Undisciplined. Mentally unprepared. Out of position. Details. Pick one or two to describe the play of the Florida Panthers.
Whatever word or set of words you’d like to use about last nights continuation of the last two games go ahead and use. It won’t matter unless this team can fix things right away. Personally I’d like to focus on discipline and mentally unprepared.
The number 16 haunts us this weekend. And no I’m not talking about Nathan Horton either. I’m talking the amount of penalties in two games. This type of play at any level of the game is not acceptable and someone needs to take some heat for it. This team is not good enough to spend half their games killing penalties. You can’t get into a flow, your defence gets tired, and your third and fourth lines never see the ice. It makes for a long game.
Obviously players are partly to blame, but what the hell have they been working on since training camp? No slight to Tampa, but they aren’t necessarily the elite of the NHL. If this crap continues against teams like Washington, Philadelphia and New Jersey, we’ll get blown out nightly.
Once again at least 40 shots were fired at a Panther goaltender as a shaky, yet bombarded Jacob Markstrom was only able to stop 36. Markstrom was playing in his first full preseason game and is expected to spend the year in Rochester, or until a goaltender is traded.
Heach Coach Peter DeBoer made the comment that “We weren’t engaged mentally as we should be”. That falls to the coaching staff. It’s their job to prepare the players and make sure they are motivated to do the right things and have their minds in the right places. There are a lot of kids on this team, as well as players who should know better. 10 penalties on Friday should have taught this group a lesson. Six more Saturday proved that it didn’t. DeBoer is going to have his hands full. He’s got a ton of work to do and this two game display is evident of many problems.
Erik Gudbranson however played in his seventh pre-season game. The only Panther to do so. What does that tell you? Looks like this kid will be offered a contract and will start the season with the Panthers from everything I’m reading. Can’t be anything wrong with that. Big G had almost 24 minutes of ice time Saturday, and if that’s not a show of confidence then I don’t know what is.
On the other side of the coin Keaton Ellerby appears to be headed to Rochester. Drafted in the first round in 2007 this young defenceman has taken a while to develop and while this camp was his best so far, it wasn’t enough. That’s discouraging for both Ellerby, and for the Panthers. Ellerby came to camp ready, added some weight, and was more physical than we’d seen before. However, an injury in the last week curtailed his progression and it looks like he’s been beaten out again. He’ll be back, but most likely not until someone gets injured or traded. I would expect Big G to go beyond the nine game test and stay the season, forcing Ellerby to wait for a mishap or a trade. Is Ellerby another miss by the scouting department? Maybe. I myself haven’t seen much of him that’s impressive, but then again I’m no scout. However, I did say once upon a time that Krissy Huselius was too soft, and that Denis Shvidki was a waste.
The Panthers will also need to trim their roster some in order to get down to 23 players. They are currently at 29, and it will be interesting to see how things go down.
Game one is next Sunday the 10th in Edmonton. Followed by Vancouver and Calgary before coming home to play the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Home Opener on October 16th.
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