A quick energetic start is needed tonight as the Panthers face off against Crosby and the Penguins. Whatever problems that have caused the inconsistenly lately hopefully have been addressed and we will see a rejuvinated group tonight.
If there is any hope of getting to the playoffs the Panthers need to get themselves on a roll now!
Jacques Martin had met with every player individually and discussed with them the need to play with more intensity and realize that they are in the hunt. These conversations took place before the last road game, which ended up being a 3-0 loss to Pittsburgh, nonetheless, the results must be better.
Opening up the offense a little bit which could be hard for JM to authorize can only help. In addition they can focus on getting a better forecheck as well. Giving up as many odd man rushes as they do is not going to win them any games, but better line changes, or more timely line changes need to be worked on. I have seen many times when the Panthers dump the puck in and get off for a change with no one in the opponents zone to pressure them. A quick pass or two and there you have it, the odd man rush is on.
They need to find some consistency and confidence rather quickly, and nothing can cure that better than a couple of wins. This however is a team that needs to have everyone working hard all night long on every shift, and their best players, like Ollie and Horton, need to be their best players. It appears that the first line has been redone again and Ollie could be skating tonight with Zednick and McClean.
I am not really sure about that combination and what it does. While Zednik is quick and can be an offensive force when he is on, McClean is basically a 3rd/4th line guy that doesn't bring much to the table except for defensive responsibility.
We'll see if this line stays together.
I still think that it should be Ollie with Horton and David Booth, as you need to give your best player the best linemates possible.
This month will tell alot about the Panthers and where they are going as 6 of the remaining 10 games are at home, however none of these games are going to be easy. In addition as the trade deadline becomes closer, I would be curious to see what moves the Panthers make if any. Adding scoring and a defenseman should be top priorities. I would not expect a big move made as they probably want to be careful with salaries, yet they need to make an improvement in both areas. Although they cannot be gun shy if an opportunity comes. While I do not expect them to be making a run at the cup, I would expect them to make a run at the playoffs and finding someone to help them with that should be a priority.
The turnaround starts tonight!