Florida Panthers Lethargic Against San Jose Sharks, Lose 5-2


Nov 5, 2015; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks defenseman Justin Braun (61) watches the puck go in goal on a shot by San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic (not shown) in the game against the Florida Panthers i the 2nd period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports.

Alright, this was another bad game by the Florida Panthers on their West Coast trip.  The Panthers lost 5-2 to a much more impressive San Jose Sharks team, and the Panthers will have to have a big regrouping moment before their last West Coast game in Los Angeles Saturday afternoon.  Now, the Panthers are 5-5-3 after 13 games, which obviously won’t cut the mustard.

Let’s look at where things went right and wrong for the scuffling Panthers:


Fairly decent power play.  Well, the Panthers had three power play chances and scored during one of them.  And generally, the Panthers offense looked most dangerous during those power plays, which was at least a positive development considering the tough state of offense at even strength.  The top line of Nick Bjugstad, Jaromir Jagr, and Jonathan Huberdeau found some more space and connected on more passes when they had the man advantage.  And Brandon Pirri finally was able to end his goal-less streak with a wicked shot of his own on the power play.  Considering other areas of concern from last night, I wouldn’t complain too much about special teams.

Gerard Gallant has laser-vision.  Gerard Gallant’s challenge of Joonas Donskoi’s second goal was incredibly smart, and very ballsy.  Some time before the goal, Gallant (or somebody else on the bench) must have seen Joe Thornton cross the line offsides to enter the offensive zone:

Not sure how anybody could’ve seen that with their naked eye, but Gallant’s decision to challenge kept a struggling Panthers team down only a goal late in the second period.

Vincent Trocheck did some nice things.  Don’t look now, but Vincent Trocheck is tied for the points lead on the Panthers, with 10 so far on the young season.  His move coming out of the dot to score his goal in the first period was simply great, and showcased how the young forward has grown to create his own offense and emphasize his shot.  And with other Panthers struggling to find the net at the moment, Trocheck is developing into a more of a 2nd-line center role.  He doesn’t seem like a depth player, instead he looks like a key player for the Panthers.


5-on-5 was atrocious.  Well, it was frankly tough to come up with three good things, because the Panthers spent nearly all the game mired in crap.  The 5-on-5 play was especially brutal tonight.  The numbers speak plainly: the Sharks scored four times at even strength, and the Panthers scored once.  The number of shots at 5-on-5 don’t seem so disparate (26 for Florida, 29 for San Jose), but the quality of the chances was anything but.  The Sharks combined for great passing combos, sparked rushes up the ice, won races to pucks, and outworked Panthers along the boards.  There was hardly anything the Sharks didn’t do better than the Panthers, and it got to the point where the “even strength” didn’t feel so even.

Defense not up to snuff.  Al Montoya wasn’t exactly Dominik Hasek on the ice last night, but he was given no favors by the team in front of him.  The Sharks absolutely dominated puck possession and offensive opportunities all night.  And here are some nice numbers to prove it:

This was posted after four Sharks goals.  SCF stands for “scoring chances for”, and HSCF stands for “high scoring chances for”.  As you can see, the Sharks had a massive amount of high-quality scoring chances, which are defined as chances coming off a rebound or coming off the rush.  The Panthers could hardly give up any scoring chances that weren’t high-quality, and the score backed it up.  Without some desperate saves by Montoya, the Sharks could’ve blown the game wide open.

And unfortunately, Dmitry Kulikov and Alex Petrovic took a massive punch to their stats after this one: Kulikov committed his first penalty of the year and was -4.  Petrovic was schooled by Patrick Marleau for the Sharks’ third goal, and finished -5.  I don’t put much emphasis on plus/minus, but those are egregious numbers that are tough to ignore.

Not a convincing performance from the start.  The Florida Panthers were down 1-0 after 6:37 and down 2-0 after 9:26.  Considering the crap finish in Anaheim, you would’ve hoped that the Panthers would come out with some fire in their hearts and played an angry redemption kind of game.  But instead, the Panthers were blown away by the more energetic and creative Sharks, and suddenly the Panthers haven’t won a hockey game in the last five tries.

I bet Dale Tallon makes a trade or Gerard Gallant scratches somebody, because there are a diminishing number of excuses for the Panthers.  Blame the referees, blame the ice conditions, blame injuries, blame the travel schedule, blame the opponents’ goalie, blame the movement of the planets… at some point the Panthers only have themselves to blame.

Next: Florida Panthers Gameday #13: Feel the Pain