Florida Panthers: Roberto Luongo’s Injury Remains a Huge Loss

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 06: Roberto Luongo #1 of the Florida Panthers is escorted off the ice by trainers during Opening Night against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on October 6, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 06: Roberto Luongo #1 of the Florida Panthers is escorted off the ice by trainers during Opening Night against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on October 6, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Since starting goaltender Roberto Luongo is now on injured reserve, the Florida Panthers are at risk of digging a bigger hole for themselves.

As the season was starting for the Florida Panthers, everyone in and out of the organization knew what this year had to be.

This has to be the year where the Cats break out, sneak back into the postseason, and show the league that Tampa is not the only competitive hockey team in Florida. But as the season begun, a huge issue rose for the Panthers.

On opening night for the Panthers on the road, the team headed to North Florida to take on their state rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

As the game progressed, Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo went down multiple times. This sent him to the dressing room; he did not return to the game. This opening night accident has now led to a familiar issue that can haunt the Cats.

With Luongo out for an extended period of time, the Panthers have landed into a situation in which they’ve experienced before.

When Roberto Luongo went down in December of last season in a contest against the New York Islanders, it looked like a career-ending injury.

As a result, the Panthers called up Harri Säteri from the Panthers affiliate squad, the Springfield Thunderbirds. While his play overall helped the destiny of the squad, the Luongo injury, like this one, will prove to be an obstacle for the Cats.

The first issue has to be that when Luongo goes down, who is the primary option to be the number one with Lu’s absence?

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In the offseason, the Panthers signed AHL star goaltender Michael Hutchinson. Now, this acquisition has already proved to be worth it once the injury occurred. But so far, the Panthers haven’t performed well under him.

Likewise, James Reimer hasn’t fared well either in the absence of Luongo. Once Luongo went down, Reimer took over, starting in the Panthers’ home opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

From here on out, the goals against started to pile up, with Reimer continuing to let up more and more goals as he played between the pipes.

But with Reims and Hutchinson not performing well, a huge problem has risen where the Panthers aren’t confident enough to run a good enough goaltender to win.

Continuously, with number one out, the team loses a lot of its talent on paper. Now, this may not seem like an issue, since most say that games are not won on paper.

Although, the mental state of the players, coaches, and the organization are affected by the loss of Luongo, leading to pessimism in the Florida Panthers as a whole. Now, this has an effect on the outcome of games.

Without Luongo, the team feels discouraged and it feels as though that the biggest piece is missing from the puzzle.

For any hockey team to be competitive, a stable goalie is a must. The Cats missing Lu takes FLA away from that competitiveness, and the team loses its mojo and will.

Moreover, while the Panthers don’t have their main man in net, one locker room aspect is missing from the squad: leadership.

While the Panthers have their leadership group including Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck and more, Luongo is a natural leader who can guide this young team to victory. Without him there to act as that much-needed mentor, the Cats are hurt tremendously.

If Lu isn’t there, a voice is missing from the Panthers dressing room. Luongo has contributed to the Panthers’ young core in providing guidance throughout each season to help their development.

Without his presence, his nurturing voice and leadership are absent from the Panthers roster, making it harder for them to compete at the best of their ability.

This Roberto Luongo injury early on in the season is extremely unfortunate. It comes with many consequences and can only harm the Panthers and their chances of making the playoffs this season.

The only hope now is that they can somehow get through Luongo’s remaining recovery time, so he can come back into a time where the Cats are ready to compete for a spot in the postseason.

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The early season Luongo injury hurts the Cats more than ever before, hurting their chances to take the next step this season.