With only two games under their belt on the season opening road trip to Western Canada, the Florida Panthers quickly find themselves winless despite their effort. While the systems themselves seem to have changed slightly in certain areas, there are still tactics that look terrifyingly similar to last season.
I’m not pushing the panic button yet. It’s way too early for that, but you have to wonder how things are going to get better, and are these two games an indication of what to expect all season. A short measuring stick for sure, but let’s face it, a bit of a concern is there. Let’s look at what’s developed so far, both good and bad, and in no particular order.
* Tomas Vokoun as we all know is going to keep us in more games than not. He really does look like he’s in midseason form, and I really don’t think it has anything to do with this being a contract year. He’s a professional, one of the top ten goalies in the NHL, however he needs offensive support.
* The power play is a dismal 0-8. Not too creative for one, and no traffic being created in front of the net. I was waiting during the Canucks game for someone to be camped in front of Bobby Lose to distract him. I would think that since the Panthers had the last two playoffs off, they would have watched Lou’s performance and know that getting in his way takes him off his game.
* We’re outshooting our opponents by a decent margin. While we are also facing some quality goaltending, we aren’t creating the shots against that require the “tough” save. Trying to blast it through a chest protector won’t work.
* There has been less “dump and chase” for the most part which is good, as long we are able to make smart plays. Sometimes though we need to dump the puck in and “force” a slower defensive pair to turn their packs and get the pucks. That is really a function of knowing who’s on the ice when, and should get better as the season progresses.
* Rusty’s goal was off a lucky bounce or deflection. In reality after two games, we have two legitimate goals. Not enough scoring going forward if that continues, and we all know this.
* The effort has been there for sure. We aren’t necessarily beating ourselves and that’s good. But there is no column for effort, and effort doesn’t get us any points. Again, its’ another season of having to work harder than anyone else for goals. The question is can we do it for 82 games?
* Lines need some adjusting already. As from what I’ve seen so far, Steve Bernier is being wasted on the fourth line. Let’s not get cozy with the fact that he created or helped create both Reasoner goals against Edmonton. We need our top two lines scoring. They aren’t. Put Bernier on the second line, move Frolik down, and put Higgins on the top line.
* Regariding the power play, I would like to see more setups for Bryan McCabe and his slapshot. He made a living for awhile in Toronto booming shots from the point. The Panthers need to take advantage of that more.
* Stop the drop pass after crossing the offensive zone. Would rather see the puck get in deep or go straight to the net. There seems to be too much play on the perimeter and not enough in the slot. Which leads to finally:
* CREATE TRAFFIC IN FRONT OF THE NET! Plant a big body like Bernier in the crease. Someone, anyone, to distract the goaltender, and block his vision. We probably lead the league in the lastr four years with the least amount of tipped in goals.
Lucky bounces, hard work, and catching breaks are all things that teams get in cycles. It’s only two games so far, but you can see the issues already that we’re faced with. The biggest one is, and you’re most likely going to hear me say it all season is, we can’t finish. To be happy with the effort, but to come up empty each time is disappointing, and so far that’s what I’m reading from reporters, fans and the media, as well as hearing it from the players and coaches.
Been there. Done that. Excuses are for losers.
Thanks for reading.
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