The Florida Panthers had their first of back to back games on Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres. The start time for the matinee was 1:00 pm eastern. Not sure the Panthers received the memo based on their performance in the opening 50 minutes.
While the title of this post might be a little strong, it’s actually very descriptive of the result. After bounce back 40 minutes on Thursday against the Ottawa Senators where the Panthers played a very pedestrian first period, they rolled back to win 6-3 with four goals in the middle stanza.
This game however started out terribly, and just continued on. Sergei Bobrovsky was chased as the Sabres scored 3 goals on 7 shots, and Chris Dreidger came on in relief. Once again, the defence was the primary villian, although goal number 3 is one that Bob would like to have back, and Coach Q mentioned that in the post game that he didn’t like it much. While my artistic rendering of the first Sabre goal is accurate, here’s the actual replay so you can see yourself the horrible coverage on defence:
As you can see from both my drawing, and the replay, the Panthers defence was overloaded to one side of the ice, leaving Jokiharju wide open and untouched for a score. Keith Yandle was the closest to Jokiharju, but still out of position, and no where near to be any threat. This is a defensive mistake we’ve seen countless times this season. As well as the past 3. This is one of the items that Dale Tallon was talking about after the first intermission on Thursday.
The Sabres would score two more goals on the Panthers, ultimately leading to the goalie change, yet it was not without opportunities for the Cats as they had 3 power play chances up to that point. Again however, the Panthers passed up too many shots, passed the puck way too much, were too cute, and of the shots they did take many were not high danger, nor were many of them even on net.
Here’s a replay of the third Buffalo goal, a real rocket by Sam Reinhart. Now as you can see the shot is actually on net. Something that the Panthers had difficulty with during this game at crucial moments. The other is that the anticipation of Bobrovsky was to drop as he slid over to the other post. Now I’ve never played goalie, except in street hockey, however there are times when you anticipate wrong. Bob wrongly thought the shot would be low. Reinhart’s shot however was rising from the moment it left his stick.
Losses like this one are unacceptable for a roster with this much talent. The brain cramps on defence combined with the inability of the “core” to find a goal when needed is not a recipe for a playoff team. The Panthers had a chance to distance themselves a bit from Buffalo, but this loss allowed the Sabres to inch closer. This is the life of an inconsistent team. And boy is it frustrating!
It’s almost as though they’ve told themselves that because of multiple comebacks this season, including two that were from four goal deficits, that they can turn it on and turn it off any time that they want. Let me tell you something, they are NOT that good.
Matter of fact, the last time I saw a team that could actually do that was a Blackhawks team that was coached by Joel Quenneville. That’s another conversation as this Panthers team is NOT that Blackhawks team. No, that team just made you think that you were outplaying them and beating them. You got comfortable, and then go get a drink and boom. You’ve lost your lead, all the momentum, and ultimately the game.
But this Panthers team cannot keep chasing games, especially like they did this one.
The final score was 3-2. Is unacceptable still the right description? Or because they made it close in the third period with two goals, is disappointing a better way to put it? I’ll go with the former rather than the latter. On paper there’s just too much offensive talent on this team to be in this position almost every other game.
The turnovers need to stop. Good teams and good players are converting them into goals all too often.
The defence needs to play with more sandpaper. There’s just zero physicality in the corners, in the slot and in the crease areas. Losing puck battles and leaving players untouched to score goals is unacceptable.
Stop being so cute on the power play. Too many chances are being passed by because they think there’s a better opportunity elsewhere, or because someone wants to make a fancy pass behind their back. Enough.
Get some accuracy on your shots. How many times do we hear game after game, (player x) shoots wide. Or (player x’s) shot goes high above the net, as though he’s aiming for row 8.
Here’s Aleksander Barkov’s comment’s after the game:
— FOX Sports Florida & Sun (@FOXSportsFL) January 4, 2020
Words that we’ve heard too often for too long. At some point the words need to be put into action, and the results on the ice need to be different.
Here’s coach Q following the game:
“These are the type of games that put in that spot where you’re going to get in.”
— FOX Sports Florida & Sun (@FOXSportsFL) January 4, 2020
The team as Randy Moeller said following the game needs to play with more desperation and more consistency. They cannot survive this way.
The Panthers take on the Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow night. This one starts at 5:00 pm eastern. A little closer to 7, so maybe by the middle of the second they boys will be ready.
A fast and solid start to Sunday’s game is crucial to salvage this four game roadie. To come home with only two points will be unacceptable and put them in a real bind as they will fall further away from the top 3 in the Atlantic, and further away from the Wild Card, which now looks like the only way they make it in. Barring a long winning streak, like 6 or 7 games, which still may not be enough, this is what they’re facing.
The Panthers are currently on pace for 94 points. Typically not enough to make the post season. Something(s) need to change.
Thanks for reading.
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