I am sorry for the lack of posts loyal readers, but my personal life has been all over the place and until I can make money complaining about the Cats, I must continue with the 9 to 5 grind.
Anyways, enough about the poor, pitiful me and let’s move on to the poor, pitiful Panthers.
I was at last night’s Dallas game and completely blown away by the Panthers lack of discipline towards the defensive side of the puck.
All the people were in the stands whining about Bob and while maybe a goal or two were softies, he had been left out to dry all period. So in his defense, of course Bob’s confidence is rattled and he is going to let in a squeaker, but holy hell, maybe help out your tendy a bit?
Let’s take a look at the first goal as the Panthers completely forgot that penalties expire and left a highly skilled threat in Tyler Seguin and Roope Hintz setup a 2-on-1. This one leaves me baffled. Why did Forsling bite on the shooter? On a 2-on-1, 99% of the time the goalie takes the shooter and the D is supposed to prevent a clean pass from getting over. Why was nobody watching the guy coming out of the box? How is this goal all Bob’s fault? This thing called defense is kind of important in the game.
The second goal was an unbelievable shot right under the bar from a bad angle. Was it one Bobrovsky wants back? I am sure. But why was a Lundkvist able to get the puck in the corner, skate through the entire zone, and get a shot off like that? When he released that puck, no one was within 15 feet of him. Who had him? Why was nobody trying to put him on his ass or at the very least get the puck off his stick?
The 3rd goal, which comes only 30 seconds later, was the most embarrassing excuse of a check/defensive play by Ekblad. Watch this video and tell me WTF Ekblad is doing:
5 guys around the puck yet somehow Benn gets it. The worst part is It looks/feels like Ekblad realized he is not man enough to take on a real man so he pretends like he will throw a hit, pisses down his leg because he doesn’t want to get hurt again, and let’s Benn skate it in and score.
That is the weakest hockey I have ever seen.
Was the moment too big?
Was Jamie Benn too scary?
Is Ekblad that soft?
The correct answer is that Ekblad is that soft and he flat out is not a winner. He is just there to collect a paycheck and have everyone pump his tires. He does not give a flying fart if the team wins or losses.
The guy has 0 heart. He completely whiffs (I think intentionally because he is soft and scared) on the play and let’s Benn on a breakaway. That is softer than baby shit!
The trend of poor defensive play is not just last night, but even when the Panthers win, they do not play like they give a damn about the defensive zone. Look at the Caps game, while the Cats won, it was a matter of who would play just a little less sloppy.
All the fans were complaining about Bob and while he did not have his best game, it was not all his fault. How can a team that was really controlling the pace of play give up that many odd man rushes?
The best comparison for what I saw last night, and the season thus far, is that the Panthers are out here playing regular season beer league hockey. There is no back checking, no defense, no level of give a shit, but instead you are seeing a guy try to fling the puck up the ice for a fast break.
This was fun last year when you had offensive weapons like Huby, Marchment, and Duclair (I know Duke is still with the team, but he is on LTIR right now). But the Panthers can’t score 6-8 goals a game. They need to learn how to play defense and win a close game.
There are two people in particular that I blame.
First, it is the veteran leadership/culture brought by Ekblad. The guy was the #1 overall pick in 2014 and what has he done? Maybe he has some good statistical years, but he has no passion to win nor will he do what it takes to win. Look at last night where he pretended like he was going to hit Benn and just let him skate on by. If the roles were reversed, would Jamie Benn leave Ekblad standing? Hell no. If Benn had that opportunity, Ekblad would be the one leaving the ice on a stretcher. When new and/or younger players see a guy who is supposed to be a leader on the team play like that, they will take the “why should I try hard” mentality as well.
The second person to blame is Paul Maurice. Last year, the Panthers were winning and Bruno was an interim coach trying to do his best with having 0 head coaching experience. Paul Maurice has been a coach almost as long as I have been alive. His coaching career began in 1988. I was not a fan of his hiring as he has never won anything despite having some loaded teams. The Jets had so many talented teams that he pissed away. And look at the mess that he left them in last year?
No leadership, an underperforming team, and a former Vezina winning goaltender being left out to try by a lack of defensive play. Does that sound familiar? Because that was Winnipeg the last few seasons and it is now following Paul Maurice to Florida.
In summary, the Panthers are going to underperform yet again unless Maurice can get the team to turn around and focus on playing a 200 foot game. Right now, they are playing soft in the defensive zone and do not have a commitment to win.
I would like to end this as I always do, but I am very skeptical as I am starting to lose my trust in Zito’s decisions. So, I will end with this, in Zito I used to trust!