For 30 minutes or so the Florida Panthers seemed to be frustrating the defending Stanley Cup Champs as Tomas Vokoun continued his solid play from the night before. Keeping the highly skilled Chicago Blackhawks off the scoreboard until Chicago’s Brent Seabrook opened the scoring with just over five minutes left in the second period. Playing their first game with Chicago’s most handsome athelete out with a lower body injury, the Hawks found that scoring can come from other places.
Viktor Stalberg who has been frustrating if nothing else gave the Hawks a 2-0 lead with less than a minute left in the second, and that was really all the Hawks would need. But you had the feeling that the weren’t done. Two more goals in the third by Patrick Kane and Tomas Kopecky, gave the Panthers their second shutout loss in a row, on back to back nights.
The Panthers found themselves in trouble by giving the Hawks multiple power play chances as the number one power play on home ice took advantage of the number one penalty killing unit on the road. While the Hawks only scored one power play goal, it was the three consecutive chances in the second period that allowed the speedy Hawks to control the game. All but forcing head coach Peter DeBoer to roll three lines in the second frame. Tough thing to do with a tired bunch who was missing their leading scorer Stephen Weiss again.
However it wasn’t only the lack of scoring that did the Panthers in. It was also some defensive mistakes and the style of play that ultimately frustrated goaltender Tomas Vokoun, has clearly seen enough. George Richards has some insight to Vokoun’s frustration at his blog On Frozen Pond.
If you read between the lines you can easily see that Vokoun expects more support from his teammates and expects more from himself at the same time. Having played in front of a Nashville team that struggled to score goals, their attention to defence wasn’t an issue. However, we have heard Vokoun voice his opinion on this situation in the past, and he seems to only do it when it reaches a boiling point. Are we at the end of the line now with him? Will it matter what kind of money the Panthers throw at him?
Vokoun will be a free agent come July 1st. While he can’t possibly expect to make close to the almost six million per season he’s getting now, at one point I felt that if he took a home town discount of around four million, he’d be worth keeping for a couple years. At least until Jacob Markstrom is ready. Now, I’m not so sure he wouldn’t take less to play somewhere else. At his age, he wants back in the playoffs and to play for a team that has a chance to make it. This is really the third rebuild for him since he’s been here, and he’s obviously getting impatient and frustrated.
Can’t say I blame him as you can defend the efforts of the skaters in front of him all you want. Bottom line is that everyone on the team needs to know their responsibility and buy into the system. It’s very easy for any of us to sit here and blame Vokoun for goals that he gives up, and that he’s out of position on some, and gives up an easy one here and there. Honestly, every goaltender gives up an easy one. You don’t remember Roberto Luongo ever giving up easy goals or goals late in the third period? Well, he’s still doing it, but he’s playing with a better team in front of him. They just can’t get past the second round of the playoffs, but that’s another story.
Point is that unless we get players that can finish, this team cannot expect to win all their games 2-1, or even 3-2. The pressure that you put on your goaltender is too much. Mr. Knowsnothing if you’re reading this, also read Vokoun’s comments in George’s blog post. Team defence. We can’t score. We play safe. We can’t play run and gun because we’ll make a mistake and it will cost us. This team for the past few years has had to play perfect hockey on a nightly basis. Granted this year the effort for about 50 games was significantly better, but we still suffer from the same ills.
Sooner or later the message has to be received. We need finishers. Shooting blanks leaves everyone unsatisfied.
One last thing, if anyone has a Jonathan Toews bobblehead that they may not want let me know.
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