February 8, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks right wing Teemu Selanne (8) controls the puck against the Carolina Hurricanes during the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

The Day After: Sluggish Panthers Fall To Ducks

Troubled with another slow start, the Florida Panthers once again put themselves behind the proverbial eight ball  by giving up the first goal in the opening period of a game, and faced an uphill battle for the balance of the contest in an effort to catch up.  Despite their efforts which finally seemed to be desperate in the closing minutes of the third period, the Panthers came up short.  Not even a four minute power play in the first period, where the Panthers couldn’t even get themselves a shot on goal, could energize a sputtering offence.

The Anaheim Ducks who were playing their sixth game of an eight game road trip, showed why they have won 15 of their past 22 games (15-3-4).  No matter what the Panthers tried, Anaheim seemed to have the answer.  Florida was unable to use their speed, was unable to penetrate the Ducks defence, and was forced to play dump and chase most of the evening.  With Anaheim standing the Panthers up at the blue line, there was no penetration.  When Florida tried to dump the puck in, the Anaheim defenders were quicker to the disc than they were.  Anaheim put on a nice clinic on forechecking as well, causing the Panthers to “chip” the puck out of their zone most of the night.

The drought by the offence which has now scored only three times in nine periods of hockey wasted another superb effort by Panther goaltender Jose Theodore.  Theo made 25 saves on the night, with a few of them categorized as outstanding.  The score could have easily been 5-0.  It was the second time that the Panthers have been shutout in the past three weeks and the fifth time for the season.  If you’re stuggling offensively, sitting back waiting for a mistake to pounce on isn’t the way to win hockey games.  The Panthers need to get back to being more aggressive with the puck, and be more physical in slowing down the opponent.

Stephen Weiss has been stuck in a rut for what appears to be two months.  Dating back to December 5th against Washington, Weiss has two goals.  Clearly a slump that has been swept under the rug, but one that must get corrected.  NOW.  The FlashMob Line itself has been inconsistent lately as it is, and while we can’t expect all three to click each and every night, Weiss’s disappearance sticks out like a sore thumb.

Goals were scored by Teemu Selanne who has 20 goals on the year, and is the oldest player to reach 20 since Johnny Bucyk of the Boston Bruins did it in 1976-1977.  Selanne is now in 12th place all time with 657 goals.  Former Panther Niklas Hagman added the empty netter for the second goal, and Jonas Hiller made 31 mostly uneventful saves for the shutout win.

The Panthers are off until the Minnesota Wild visit South Florida on Thursday, and will likely be without the services of Matt Bradley who left the game in the second period with what looks to be an upper body injury.  This quote by head coach Kevin Dineen puts things on perspective as the Panthers have a few days to “think” about their situation:

“We need to find ways to score goals right now,” Panthers coachKevin Dineen said. “We’re not creating enough on offence to get us two points at the end of the night.”

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Tags: Anaheim Ducks Florida Panthers Jonas Hiller Jose Theodore Matt Bradley Injured Stephen Weiss Teemu Selanne

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