'Big Week' of hockey turns into a groin shot for the Panthers

Panthers Main Course Again During Thanksgiving Feast

Three games that were to help the Florida Panthers shape the remainder of their season.  Three home games at that!  The result? 0-3, 0 points and outscored 9-3 (Last season’s feast yielded 0-1-2 with 2 pts).  And somehow the Cats managed to lose each game in a unique way.  Monday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, they fought back from two goals down, only to give up the game winning goal midway later into the third period.  Wednesday against the Boston Bruins, a one goal lead entering the third turned into a 2-1 deficit in a span of three minutes.  And on Friday, it was a good old fashioned shutout to the New York Rangers.

Folks, it’s starting to get ugly in Sunrise.  What started out pretty good coming into this week, now has the makings of disaster.  A three game losing streak for the first time this season is bad enough, couple that with a four game road trip (including three in the Pacific Time Zone) that starts tonight in Tampa Bay and you could be talking about a seven game losing streak by the time the team returns home.  Anybody seen the panic button?

The biggest problem right now, as you probably know, is the power play, seemingly 0-for-its last jillion chances.  Assistant coach Jim Hulton is under the gun now, and deservedly so.  This isn’t about a team just having a bit of bad luck, the power play is a joke.  As quick as the puck goes into the opponents zone, it comes right back out.  It’s as if there is no plan at all.  Currently, the Panthers PP unit is at 6.8%.  That’s not a typo. 6.8%!!!  I know that Florida is not the most talented team in the league, but this number is unacceptable.  Especially considering that right now, it’s the difference between winning and losing.

Something’s got to give here.  How long do we keep trotting out the same group of guys and expect something different?  How long do we have to watch Stephen Weiss (inexplicably with the A on his sweater) underachieve? Ten points (5g, 5a -2) in 20 games and no one is holding his feet to the fire? Somehow, he is still highly thought of in some NHL circles. At this point, get what you can for him in a trade and lmove on. It’s not just the lack of production, it’s the HORRIBLE giveaways that lead to scoring chances on the other end. It’s the lazy passes that allow teams to clear the zone. His production this week? No points. It’s enough.

And don’t get me wrong, Weiss isn’t the whole reason things are the way they are, but he’s the best example. For as much as I like the kid, David Booth needs to make some changes to his game. Rather than being content of racing up the left wing and firing a hard angle shot from the top of the faceoff circle, he needs to drive to the net. I don’t know if he’s gunshy from his concussions last year to drive that hard (it would be understandable) but he doesn’t have the shot for that to be his go to offensive move.

In reality, with the talent level as it is, this is more along the lines of what we (and many prognosticators) thought what would happen. But the team has shown that it’s not this bad. And there have been some injuries (Rostislav Olesz and Steve Bernier) but not crippling enough that the team goes into the tank like they did this week. The ‘leaders’ of this team didn’t perform this week at a time they were desperately needed. I wouldn’t want my office next to GM Dale Tallon’s this upcoming week as I suspect he’s going to be quite ornery. With Tallon in charge, expect changes very soon.

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Tags: Boston Bruins Dale Tallon David Booth Florida Panthers Jim Hulton New York Rangers Pittsburgh Penguins Rostislav Olesz Stephen Weiss Steve Bernier

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