The Florida Panthers looked to bounce back Sunday in another matinee game, this time against the New York Rangers, who have struggled at times this season and sit towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference. It seemed the Cats, who would have a burr in their collective saddles after a loss against the New York Islanders the day before, would run roughshod over the floundering Rangers.
The Rangers thought otherwise.
After a wild, penalty filled game, the Panthers had to mount yet another late third period comeback, this time tying the game 5-5 on a fantastic deflection by Brian Boyle. That would send the clubs to overtime and an eventual shootout win thanks to the strong play of Sam Montembeault in net and a huge Vincent Trocheck shootout goal.
After going down early in the first, the Panthers played a strong puck possession game, eventually potting two goals late in the first to give them the lead at intermission. The Rangers mounted a huge push in the second period however, and went into the third leading the Cats 5-4.
Credit to the Panthers for repeatedly fighting back against Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers, as they earned a tough two points, and it’s better than the one that would have resulted in another overtime or shootout loss, something the Cats have suffered quite a few of so far this season. There is certainly some cause for concern about the Panthers inability to hold leads though, as it’s becoming a regular thing to see the Panthers squander just about any lead this season. That, without a doubt, has to get shored up.
Check out Blueshirt Banter to hear the lamentations of Broadway, and join us on Tuesday as the Panthers roll into Boston to take on the Bruins, who sit second in the Eastern Conference thus far. It’s going to be a good one, folks.
- MacKenzie Weegar took a shot off the face Sunday, leaving the ice while bleeding profusely, and he did not return. Let’s all hope Weegar is OK and not out for a long period of time.
- Montembeault looked a bit shaky in net, something we saw in his last start where he was benched after three weak goals against. Florida’s brass knew coming into this season that a backup rookie would be a dangerous proposition, and so far that has proven to be the case, as Monty’s numbers have not been stellar. We’ll see if he can course correct as the season wears on.
- Aleksander Barkov is back, baby. He looks quick, hard to get off the puck, dangerous without it, and his vision is there again. Whatever was ailing him earlier in the season seems to be gone.
- The disappearance of Mike Hoffman from the score sheet is very concerning, and we’re seeing a bit of a scoring imbalance in the lineup again, similar to last season under coach Bob Boughner. Florida’s depth scoring has been better this season but some of the top guys like Hoffman and Trocheck seem a bit snake-bitten lately. Once those guys get rolling, this team’s scoring outlook is downright scary every game.
- The defense is still giving the opposition a little too much time and space here and there, backing into the zone and losing their gap to the opposing forward. This was a huge problem last season under Boughner and it seems the club has mostly corrected this, but we’re still seeing it creep back at times. Defensive guru Mike Kitchen has got to help guys like Mike Matheson and Keith Yandle fix this sooner than later.
- After watching a lot of his games so far this season, I’m not all that impressed yet with Kappo Kakko. However, I see a lot of Barkov in his game, in that he seems to be trying to handle the defensive side of the NHL first, knowing that the scoring will come later. You can see the raw talent there, and when he’s had enough games to slow the game down for him, he’s going to be a star for the Rags. So far they’ve wisely sheltered him at times and he’s sure to benefit from a bit less pressure under the bright lights of New York.