For the second time in as many days, the Florida Panthers would play a hockey game with extra minutes, and for the second time in as many days they would fail to convert in the shootout, losing 3-2 to the New York Islanders. The Panthers managed to score the only first period goal of their season so far off the stick of Denis Malgin, giving them a lead early, but they would not be able to hold it, as the Islanders would score two in the second to give them the lead.
Florida once again would not quit though, staging a comeback late in the third period. This time the hero would be Evgenii Dadonov, who placed a perfect wrister over the shoulder of Semyon Varlamov off a nice feed from Jonathan Huberdeau. The game would stay tied at two and send both clubs to overtime. However, Florida looked gassed in the extra session, and managed again to not score a single goal in the shootout despite the solid play of Sam Montembeault in net.
At times Panthers looked tired, which is somewhat expected in a back-to-back situation, but the Islanders were in the same boat after losing to the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday evening. There aren’t too many excuses for this game; the Panthers just aren’t bringing much offense right now. The 5v5 scoring chances could be counted on one hand for majority of the game, and the power play looks pretty impotent, generating mostly just barely-screened perimeter shots with almost no rebound chances. Defensively the club wasn’t atrocious but they weren’t great either, with Montembeault having to make quite a few big saves to keep the Cats in this one, especially in the second period where the Islanders dominated in terms of puck possession.
We’re five games in now, and there’s not much to see so far, but it is at least notable that the team seems to be working harder after the 6-3 shellacking they took against Carolina. It hasn’t amounted to much yet, but at least there’s some pulse in the locker room, which is a good sign. However, the Panthers are sitting on four points out of a possible ten. If they’re going to start the season strong, they need to start turning around Monday against New Jersey, or else it’s going to be too late.
The Panthers will have a day to rest on Sunday before heading over to the Garden State for a matinee game against the Devils at 1 PM ET. We’ll have the Caterwaul up and ready for those of you who are bored at work, and we’ll have the recap shortly after. In the meantime, check out the flip side from Lighthouse Hockey and tell ‘em we said, “Trocheck was tripped”.
- Aleksander Barkov, where art thou? Another game, another nearly invisible night, and another miss in the shootout. If he’s truly hurt, the Panthers should rest him until he’s healthy. If he’s healthy, it’s going to be a long season.
- The Panthers need to shoot more. There’s one too many passes and I would imagine coach Q agrees. On that note, the shots need more traffic in front. Too many point shots are coming in with zero visual obstruction in front of the opposing goalie, giving them little to no challenge to gloving it down.
- Malgin’s been getting plenty of chances this season to showcase himself, whether it’s for a permanent roster spot or for a potential trade down the line. In either case, he’s been showing pretty well the last two games and has played his way into the lineup over Henrik Borgstrom, for now.
- For wanting to be a puck possession team, the Panthers sure do like to dump and chase a lot, or flip the puck high into the air to no particular player. There are not a ton of controlled zone entries that lead to maintained possession and it shows, with many of the scoring chances of the “one and done” variety. We saw this quite often last season, where the forecheckers seem a step behind the dump-ins, leading to a change of possession majority of the time.
- Vincent Trocheck has been playing fairly solidly defensively, but has been really struggling to find a way to get any kind offense going. He’s always been a player who drives the line he’s on, but he’s starting to look like a one-man show with no tickets sold. He’s not using his linemates well enough to this point and still doesn’t seem to have much chemistry with anyone in particular. He looks healthy again and the Panthers really need a Trocheck that fires as many shots as he can on net, something he’s passing up a lot lately. He had some looks in this game but had his shots blocked or deflected, leading to a moment of frustration in the third period where slammed his stick off the wall below the bench. We feel you, Vinny, we feel you.
- The fourth line was once again one of the best lines in terms of sustained offensive zone possession time. They generated multiple scoring chances and are doing a pretty solid job of forcing turnovers on the forecheck. They have not been able to cash in much yet, but if they keep it up goals will come.
- Montembeault looked excellent getting his first full game of the season. If there’s one positive so far about this season, it’s the goaltending. What was a huge sore spot for the Panthers last year has turned around dramatically. And yes, Sergei Bobrovsky’s numbers are not great, but if you watched those games you know how many of those goals can be laid at his feet versus the lack of defensive play in front of him.
- Another pretty good game for Mike Matheson. Can’t believe I’m typing this again, but let’s enjoy this, shall we? I’m not sure if it’s systems or coaching or what, but he’s looking a lot better so far this season, and far more confident with and without the puck.