Shortly after Scott Clemmensen surrendered the second goal of the first period against the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday night, the boos began to rain down from the stands. A chant of “We want Markstrom” formed shortly after. It appeared that the Panthers crowd finally lost all patience with the veteran backstop, and for good reason: Clemmensen’s stats this year are simply subpar to say the least, and four crappy periods against the division rival Hurricanes would sink his numbers even further.
At intermission, the venom spewed in Clemmensen’s direction was reaching an all-time high: fans on Twitter demanded that Clemmensen be subbed out in favor of the young Jacob Markstrom, who was totally not in a position to play after not practicing for days and just getting his pads at around the time the puck dropped. At least a couple fans even maintained that they would refuse to renew their season tickets if Dineen didn’t pull Clemmensen. And maybe the Panthers coach might’ve consideredswitching the struggling netminder out in favor of the potentialed Swede, if he thought it would make any difference.
By the time tonight’s game has been completed the Florida Panthers will have finished the first quarter of the season, and will have played one of four important home games on the schedule this week. With eight points on the line, it’s vital for the Panthers to grab as many of them as possible. Being greedy and getting at least six of eight would be the ideal situation. However just because these four games are at home doesn’t mean that they’ll be eight easy points to grab. Two of the four games are within the division (Washington and Tampa), while the other two are against Canadian foes (Montreal and Toronto). All four teams have their sites on the post season.
That said tonight’s game against the WashingtonCapitals is crucial. The Panthers are 0-6-0 against Washington in their last six meetings, and must reverse that trend. The 5-0 shellacking on Saturday was an awful finish to what otherwise could be deemed as a successful road trip. Hard to be upset with 5 of 8 points on the road, but the poor effort Saturday night clearly overshadowed the 2-1-1 record. With the home ice advantage the Panthers will need to start each game quickly, and with energy. I’d like to see them start out by laying the first hit or two to set somewhat of a physical tone, and play with energy. At times it appears that these elements of their game are lacking. Couple that with the first goal, and you have the crowd behind you, and your confidence grows stronger.
Throughout this homestand and especially tonight, the goaltending and defence will need to be better. Washington and Tampa Bay have explosive scoring capabilities, while Montreal and Toronto use their team speed to create scoring chances. There may be a game during this homestand that our goaltenders will have to “steal”. With Ed Jovanovski still about a week away from game action, Tyson Strachan remains in the lineup, and Erik Gudbranson will finally play in front of the home crowd for the first time this season. The goal differential however has a spread of 15. Meaning that the Panthers have given up 15 more goals than they’ve scored. At times they’ve looked good, but at others, not so much. Too much traffic in front of the net that’s not being cleared out, and too many odd man rushes with players getting good looks at the goaltender, and being able to finish their play. The Panthers can ill afford this trend to continue, and need to have things cleaned up starting tonight.
Monday night Panther Parkway’s Dave Lasseter was a guest on the Florida Panther Podcast. A live podcast that is hosted by both Adam Meyer and Aaron Kushman.
The show which can be heard by clicking here, was the third in what looks to be a weekly braodcast talking about Florida Panthers hockey. Listen in as the guys talk about the recent road trip, the play of the top two lines, goaltending and much much more.
Stick tap to both Adam and Aaron for putting these together as they are not an easy thing to do, and we can never have enough hockey to talk about.
Thank you for listening. We welcome your comments and opinions.
Follow the Rat Pack on Twitter: me @TheRatTrick , David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Patrick McLaughlin @PatrickRattrick, Scott Mullin @GreatScottsman, David Rodriguez @davidbub_2, Paige Lewis @RatTrickLewiz Gabby Kiger @gabbykiger, Adam Reid@AdamReid Chrissy Parente @chrissaay44, Justen Rosenberg @justenrosenberg, Lori Carpenter @lmcangel13, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530. Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.
As some of you may know, the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics are less than a year away and all eyes will soon be on Russia within the next few months.
It’s hard to believe that it’s already been three years since the 2010 Vancouver Olympics which saw many athletes become household names. Team USA lead the overall team medal count with 37 medals, 9 of which were Gold. However, Team Canada led the way with 14 Gold medals, but only 26 overall medals.
The most important competition leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics had to be Men’s Ice Hockey.
There was tremendous pressure for the Canadian team to come away with the Gold, but the USA team looked poised to steal it off their necks. However, no one will ever forget the heroics by Sidney Crosby in the Gold medal match which saw him score the game winning goal in overtime.
It will be 4 years since that crushing defeat for Team USA, and this up and coming team will look to once again foil another hockey power house in their own soil, Russia.
As I researched and looked around the NHL for players that will most likely be on this team, I found myself saying similar names to last Olympics team.
FLORIDA PANTHERS: 3-5-1 (7 PTS.) vs. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: 4-6-0 (8 PTS.)
Game Day Song: Tenth Avenue Freeze Out. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
The Florida Panthers will be looking to regroup after losing Tuesday night to the Winnipeg Jets with six seconds remaining in overtime by a score of 4-3. A game which saw the Panthers tighten up defensively, yet not enough to hold on for victory. The Panthers will also be looking to avenge themselves from the last meeting against the Flyers which saw Philadelphia pound them 7-1 as Flyer Matt Read picked up his first career hat trick. The Panthers who we reeling at the time, have turned their game around, gotten healthy, and have played much better since then. This will be game three of a four game road trip, and while they can’t be unhappy with three out of four points in two games, that can all change with a loss tonight.
The Panthers have allowed an average of 3.67 goals per game which is tied for second worst in the league will benefit from the presence of Erik Gudbranson who should make his season debut tonight. An interesting stat from Tuesday’s game against the Jets is that the Panthers allowed only three shots against in the first period, and two each in the third and overtime. However the Jets managed 14 in the second frame, and that’s where they picked up two goals to tie the game. The Panthers had won the previous two games firing 67 combined shots, while managing a season low 19 against Winnipeg on Tuesday. The power play was held scoreless as was Peter Mueller who’s four game goal streak came to an end. However, the play of rookie Drew Shore has continued to impress as he played another strong game with his hard skating, and driving to the net. His solid effort rewarded him with his second NHL assist on Jonathan Huberdeau’s goal in the first period which gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead. The trio of Shore, Huberdeau and Mueller has been making teams take notice, and is looking more and more like the surprise line of the year. If they can all find some consistency, and Shore can pick up his first goal to get some additional confidence, they’ll be a force to reckon with. Read the rest of this entry
The Florida Panthers will hopefullyget a big boost tonight when second year defenceman Erik Gudbranson joins the team in Winnipeg, in hopes of making his season debut for the Panthers. After suffering a shoulder injury in the off season, fans have been waiting with baited breathe for his return, and his presence will be a welcomed sight on the blue line. With an injury to Ed Jovanovski, the Panthers during the past two games have been one injured defenceman away from another rookie call up. Gudbranson solves that issue, meaning either Keaton Ellerby or Tyson Strachan will become the healthy scratch.
The addition of Gudbranson in the lineup will benefit the Panthers in a number of ways, most notably the physical edge that he brings. Gudbranson’s career evolved last season, and as we all know his best moments came during the seven game playoff series against the New Jersey Devils. Here is an interview of Erik at the end of last season:
WINNIPEG JETS: 3-2-1 (7 PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS: 1-5-0 (2 PTS.)
GAME DAY SONG: The Ties That Bind. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
Dustin Byfuglien and the Winnipeg Jets are hoping to feast on a frustrated and embarrassed Florida Panthers hockey team tonight, as the Jets look to rebound from a 4-3 loss in Montreal on Monday. Prior to that the Jets were on a three game winning streak, however in these last four games, Winnipeg has allowed the first goal in each of them. Something the Panthers need to consider as a quick start and a lead in the opening minutes would go a long way in building their shattered confidence. Head coach Claude Noel is rightfully concerned about giving up early goals:
“You can’t keep giving up goals early in the first period and expect that you’re going to come back, it’s just not the right way to play,” coach Claude Noel said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re home or on the road, it’s just a recipe for disaster.”
Blake Wheeler has scored three goals so far, and they’ve all come within the last four games he’s played in. Last season was Wheeler’s best as a pro as he scored 17 goals and had 47 assists for 64 points while playing in 80 games for the Jets. At 26 years old the big winger is just about to enter his prime, and it will be interested to see how he progresses. The interesting thing about Winnipeg is that their top two scorers are defenceman, as Tobias Enstrom and Big Buff lead the team with 7 points each, along with forward Evander Kane.
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.
FLORIDA PANTHERS: 1-4-0 (2 PTS.) vs. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: 4-1-0 (8 PTS.)
GAME DAY SONG: The Rising. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
The interstate rivals meet tonight for the first time this season with exact opposite records. The Florida Panthers are in the midst of a four game losing streak, while the Tampa Bay Lightning are on a three game winning streak and coming off a 5-1 spanking of the Philadelphia Flyers Sunday evening. In that game the high scoring Lightning saw veteran Martin St. Louis contribute four assists, while Steven Stamkos added a goal and an assist to give him 10 points on the year so far. The Lightning who have an abundance of scoring are tied for the league lead in goals for (24) with the St. Louis Blues, and are averaging 4.8 per game.
Stamkos however is not the team leader in points, as Martin St. Louis sits at the top with 11 (3G- 8A). Forwards Teddy Purcell, who had a goal and two assists against the Flyers, and rookie Cory Conacher add some additional scoring depth as well, presenting more than just top top guns to be careful of, and we haven’t even mentioned the ever dangerous Vincent Lecavalier. The Panthers who haven’t been very sharp of late, and have made numerous defensive mistakes, had better be on their game tonight, or it will be over quickly. This Tampa team can score in bunches and they can spread it around as well, making them one of the more offensively dangerous teams in the league, and they know it:
“When you get a little confidence going, as our offensive players have right now, you try to run with it,” Stamkos said. “We know, once we get on a roll, we’re a tough team to beat.”
After three consecutive losses leaving the Florida Panthers at 1-3-0 one week into the season, you can’t help but feel a touch anxious about the slow start, not to mention the three game losing streak. The offensive spanking that the Cats gave to the Carolina Hurricanes on opening night, has been replaced with lethargic, mistake filled, and confused play. This is not what was expected from last year’s Southeast Division champions especially after adding free agents Peter Mueller, Alex Kovalev, and rookie Jonathan Huberdeau. All three of those players were instrumental on opening night, but have been stymied in the three games that followed. Speaking of stymied, an APB (all points bulletin) has been put out for the top line which has only produced one goal which came Thursday night in the loss to Ottawa. Adding to that frustration, those three top forwards (Kris Versteeg, Stephen Weiss and Tomas Fleischmann) could all miss tonight’s game against the Flyers due to injuries.
Regardless of the bumps and bruises it appears that something is missing from the Panthers team. With that said, I asked the fan base what they thought it was, and what they thought could be done about it. Here’s a sampling of the responses:
@TheRatTrick call up howden, trade a player or 2 for someone who can really be a game changer. Need to shake it up. The offense is too quiet
@TheRatTrick a person who can score. Another defensive defenseman, and a few more 2 way players.
@TheRatTrick Hockey IQ, passion, conditioning and an on ice leader
@TheRatTrick Team Identity? Speed? Skill? Defense? Leader? Not hitting? This team is not hard to play against. Flash pounded no response.