From the very first goal of the game, the Florida Panthers had their key to victory for the rest of not only the game, but the rest of the season. Take advantage of having a group of puck moving defenseman by keeping them active in the offense zone.
Brian Campbell’s opening goal was a result of him pinching, finding a loose puck in front of the net and hammering it home. The more that happens, the more the Panthers will win, simple as that.
It wouldn’t be up to just Campbell, as Dmitry Kulikov, and Colby Robak showed the ability to get up in the play – and Dylan Olsen and Tom Gilbert are no strangers as well.
The Panthers don’t necessarily have the greatest collection of talent up front, as you can use the terms ‘potential’ or ‘upside’ more times than not when talking about their forwards, so having defenders who are constantly up on the play can assist in creating offense.
While it is risky, what else does a team with the third fewest points have to lose? And isn’t that what you reacquired Roberto Luongo for as well?
Campbell and Kulikov currently lead all defenseman in goals with seven, with Campbell leading the way in points with 31. Gilbert is second on the team among defenseman in points but he hasn’t scored since February 4th against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Like Jonathan Huberdeau up front, Gilbert has been a little hard stricken with bad luck in the offensive zone, hitting some post and missing the net on some opportunities.
I have been hard on the Panthers about trying to acquire more defenseman, and I still believe they could use another top-four defender, but maybe the problem is that they just don’t get to play their game as often as they should.
Do you really think it was a coincidence that the Panthers struggled so much in the second periods of their previous two games? Watch both second periods and you will see the defenseman struggle in their own end, and not contribute in the other.
Watch the Buffalo Sabres’ game and this game again, watch Campbell and Kulikov skate all over the rink. Then watch the middle three games. You will see the difference.
Scott Niedermayer turned being a ‘rover’ in the offensive zone into a Hall of Fame career. The Panthers have several defenders with great skating ability, it is time to use it.
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