Panthers Crash Back To Earth

That thud you heard around 10 o’clock on Thursday was the Florida Panthers having a heaping load of reality dropped on them in the shape of the Dallas Stars 4-1 win.  The Cats laid their first egg of the year following four days of rest after Saturday’s destruction of Tampa.  Tom Wandell pocketed two late goals in each of the first two periods.  The first one deflated the team, his second buried just about any hopes of a comeback.  Steve Ott and James Neal added the other two tallies to the Stars, who continued their early winning ways.

The Good

– The Panther PK unit continued their perfect way, killing off all three Stars’ PP’s.  The Panthers still continue to lead the league by with only 11 penalties through five games.  A far cry from a team that, some nights last year, seemed to star in a neverending parade to the penalty box.  On most nights, it’s a huge plus but tonight it did not matter in the final score.

-Stephen Weiss became the first top line player to notch a goal(redirecting a Michael Frolik shot with just over three minutes to play), that’s the good news.  The bad? The top line was mostly invisible over the other 57 mintues.

The Bad

-A little bit of deja vu from last season, though not as bad as you’d think by looking at the score.  But, the team came out flat from the opening face off and never recovered.  The surprising part was that Dallas didn’t grab the lead earlier as Tomas Vokoun was caught out of his net on a few occasions as the Stars played much of the first period in the Panthers defensive zone.  Maybe, the squad had too much time off with two many people congratulating them on the big home opening win, but they now have a fresh memory of what happens when the effort isn’t there.  Like Billy Lindsay mentioned during the game, you can deal with this 1 out of 10 games, but not a bunch in a row.  The hope is that this is just a bad game.  Won’t have to wait to long as another surprising club, the New York Islanders visit the Bank Atlantic Center Saturday night.

-The first line and PP.  Both are intertwined so I’ll kill two birds with one stone.  Weiss’ goal aside, the first line has been ABYSMAL and tonight was no exception.  They’re not meshing well at all.  Their shifts went by tonight without many legitimate scoring chances.  Once again, the secondary lines provided the most ammo.  It’s pretty evident so far that they’ve been outplayed by the other lines in every game so far. As for the PP, twice in the first ten minutes went the unit failed to capitalize of Dallas miscues that could have changed the whole tone.  The unit failed again early in the second period when the Panthers trailed 2-0.  Weiss and Frolik led Cats forwards in PP time and had almost nothing to show for it.  Maybe the late points for both of them will get them going but, to date, they’ve almost been a liability.

Until they string a few stinkers together, I’m going to say this is just a bad night.  Having four days off after a win like the one on Saturday isn’t ideal, but it can’t be an excuse to play poorly.  The best news is that they’ll be back on the ice Saturday against a quality opponent with a chance to play like the first four games and not like tonight.  But with this team’s recent track record, I’ll be much less anxious when the puck drops on the next game.

For the probably much more jovial Dallas perspective of tonight’s game, visit Blackout Dallas

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