The narrative of the Florida Panther’s four game road trip could have gone two different ways depending on the outcome of tonight’s game against the Washington Capitals. With a win, Florida would have gone 3-0-1 on a grueling road trip that saw the team play games every other night in Buffalo, Winnipeg, Philadelphia and Washington. A win and the road trip is fantastic, amazing, season saving. With a loss the road trip would still be a success although a more modest success. So whats the verdict? Well, it seems like we will be going with option B after the Panthers came out flat in a 5-0 drubbing.
The loss was due to a combination of poor goaltending, inability to finish on the offensive end and a general malaise. Going up against a team desperate to save their season in the Capitals, the Panthers were unable to match the energy provided by their opponent. Theodore’s night early as he was pulled in the third in favor of Scott Clemmensen. Theodore allowed five goals on 21 shots, so definitely a performance he will be keen on forgetting. On the other end, the much maligned Braden Holtby was game for whatever the Panthers threw at him stopping 27 of 27 on his way to picking up the shutout win.
Troy Brouwer score twice for Washington, his fourth and fifth goals of the season. Alex Ovechkin scored his fourth of the season, it was also his first even strength goal of the year. Joel Ward and Mathieu Perreault rounded out the scoring for the Caps.
There is a term that describes games like tonight: Schedule Loss. Most often thrown around in basketball, schedule losses are the games that you can pick out way in advance on the calendar as games your team will more than likely lose. In basketball schedule losses are the four games in five night situations; the legs are tired, your usually at the end of a long road trip, and it seems like no matter what you do, you cannot get up for the game. Sound familiar? Looking at the Panthers schedule , this past week’s road trip was clearly one of the more grueling portions of their schedule. While the Capitals played as many games as Florida over the past seven days, all but one of their games were home and their only away game was in Pittsburgh, not a particularly rough trip from Washington.
Tonight the Panthers looked like a team that was tired. They were losing battles in the corners, getting beat to pucks, and making plenty of defensive errors. I am not making excuses for tonight’s performance just pointing out that you have to take the schedule into consideration when your team lays an egg like the Panthers did against Washington. Every team faces games like this, they are one of the many factors that make an NHL season so tough. Florida simply didn’t have it tonight and it showed in the scoreline.
The good news is, the Panthers will not have to wait long to exact their revenge as the Capitals will be coming to South Florida for a re-match on Tuesday night. We are sure to see a much different, more energized Panther team on Tuesday and for now we just have to be content with a modestly successful road trip.
Post Game Points:
- Drew Shore had a number of chances tonight but came up short. He continues his strong play and its only a matter of time before he gets that elusive first NHL goal
- The Panthers struggle to put any sustained pressure on Washington. The Panthers inability to do much of anything at even strength is becoming something to keep an eye on
- What happened to Jose tonight? After playing so well Thursday night in Philadelphia, Theodore wasn’t doing much to help the Panthers’ cause tonight. A couple of the goals were shots Jose should be expected to stop, but it was a rough night as a whole for the Panthers. Hopefully Jose and the rest of the team will bounce back Tuesday night.
- The pass Washing Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby made to Troy Brouwer on Washington’s second goal was pretty sweet. Holtby allowed the Caps to take advantage of a Panther shift change by hitting Brouwer with a perfect pass from his goal line all the way to the Panther blue line. Holtby was awarded with a much deserved assist.