season finally get rewarded.
- Does Kevin Dineen really have no problem having his defensemen fight? You know, there's a tiny chance we might need them over the course of their 5 minute major...unlike you know, George Parros who was signed for the job.
- Mike Weaver has been really handled this year, there I said it. You have to wonder if that concussion in the preseason scrimmage has something to do with it. Get well soon Weavsy, we neeeeed you.
- Tomas Fleischmann has played a much more complete game over the last few, but I really wish he'd forecheck harder. It's pretty well known that he's a dangerous player around the league and he does force plenty of turnovers (like a partial breakaway in the first after pressuring Alexander Sulzer) but I feel like he could create way more if he'd keep his feet moving.
- Speaking of Parros, I guess John Scott in the only player in nine games worthy of dropping the gloves with him. Pretty even, uneventful scrap.
- So over the last pair of games Jose Theodore has given up three weak goals from the point. Alex Sulzer (of all the former Panthers who could possibly score) would slap one past Theodore who had a pretty clear view. Sure they'll say Cody Hodgeson was screening, but I'm not buying it. What's the deal with Theo?
- For a nice change of pace, Florida's first minor penalty was 6 minutes into the second period. And it held up as the only Panthers infraction of the game. I like that game plan.
- George Parros: renegade fighter, doghouse occupant and MillerKiller.
- Peter Mueller and Drew Shore have some kind of beautiful, beautiful chemistry going on. Shore's hard work is really paying dividends for the Panthers, though it only now has found its way on to the scoresheet. Shore would draw all sorts of attention catching the rebound of his own shot and passed back to Peter Mueller who was trailing the play. I look forward to seeing those two connect for many more years.
- Also, Mueller has strung together a 4 game goal scoring streak and looks absolutely incredible out there. I think the concussion concerns are all but gone, he looks like the pre-Rob Blake'd Mueller I watched power the Avs to the playoffs in 2010.
- I'm seriously all fuzzy for Drew Shore. Besides getting his pocket picked earlier in the game, he strung together another strong game.
- Brian Campbell has matched his goal total from last year in 74 fewer games, all four coming on the powerplay. I miss Garrison, but it's nice to see Soupy picking up the slack. Against his former team, too.
- Find your opposing team recap over at Die by the Blade.
Catch the Cats in action on Tuesday when they take on Ondrej Pavelec's Winnipeg Jets. Or Al Montoya's. Or a two defensemen guarding the net and an extra attacker for 60 minutes. Would it really hurt, Claude? Also, another look at NHLer James Wright. Hahahahaaaaa. 8 PM Eastern