The Florida Panthers went 2-1-1 on their western conference road trip, managing to salvage at least a point in three out of their four games.
Heading to play out west is certainly not an easy task to ask in sports, especially in the game of hockey. But despite some of the ups and downs that the Florida Panthers faced on this trip, they managed to hang in there.
It all started in Calgary with the first of four games being played against the Flames. It was a back and forth match between the two sides, played to the movement of a teeter-totter.
The Panthers and Flames both brought excitement to the fans, ending the game with a goal-fest, 11 goals scored. But unfortunately, the Cats were on the losing end of things, dropping in a shootout, 6-5.
The defense was extremely sloppy on the night, leaving Bobrovsky to dry on multiple occasions. Basically, they were unable to prevent goals and struggled to retain leads.
The Panthers followed up on that disappointing result with a solid performance a few days later in Edmonton, thrashing the Oilers in 6-2 style. Unlike the game against the Flames, the defense was dependable for a full sixty-minute effort, while Bobrovsky played like a brick wall.
Sadly, the Panthers got thumped the next night against the Vancouver Canucks, 7-2. The Canucks completely shell-shocked the Cats in the first period, running the score up to 5-1 after the first twenty minutes of play.
In a span of just 48 hours, the defense went from playing like a playoff defensive core back to their old fundamental ways. It was quite frustrating to watch and see, especially when you expected them to build on that Oilers performance from a night ago.
The Panthers wrapped up their trip facing the Colorado Avalanche – their toughest opponent of this Western Conference meeting.
Like the game against the Canucks, the Panthers got off to another slow start, conceding within the first six minutes. Thankfully, though, they equalized shortly after, ensuring that another first-period blowout wasn’t within the realm of possibility.
However, a late first-period and early third-period goal saw the Panthers down by two in the third, forced to play catchup hockey once again. But this time, the Cats didn’t fold nor throw in the towel. They woke up, played with a sense of urgency, and battled their way back into the hockey game, sending it to overtime tied at three.
In overtime, they ended it with a sneaky backhand shot from Jonathan Huberdeau, who got Florida the extra point with a clutch performance on the night (two goals).
Looking back on this trip, there are certain areas that still need to be addressed, but there were also some good moments that led to some good hockey being played.
More importantly, though, what truly cannot go unnoticed is the fight that the Panthers brought in three out of these four games, battling back whenever they were down. Their determination in some of the toughest moments really shined a light on what this team is truly about and ready to become.
With the season still young and unfolding, the Panthers have time to improve in certain areas of the ice (like on defense) that will help them climb to the top of the standings.
On trips like these, there are always going to be “what should’ve games” like Calgary and blowouts like Vancouver, but it’s all about how you pick yourself up and move on to the next. Good teams are made of this quality and the Panthers showed it when they were down or ahead.
The Panthers are now back at home in front of their own crowd for their next two games, taking on both Detroit and Washington. Four points would be ideal in these next two outings, but the Panthers are going to have to come prepared from the start, especially against the red-hot Capitals.
Stay tuned as the Panthers square off against the Red Wings tomorrow night @ 7 P.M., looking to build on their previous win in Denver, Colorado.