Off The Schnide!

Photo Source: AP via CBC

For the first time in this young season, the Florida Panthers have something tangible to show for after another strong outing: Two points in the standings as the Cats blanked the Calgary Flames 3-0.

The venerable Radek Dvorak pocketed a pair of goals in the first eight minutes of the game to put the Flames back on their heels and give the Panthers their first lead of the season.  Shawn Matthias added his first on the year midway through the third to erase any thoughts of a comeback. Former Panthers Niklas Hagman, Olli Jokinen and Jay Bouwmeester had a combined 8 shots and were a collective -3. JayBo got a strong reminder of his desire to play in a more passionate hockey market as the Flames faithful rained boos upon the team at various points in the game.

The Good

- Vo-koun! After hardly being tested through the first two periods, Tomas stopped 16 third period Flames shots to preserve his first shutout of the season.  Through the first three games, it looks like he’s just picking up where he left off.

-The revamped PK unit blanked the Flames PP 0-4.  Many of those PP sessions for the Flames ended with zero shots, a far cry from a season ago.

-Despite being out shot 17-5 in the third period, the Panther defense had a strong game. The Flames were held to 10 shots through the first two frames while the Panthers protected a 2-0 lead. Only once the game was out of reach, did Calgary mount a serious offensive attack.

The Bad

-Another game without any production from the first line.  The combo of Weiss, Frolik and Higgins have produced zero points in three games (David Booth had one point in the Edmonton game, but he was skating with 4th line).  Maybe they’re saving it for Saturday’s home opener, but they better not wait too long.

-It seems redundant, so I’ll keep it brief. The power play is just flat out dreadful right now.

-Shot accuracy continues to be a noticeable problem.  Stevie Wonder playing ring toss has better accuracy than the Panthers.  Too many shots are sailing way wide of it’s target without forcing anything from the goalie.  Heck, aim for the logo if nothing else and hope for a rebound!

So that’s it for the opening Western Canada road trip as the Cats head home 1-2. Could’ve been better but the trip is salvaged with the two points in Calgary.  Next up, the debut of the Panthers at the Bank Atlantic Center for the regular season Saturday against the hot-out-of-the-gates Tampa Bay Lightning (3-0, 6 pts). Check out our mates over at Bolts By The Bay for the Tampa side of things.

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  • Frank Rekas

    Very well played game. Did I just say that?
    Well, have to admit, and I said to myself, that if the Cats were going to do any damage in this game, it would have to be in the first period. Slow starts to games drove Keenan crazy, and now Sutter is experiencing the same thing.

    Ex-Kittens Jay, Olli and Hagman, combined for 8 shots and a collective minus 3.

    The Reasoner line with Still-Man and Dvorak was hot. If kept together I will refer to them as “The Century Village Line!

    Reasoner leads in points! Yikes!

  • Matt Reitz

    Last night’s game was the perfect template for the rest of the season. Obviously, jumping out to a lead is important for most NHL teams, but it seems like it’s going to be even more important for the Panthers this year. The entire game just had a different feel once they grabbed those first 2 goals…

    I know that people wont like to hear it, but without a ton of fire power (and a few holes on the blueline), the Panthers could use an early goal that allows them to sit back a little bit. Give Vokoun just a LITTLE bit of help and he can pitch a shutout on any given night. Dont give him help, and well… it WAS the first win of the season.

    Very good game to see from Florida though. Calgary came out a little flat and they took full advantage.

  • slapshot1106

    I haven’t seen a game yet becasue of Fox and Dish Network conflicts, but nice to see the club has settled some of the naysayers here… Still very early, but nice to hear they’re putting in a solid effort, winning battles, and showing some signs of promise…

    Rebuilding takes time and snipers aren’t easy to find. Even when they’re available, it’s not always the right fit… Getting the guys to put in solid efforts, competing, earning respect are all positive signs… PP will always be below par here, but solid PK is even more important for a team like the Panthers.. This team needs to consistently stay in low-scoring games, so PK is essential…

    Stay positive my friends…