After six games the Florida Panthers have opened the season with a five game losing streak after winning on opening night, and haven’t looked good doing it. Out played, out hustled, and in some cases outsmarted, things haven’t been this grim for quite some time. During this stretch Florida has scored only five goals while the opposition has potted 23. The power play can’t score, and the penalty kill unit can’t stop anyone. No matter where you look, you have the feeling that this won’t get turned around anytime soon.
I have watched an awful lot of hockey in my life, and have seen some awful teams, and have seen some great teams. I watch the game with passion, and with a high level of expectation. What we are seeing right now a team that is frustrated, nervous, and at times confused on the ice. They don’t plan to play that way, but they are. And if you think the players don’t know this, you’re sadly mistaken. The looks on their faces after the games tell you everything. These boys care, they’re frustrated, and they want to fix this as soon as possible. If you’ve never heard the term “holding your stick too tight”, this is what’s happening. There’s too many players that are trying to do too much, which causes them to get away from their normal style of play. It looks messy for sure, and though injuries are a small part of all this, I’m not using that as an excuse. The team needs to work hard at all ends of the ice, they need to start to win the battles, and play with more energy. One win is all it takes to start to fix this.
The good news is that the Panthers aren’t the only team struggling out of the gate. Although that’s not supposed to make you feel better, the Washington Capitals with a far superior roster (on paper) are struggling too. So are the Philadelphia Flyers. What concerns me however is that a good portion of the fan base is ready to “tank” the season after only six games. Are you that weak of a fan or supporter of the team that after six games you’re ready to play for the number one draft pick? What you’re really saying is that you’d rather endure a season or two of losing in hopes that the Panthers are able to draft one of Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon or Jonathan Drouin, and wait for the prospects to develop in order to turn things around. You’re behaving as though Igor Ulanov, Branislav Mezei and Matthieu Baron are patrolling the blue line. There’s way more talent than that now. Yet some of the same fans that are calling for a gutting of this roster, also thought that Rostislav Olesz, Kristian Huselius, and David Booth were the future of the team. This is puzzling to me, but so be it.
Now I’m not happy about the losing streak, but I certainly can’t get behind those that are falling off the wagon wanting to just tank for a future unknown. Haven’t you had enough of waiting for the future? Haven’t you suffered through enough losing seasons? Aren’t you sick and tired of rebuilding? Faithful Panther fans as well as the organization have suffered way too long to endure another period of change. Wasn’t last year rewarding, and fun, despite getting knocked out in the first round of the playoffs? Has your hope for this season faded that fast? Are you that weak, and ready to give up? Apparently those that are asking for a fire sale are. I have suggested that a trade or two is needed at some point, but I’m certainly not looking for the Panthers to gut the roster, nor am I hoping that we trade away our prospects either. And I want all of you to ponder this next statement and finally agree:
Roberto Luongo is not the answer, so please stop wishing for him. We need a bonafide goal scorer. If you can’t see that, you aren’t watching the same team.
I personally hate losing more than I like winning, and I know that this team is significantly better than how they’ve played recently. And let me be very clear with all this; I will agree that they haven’t played well at all during this streak, but it can’t last. However we’re starting to get healthy as Kris Versteeg just returned, and Marcel Goc is slated to play tonight. But if you’re expecting these two to record hat tricks in their first few games and save the season, then you are beyond help. I have no issue with constructive criticism of the way the Panthers are playing. I have been outspoken about it myself. However I am nowhere near ready to say let’s just lose to get a good draft pick. Losing is a disease, and one that isn’t attractive, or is it something to be proud of. Obviously some aren’t as sick of it as others, and appear to be willing to live with some more of it.
I was reminded last night by @MissConduct24 that in 1995 the Chicago Blackhawks had a 13 game losing streak and still went to the Western Conference Finals. Therefore the message is this, it’s not the end of the world.
So for at least the next two weeks I want you to believe that things can turn around. Support the team that you were so crazy in love with last season. And if after two weeks, things haven’t improved, then we can tackle the situation at that point. In the meantime, pull it together, until I say so.
Thank you for reading. We welcome your comments and opinions.
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