Jason Garrison gets pushed into the boards. Source: US PRESSWIRE

Are The Florida Panthers Too Soft?

After last night’s game, a 7-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, the Florida Panthers return home with a bitter taste in their mouth. From the get go, the Panthers were unable to compete with the Jets speed and physicality. Which brings up the question of this afternoon’s post, are the Florida Panthers too soft?

We came out flat, We didn’t respond well to pressure early, and that was the difference in the hockey game. It’s definitely a man’s game this time of year, and we did not look prepared. -Coach Kevin Dineen

We gave them pretty much everything they got, We knew they were a team that goes to the net hard. As a group, we knew that it was going to be a tough game. We didn’t have an answer tonight. We just didn’t have the push back. -Assistant Captain Ed Jovanovski

The Florida Panthers were without their main enforcer Krys Barch last night who was a healthy scratch, and lacked intensity, as well as the physical element all night long. The Panthers were also without Matt Bradley who is currently out with an upper body injury.  Erik Gudbranson was the only player that I saw willing to put his foot on the ground and stick up for his team.

All season long, the Panthers have been lacking in”boxing out” in front of the net. How many times have we seen either Jose Theodore or  Scott Clemmensen make the initial save or two, but after repeated wacks at it, the other team ends up lighting up the lamp. You expect your goaltender to make the first save, and most of the second saves, but there comes a time when the defense must come to the rescue. Over and over again we see players failing assignments in front of the net, and not putting the other player on his back. That part of the game is so underrated, but just as important as any other element.

I’m not saying that the Panthers are patty cake soft, but if there was one main problem this season, it has to be that. The Panthers don’t protect the goalie as well as we would like, and as the games start to have more meaning, and players are gripping their sticks a little tighter, these problems need to get fixed.

How you say? Well, defense is more of a will thing. The players have to be willing to push harder. One can’t teach someone to have will and determination, it’s somewhere inside you that has to be found. The Panthers have to be willing to put their body at risk for their teammates. Blocking shots, knocking someone over in front of the net, getting into it with players that scrum with your goalie, and many other reasons why the Panthers have to pick it up. They have to lace up the skates tighter, and come ready to play night in and night out. Yes, the Panthers are winning games, but the month of February was all about streaks. Win 2, lose 2, win 3, lose 3, win 3… now after that stinker last night, hopefully the Panthers can rebound quick tomorrow vs. Nashville.

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God bless.

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Tags: Erik Gudbranson Florida Panthers Krys Barch Matt Bradley Post Winnipeg Jets

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