Jack Skille and Shawn Matthias have combined for one goal (Matthias) and 4 assists, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been responsible for making the lamp shine more often. Much of what they do gives the team a much needed boost. As Tomas Kopecky and Mike Santorelli are starting to settle in, the offensive production of the team is only looking in one direction.
If you were wondering, the picture above is of Matthias and Brian Campbell (who scored his first goal yesterday) when he was a member of the Blackhawks.
The whole Panthers team got off to a good start against the Tampa Bay Lightning yesterday evening. There are plenty of things to not be happy about, but many things to take from the performance of a few individuals. I dislike using the cliche “there is no ‘I’ in team.” The truth, however, is that the Panthers need a balanced performance from everyone. If they get that, they will walk away with 2 points more often.
They should have stepped off the ice yesterday with 2 points, but they faced a hot goaltender in Dwayne Roloson, who made 29 saves in a little over 49 and a half minutes. Jose Theodore was impressive as well, and made sure to keep the game close, through a series of turnovers. The Panthers seemed to panic after a first period that saw almost no turnovers. Lightning coach Guy Boucher called an important time out to rally his troops, and when the going got tough, the Panthers started giving up the puck. With a three goal lead, they must keep possession of the puck. A lead is difficult to hold in this league for sure, especially harder with a larger deficit, but to a team that had lost two prior shootouts in a row (walking away with only one point for their effort); it must be a hard to swallow.
This is where the performance of a few individuals, leaves us with something positive from failure. Two key plays have stuck in my mind from yesterday, these were Jack Skille’s assist on Tomas Kopecky’s goal in the first and Shawn Matthias darting though the defense to fire a shot on goal. Skille’s pass to Kopecky, on the two on one (after Skille was released from the box for his penalty for holding) was right on Kopecky’s stick for the snap into the right upper 90. It also wasn’t like Skille took a hooking penalty for being lazy, Skille had been in the box for a penalty that prevented what would have been an easy scoring attempt.
Shawn Matthias has been using his size, as well as skill, to make it difficult on various opponents. For instance, his work on the penalty kill against Chicago, when he pressured the Blackhawks defense so that they had trouble leaving their own zone. On Sunday evening, he displayed a strong effort on an important attempt to win the game in the 3rd period. Blasting through the defense, Matthias then challenged Dwayne Roloson with a hard shot. Then he followed that up by skating around the net, pressuring, and then therefore; stripping the puck from the Lightning defense. Paige, in her Report Card post, sums up Matthias’ potential very well.
These plays, one of which scored a goal and the other which provided two attempts to take the lead in the third, are the kind of morale boost the Panthers need to focus on now. This homestand should stand as a reminder that if you want the points you deserve for the fine effort you have given; you must focus the full 60+ minutes.
Thanks for reading! My other posts can be found here. Please follow me, @PatrickRattrick on Twitter, and the rest of the “Rat Pack” Frank Rekas @TheRatTrick … David Lasseter @davidlasseter … Josh Luecht @joshluecht … Scott Mullin @ScottFMullin … Cameron Tahernia @Lord_Panther… David Rodriguez @davidbub_2 and Paige Lewis@peejlewiz
Please join our Facebook Fan Page and hit the like button.