Special Team Is Making A Difference

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If we compare last year’s numbers to this year, you can see that the new system that everyone has bought into has made a huge impact.  For example last season the Panthers killed off 79.4 % of their penalties against.  This season they have killed off 88.9 %.  It is quite obvious that the combination of a few new players and the new system has made the difference.  From my seat, whether that’s on the couch, or in the arena, I see more aggressive play, sticks in the shooting lanes, and less collapsing.  All things combined are also reducing the amount of shots against, which ultimately gives the goalies less work to do.

One area though that I’d like to see some improvement on is to take some chances shorthanded rather than clear the puck out and go off for a line change.  Last season the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks (good god I love to type that) led the league with 13 short-handed goals which can make a huge difference in a game, and certainly change the momentum.  I’d like to see  Florida take more of those types of opportunities.

On the reverse side of things though the Power Play (PP) sometimes referred to here as piss poor, is completely the opposite and is 28th in the league with only a 8.1% success rate.  A Stanley Cup winning coach said many years ago that in order for a team to be successful the total percentage of your special teams should add up to more than 100.  Right now the Panthers sit at 97 %.  That number is misleading with the PP at 8.1 %.  If they would have converted on just a few more power plays and get an extra five or so goals, their record might be 7-5 instead of 5-7.

F.Y.I., the Chicago Blackhawks combined number last season was 102, so the th0ught is spot on.

Not to take anything away from the PK unit, in order for this team to “steal” some victories though, the PP unit must convert more chances.  Bodies in front of the net, more slapshots from the point by Bryan McCabe, and less fancy passing.  I know they know this, and I know you know it to.  maybe someone should tell assistant coach Jim Hulton about it.

Special teams can win games.  They can be a reason teams lose games as well.  The Panthers need to find not only the right mix, but the right antidote for success in both areas.  However unless we convert on some power play chances, we’ll continue to lose games by a goal that maybe could have been won.

Thanks for reading.

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