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Observations: Fight Night for the Florida Panthers in Orlando



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Florida Panthers center Anton Lundell was not on the ice at the end of Tuesday’s exhibition loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning after getting a misconduct in the third. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

The Florida Panthers dressed a full lineup of mostly NHL regulars for the first time in this preseason and things got a little sloppy.

In a 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at Orlando’s Amway Center, the Panthers and the Lightning combined for 160 penalty minutes which included 10 misconducts.

Newcomer Niko Mikkola even introduced himself to the Battle of Florida by getting into a scrap mid-play with Tanner Jeannot.

As far as the rest of the game went, the offenses were lethargic on both sides.

The ice surface was a bit rough, which sent a few passes scattering off course, but that is expected in an arena which does not house an NHL team but the ECHL Orlando Solar Bears.

Still, there are some areas the Panthers seriously need to brush up on before the start of the season comes next Thursday in Minnesota.

Former Florida goalie Jonas Johansson, who notably went 0-2-0 with a .766/7.74 in his time in Sunrise, walked away with a 21-save shutout with relative ease.

It marks his second shutout in as many starts for the Lightning this preseason.

Here are my observations from the Sunshine Skate in Orlando:

  • Florida’s power play needed some serious work, going 0-for-5. The first four chances on the man advantage featured a lethargic cycle game which Tampa was able to read very easily. The fifth opportunity was promising, with Oliver Ekman-Larsson starting a flurry of shots immediately off the draw, but Jonas Johansson handled them quite nicely, eliminating those rebound chances.
  • Mackie Samoskevich adapted well in his first game alongside the full lineup, creating multiple offensive rushes with excellent decision-making in the neutral zone. His ability to make those reads is mature well beyond the rookie’s years and is an underrated part of his game.
  • The Panthers looked rusty to start the game. Particularly Sam Bennett, who couldn’t keep a handle on a pass from Samoskevich which would have sent him 1-on-1 with Johansson. He did look a lot better in the last two frames, driving the front of the net more and creating chances alongside Matthew Tkachuk.
  • While his numbers don’t jump off the page — 13 saves on 15 shots —Sergei Bobrovsky had his positive moments in this one. Particularly a long 5-on-3 where the Lightning got off at least five shots off, including a few where he had to make a great save, before Nick Paul was finally able to deflect one past him for Tampa Bay’s second goal of the game.
  • The addition of Steven Lorentz in the middle of Ryan Lomberg and Nick Cousins was as advertised: They forechecked hard and bugged the heck out of Tampa’s blue line. They didn’t create a whole lot of quality scoring chances in this game, but they got pucks in deep and threw quite a few hits.




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