Florida Panthers Gameday #13: Feel the Pain


Nov 20, 2014; San Jose, CA, USA; Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo (1) makes a save on a penalty shot by San Jose Sharks center Patrick Marleau (12) during the third period at SAP Center at San Jose. The Florida Panthers defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-2 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Mercifully, the Florida Panthers will play a hockey game tonight to get the bitter taste out of our mouths.  The San Jose Sharks will host the Panthers on the second game of their west-coast roadtrip, and hopefully this game will be an easier pill to swallow.  Looking for a recap of last night’s game against the Ducks?  Let’s not and say we did.

Coaching the San Jose Sharks is an old friend, former coach, and playoff nemesis: the one-and-only, sweatpants-loving Peter DeBoer.  Last time we saw DeBoer, he was piloting a rapidly aging New Jersey Devils team.  DeBoer was relieved of his duties in the middle of last season, but it was a good run for him in the Garden State.  He got his team to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012 while the core was still effective, but one year made a huge difference: Martin Brodeur finally looked his age, Zach Parise headed to Minnesota, Ilya Kovalchuk flew across the world, and the ownership had big financial issues.  He didn’t coach a team close to the one in his first year in New Jersey.

But now he’s with the Sharks, who are in a roughly similar situation to the Devils.  They have had one of the best teams in the NHL for the last decade, it seems.  But everything has fallen apart in the playoffs, and last year they didn’t even make it to the postseason.  Todd McLellan, the coach since 2008, was fired after last season.  Meanwhile, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Joe Pavelski aren’t getting younger, and the window on this franchise seems nearly shut.  GM Doug Wilson is counting on DeBoer to pull off something special in this next year or two.  But make no mistake, the offense is as potent as it was under the high-flying McLellan, and the Sharks can throw four lines of offense at the Panthers all night long.  But luckily, the Sharks will still be without sniping forward Logan Couture — who has a fractured fibula.

It’ll be interesting goaltender match-up tonight: the teams’ backups are starting.  Al Montoya will go for the Panthers, and he has been almost as great as Roberto Luongo so far this season.  He did lose to the Washington Capitals in overtime in his last start, but he still stopped 25 of the 27 shots he faced.  Alex Stalock will tend the Sharks’ goal, and he hasn’t been nearly as effective.  In three games, he has put up a flimsy 3.94 GAA and .847 SV%.  His save percentage is now the worst in the NHL.

But regardless of who is in goal against them, the Florida Panthers are in dire need of a great performance.  One, to get rid of the stomach-churning horror of last night’s collapse.  Two, the Panthers have scored four goals in the last three games.  Since the special-teams explosion against the Colorado Avalanche, the team has looked much weaker on offense.  And with Jaromir Jagr back in the line-up, the offense should catch up with the goaltending for the Panthers.

And for once, the Panthers will need to stay out of the penalty box.  The Sharks’ power play has been relatively impotent to start the season (13.9%), but the Panthers have not been impressive either when they are a man down (77.5%).  Without a couple of key penalties, the Florida Panthers could perhaps have a couple more wins on their ledger.  That commitment to discipline will have to start tonight.

What beer are we drinkin’?  Something strong after last night’s loss, so how about a Founders Brewery Backwoods Bastard.  With a whopping 11.6% ABV, this beer can knock you out of your chair, so consider it a “sipper”.  It’s wickedly strong, with more flavors on the tongue than you can possibly pick up.  It’s bourbon-barrel-aged, it has dark fruity undertones, some chocolate and coffee, some smokiness, and certainly some alcohol taste in the back of your throat.  Skip this beer if you have work the next morning.

What song are we singin’?  “Feel the Pain” – Dinosaur Jr.  Obviously, this song refers to last night’s game, which shall never be spoken of again.  But remember how it feels when puck luck goes against you, because it’ll come back soon.  Feel the pain, but keep the even keel.  Hockey seasons really are this up and down, for every team.  Just ask the Chicago Blackhawks.