Wouldn’t you know it, after an amazing weekend in the tri-state area that saw the Florida Panthers win three straight games, they came right back home to lose three. And why did the Panthers lose those games? In short, it has been the offense, or lack thereof that doomed them to three straight losses.
And it has been a darn shame too that the Panthers have struggled to do much of anything on offense. Jose Theodore has been stellar in net, fans would love to see their team have success at home, and every game from this point on will have enormous significance. But instead of the Panthers winning a couple of those games or even stealing one, they have not generated enough pressure on offense to seriously challenge the opposition in any one of those games. The Panthers offense has become predictable, ineffective, and fruitless.
And how did things get to this point? Well you could start on the blue line. Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov has been out for an extended period with a knee issue, and he isn’t due back until March. Also, Jason Garrison has been out of commission with some sort of lower body injury: his diagnosis is better as he is expected back this week. But the difference in the offensive ability of the Panthers is very pronounced without those two in the lineup. Especially on the power play, the Panthers have had trouble gaining entrance into the zone, something that the smooth-skating Kulikov excels at doing. Also, the Panthers’ game plan is lacking once in the zone without their heaviest shot on the ice, Jason Garrison. The hole he has left has been filled somewhat on the defensive side of the puck, but the absence of his booming slap shot is detrimental to the Panthers’ offensive capability. More than anything, the Cats need these two players to return to their earlier form.
The Southeast Division is literally up for grabs as the Winnipeg Jets, Washington Capitals both are in a three way battle with the Panthers. In addition, the Tampa Bay Lightning who are in the midst of a three game winning streak can’t be forgotten about either, although the recent hand injury to forward Vincent Lecavalier will stunt their surge. The division is there for the taking. If the Panthers can find their offense, they have just as good a shot if not better than any of the aforementioned teams to finish at the top of the division.
Follow the Rat Pack on Twitter: me @GreatScottsman, Frank Rekas @TheRatTrick, David Lasseter @davidlasseter, Josh Luecht @joshluecht, Patrick McLaughlin @PatrickRattrick, Cameron Tahernia @Lord_Panther, Paige Lewis @peejlewiz, and David Rodriguez @davidbub_2. Also, please joinour Facebook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and make some comments.