If the Florida Panthers want to play playoff hockey again, after over a decade long absence, they need to stay focused on what has given them early success. There are 4 keys, The first 3 of which that have gotten the Panthers this far, and a fourth that would ensure success in the search for that playoff berth.
4. Offensive Defensemen- Brian Campbell’s assists and Jason Garrison’s goals got the Panthers off to a remarkable early start, Dimitry Kulikov has been joining in too, but for success in the long run; it needs to continue and every defenseman needs to get in the mix. (I’ve been waiting for Mike Weaver to get one for all the hard work he puts in on the other side of the Panthers blue line.)
3. Using All Four Lines- Having four lines rotating keeps constant pressure on the opponent, forcing them to match intensity, and possibly forcing them to make mistakes.
2. Special Teams- Last years penalty kill was very successful, some of that success came from the work of Marty Reasoner, but this year with no Reasoner, for some reason it has become worse. That part of the game for Florida must improve. The power play was extremely successful early on, with passing chemistry from the FlashMob line, including Versteeg one-timers, and Garrison bombs; have all failed to make recent appearances. Special teams success is absolutely necessary to make, and perform, in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
1. Physical Play- The most important key for the Panthers success this season, and many seasons into the future, will be to play with consistent grit, determination, and physicality. This has been GM Dale Tallon’s goal from the day he took over as general manager. When Tallon brought in Kevin Dineen to be the head coach, it was because when Dineen played, he did so with the same attributes. It should be noted that players that lack such characteristics, have found themselves playing for other organizations. There is no better time than now, for the Panthers to start throwing their weight around.
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