Blackhawks’ Guns Quiet Panthers’ Own Bombardment


It’s not often, that a team allows 43 shots to be taken. Even more unlikely, when that team can walk off the ice, on the road; with 2 points. That’s unfortunately what happened last night when the Florida Panthers fell in a shootout to the Chicago Blackhawks. Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Kane spoiled a fine effort from Ed Jovanovski, Jacob Markstrom, and a Panthers team that started another game off flat.

Recap from the opponent’s site: Blackhawk Up

Many factors can result in a poor start. I hope, however, that it does not continue to be a trend this season. Last Monday, the Panthers also lost in a shootout, to a division foe; the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets tallied two first period goals, from Kyle Wellwood and Evander Kane, respectively. Jason Garrison and two goals, from Tomas Fleischmann, gave the Panthers the lead with only minutes left. Evander Kane got his second of the night with less than a minute left to force overtime, and then eventually; the shootout that would cost the Panthers one of what should have been two points.

Flash forward to Thursday night. After amassing 15 shots, to the Blackhawks‘ 7, in the first period. The Panthers found themselves trailing by two goals again, Toews at 4:04 of the 1st, and Marian Hossa at 4:51 of the 2nd. Toews‘ goal was reviewed to determine whether there was intention involved, when the puck caromed off the boot of his skate, and into the back of the net. The interpretation was that it was a good goal. Later, Hossa scored, when he was set up by Patrick Kane. Panthers‘ Right Winger Tomas Kopecky skated down the middle of the ice and did not pick up Hossa who slapped the puck past Markstrom to make it 2-0 Blackhawks.

Markstrom, who was again a strong presence in net, was making his first home start. Markstrom covers so much of the net with his size, he is difficult to beat in close. Both of the two Blackhawks‘ goals, where scored in close; as the Panthers failed to keep the Blackhawks to the outside. Ed Jovaovski, arguably had his best game since his return to Florida. He ended up playing an important role in both Panthers‘ goals. He drew coverage and blocked the defensive movements of the Blackhawks, on Stephen Weiss‘ goal. He then scored the second goal himself, with an incredibly rare deflection in front of the net; this from a defenseman.

Speaking of defense, Jason Garrison, not only “brings the rain” with his slap shot, but he is consistently one of the best defenseman on the team. He did miss the net on a chance to bury a one timer, but with all the “crest hitting” this team does on a regular basis, I’d rather he aim for the corners and miss. As long as that doesn’t lead to a turnover, a subject that I’ll leave for another time. Another trend, that has been addressed, but also continues; is the lack of simple play. It seemed to be the game plan going in, but when the need arose to tie the game late, out came the “cuteness.” When it works, which is sometimes, it shall be referred to as “clever.” This nonchalant style has led to a plentiful list of turnovers. Several drop passes to no one and passes that should have been shots included.

With the Weiss and Jovanovski goals, the Panthers entered overtime earning one point. This is a positive, but should not be celebrated as a success. Every team wants to take home two every night, but with this long playoff drought, the days of being fine with such a result are over. Both teams traded chances in overtime. Markstrom kept the Panthers alive, who did not play awfully, but managed only 2 shots to the Blackhawks‘ 6 in the extra time.

Jacob Markstrom took the loss. While it came down to him in the end, all three Panthers shooters (Kopecky, Goc, and Flash), failed to challenge Corey Crawford effectively. Crawford had also stood on his head all night, which is the reason he needed to be challenged. Markstom repelled Toews and Bolland, but bit on a move by Patrick Kane. Kane has an impressive shootout record, success on around half of his attempts.

It’s great that the Panthers are scoring in the third period and coming from behind. At the same time this is alarming, as the first and second periods have been rough. During the first period, it was clear that the game plan was to get pucks to the net. Which is fantastic, but over the first eight minutes of the second period, the team managed only two shots. Sunday the cross-state rival Tampa Bay Lightning will be welcomed into the confines of the BankAtlantic Center. The Panthers are off to their best start (6-4-2), since 1999-2000, the last time the team played in the playoffs.

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