My music for today is Radiohead’s High and Dry
The Panthers are 2-1-0 at this early point of the season. The team is completely different in many ways, especially on the power play.
However, a few things need to change defensively if the Panthers want to be successful in the long run.
Most importantly, they must help Jose Theodore see the puck. When he sees it, he usually stops it (.930 sv% so far).
There are three related pieces to this puzzle.
1. The obvious of these is to clear the front of the net. They can’t screen him if they aren’t there. This isn’t an easy thing to do. You risk being a screen yourself. Marc-Andre Bergeron had a good night, enough to claim second star in a loss, but Theodore seemed to have trouble seeing the puck with all that traffic in front of the net. The Lightning came out for the third period with a new strategy in mind. More shots from the point with bodies creating a screen. It worked.
2. While they haven’t been a glaring problem so far, rebounds have to be handled properly. Clearing the front of the net is part of this yet again. Being smart with the puck afterwords is also very important. Turning the puck over in your own zone is never a good result.
3. The Panthers struggled getting the puck out of the zone. This is connected with number two. However, this caused one of Bergeron’s goals. The worst part about that goal, is that the Panthers had won the faceoff. Difficulty getting the puck out, resulted in a turnover. Which, as mentioned above, creates an undesirable result. The Panthers get 2 points, the Lightning none; without that shift of momentum in the third.
The Panthers defense has shown offensive prowess of late. Think Ed Jovanovski and Kulikov’s pass to Steeger. Allowing almost the same amount of goals that you produce, however, isn’t a statistic to be proud of. This week is going to define if the team will have their best October in a long time. So far the energy is there, keeping that going will be essential. Having a winning record against the rival Tampa Bay Lightning (who will be seeking revenge in their own building) would be good, but Washington will bring a difficult challenge on Tuesday. The Capitals are 4-0-0 so far, it would send a message if the Panthers bring the fight with them to the Verizon Center.
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