Florida Panthers - Weekly Beak - The Dreaded Yo-Yo

I’m getting older so don’t give me too much grief for not knowing which week this is, so here we go. We have had some highs and some lows. Up and down. Win one. Lose one. Three wins, two losses over the last five. It’s hard on the fan base. This group is so ready and eager to jump with both feet on that gas pedal to start the next 10-game win streak. With each win (some against decent opponents) we think this is definitely a playoff team. With each loss we think we are a lottery team. Surfing the social media fan sites, there is quite the momentum going both ways with half ready to jump off the ledge and half trying to reel ’em back in.

I have seen all types of talk about possible trades. I have heard bundling up Vincent Trocheck and Mike Hoffman for a defenseman. I have heard shipping Sam Montembeault off for a defenseman. I have heard a LOT of shade being thrown Keith Yandle’s way and Mike Matheson’s way. I have read some harsh things about Brian Boyle and Mark Pysyk. So what gives? What are these guys doing to agitate the fan base? Monty just wasn’t ready for the big show, and now watching The Driedge Report (60) play, I think Monty might not make it back up anytime soon. Vincent Trocheck has shown efforts at times and over the past five games he has been good for 1 assist in four of those games, almost a point a game. But he isn’t an assist guy to most fans, they want to see 30 goals out of him. Over 44 games Trocheck sits at 5 goals and 19 assists for 24 points. It’s just not good enough and he appears to be a step slower around the defensemen. He did have a solid game against the Vancouver Canucks and was robbed by good saves on some his shots. Mike Hoffman, unfortunately has settled into a role as the one-timer shooter on the power play. Over his past 5 games he has 3 goals and 3 assists, which is quite good actually. But like the rest of the team, some games you see him and some you don’t. Keith Yandle. Oh my, Keith Yandle. I have seen a lot of chatter about the Yands. There are a few that point out his offensive capabilities and try and justify this to accept his lack of physical defense. On December 28, 2019 I published a Beak that highlighted the defense. Yandle was at a plus 7. Now after the Canucks game he sits at even 0. That is a net difference of seven goals against. I know, I know, I know, plus-minus is the dumbest stat… But it is a stat and he is not doing that well at it. I am going to highlight what I and many others cannot stand about his game in the video clip below from the recent Arizona Coyotes game.


The Coyote forechecker, who was actually getting off the ice, easily out works Yandle on the boards, gives him a little nudge and Yandle goes sprawling like he’s making a snow angel. Leaves a two on one for Josh Brown and eventually hangs Driedger out to dry for a goal against. It is just soft. Nobody is asking for Yandle to deliver Gudbranson or Jovonovski type bone-crushing hits, but dang, to get dropped to the ice like that? Wow. SONK!! More like SINK. Dear Lord. Needless to say there was lots of banter back and forth in the Panther Fan Facebook Page. And lastly MIke Matheson. He was able to get a goal and an assist over the last five games and he has made some steady improvement on the defensive side. He is plus 5 over those same 5 games, bringing his season total to -1 from -10 at the December 28 mark. That is actually quite impressive. And just when you think it is safe to go back in the water and get back on the Matheson band wagon, he goes out and does this:


Look, I get it. We are up 5-1. We are beating the Canucks in all phases of the game. But there is never a time to do this. NEVER. Like Peter Pan in Neverland, NEVER. So I have talked a bit about the bottom swing of the yo-yo, now let’s talk about the top of the swing. We have a bona-fide scoring threat in the form of the Big Dawg, Jonathan Huberdeau. He sits at 17 goals and 42 assists for 59 points over 44 games, with an impressive plus 11. At the ripe old age of 26, he has developed a play-making game that would rival just about anybody in the current NHL and possibly going back to some of the greats. He is 4 points away from overtaking the original Joke Man, Olli Jokinen for the all time lead in Florida Panther points and he will be representing the Panthers at the 2020 NHL All Star Game. Can’t wait to see the Skills Competition and the 3 on 3 play that he just kills. This latest beaut is from the Canucks game. I play basketball with my 14-year old son and his friends, and while I played a lot over the years and can handle myself on the defensive end, I still get “my ankles broken” by them with their nasty cross-overs and step-backs. I thought it was just a basket-ball thing, but watch along as Christopher Tanev gets sliced and diced and wishes that I and his team mates would never have seen this 🙂


Taking a line from an obscure Mel Gibson movie called The Big Pay Back, “that’s just mean”. Another few positive things are the emergence of Riley Stillman, the return of Jayce Hawryluck, and how about the Cherry Bomb (55). Three guys that can bring the hitting and a little sand paper. Stillman has played 11 games this season and has three assists for three point and even plus-minus to show for it. He’s been paired with Anton Stralman of late. He is gaining confidence and the coaching staff is using it and putting him out at critical times. With the return of Mackenzie Weegar, the Panthers will have some thinking to do about who stays and who goes. Josh Brown at +3, Aaron Ekblad at +3, Mike Matheson at -1, Mark Pysyk at -3, Riley Stillman at even 0, Stralman at -6, Weegar at +2 and Yandle at even 0. That is a tough one. If it were me I would sit Pysyk and Brown and pair up Stillman and Stralman, Ekblad and Weegar, and Matheson and Yandle. I would really like to replace Yandle with Brown, but that would just be mean too. Anyway, we shall see. Lucky Hawk finally got back in the Pittsburgh Penguins game and did his thing. While he did not register a point, he has a non-stop motor and pushed the play when given the ice time. Noel Acciari has been tearing it up. Over 41 games he has scored 17 goals and assisted on three others for 20 points. Mind you his career totals over 221 games are 35 goals and 16 assists, so you can see the blistering pace he is on. Plus he wins face offs in the d-zone, blocks shots on the PK and generally drives the opposing defensemen crazy with his relentless forecheck. What a great offseason pick up.

So, tomorrow at 7pm the hated Toronto Maple Leafs come to town sporting Auston Matthews with his porn stache and 31 goals and Mitch Marner and his 42 points. The Leafs are hot going 9-3 over their last 12, but having lost their last two to Edmonton and Winnipeg. I say let’s make it three in a row and send the Leafs packing with a Go Leafs Go, right up I-95 north. To beat these guys we are going to have to play extremely sound defensively, especially through the neutral zone and in our end. We have to be aggressive and approach them to take away time and space, we cannot sit back in the typical defensive ball. We will have to forecheck and relentlessly hit them in their end. This is not a game to play a soft perimeter game on offense. All four lines need to play the grind and hit game which will soften them up for the finesse plays. We have to win an ugly one. You cannot hope to try and out-fancy the Leafs.  Like I said above everybody wants to put that gas pedal down and get that winning streak going. How bout we make it two in a row tomorrow.

That’s my beak for the week. Chirp. Chirp. Peeps.

Thanks for reading this article! You can follow along with Panther Parkway @pantherparkway on Twitter! You can also follow our writers: @FrankRekas, @Josh_LOPanthers, @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