Daily Archives: January 12, 2013
The first five games of the season that we’ve all been waiting to start could tell us a great deal about this Florida Panthers team and their ability to not only reach the post season, but repeat as division champions as well. It was confirmed on Saturday that the home opener will be against the Carolina Hurricanes and the “Staal Brothers” on Saturday January 19th in Sunrise at the BB & T Center. Carolina has always been a difficult opponent for the Panthers in the past, and with their off season additions of Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin, this year promises to be more of the same. We’ll delve more into the home opener later this week after each team has had a few days to round out their roster. One glaring weakness that has always been an issue for the “Canes is their defence. They rely way too much on goaltender Cam Ward to bail them out. Ward has been a workhorse for Carolina and unfortunately for opponents he’s actually pretty good at keeping the Canes close in games that they should lose, and he’s been known to steal a few as well.
The Panthers who will play five games in eight nights will travel to Canada after the home opener to face the Ottawa Senators on January 21st and the Montreal Canadiens on January 22nd. The the Cats return home to face the Ottawa Senators again on January 24th and host the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday January 26th. From all angles that’s a tough opening, however it will be a good measuring stick to start out the season. If the Panthers can be 3-2-0 after these five games it will set a much needed positive start for their season.
Approaching the start of any season always brings concerns. The concerns for this year’s Florida Panthers are magnified due to a shortened season, injuries to players that played in Europe during the lockout, and question marks about players being able to repeat their performance from last season. In less than seven days all NHL teams, not just the Panthers, will need to find out how to mix the drink that will fuel the season. For the Panthers they will also have the pressure of defending their first ever division championship, however with the sour taste of a first round exit by one overtime goal, that could be just enough to catapult them past at least one playoff round. Or can it?
We all know that the lack of scoring was the “devil” that did the team in last season, and general manager Dale Tallon is attempting to rectify that as I type this. With invitations to Marek Svatos and Alex Kovalev, Tallon is trying to find lightning in a bottle, and with the way Kovalev has been performing at practice, it could exist. However it’s going to take a bit more than a 39 year old skilled winger and a 30 year old forward who hasn’t played much in the past two years to help this team repeat as division champs, or at least make the post season.
With only 48 games to play a slow start must be avoided as well as a losing streak of any kind. Streaky teams can benefit by the short season with a quick start, and maintaining consistency throughout. Also, a young team with fresh legs will have an advantage over an older team with wily veterans who may or may not be in shape yet. Remembering that the last lockout caused numerous “groin” pulls throughout the league, older players must be in top shape, but with a deep minor league roster, there are players available to fill in if needed. Let’s just hope we don’t rely on that too often. Read the rest of this entry