Thus far this season, the Florida Panthers have had somewhat of a roller coaster ride. Over the course of the season, we’ve already seen the potential this team has when things click, but we’ve also seen phases of improvement this team needs to focus on. Jose Theodore has gone above and beyond thus far and has done more than any fan expected of him. After a 3-1 start, many people were getting excited believing that this team would not lose, but the reality is that this league just gets harder and harder as the year goes on and teams start to build more chemistry. Now that the Panthers have been struggling of late many fans will question if this team has the ability to go the whole 82 games at a consistent pace with the rest of the league. With so many new additions, there are going to be a whole new set of questions about this team, but the one I want to focus on is… Where has David Booth been?
Many Panther fans expected David Booth to have a pretty good year especially with so many new pieces around him. For the most part throughout the first 6 games, he’s been lined up with Scottie Upshall and Tomas Kopecky. Throughout his NHL career, David Booth has 87 goals and 80 assists in 309 games. In the 2007-2008 campaign, David Booth was 3rd on the team with 22 goals behind Nathan Horton (27) and Olli Jokinen (34). In the 2008-2009 campaign, David Booth lead the team with 31 goals, a career high. We all know what happened the next season, when Mike Richards blindsided Booth and his season was cut short playing only 28 games and registering 8 goals due to a massive series of concussions. Last season, David Booth couldn’t quite get back to the 30 goal mark, but managed to reach 23 goals, once again, leading the team.
Thus far this season, personally I believe David Booth hasn’t seemed very comfortable on the ice. I feel like Booth is trying too hard to get the puck deep and use his speed to get past the defenders to try to make a play. Thus far, it hasn’t worked at all. Another reason why I think Booth is struggling is because he hardly ever gets to touch the puck and he doesn’t seem to have much puck possession when he actually gets it. The main reason why I don’t think Booth has gotten off to a fast start is because of Scottie Upshall. Scottie Upshall is the type of player that like Booth uses his speed to get past the defenders. During the last game against Buffalo we saw David Booth taken off that line playing with Tim Kennedy, which didn’t help either. Booth also only got 33 seconds of power play time, which isn’t much at all.
What David Booth needs is a teammate who can pass the puck and get him the puck. Booth has only attempted 14 shots in the 6 games; you would like to see Booth take at least 4-6 shots every game since he’s been our main goal scorer over the past 4 years. I understand there are many new players and have great potential, but you have to get the puck to David Booth. David Booth brings excitement from the crowd every time he touches the puck, he makes plays happen and most importantly, he can get you 25-30 goals a season.
I know there’s only been 6 games thus far, but over the last couple of games we’ve seen the Panthers inability to take shots and score. Over the last two games the Panthers have been out shot 70 to 42. Averaging 21 shots a game won’t get it done, and David Booth averaging only 2 shots a game isn’t going to get it done either.
So what needs to be done? David Booth needs to get more involved in the power-play. I know thus far the powerplay has been pretty good, but for me, Tomas Fleischmann isn’t cutting it on the power-play. David Booth needs to get involved more in the power-play and not only get 33 seconds a night on the PP. I know Fleischmann has the ability to dangle around and look pretty, but power-plays aren’t meant to be the pretty, spectacular goals. They’re about passing and looking for the shot you can take to beat the goaltender. Booth adds the ability to get down and dirty deep in the zone, pull it back to a defenseman and make stuff happen with his pretty wrist shot. I know it’s only been 6 games and the power-play has been solid, but we need to get David Booth more involved in the action.
David Booth has the potential too be that 30-35 goal scorer this team needs, but he needs to get more touches and just get that first goal under his belt so he can get rolling. And don’t worry Panther fans, we’re only 6 games into the season and we’re 3-3. The NHL wasn’t friendly to us giving us Pittsburgh, Washington, Montreal and Buffalo all away from home with a total of 4 home games in October, but thats no excuse. The Panthers have to get the job done against the big name teams if they want to open the eyes of the rest of the NHL. The regular season will be brutal and the Panthers are going to have to dig deep if they want to compete night in and night out.
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