Thursday, November 20, 2008

Panthers 1 - Devils 3; Good Loss?

For the first time in awhile, the Florida Panthers may have outworked their opponent for the majority of the game, yet didn't earn a W. The Panthers outshot the Devils 24-19, gave up only 2 power plays, both in the first period, even scored a power play goal, yet it came too late and the Panthers ended up with their 11th loss of the season.

After giving up 12 shots on the opening frame, the Panthers came out in the 2nd with a fire that hasn't really been seen this year. They held the Devils to just a single shot on goal in the 2nd period. Unfortunately, that shot beat Tomas Vokoun and the Panthers trailed 1-0 after 2 periods of play. 2 goals in a 62 second span in the 3rd and that was that. After Vokoun was pulled for the extra attacker, he was clearly disgusted with himself on the bench, as he should have been. Giving up 3 goals on just 7 shots on the 2nd and 3rd period is awful. The Panthers have to hope for more of Tuesday's type of performances (49 saves on 52 shots) if they want to play meaningful games in March and April.

Brian McCabe got a point tonight to extend his point streak to 5 games. He got an assist on Michael Frolik's first goal of the season. It's great to see Frolik finally put one home, and he should probably have scored another one tonight late in the 3rd only to be robbed by Devils netminder Scott Clemmensen. Actually, a few Panthers could file a police report against Clemmensen, as he came up huge tonight, especially in the 3rd period. We knew going into the season that the lack of a pure scorer could be a problem. Well, it is. There isn't a "go-to" guy on this team that, when a goal is needed, the guys can turn to. Horton isn't it, as much as Jacques Martin and Co. hope he is, he doesn't seem to have it in him. There are a lot of grinders, a lot of hard working, muck out the ugly goals in front of the net type guys, but no one that can beat 2 defenders and then snipe one over a goalie's shoulder on a normal basis. If Vokoun or Craig Anderson has an off night, this team will be in trouble, as we saw tonight.

And just a quick Bouwmeester note, I actually listened to the first 5 minutes of the game on my XM radio on my drive home, and heard the New Jersey broadcast. They were talking about Bouwmeester (again, I get the feeling if he wasn't in south Florida, his name would be as familiar as any in the league). But they were actually talking about how disappointing his game had been so far this year. For a guy who clearly doesn't want to play here, playing in a contract year, showing off his skills to future employers, he has taken a back seat so far. No goals. No real dominating performance. No real signs that he can do more. I know he can, two thirds of Canada probably knows he can. But maybe it's the Florida Panthers mentality seeping into his brain. Sunrise, FL, where talent and potential come to die...

No time to feel sorry for themselves. Next game is tomorrow night against the Boston Bruins, who just happen to have the 3rd highest point total in the NHL. But hey, who knows, maybe that's a good thing. The Panthers don't seem to have problems playing the Montreals, Detroits, San Joses or Anaheims of the league. Why should Boston be any different? Expect Craig Anderson to be in net.

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