It took the Florida Panthers only three periods of play to erase all of the good will and warm feelings that came with their opening night victory over the Hurricanes as they were thoroughly outplayed and thrashed by the Ottawa Senators in a 4-0 loss on Monday night.
Early on in Monday night’s game it was clear that we would not be seeing the same Panthers squad that had scored 5 goals just two nights before. The Cats came out sluggish and only managed to take four total shots during the first period.
Defensive lapses gave way to two goals by Senators’ center Kyle Turris and the Panthers were never able to respond throughout the game.
Defenseman Dmitry “jet lag” Kulikov and Captain Ed Jovanovski were dreadful in their own end as they combined for six giveaways and a -4 +/- rating. Although Jovanovski is a great verbal and emotional leader, he will have to start leading the team on the ice as well if the Panthers hope to be successful this season.
One of the team’s supposed team leaders, Stephen Weiss, looked lackadaisical during most of his shifts and was a non-factor both in the offensive zone and in his back checking abilities. It is hard to believe that a player as tenured in Florida as Weiss would check out mentally on his team, but with free agency looming, maybe Weiss’ time in Florida could finally be up.
Weiss and the rest of the Panthers’ top scoring line has been held scoreless through the first two games this season and the absence of Kris Versteeg is becoming an even bigger detriment to the team as time goes on. Neither Mike Santorelli nor Scottie Upshall could invigorate the team’s number one line in either contest.
Former Senators Alex Kovalev and Filip Kuba were both quiet in their return to Ottawa. After leaving Ottawa on bad terms, Alex Kovalev was jeered by fans every time he touched the puck, but did nothing to silence the crowd throughout the night.
Even in the travesty that was Monday night’s game, there were still a few silver linings to point out. Goaltender Jose Theodore was able to stop 33 of 37 shots and kept the game from getting out of hand early as the Panthers’ defense made the entire night hard on him. Also, forwards Shawn Matthias and Jack Skille were constant energizers on the ice and did their best to invigorate the Panthers’ lineup to no avail.
Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson continues to be a thorn in the Panthers’ side as his career record against the Cats improved to an impressive 8-0-1 as he stopped all 31 of the team’s shot attempts. However, it is important to note that only a handful of those 31 attempts can be legitimately called shots as the Panthers rarely worked to get good scoring opportunities.
If the Panthers had to lose a game as badly as this one, it is better it happened sooner rather than later. Hopefully Coach Kevin Dineen can light a fire under his players as the team must quickly recover in time for their game on Tuesday night.
The Panthers will look to get back to their winning ways on Tuesday night against the Montreal Canadiens at 7:30 p.m. on FOX Sports Florida.
-Kris Versteeg was placed on the IR by the Panthers retroactive to the start of the season, but he could be expected to return as earlier as Thursday when the team hosts the Ottawa Senators at home.
-Rookie Drew Shore was called up from the San Antonio Rampage to join the Panthers on their Canadian road trip. After the team’s abysmal performance on Monday, Shore could get his first NHL start on Tuesday against the Canadiens.