Let me preface this by saying that despite what you fans are going to say in the Facebook pages/Reddit/Twitter, goaltending is not a problem for the Panthers!
I am going to pretend like I did not read all the Bobrovsky/goalie bashing in the fan pages. More importantly, I am hoping that this is just new and excited fans who jumped on the #JoinTheHunt movement and may not be educated on the game quite yet. Chances are that’s the case as the last home game had 18K plus fans in the arena.
For you, I am going to allow the infamous Jim Carr and Denis Lemieux explain the finer points of the sport:
For the rest of you who are complaining that Bobrovsky let in 4 goals in the first 2 periods and his SV% was .889, please get off of your analytic high horse and use and the old-fashioned eyeball test.
Stats alone would say this wasn’t Bob’s greatest game; however, how many times do I say that analytics aren’t worth a testicular hair in this sport. Analytics would have critiqued Bob’s game last night, but if you actually watched the game then you would see that goaltending is not the issue.
Aaron Ekblad and MacKenzie Weegar were the problem!
While Patrik Laine has tried to kill his career through lackadaisical play and excessive amounts of Fortnite, he still has the potential to be a top scorer in this league when he wants to be. Yes, the key phrase there is “when he wants to be”. He is absolutely pissing away what could have been a promising career, but that is a topic for another day.
This being said, why Ekblad decides to try to skate the puck up the middle and the turn it over to Laine giving up a goal with 7 seconds left in the period is beyond me.
How is this goal on anyone besides the defensemen?
When I coached the 8U kids it was a rule to never ever skate the puck up the middle, especially when there is pressure. Why not ride out the period and go in to the 2nd with a 4-1 lead? What were you going to accomplish with 7 seconds left and the puck in your own zone? Why not take it to the boards and eat the rest of the clock?
Instead, the moment is too big, Ekblad thought he was too good, he got a little pressure, pissed down his leg, and then left Bobrovsky out to dry. What in the actual hell Ekblad?
Furthermore, please explain to me how this is Bobrovsky’s fault? All the haters on the fan pages please explain to me why you blame Bob? Maybe I am being oversensitive as a goalie, but this is 1,000% on Ekblad.
If you watch the video, he could have reversed it around the boards because there was a forward waiting on that side all alone who could have ragged the puck and ate up the rest of the clock. Assuming he does not take it to the boards himself and then bury it in his feet and burn off the final few seconds.
My only point is that there were options besides taking it up the middle and turning it over the Patrik “CBJ_69_420_Hockey_Playa” (his Fortnite handle) Laine.
Hockey is a momentum-based game and Ekblad letting CBJ feel good and only be 2 goals back after giving up 4 in the first period is a bone head move. You could see it by the way the Blue Jackets pushed and made it a 1 goal game in the 2nd period.
On top of that, both defensemen were caught jumping up and/or pinching in the play on multiple occasions giving up odd man rushes. I get the Panther’s activate their D as part of their offensive attack, but you cannot have both D jump the play. Not if you want to make a playoff run!
You can’t give up over 30 shots (again) in a blowout type win. Playoff hockey is a different beast, you can’t expect to score 5+ goals a game to cover up the lack of defensive play.
As I have said for this entire season, Ekblad and Weegar show a lot of great offensive potential; however, they play like a 4th and 5th forward and not like defenseman. Despite the offensive abilities of Weegar and Ekblade, they cannot jump up in every play and abandon their defensive game.
If the Panthers can clean up their Defensive game, they are clear cut favorites to win the cup. We have hands down the deepest 4 lines in the league.
And for any of you analytics lovers who want to say “well Ekblad finished +1 and Weegar +2”. Do you realize the Panthers scored 8 goals? So, the fact that their +/- was only +1/+2 should be a bit alarming.
I mean Lundell, Marchment, and Reinhart were all +6 last night so it is a bad sign when the top defensive pairing is only barely in the positive.
The Panthers need to split them up and put Ekblad with a stay-at-home guy like Gudas.
Additionally, as you have read 100 times already, they need to use their trade bait, aka Owen Tippett or Franky V., to go after a solid shut down d-man like Chiarot or Giordano. Adding defensive depth, the Panthers could limit some of these opportunities.
This run and gun style of puck moving defensemen is cute and gets a lot of attention during the regular season, but it is not how you win a playoff series. Ask Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, or Ryan Whitney how many Stanley Cup rings they have. Now ask the same question to Hedman, Pietrangelo, or McDonagh.
Basically, if you are blaming Bob for giving up 4 goals last night then please message me and I will begin offering private tutoring for new hockey fans so as we can go over the essential lessons of the game. I am more than happy to provide educational services and will even run my own Hockey101 class if we get enough interest.
On a positive note, Marchment and the 3rd line are absolutely killing it. Although it feels weird calling the Marchment line the 3rd line since they got the start last night and the majority of the ice time in the 3rd period.
Another hill I am willing to die on is my stance that in order to make a deep playoff run, a team needs to generate scoring from all of their lines.
Last night Marchy got 6 points, Reinhart a hat trick, and Lundell had 5 apples. This line totaled 15 points and were responsible for 3 of the first 4 goals of the game.
Sure, CBJ is not a strong team; however, they have 2 high caliber goalies which the Cats have made look silly in their two meetings this season.
Offensively, the Cats are hitting on all cylinders; however, offense wins games, but defense wins championships!
In summary, the Panthers are getting some damn good goaltending; however, their defensive zone lapses are absolutely killing them. Pay attention to Weegar, Ekblad, and the defensive zone coverage before you start your complaining about Bob.
As always, in Zito we trust!