Panthers vs. Bruins. Like Just Another Stranger Waiting To Get Blown Away

FLORIDA PANTHERS: 3-8-4 (10 PTS.) vs. BOSTON BRUINS: 8-5-1 (17 PTS.)

GAME DAY SONG: Point Blank, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

After a six game homestand which many thought would help the Florida Panthers get out of their early season funk, the Cats now find themselves on a three game road swing that takes them to Boston tonight, and then onto Ottawa and New York to play the Rangers this Saturday and Sunday.  Did I mention that the Panthers are also in the midst of a six game losing streak? A road trip like this isn’t necessarily meant to be the antidote for what ails them, however things could be much worse, and maybe a little bonding away from the Florida sunshine might do them some good.

With the way the Panthers are playing lately it’s hard to find anything positive to talk about.  Playing a full 60 minutes has been the major issue with this club, and it was on display again with their overtime loss on Tuesday to the Edmonton Oilers.  A team by the way who’s given up the most goals in the NHL, and has exactly one more win than the Panthers.  Florida has now lost to Edmonton, Buffalo, and Philadelphia.  Those three opponents, and the Panthers find themselves bringing up the rear of the NHL.

The organization must turn things around immediately or risk losing an already fragile fan base that’s been patient to this point.  New ownership which was the first step taken this season, has promised to make the necessary moves to put a winning product on the ice, and those moves could be and should be imminent.  While waiting for the “other shoe to drop”, general manager Dale Tallon has given head coach Kevin Dineen a vote of confidence, despite the teams horrifically dismal performance.  Tallon had this to say after Tuesday’s loss:

“There will be changes though,” Tallon said outside the arena. “I don’t make rash decisions. None of us are happy. I have to fix this and I will. We’re better than this.”

You’ll find more quotes and analysis here from George Richards at the Miami Herald.  While Tallon has indicated that changes will be made, the sooner they happen the better so that players who aren’t going anywhere can play with less nervousness than they already have.  The Panthers had four complete days off last week, and that may have been the perfect time to make a change, but now that there have been two more losses, this bunch is likely the most fragile it’s been.  Adding to the pressure is the fact that after this short three game roadie, the Panthers come home to play Anaheim on Tuesday, then embark on a five game Western conference road swing.  The season is on the brink, and that road trip could be damaging for the balance of the season if they’re aren’t a few wins after they come home.  So with eight of the next nine games on the road, Florida has their work cut out for them.

Rather than discuss the matchup for tonight, it’s time to realize that a shakeup is in order.  Jameson Olive wrote a fantastic article yesterday, and everything he says is spot on.  The hard part of all this is that the Panthers are stuck in a losing environment that isn’t healthy, especially for the youth of the organization.  We can talk till we’re blue in the face about putting together a 60 minute effort, tighten up the defence, etc, etc.  But unless there are results, and quickly, this movie that seems to be on a spiral, will kill the season.  And we aren’t even at Thanksgiving.

Many feel that building through the draft and sprinkling in some free agents and a subtle trade or two is the way to make yourself competitive, the Florida Panthers are having zero success with that formula.  This team can’t wait for this summer to spend money on free agents, and make bold trades.  The time is here to act, and do so in a big way.  The team needs a superstar, or at least two highly skilled players to help turn this around.  In addition, by having those players now, it will be easier to attract some of the bigger free agents next season.  The Panthers haven’t had a goal scorer for years, something that isn’t a secret.  Suffice it to say, Olli Jokinen was the last real scoring threat the Panthers had, and he was traded away for two defencemen, and ultimately Olli’s points were never replaced.

It’s hard to say what happens on this three game stint, but if anyone thinks that keeping games close, only to lose late or in overtime is acceptable, then you better have your pulse checked.  This is a results oriented business, and right now the Panthers aren’t getting results.  It will take more than a bandaid to fix what ails this team, and it’s apparent that management is full aware of that.  It doesn’t matter if you think that Dineen has “lost the room” or if the players as a group just aren’t connecting, they’ve all had a full training camp and 15 games to work out the kinks.  The inevitable is going to happen.  The only question is, who will remain standing when it’s all over.

P.S.  Watch the vintage recording of today’s game day song.   Classic Bruce.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, 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.

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