Saturday night the Florida Panthers hosted the struggling Boston Bruins for game 7 of their nine game homestand. The Bruins were currently enduring a 5 game losing streak, yet because of their hot start to the season were 8 points ahead of the also recently struggling Florida Panthers. Prior to Saturday’s game the Panthers had lost two in a row and were an even 3-3 on the homestand.
The Bruins game was a “statement” game. In my opinion a must win game, even though it’s only December. The Panthers needed to win for confidence, to keep pace in the playoff hunt, and because it would indicate that they can hang with an elite opponent.
Head coach Joel Quennville had some direct remarks following the game. Both teams were desperate for a win, and Q was basically asked if he saw desperation in the Panthers:
Here’s his reply:
No, I didn’t see it. In the third, I thought we got a little excited when we scored, and then all of a sudden, you’re thinking of the last time we saw them.
Then he followed up with this:
This was one of those games where their top guys were really good and we didn’t get the same. We can’t think that was good enough and accept it because that was tough to watch for a majority of the game.
Prior to the game the lines were shuffled and the D pairing were adjusted. Mark Pysyk was in at forward, and Vincent Trocheck was moved to the top line and Evgenii Dadonov was moved to the second line, with Mike Hoffman and the struggling Denis Malgin. Keith Yandle and Aaron Ekblad were paired up on defence again as well.
Interesting that both Yandle and Pysyk scored the only goals for the Panthers as the offence was once again snakebitten. Although let’s be honest, the effort in the first 40 minutes was lacking. Boston held the Panthers in their zone for over a minute as soon as the puck was dropped to start the game. They (Panthers) struggled to get the puck out of their zone and for much of the night couldn’t maintain much offensive pressure. Except for about 10 minutes in the third period.
I sat in the lower bowl for this game and had an excellent view of what was happening. I could see things unfolding, and could see some of the same habits that have troubled this franchise for years.
Too much passing. Too many fancy passes. Too much east-west and not enough north south. Waiting to take a shot rather than one-timing. No push back, especially after Sergei Bobrovsky was knocked over after the third Boston goal which made the score 3-0.
Speaking of Bob, he made 38 saves, including 21 in the first period. The Panthers just didn’t show enough determination on this night in a game that meant something. The 9 game homestand has now become a detriment. Ottawa comes in on Monday and then Dallas is here on Friday. At best the Panthers will end up 5-4, but could easily be 3-6 if they don’t get their heads on straight.
Many of the same feelings are being said that we’ve heard after many losses the team has endured over the years. No need to repeat them here. Although Brian Boyle had some interesting things to say following the game:
Guys are not dogging it, but maybe we’re not working as hard as we thing we are. We are not working hard enough. When we get angry and play determined, you can see it. We can’t see what kind of game it is and try to play just good enough to win. We have to play consistently.
He also added
We have to stay determined and know this is not good enough.
While it’s only December 15th, you could think and feel that the season is slipping away. It’s not too early to feel that way and if things don’t change fast, the Panthers will once again be chasing a playoff spot instead of a division crown, or at minimum a better than 8th seed.
The Panthers are 3-7-0 in their last ten games. Since Bob sat one game out, he’s been significantly better, but the offence has been shut down. Aleksander Barkov was helped off the ice after he crashed into the boards late in the third period, and if he’s out for any extended time things could get ugly. Although Q said he’s going to be fine.
Moves will need to be made if this funk doesn’t disappear. With very limited cap space the Panthers are a bit handcuffed in what they can do, which is extremely frustrating. Many are calling for Owen Tippett and or Henrik Borgstrom to be called up. There’s no salary cap room. And who knows if they’ll make things any better.
The time to get this back on track is now. Last night’s performance was as my title said, unacceptable. I believe it, but do they?
Thanks for reading.
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