The Florida Panthers have fallen back into old habits. While you could see weaknesses held back the Panthers in the last two games, those weaknesses were hidden by a team effort when points were on the line. Tonight the team effort was as pitiful as it had been all year, and it started with the opening puck drop. A four game point streak means nothing when you're still sitting at 13th in the conference, it's not like the Panthers have the luxury of sitting back for any game, even if it is against the worst team in the league.
The Washington Capitals never had anything to worry about in their 5-0 whipping of the Panthers. Florida applied the weakest coating of offensive pressure in the first period to keep Braden Holtby busy, but after the Capitals struck first on late goal the Cats treated it as the end of the world and lost all mental fortitude. Remind me, which team was said to have those habits? Assuredly not the Capitals, who took a lead and never looked back. The Panthers meanwhile looked absolutely devoid of leadership and confidence after having won 3 of their last 4 games. Of course the season isn't over as we always like to say, but what's keeping Florida from falling into another 5 game losing streak?
Good thing the Cats play the worst team in the league on Tuesday. Oh wait...
- Something I've been happy to see from the Panthers is having a player in front of the net, as basic as it seems. On the powerplay, Peter Mueller has been camped out in front screening the goalie(though for being such a skilled player with a sniper shot I'd rather he play wing during the powerplay, but take what you get).
- Early on former Cat Wojtek Wolski sure looked like he wanted to get a little revenge on Dineen and Tallon for dropping him during the playoffs; sneaking in and around Theodore and nearly getting an unobstructed shot on a pass that ended up behind him.
- Only the Florida Panthers can make one of the worst goalies in this season look like a superstar. It starts with shooting into his glove on a 2-on-1.
- Jose Theodore is having major issues making saves on unscreened perimeter shots. That's something goalies are supposed to be good at, right?
- When the forwards are playing against a team shaky in their defensive zone and have virtually nothing going for them, it's time to cut the cord on experimental lines. Time to put Mueller back with the linemates he had chemistry with.
- You know something is wrong with the Panthers when they aren't drawing calls against oft-penalized teams like Philadelphia and Washington. Lack of speed and intensity over the last few games is making the Cats too easy to defend.
- Not that Theodore is totally to blame for going down 3-0, especially with another effortless games from the other 18 skaters, but for me; when you're going down the blowout route you have to pull the goalie for any hope of making a comeback. Keeping Theodore in net seems like waving the white flag. Eventually he would be pulled, when the slide hit 5-0.
- At the end of the second period, Tomas Kopecky finally ended his 6 period streak leading the Panthers forwards in TOI. I'm not sure what Dineen was thinking through that stretch of time.
- In the middle of the third period after going down 4-0, the cameras shifted for a nice long shot of Kevin Dineen. Without knowing the guy it's hard to read him, but I sure thought I saw a lot of confusion in his eyes.
- On the other bench, I swear Adam Oates became the first coach I've ever seen smile and laugh. I'm not exaggerating, I've never ever seen that before. Must be a rookie.
- TRADE KEATON ELLERBY!!
- Catch some Capitals recap action over with our pals at Japers' Rink.
The Panthers will meet the Capitals again on Tuesday as they close out the home-and-home. Awesome. Caps at Cats, 7:30 p.m. ET; LBC GameThread right here at 7.