Florida Panthers Stink Up the Joint, Lose 3-2 to Buffalo Sabres


Nov 12, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Sam Reinhart (23) reacts after his goal after his goal past Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo as defenseman Erik Gudbranson (44) and defenseman Willie Mitchell (33) look on in the third period at BB&T Center. The Sabres won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Panthers lost tonight, and are doing their best to make me miserable for as long as I’m a fan.  The loss to the Buffalo Sabres tonight dips the Panthers to 7th in the Atlantic Division and to a 6-7-3 record.  The anguish is ever-present.

Well let’s look at what went right and wrong:


Jonathan Huberdeau is back to being himself.  Ah, how nice.  Huberdeau made a nice play in front of the net and stuffed home a goal in the crease to finally nab his first goal of the season.  And he had a very good game after that goal, making some sweet passes and generally looking dangerous like he did last year.  Get him, Jaromir Jagr, and Aleksander Barkov on the ice together, and there will be more goals to come.

Vincent Trocheck keeping it up.  For much of the game he struggled to get much going on offense, but Trocheck stayed hot by tipping in an Aaron Ekblad shot with four minutes to go in the third.  It often seems like he is the only one with a nose for the net past Jagr and Huberdeau.

Another good challenge.  In the second period, it looked like the Sabres tacked on a second goal to extend the lead to 2-0.  However, an eagle-eyed Gerard Gallant challenged that the Sabres entered the zone offsides, and just like in San Jose he had the goal overturned.  But just like in San Jose, the Panthers let in two extra goals after the call anyway.  The Panthers were able to tie the game at 1 with the Huberdeau goal, but the momentum stopped there.


That was not the 3rd period of a contending team.  That was borderline unwatchable for about the first sixteen minutes of the period.  The Panthers couldn’t get any quality shots on goal, lost possession of the puck easily, and gave up a third goal to the Sabres before they finally got their act together.  And when the Panthers had their foot on the gas during the last minute to tie the game, there was just a force-field around the net.  Dmitry Kulikov launched pucks either off Linus Ullmark’s mask or four feet over the net.  Oy.  I don’t want to think about how close the Panthers came to tying the game.

Goaltending starting to subside.  I was worried that the Panthers weren’t winning enough games when Roberto Luongo was on fire, and now Bobby Lu isn’t as flaming hot.  So there’s an issue.  The usual stalwart gave up three goals in 19 shots, and had an extra rough goal called off because of the challenge.  Once again, the Panthers lost a game where they did not score three goals.

What exactly is the plan here?  I’m beginning to lose my mind here.  Not only did the Panthers skate four lines when trailing by two in most of the third period, they skated four lines when the Panthers were down one goal with less than four minutes left.  Derek MacKenzie and Dave Bolland can be useful players, but they’re offensively stale.  MacKenzie was on the ice on minutes 57:31-58:15.  Bolland was on the ice on minutes 57:03-58:12.  Does Gerard Gallant honestly think those men have the capacity to tie the game?  Meanwhile, Brian Campbell was off the ice after 56:14.  Nick Bjugstad — the “top line center” — was off the ice after 57:03.  It’s absolutely insane to skate four lines trailing in a hockey game when only about 2.5 lines have any hope of producing.

Gerard Gallant’s bench management is a filthy crime, but I wish I knew what the Panthers’ strategy is in a more general sense.  Are we a dump-and-chase team?  Because we do an awful lot of that and don’t look very good doing it.  Are we a possession team?  Maybe we try.  Are we a statistics-driven team?  Clearly not.  For a scarily large chunk of the hockey game, the Panthers knocked the puck around the boards and seemed completely out of ideas.  This Panther team needs an identity, and “hard-working” doesn’t cut it.

Can the Florida Panthers claw their way back into a playoff position?  Not by doing what they’re doing so far this season.  The onus is on Gerard Gallant to get the most out of this team or he will be roadkill by the holidays.

Next: Florida Panthers Have a Massive Zone Start Problem