State of the Territory: Florida Panthers Weekly Review

Images Property of Kim Smith (@kimsmithimages)

You guessed it, it’s Thursday which means it’s time for another edition of State of the Territory!

Time to unwind, relax, and reflect on another week of Cats hockey. If you thought, even for a moment, that anything this season would be consistent, you’re fooling yourself. This past week reflected that theme time and again, even throughout the league.

12/7 vs CBJ (w 4-1)

Whew. After ten (10!) days off, Sergei Bobrovsky reminded fans why they signed him to that $70 Million deal this past offseason. Evgenii Dadanov opened the scoring just :18 into the game as the Cats came out hot. Josh Brown sneaked in the back door while Aleksander Barkov made an elite pass that made it 2-0. Brett Connolly scored his team-leading 13th goal in the third. After taking 4 hearty Mike Hoffman one-timers on a powerplay earlier in the game, Blue Jacket’s defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov got rewarded for sacrificing his body with a goal to make it 3-1. Mike Hoffman sealed the deal with a backhand flip from his own blue line into the empty net.

12/8 vs SJS (w 5-1)

A rare weekend back-to-back saw San Jose come to town for a Sunday evening matchup. Keith Yandle scored a powerplay goal to open the game, followed shortly thereafter by Aleksander Barkov’s 10th of the year. Kevin LeBanc answered before the period ended to make it 2-1 headed to the second. Mike Matheson’s wrister from the point restored the two-goal lead for the Cats, but this would be the only scoring of the second. In the final frame, Brett Connolly scored (again) on the powerplay, while Frank Vatrano iced the game with an empty-netter late. San Jose seemingly had no answer for the Panthers offensive firepower. One interesting matchup to watch for this game was Erik Karlsson and Mike Hoffman. The two famously were at odds in Ottawa a few years back, and Hoffman stated after the game he tried to fight Karlsson all night, but the Sharks star defenseman refused.

12/10 vs TBL (L 2-1)

What seemed like a real “measuring stick” type game for the Cats saw the Bolts get on the board first. Steven Stamkos won a puck battle behind the net against Mike Matheson, then took the puck out front and wrapped it past Bobrovsky. Depending on who you ask, Stamkos got away with a trip while taking the puck off of Matheson, but it was 1-0 nonetheless. Alex Killorn scored on a rebound chance in the second to make it 2-0 Lightning, and I can’t wait to see what our own Tom Maclean has to say about this in his “Tom’s Cat Bin” this week. The Panthers surged late, and got a goal from Evgenii Dadanov, but they couldn’t push hard enough as they fell 2-1.

Who’s Hot?

Sergei Bobrovsky: About a week ago, I wrote an article trying to piece together why Bob had been struggling. It featured charts and graphs to try to explain why he wasn’t performing up to standard, but turns out all he needed was 10 days off to think about it for him to return to form. Bob allowed 4 goals in 3 games this past week, leading the Cats to 2 wins in that time-frame. I was most impressed with his performance against Tampa, where he faced nearly 50 shots, only surrendering 2 goals. He looked locked in all week and I’m looking forward to this trend continuing into the rest of the season.

Brett Connolly: One of the quieter signings and performances of the year, it’s no longer possible to ignore what Connolly is doing for the Panthers. Brett leads the team in goals (14) and seems to always be in a good spot to get quality chances. Due to other big name signings at the start of free-agency, Connolly’s signing was almost swept under the rug, but the Cats are certainly looking smart for scooping him when they could.

Who’s not?

NHL Coaches on the Hot Seat: In just a week, we’ve seen 2 NHL head coaches get fired for various reasons. The Stars fired Jim Montgomery for “unprofessional conduct” that still hasn’t been disclosed. Just yesterday, the Sharks fired ex-Panthers coach Peter DeBoer, and ironically placed Bob Boughner in charge of the bench on an interim basis. It seems as if NHL general managers are keeping coaches on a short leash and aren’t waiting until the ship is sunk to abandon it. In the case of the stars and Montgomery, I’ll be the first one to say I’m glad the Stars, and seemingly the league as a whole, is serous about their zero-conduct policy on conduct for coaches and staff. I think we’ll see a few more guys get fired for similar reasons, you just hope one isn’t from our staff.

The week ahead:

12/12 vs NYI

12/14 vs BOS

12/16 vs OTT

Thanks for reading this article! You can follow along with Panther Parkway @pantherparkway on Twitter! You can also follow our writers: @FrankRekas, @Josh_LOPanthers, @CF3234, @JacobWinans8, @prudentia0, @Spencer_hoag, @Mister_Joester! Make sure to follow and listen to our podcast @LOPanthersPod All images unless otherwise noted are courtesy of @KimSmithImages