Panthers vs. Senators. I’m Tired Of Waiting For Tomorrow To Come.

FLORIDA PANTHERS: 3-9-4 (10 PTS.) vs. OTTAWA SENATORS: 6-6-4 (16 PTS.)


GAME DAY SONGBetter Days, Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band

A seven game losing streak that saw the Florida Panthers struggle to play consistent, and spirited hockey resulted in the firing of head coach Kevin Dineen and his coaching staff (Craig Ramsey and Gord Murphy).  While the inability to put together a solid effort for a full 60 minutes was the main factor of the teams’ losing streak, there are some other issues that need to be corrected.  Offensively challenged, the Panthers have scored only 12 goals during the seven game tailspin, and have the worst power play in the league with only five goals scored with the man advantage.  Making matters worse, they’ve been outscored 27-9 on the road, and have only 2 power play goals in 32 chances in opposing buildings.

New coach Peter Horachek and his assistants, both former Panthers, (Brian Skrudland and John Madden) will have little time to implement many changes, anthe players will be expected to perform.  Horachek is a no nonsense coach, and says that the players will have to take responsibility for their actions:

“We have to take a bigger, better approach on how we approach our day and how we approach ourselves,” he said. “Are we prepared to practice, are we prepared to play? And how we want to go about that. What kind of team do we want to be? Do we want to be individuals or do we want to start playing the way we’re capable of playing?”

Sounds like Horachek expects a culture change immediately, and has also stated that he wants the Panthers to play “harder and faster”.  The Panthers will have to do so without their most consistent player so far this season, Jesse Winchester, who received a three game suspension for his elbow to the head of Boston’s Chris Kelly.  Winchester who was signed as a free agent this summer by Dale Tallon has been energetic, hard working, and consistent in each game he’s played.  Brad Boyes, who was in Dineen’s doghouse could get a chance to get back in the lineup, and from an offensive standpoint, that could be a plus.  However Boyes will need to pay attention to his play at both ends of the ice, or find himself watching games instead of playing them.

The Panthers could also benefit from Tim Thomas who is expected to return to the lineup tonight after missing time with a groin injury.  It’s not a secret that the Panthers seem to play better with Thomas in net, and his return combined with the change in coaching just might get the Cats going.  The bonding will have to take place quickly as the Panthers will embark on a five game western road swing next week.  There’s still time to turn the season around, however you should expect more moves coming in the future if things don’t improve.  GM Dale Tallon who is not at all pleased with where the team is made this comment to Ottawa reporters Friday:

“we need our better players to play better or I have to get better players.”

These same individuals who may have been holding their sticks too tight, or just not giving effort now have to answer for themselves.  Not to say that they cost Dineen his job, but as we all know you can’t fire 22 players, so making the change with Kevin is just the first step.  Tallon has been working the phones trying to make a deal, or two, and has the full support of new owner Vincent Viola.  The players will now have to buckle down, and forget about the past and move forward under the new regime.

The Senators who always play well against the Panthers in Ottawa (winning the last 6) will be looking for their third consecutive win, and will be riding the hot hand of goaltender Robin Lehner who is playing for Craig Anderson who has been out with a stiff neck.  That’s good news for the Panthers since Anderson is 9-1-1 against his former team, with a 1.90 GAA.  Florida would be wise to keep their eyes on Bobby Ryan who has 9 goals and 9 assists as well as Jason Speeza who has 8 goals and 8 assists himself.

The adrenalin of a new coach could see the Panthers come out flying, but let’s be patient.  Things will change, but time is needed to get things in order.  Nonetheless, if Horachek can get the Panthers to use their speed, be more responsible defensively, and make smarter decisions, a turnaround is possible.  Horachek has his work cut out for him, but the players are all under the microscope more than ever before.


* Erik Karlsson has 9 points in 6 games.

* Bobby Ryan has 8 points in 4 games.

* Kyle Turris has 7 points in 5 games.

* Scottie Upshall has 4 points in 4 games.


* Tomas Kopecky has 0 points in 16 games.

* Colin Greening has 0 points in 10 games.

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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