When going over their packing list of what to take on their six day, four-game road trip, the Florida Panthers must have forgot to include goaltending and defense. The red light behind Panthers goalies were given quite the workout as they were scored upon early and often throughout the trip that saw the Panthers return with a 1-3 record and in a far bigger hole than when they left.
Granted, competition wise, it was a tough road trip (three of the four teams are currently in a playoff spot), but save for a comeback against a struggling, injury-depleted Detroit Red Wings team, the Panthers were outmatched every night.
And there’s no need to dig into Cori or Fenwick as the reasons for this terrible road trip, as it’s all right there on the surface:
– The Panthers were outscored 20-10 in the four games, giving up at least four goals in every game.
Everyone is quick to blame the Panthers blueline for any shortcomings, but the goaltenders deserve a great deal of of blame for this stretch. Yes, the defense can put them in bad spots but, at some point, they just have to make the save and bail them out. That’s been happening less and less recently. Take Saturday night in Columbus: With the score 2-1 Blue Jackets late in the second, a weak Nick Foligno shot squeaks through Thomas and dribbles over the line for a 3-1 lead and effectively ending the game. It was a save that HAD to be made and it wasn’t.
That’s not to say that Thomas/Clemmensen haven’t had their moments, because they have. Thomas‘ performance in the shootout (see last Sunday’s win in Detroit) alone has helped pad win total, but if this team wants to cling to its already extremely slim playoff hopes, it needs better in the net than what it got these past four games. And when your best goalie as a .911 save percentage, it doesn’t look good.
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