After patiently weathering the offseason, the Florida Panthers faithful got their first taste of hockey action on Monday as the Cats faced off against the Nashville Predators.
With most of the Florida Panthers big-names sitting out of the doubleheader, young prospects looked to strut their stuff. With it now behind us, who stood out in the Cats first appearance of the preseason?
Game One Standouts
The Preds lineup contained a mixture of their top-tier talent including P.K. Subban and Kyle Turris, who effectively dominated the Panthers. With the score as lopsided as 5-0 in Nashville’s favor, it’s hard to find many positives for the Cats to hang their hat on after game one.
One of the few exceptions was centerman Jonathan Ang, who was electric in the preseason debut. Not only was he fast, but the 20-year-old Ontario native was cool, calm, and collected while playing against a team as talented as the Preds.
Although none of his numbers will jump off the page, Ang dominated the neutral zone and was seemingly everywhere on the ice. Hopefully, he can continue to be a nuisance for opposing players and further contribute during this preseason.
Game Two Standouts
Despite falling 5-3 in the second game, the Panthers put up a respectable performance and showcased some of the exciting young talent that awaits in the pipeline.
After Nick Bjugstad was credited with the first goal, Florida defenseman Jacob MacDonald fired a hot wrister while falling to his knees that gave Florida a 2-1 lead. Not only did MacDonald bury one with one of his four shots on goal, but he was also a force on the defensive end using his body to separate players from the puck.
My personal favorite to watch was forward Serron Noel. At six-foot-five, 205 pounds, this 18-year-old was hard to miss on the ice. Not only was his big frame prevalent, but his skating ability showed that he has an incredible upside.
Noel wasn’t perfect, though. A few turnovers reviled that he still has plenty of development left, specifically his stick handling and decision-making. Although, the way he used his body and skating ability in the offensive end was for sure eye-catching.
Some notable mentions from the game include Patrick Bajkov who, despite much else, contributed the third goal for the Panthers. Owen Tippett fired two shots on goal and recorded an assist, while Anthony Greco posted three shots and an assist as well.
Overall, there’s a lot that the team needs to work on, but it’s important to remember that the score is indicative of the team’s talent differential. Although some players showed promise, Coach Boughner was not impressed and claims if young players want to earn a roster spot, then they’ll need to play better.
“Did they do enough to make it a hard decision between the management and the coaching staff? In my mind, no.”
The Panthers travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens on Sept. 19 and look to turn the page on a disappointing preseason opener.