The Hole Being Dug by the Florida Panthers Keeps Getting Deeper
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SUNRISE — When asked about the struggles of his Florida Panthers following yet another loss Sunday night, Nick Cousins started doing some math in his head.
“If you look at the standings, everyone knows where we are,” he said. “At the same time, there are still 44 games left, I want to say, so there are still half the games left.”
Yes, the Panthers have plenty of games still in front of them.
But since the team has been singing a similar refrain for the past few months, that number has gotten smaller and smaller.
Florida does have 44 games remaining but is so far out of the playoff race at this point binoculars would be suggested to spot them.
The Panthers are eight points back of the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference following Sunday’s 5-3 loss to the Rangers, but have played two more games than the Penguins.
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Florida, the NHL’s best team of the previous regular season, now find themselves sitting in seventh place in the Atlantic Division just above the lottery-bound Canadiens.
Forget about finishing in the top three in the division this year. Boston, Toronto and Tampa Bay have those spots wrapped up.
The Panthers (16-18-4) need to go on a run just to get back to respectable.
While the NHL standings are based on points, it is hard not to notice that the Panthers have lost six more games than they have won.
”We were not happy with the Carolina game and today was a step forward but we’re not happy coming out with zero points,” captain Sasha Barkov said Sunday. “We have to be better. Today was better, but we have to find a way to win games. We battled and it didn’t work out.”
Florida has now lost as many games in regulation (18) as it did over the course of 82 games last season and seem lost in the Everglades.
When the team gets strong goaltending, it cannot score.
When it gets OK goaltending — like Sunday — it does not have enough to run with teams they once blew out of the water.
“It is just a matter of us doing things consistently,’’ Cousins said. “When we play our style of game consistently, we dominate teams 5-on-5. Staying out of the box has been hurting us.”
While the Panthers have some key players no longer on this year’s team, they still should have enough talent to win more than they have.
The Rangers were the better team on Sunday as they got a pair of goals from Mika Zibanejad to take a 2-0 lead midway through the second as the Panthers cut it to a one-goal game a couple of times.
Yet, as has been the case too many times this season, the Panthers were chasing the game from the start.
While coach Paul Maurice called his team out a bit following Friday’s 4-0 loss in Carolina, there was little response — at least from the start — on Sunday.
Those anticipating the Panthers to come out firing on Sunday are still waiting.
Maybe Tuesday will be better.
Of course, the Panthers have already lost to the Coyotes once before this season so who knows.
Maurice sounds like he is done trying to whitewash where the Panthers stand these days.
”We’re not at the ‘keep things up’ phase of our development,’’ Maurice said. “We’re at the ‘deal with all of your problems and get a hell of a lot better’ and harder at it. December was that month for that.
“With all the players out of our lineup, you’re doing a lot of pumping of the tires. They went as hard as they could and we just didn’t have it. January is not that month. I know our schedule is tough, but we have good players out there. We have to get a hell of a lot harder.”
PANTHERS ON DECK
ARIZONA COYOTES AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- This season (Arizona leads 1-0): Coyotes 3, Panthers 1 (Nov. 1)
- Last season: Florida won 2-0
- All-time regular season series: Arizona leads 20-16-2, 3 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Friday night at Detroit Red Wings
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There needs to be accountability for this disaster of a season and I by no means just mean firing Paul Maurice. The Architect of this clusterfuck is Bill Zito, from his deadline trades of last season, to his destruction of team chemistry in the off-season by his determination that a President’s Trophy winning team wasn’t “playing the right way” and could not win a Cup and trade of core players Huberdeau and Weegar for the more gritty Tkachuk more suited to playing the style of hockey he wanted. Well, he plays that style fine but nobody else on the roster… Read more »
Zito is not the problem. He has found more diamonds in the rough in the first 3 years with Florida then most GM’s have found in their whole careers. Think about how many waiver wire pickups we have on our club that are thriving in important roles. Those are guys that other GM’s completely gave up on and decided they weren’t good enough to play in this league. Zito plucks them off the trash heap and and they somehow turn into viable NHL players. Forsling, Duclare, Verhagee and Mahora, some of these guys were just non-tendered, yet now play huge… Read more »
Always enjoy your well thought thru comments surveyjay.Zito has done a very good job and I agree with all your objective analysis.We also dont know how much ownership pressures him to over react to our dismal performance against Tampa in the playoffs.Salary cap issues doomed us and a poor coach topped it off.
I blame ownership on this one… it is a troubling pattern, since the Gallant firing. Please though, do not stop now Vinny… please pressure Bill to get Maurice the hell away from this team and then STAY OUT OF THE HOCKEY OPERATIONS PART!!! JUST SIGN THE CHECKS…
Zito doesn’t find these “diamonds of the waver wire”, his pro scouts do that and should be getting the credit instead of him. Yes, he did well with signing Swaggy, Benny, and Reino but since last year’s deadline, he has made some seriously poor choices.
No doubt injuries have been an issue and getting a healthy Duclair back will help. But their transition game is poor. Weegar’s absence in that department hurts. For whatever reason, Ekblad has been invisible.
If you think getting Duclair back will help….. please. There is not one thing that is the reason our season is going to s*it… it is EVERYTHING, from all the decisions made since last years trade deadline…
Why do most of the guys on the team look like they don’t want to be playing? A few guys seem to be going every night but the majority are not. I’ve seen more lackluster efforts this year than the last few years combined. For a team that says they want to win they sure don’t play like it The PK seems to be proof a lot of PKing is effort and will, and they don’t seem to have any. It’s not even fun to watch the games anymore, its like the life has been sucked out of the team.
Yea, it’s definitely a different vibe on and off the ice at home games
Because they are repeating a script to the fans via the media. None of the broadcasters or team writers can call them out because then there goes their jobs…. it is really pathetic what these owners are doing by meddling in something they clearly have no idea about. They do not know or understand the game of hockey and need to leave it up to the pros… like i said before, this is a troubling trend since the Gallant firing, where we come off one of the best seasons in a long time and decide “let’s fix what isn’t broken.”
Can’t believe a panthers page has 10 comments. I’m really hoping for a top 3 pick in this great draft from the Panthers. Thanks for doing something good for the league and gifting the habs a first round pick.