The Florida Panthers start 2008 on the road, and that may actually be a blessing especially with their play of late. They blew a glorious opportunity with two home games recently that if they had won would have put them in a tie with Carolina for the division lead, and would have them in the 6th or 7th spot in the eastern conference.
The game against the Canadiens was a perfect setup for Florida. A packed house, which hardly ever happens, coming off a road victory the night before that snapped an 11 game winless streak in Atlanta, and a win would have put them 2 points behind Carolina. But as has been their history, they came out flatter than a 8 foot sheet of plywood. Montreal skated circles around the Panthers and seemed like they were on a mission to win the game in the first 10 minutes. Well it only took them 5 cause after that is was 3-0 Montreal and the Panthers never recovered. What made me more upset was a timeout called after the second goal was scored and when the camera looked over at the bench, no one was talking to the players! That was the perfect time to give some orders, like get the lead out, stop playing scared, go to the net, get the puck deep. Anything! But as Jacques Martin typically does, he had that blank look on his face, probably saying here we go again! Both teams played the night before, but I would have thought that the full house would have provided the Panthers with a little more jump to get started. Instead they came out as though they couldn't wait to get the game over with!
The Flyers game was another one that could have been won, but you can't win if you are not scoring goals, and the Panthers are defintely not scoring. Seems like if Ollie doesn't score, no one else does either. Also, the lines were all mixed up, and there is no way this bunch is going to have any chemistry at all. What the heck was McClean and Dvorak doing on the first line with Ollie? I just don't understand why the first line isn't Ollie, Horton, and either Zednik or Stumpl, or maybe David Booth? As far as I am concerned the Panthers have 4 4th lines, and they rarely use their fourth line anyway, which causes the others to get too much ice time for what they are producing.
Maybe being away from home will help, but what the Panthers must do right away is get some wins put together quickly. They really need to make some headway here, otherwise it will be another mad chase which they do not have the horses to catch up with. Vokoun's performance this year has been right on, but he cannot do it himself. I have no problem with his play, but he needs some offensive support so that he doesn't have to stand on his head every night. Plus a few wins in a row could get him a night off once in awhile, especially in a back to back game.
Also, how many times do we need to hear, "We outplayed them, but we didn't score"? "We had more shots, but couldn't score"? "We need to shoot more"?
I am not saying that he would be the answer, but Jacques Martin said we passed on Mark Recchi because we have other needs to address? Like what, where you are golfing in April?