After a rocky start to his season, Mike Matheson’s playing time should be limited, which will benefit the Florida Panthers for the time being.
Going into this season, the Florida Panthers had huge expectations. They were expected to build off their incredible second half of last season, but so far, things haven’t gone as once thought.
It took forever to reach their first victory, and they continue to sit towards the bottom of the wild card standings.
The fault can be pointed towards a few directions. Some have pointed to the coaching as the main issue, but with last year’s success, it’s hard to think coaching is the issue.
Most think the issue that’s most important is the defense. While the offense has been nothing but successful, the defense has been the main issue, especially with positioning.
Since this problem was identified, the defense has improved, with the Panthers headed in the right direction, continuing with a five-game win streak.
Even though this may be true, change is still needed to reach maximum potential. This involves manipulating the lineup, especially on defense.
The best candidate to not play is Michael Matheson, with his performance this season, especially the last few games, being the proof.
Matheson needs to have limited time because of his lack of offensive production. After last season, like the organization as a whole, expectations were higher than ever for Matheson.
He recently signed an 8-year contract, receiving $4.875 million per year, putting even more pressure on the young defenseman. This has led to his lack of offense.
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Last season, he had 10 goals and 17 assists, the first step to stepping it up on offense. He is now expected to explode with the offense, which hasn’t happened yet.
This season, through 13 games, Matheson has 1 goal and 3 assists, not nearly what the organization was expecting of him. It’s obvious that he needs to step up offensively, and maybe some time off the ice can help him become that offensive threat on the back-end that everyone was hoping for.
Along with offensive struggles, Matheson also continues to be a burden on the defensive side of the ice, too. This has consisted of many defensive lapses and basically being out of the game.
He’s done nothing but slow the Panthers down with failed clearing attempts, horrible positioning, and infinite turnovers leading to the puck entering the Panthers’ end.
An example of this comes from a recent home game against the New York Islanders. Matheson tried to stretch a breakout pass to Aleksander Barkov but ended up putting the puck right on the stick of Islander forward Anders Lee, who suddenly passed it to Matthew Barzal.
Barzal zoomed his way on goal, beating Roberto Luongo on the backhand for a beautiful goal.
Along with others, Matheson has had many defensive lapses that further prove that he needs to take a break.
With a struggling defense, the first thing the Cats need is a change on the back-end. This means that someone’s got to be replaced.
At first, Alexander Petrovic was the leading candidate. But, after the past few games, Petrovic improved tremendously, while Matheson continues to struggle. Thus, it’s time for Bob Boughner to change it up defensively to get the most from his defense.
The leading candidate is Mark Pysyk, due to his success on the back-end. He’s recently been cleared for action, and I’m sure he’s eager to get back on the ice.
With a more defensive player on the ice and Matheson taking a rest, this can only benefit the Panthers for the time being. This ultimately serves two purposes: to give Matheson a break to regroup and to insert Pysyk and rejuvenate the defense.
After a terrible start to what was supposed to be a great season, Mike Matheson needs to take a seat and simply regroup.