Sunday, November 2, 2008

Panthers 3 - Thrashers 5: Starting To See a Trend

The Atlanta Thrashers beat the Florida Panthers 5-3 tonight, thanks to a stellar effort by Ilya Kovalchuk. The Panthers were able to make it close after trailing 4-1 late in the 2nd period. Nathan Horton and Noah Welch scored to make it 4-3, but an empty netter that seemed to sum up the Panthers trickled over the line to end any leftover hopes.

To be honest, the score was closer then the game. The Panthers lacked any sustained team offense all night. A nice individual, wrap around move from Horton, a lucky bounce on the Welch goal, and the Panthers had a chance. But playing a division rival who had lost 6 in a row, with a goalie who was in the AHL less then a week ago, and the Panthers didn't show up. They were outshot 15-4 in the first period. That can't happen. It's become clear the Panthers don't have a go-to guy, a leader who can step up. The closest thing I've seen to that has been Cory Stillman, but he left the game in the 1st period after being driven into the goal post. Hopefully it's nothing that a few stitches can't fix and he won't miss any more time. Lord knows the Cats can't afford to lose another player to the injury bug.

The Panthers played a decent 2nd and a good 3rd, but you can't continue to play 30 out of 60 minutes every night. The last 2 or 3 games, there's probably been about 20-30 minutes a game of solid effort from the Cats. No fights, no frustration, no leader stepping up, it just seems to be a team mindset. Hell, the hardest working Panther I've seen is 31 year old Radek Dvorak. Radek and David Booth have been the only forwards I have noticed who consistently drive the net, looking to create chances, not waiting for chances to come to them. Booth registered 6 of the Panthers 21 shots on net tonight, 1 of them finding the back of the net.

The Panthers have 3 days off again to try and find some sort of game plan. They'll need it. The Panthers head west to face Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Anaheim starting Thursday. Whether it's head coach Pete DeBoer or one of the veterans or a team effort, someone needs to step up and take the lead.

Next game: Thursday @ Los Angeles. 10:30 game time.

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