1. The Florida Panthers must challenge the goaltender.
If he can see it, he can stop it. The Panthers have often found themselves frustrated, while amassing as many as 30 shots without scoring a goal. While the opposing team’s goaltender can be a significant reason for this, the Panthers should strive to set up situations where a save would be improbable; if not impossible.
This can be accomplished by getting to the crease, and employing a strategy which has multiple objectives. The first objective is to keep the defense busy. The second objective, involves the player screening the goalie so that he cannot see much, while at the same time attempting to deflect anything that he can see.
Finally, if that hasn’t resulted in a goal, the player should be prepared to sweep in the rebound that this torment will most certainly have brought out. Now, the frustration lies within the goalie; which is already the beginning of goal number two.
2. Pick up their defensive assignments.
This one is for the forwards. The first part of this is the transition from offense, to defense. Panthers forwards must get back to help out defensively, keeping their heads on a swivel, in order to develop an awareness of those on the ice. The players need to feel out what’s happening, communicate with their teammates, and pick up an opposing player. As with the old adage, you should keep your friends close and your enemy’s closer; hound, tie up sticks, and clear out the front of the net. The Panthers need to get to rebounds, before the opponent; on both ends of the ice.
3. Play with desperation.
Sean Bergenheim is the epitome of this type of player. He keeps his feet moving, is unrelenting in his attack, and this creates chances and draws penalties. The Panthers must pressure the opponent to give up the puck, in either zone. It is the best offense and defense. In addition to Bergenheim, Shawn Matthias has begun using his size to complement his game. As this season began, Matthias along with Jack Skille, had to change to suit their attributes, or they were not going to find a slot on the roster. Each have rose to the occasion and exceeded expectations. Their effort is starting to spread throughout the roster, and with the race for the Southeast Division so close, there is no other option other than to preform this effort right now.
All of this, of course, is more easily said than done. The Panthers have seen these ideas become effective, sporadically, over the course of this season. I can only speculate as to what rewards could come with consistency in these aspects of play.
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