The Florida Panthers were twenty minutes away from escaping St. Louis with a victory, but of course, they blew it.
It wouldn’t be Florida Panthers fashion without a blown lead, right? For the most part, everything was going somewhat well until the third period commenced.
Sure, they got outshot and hemmed in their end for a good portion of the first, but they were able to bank on Roberto Luongo’s stellar play.
In the second, they decided to kick things into overdrive and take momentum into their own hands. They started to test Jake Allen more, and funny enough, they scored.
The third period, however, is when the collapse began. Let’s break it down, yet again.
Right after the Panthers’ man advantage concluded, Ivan Barbashev put the home side on the board.
On top of that, because Thomas draws two players in, he’s able to skate around the net and feed an open Barbashev in the slot.
Evgeni Dadonov and Keith Yandle are both caught flat-footed sleeping and the puck goes past the both of them in result. Barbashev is then given time and room to quickly fire a shot off, while Luongo is down on his knees.
Luongo plays the puck to Mike Matheson once the puck is dumped in, but Matheson fails to clear the zone effectively.
Matheson’s clearance was picked off by Jaden Schwartz, who immediately fed David Perron a pass. Perron then wires a shot on net, which Luongo was unable to see.
That goal could’ve been prevented had Matheson cleared the zone properly. He had time to get it up and off the boards, but he instead opted to go along the ice (which was then picked off).
If you thought David Perron was done there, then guess again. He tallied his second of the night just ten minutes later, doubling the Blues’ lead (3-1).
Again, poor defensive positioning leads to another goal. Perron is left wide open at the faceoff dot, ready to release a pass (which ends up deflecting in).
As you can see, Petrovic is skating around the net, doing little to strip the puck off his guy. Better yet, Denis Malgin leaves his guy (David Perron) open in the slot, which eventually leads to the goal.
Yes, the goal itself was a fluke, as Perron’s pass deflected off Vatrano’s leg and in. However, the lead-up play to the goal is what could’ve been prevented.
The Panthers managed to grab two goals, courtesy of MacKenzie Weegar and Mike Hoffman. But, like their play all year, the Cats just couldn’t hang on, all thanks to another defensive breakdown.
It really wasn’t that long after Hoffman’s game-tying goal until the Blues struck again. This time, it was Brayden Schenn who would come in to steal the victory for the home side.
and Petrovic both lose their board battles behind the net, Perron is able to grab the puck and feed the point.
Vince Dunn releases a shot from the point, Schenn pounces on the loose rebound in the crease, and the rest is history as they say.
These are teams the Panthers should beat rather convincingly, yet they somehow manage to find a way to struggle.
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There’s really no excuse why a team of this caliber is able to allow a broken team like the Blues the chance to take over this game. Because after all, the Blues dominated the good portion of this hockey game, limiting the Panthers’ chances all night long.
It seems like I’m beating a dead horse over this issue, but there’s no real way of avoiding it. As much as I’d like to think that everything is hunky-dory in Pantherland, truth is, it’s not, and there are some major concerns with this hockey team that’s preventing it from reaching its potential.
Ultimately, we’re almost into the new year and soon enough we’ll be approaching the mid-season mark. At what point does this team put its foot down and make the necessary changes needed to improve this roster?
Because in the end, this season could be looked down upon and viewed as a ‘what if’ type of year if the Cats don’t get their act together.