On Tuesday night the Florida Panthers played what was about as close to a mismatched beer league game (at the NHL level) that you’ll see – at least for the first period and parts of the second.
There’s a lot of things you can break down about this effort (or lack thereof), but it really kind of came down to losing the game in the first 20 minutes.
The Cats helped Carolina a lot by letting Canes players hang out in front of the net untouched. This isn’t a new phenomenon in the modern NHL. In fact, it seems like most teams allow the opposition to setup in front more than they have in the past. I remember years ago when players would take a beating going to that area. It doesn’t seem to be a regular thing as much anymore. But just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t mean it can’t be frustrating to watch when Florida does it. I’m not saying you have to take a guy’s head off, but tangle him up, put your stick in his lower back and push him out of the way - if he’s going to go there, make it difficult for him. Let him know you’re there and if he plans on parking out front the whole game, he’ll have to deal with the consequences. Heck, if the defense isn’t going to do it, then it’s up to Bob and Monty to start whacking shin pads. This defense is weak as it is, letting guys camp out front only worsens an already rough situation.
But that isn’t the only thing that led to the Cats loss, there were a number of reasons…
Looking at the game from a high level, here are some quick things that stuck out to me:
Lack of Effort – It was clear in the first period and the beginning of the second that the Panthers were going through the motions, if you can even call it that. They were out of position; they missed assignments, were on their heels and had an overall “blah” feeling to them.
More of the Same -As mentioned above, they not only let guys park out front untouched, they also allowed guys to get in behind the defense, which led to prime scoring opportunities – which the Canes capitalized on.
Late to the Party – The Cats didn’t show up to play and when they finally did (midway through the second and throughout the third) the game had already been won by Carolina. Just too late.
The Big Guns Stay Holstered - Barky, Huby and the guys you need to score have struggled to get going in this early season.
Hurricanes Kept it Simple – Hats off to the Canes for bringing a simple, effective game. They used speed, effective passing, got shots on net with traffic in front and blocked a ton of Panthers shots. That’s what the game is all about and they executed it really well.
A performance like Tuesday night earned these guys a rough practice yesterday and I was glad to hear Q put them through the wringer.
It’s crazy to think that a team who put on 50 shots could lose the game, yet, the Panthers found a way…
Looking Forward on the Road
Florida heads out on their first road trip of the year and they kick things off tonight in Buffalo. The Sabres are off to a hot start at 3-0-1 and find themselves in first place in the Atlantic Division. Young gun Rasmus Dahlin leads all NHL defensemen with 7 points in 4 games. It would be a great game to win and get back on track after the Canes blowout – especially since they have a quick turn around and have to play the Islanders on Saturday night – a team that sits at 1-2 just like the Panthers.
The Sabres seem to be putting things together after many seasons of ups and downs (mostly downs), and they look great in those 50th anniversary sweaters…man, I love that look with the white buckets/gloves, gold accents and it all contrasting against the blue pants. Awesome stuff!
I expect Bob to have shaken Tuesday off (not that you can pin it on him) and ready/eager to get things going in New York.
As you know, I’m a big fan of Brown. I would like to see him activated for tonight. I like the simple game he plays on the backend. Wouldn’t mind seeing McCoshen or Stillman get the nod eventually, too.
As bad as major portions of that game was, there is some silver lining in the form of the Panthers not completely rolling over. When they came alive after Q’s blender was turned on, there was a lot to like. They’ll need to start games with that same pace moving forward. They can’t afford slow starts to any games and they certainly can’t afford another slow start to the season.
Hey. Let’s get this thing back on track, boys…