A win is a win. Even if it's against one of the worst teams in the league - it's still a win and something to build off. It feels great to be off that four-game losing streak.
In fairness, the Devils have been playing some better hockey as of late, going 3-0-3 in their last six prior to meeting Florida.
That win can be credited largely to the Panthers fourth line, which was a strange combination of a natural center in Acciari and two defensemen-turned-forwards in Pysyk and Matheson.
Together this line had a combined three goals and six assists with each guy getting two apples and a goal each. They impressed enough to earn the Three Stars of the Game:
I have to admit that I was impressed by their play. I thought Matheson not only looked comfortable up there, but he moved well and had some nice instincts.
For as nice of a game as they had, and at the risk of being a Debbie Downer, I personally don't care for moving Matheson and Pysyk up to forward. It worked against New Jersey, a team that sits 28th in the league, but how would it fair against some of the better teams?
Maybe I'm split on it. On one hand I think it's kind of cool to take a chance and shake things up, on the other, there's a very PeeWee hockey feeling to it.
Clearly they don't know what to do with those two guys and with the scoring drought as of late, it feels like they said, "What the heck? Throw 'em up front and let's see what they can do." That bothers me becuase unless it's some kind of showcase for a trade, why wouldn't you call up a guy or two from Springfield? You know...actual wingers.
I remember when Pysyk played his first game at forward and Q said it's good to have a defensive-minded guy upfront. Which I understand. You need forwards to get back and help out defensively, etc. But are there really no forwards in the minors who have some defensive chops? Or is it that no one in Springfield is ready for a shot? Just seems odd to me.
For a team that is supposed to be getting into the playoffs, it seems weird to be experimenting this deep into the season, no? In a way I kind of respect it and in another way it bothers me.
But it worked out, so who am I to critique?
Aside from that, I thought Monty had himself a nice game. That's good to see because I think his confidence has been rattled a bit as of late. Good to see Connolly get on the board again. Hopefully he's back on track and will start contributing to the twine on a regular basis.
The Cats also dominated at the dot with a 61.0% faceoff percentage versus NJ's 39.0%. I love seeing that number skewed in Florida's direction.
Other good stats to always see is when the Cats only give the puck away 3 times to the opponents 16 and when Florida manages to take the puck away 11 times to the competition's eight.
The lack of Power Play is still concerning. It was another goose egg night on the scoresheet in that department with the Panthers going 0/2. Gotta fix that up, boys. It was your bread and butter and so key in winning games and making that playoff push.
The Bullies Are In Town
The Panthers will have another crack at the Flyers tonight, having been beaten by Philly 4-1 this past Monday.
The Flyers are 12-14-3 this season on the road and have won three of their last five games. I would guess Carter Hart will be between the pipes this evening. He holds an impressive 16-11-3 record with a 2.55 GAA and .908 save percentage.
These two teams are very similar. Outside of the fact that they have almost an identical record (PHI: 31-19-7, FL: 30-20-6), both have PP struggles and fighting for a playoff spot.
Philly is in a tough spot as the deadline approaches. Will they go all in and be buyers to try and make the playoffs? Or will they be sellers? I was reading that this decision may rest on the whether or not Nolan Patrick returns soon.
It's a shame that Patrick seems to be injury prone because I really like his game. I was hoping he would be healed up and ready to go tonight to see him play.
The last time the Cats met the Flyers they were simply out played. Florida's defensive struggles were really exposed in that game - especially their inability to clear the crease and keep the opposition from in front of the net.
Let's hope the Panthers can build off that win in New Jersey. They needed it and although there was some rough patches, they did a lot of things right. Working for the puck in the hard areas and getting traffic in front was something I noticed in that game. Good cycling, too.
Need to start putting check marks in the win column from here on out. It's becoming a pretty tight race.
Very scary moment the other night during the Blues/Ducks game when former-Panther Jay Bouwmeester suffered a cardiac episode on the bench. Glad to hear things are sounding positive for him.
Stick taps for a speedy recovery!
Puck drop right around the corner...go Panthers!