On Dec. 17 the NHL announced that the Florida Panthers would cease their operations until Monday, Dec. 26. This comes after the Panthers were forced to play shorthanded against the Los Angeles Kings on Dec. 16, and postpones their upcoming games against the Minnesota Wild, Chicago Blackhawks, and Nashville Predators. While it is annoying to see to some fans, this delay is actually an early Christmas gift for the team.
The Team Has Time to Recover from Injuries and Illnesses
Recently, the team has been getting hit with a bad injury bug. Not to mention the positive tests for other players. This postponing of games gives the team 10 extra days to fully recover before having to play a game. This helps players Aleksander Barkov, Mason Marchment, Noel Acciari, Gustav Forsling, Markus Nutivaara and Sergei Bobrovsky who have injured themselves in some way or fashion. In addition, this gives Aaron Ekblad, Radko Gudas, Carter Verhaeghe, Sam Bennett, Ryan Lomberg and Brandon Montour time to recover from their current COVID situation.
When this team is at peak health, it’s one of the best teams in the NHL, with its captain in Barkov and their Norris caliber defenseman in Ekblad. Just before the All-Star break would be ideal to get them back in time for a big push for the playoffs.
This Gives Them Time to Reevaluate Themselves After a Tough Set of Games Recently
Florida enters its early break on a three-game losing streak after only its third loss this season at home. With that in mind, the break can give the players and coaches some time to think over their plans and work on the issues that put them in this hole. While their most recent loss is not 100 percent on the team, they could use it as a sample size to see what they did wrong, and fix their mistakes in future endeavors. They’re going to absolutely need to, as they currently have some massive problems that have been holding them back all season.
Special teams have been horrendous for Florida, as it currently ranks 25th in the league on the power play, with a 16.8% conversion rate and 18th on the penalty kill with an 80% kill rate. In the circle they are the worst team in the NHL, with only a 45.6% faceoff win percentage. If Florida wants to make a late push for the postseason, it needs to figure out its issues.
It Gives Certain Players who were Sent Down More Time to Develop in the AHL
The night before their game against the Kings, the Panthers sent down goaltender Spencer Knight to the Checkers for some more development as he’s been struggling as of late. While the games for Florida are not being played, this gives time for players, like Knight, to hone their skills and properly develop by getting top minutes or starting roles.
In addition, players like Grigori Denisenko and Cole Schwindt will be able to show off what they learned in their NHL call ups and use those to be great in the American Hockey League (AHL). This could have the rest of the roster see them as leaders and look for their guidance, especially since they looked good during their NHL shifts.
This is a Good Time for a Break
Regardless of a person’s stance with it, people should agree that with the mass amount of injuries, the necessary development for prospects, and the need to reassess themselves, the COVID postponement comes as a blessing in disguise for the Cats. This ultimately gives them time to get everything checked off of their list to help for a big playoff push this season and plan for future seasons. With this delay, their next game will not be until Tuesday, Dec. 27 when they travel to Raleigh, North Carolina to take on the Carolina Hurricanes. The amount of rest the team will be getting should be more than enough to take them on, along with the rest of the NHL on their schedule.
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My name is Joey. I’ve been writing about the NHL for about 3 years with my experience spread out between TSJ 101 Sports and Panther Parkway. I look forward to you reading my articles!