Daily Archives: March 2, 2013
FLORIDA PANTHERS: 6-9-5 (17 PTS.) vs. CAROLINA HURRICANES: 10-8-1 (21 PTS.)
There are times when you’re able to be in charge of your own destiny. The next two days could prove to be just that, as the Florida Panthers take on Southeast division rival Carolina in a home and home weekend battle. Four points separate the two teams, and if Florida has any expectations of making the playoffs, getting all four points would have to be a necessity. In the past whenever the Panthers were close to claiming the division lead, or grabbing a spot in the top eight of the conference, the Carolina Hurricanes always stood in their way. This weekend is no different, and while there’s still a little more than half a season remaining, the Panthers need to treat this weekend as a playoff type atmosphere.
The good news for the Hurricanes is that four players have recently returned from injury. Jeff Skinner, Tim Gleason, Jamie McBain and Tim Brent are all back after missing action. Getting four regulars back not only injects some confidence in the lineup, but makes coach Kirk Muller’s job a little easier:
“It was nice getting some healthy bodies back,” coach Kirk Muller said. “It gave us a chance to go four lines. It gave us a higher tempo and energy.”
The bad news for Carolina is that while they are 10-3-1 outside the division, they’re 0-5-0 against Southeast division opponents. In those five games which includes the Panthers opening night victory of 5-1, the Canes have been outscored 21-7. Looking for consistency is something Carolina is aiming for as well, as they followed up Tuesday nights shutout loss to the Capitals (3-0) with a 4-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. In the Penguins game the line of Jiri Tlusty, Eric Staal and Alex Semin combined for eight points. Staal leads the Hurricanes in points with 22 (10 goals, 12 assists), followed by Alex Semin who has 4 goals and 12 assists for 16 points.
Amidst a 2-4-4 skid in their last 10 games, the Panthers desperately need to unlock some sort of winning formula if they still want to make a push for the playoffs, and fast. The bottom teams in the East are all separated by a mere six points, and a condensed season is the enemy to those squads trying to make their case for a postseason berth.
As we enter into the month of March, frustration looms among Cats fans who have only seen their team win on home ice three times all season. Many argue that inconsistent goaltending is the primary issue, while others offer that a shoddy defense is the the main contributor to the Panthers’ lack of success. If you’re an equally frustrated spectator, you would likely believe that it is a number of ailments rather than one pinpointed problem that has doomed the Panthers to fall below mediocrity. With that, here are three keys (while perhaps obvious) that could help provide a desperately needed surge headed into the second half of the season. Read the rest of this entry