Defense wins championships…

And it also cost games.

It is astonishing how bad the Panthers are in the defensive zone.

Who watched last night’s beer league (I mean regular season) game against Pittsburgh? What was that?

I am envious of anyone who bet the over last night because the over definitely hit in the first period. Both teams showed a lack of defense and mediocre-at-best goaltending.

The lackluster performance was expected from Lyons as he has 28 career games played since entering the league in 2017. Casey DeSmith almost has that many games as a starter this year so for DeSmith it was a bit shocking.

However, to sit around and blame the goalie after every loss is simply finding a scapegoat and not looking at the big picture. Unfortunately, the big picture has been true for the last two seasons, this team does not play defense.

Aaron Ekblad had 3 points last night and finished +2 which brings him up to -13 for the season. A true Norris Caliber defenseman, like Viktor Hedman, should definitely not be in the negatives. Looking at true Norris type defensemen you can see that Hedman is sitting at +13, Makar +7, and McAvoy at +18.

While Ekblad has scored more goals than McAvoy and Hedman, he is still on the ice for way more against. Want to know why?

He is soft! Ekblad tries to play like a 4th forward and seems totally lost when the puck is in the defensive zone.

Furthermore, he thinks that corners are only for bus stops and hookers.

Who is he covering on Rakell’s first goal of the night?

Watch this video and tell me how the Panthers have 2 men on the puck carrier and he still walks out of the corner and sets up this play?

Was it one Lyon would like back? I am sure, but what type of defensive coverage is that?

“But he scored a shorthanded 2-on-1 goal”.

Sure, he did, but why is a defenseman on the rush when you are shorthanded? Shouldn’t he be worried about keeping the other team from scoring? And the fact that he scored is only going to encourage his offense first style of play.

Aaron Ekblad is what you get when you order Erik Karlsson in his prime from Wish instead of Amazon!

And no, the Panthers do not need to go after Karlsson or Chychrun as the team already has too many forwards that play defense.

Some of the guys they should keep an eye on come the trade deadline:

  • Jonathan Toews
    • While he is no longer an elite center, he would bring in true leadership and a wealth of postseason experience. Plus he is a two way player who understands what the term defensive zone coverage really means.
  • Vladislav Gavrikov
    • At 6-foot-3 and 213 lbs, he would bring some much-needed size and grit to the blue line. He is a solid defensive defenseman who can be used in all situations, inclusive the PK.
  • Luke Schenn
    • First of all, he is cheap at $850k
    • He is also a true defensive defenseman who has won the Cup with Tampa twice. In my opinion, a defensive defenseman who is willing to play tough and has playoff experience is just what this team needs.
  • Paul Maurice
    • Why do we still have him?
    • Do you see the guys on the bench? It is clear that whatever nonsense he was dealing with in Winnipeg has followed him to Florida. The team has not bought in to his system nor does it look like they want to play for him. He is one of the worst moves Zito has made in his tenure as GM!
  • Bruce Boudreau
    • Billy Z, he is available and while he may not be Coach Q, he is a much better option that Maurice

One thing that drives me nuts watching the games is that the Panthers have not gotten rid of the losing culture. There is a difference between wanting to win and hating to lose (any Shoresy fans out there?).

The losing culture that has plagued this team for the last 25+ years has not been erased. I thought removing Huberdeau and Weegar would start to right this ship, but it is clear there are a few more “losers” on this team.

Watch what happens when Ekblad gets scored on. “Oh well, I am still getting paid” seems to be the common body language and theme.

Why isn’t Barkov trying to fire guys up?

Quite frankly, until you get ride of the guys who are ok just collecting a paycheck, you will never have a true culture change or winning team.

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