Listen Up, Panthers: Lady Luck Smiles Upon Those That Make Their Own Fortune

Robert YoungContributor IOctober 29, 2009

SUNRISE, FL - OCTOBER 28: Milan Michalek #9 of the Ottawa Senators tries to wrap the puck around the post with Goaltender Tomas Vokoun #29 of the Florida Panthers on his back in the first period on October 28, 2009 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

The effort was good. The finishing product was not.

Lady luck did not smile on the Panthers—as they struggled with shots, hitting the posts wide, and having pucks trickle agonizingly past Tomas Vokoun at the other end.

The final indignity then came, when a seemingly harmless play by the Senators finds the puck unwittingly hitting Bryan McCabe and is redirected over the Florida goal line.

It would appear that the South Floridians are getting no breaks whatsoever right now on the ice. That often seems to be the case when a team hits rock bottom, as the Florida Panthers have done of late.

However, this performance was actually a step forward for the Cats.

They out shot an opponent (!), and didn’t take unnecessary penalties (only one—which Ottawa unfortunately capitalized on). And, believe it or not, a defender finally found the back of the net on the powerplay, courtesy of a Bryan McCabe slapper.

Despite these obvious improvements, the Florida Panthers still find scoring as barren as water in a desert, and continue to gift their opponents with ‘easy’ goals on the other end of the ice.

And it’s not just down to one thing either—this apparent inability to score. It’s the amalgamation of all things combined that is lethal.

The poor powerplay and penalty kill is just the tip of the iceberg...

Then we have the forwards that don’t shoot enough or get into the dirty areas of the ice sufficiently. The defenders that fail to pass the puck to the blade of the forwards and that don’t sweep up the netminders’ rebounds adequately.

All this, and more, adds up to a whole lot of trouble for the Cats.

The Ottawa Senators took advantage of any gifts that Florida gave them in the game and could retrieve two points as their reward, in a 4-3 win.

The Panthers are digging deep—but must go deeper yet—in order to turn things around.

As positive and upbeat as a fan tries to stay despite these setbacks; it is hard to see any turnaround of fortunes in sight.

To try and stage one might just require GM Randy Sexton to initiate a trade or two. Bring in some fresh legs and minds to this pale-looking-team.

Right now, one gets the feeling that the players and staff are butting their heads against the wall in a futile manner that isn’t reaping any points on the board. Time for a change of tactics one might wonder…?

It is hard to pinpoint exactly where things are going haywire.

The players that were here last year and were then a pivotal part of that team should be accustomed to Coach Peter DeBoer’s tactics, and yet, they are without exception underperforming: failing to reach the play they showed themselves capable of last season.

The saving grace has actually been some of the new guys in the lineup: Jordan Leopold, Dennis Seidenberg, Steven Reinprecht, and Dmitry Kulikov. If anybody, these are the players that should be struggling to adapt—or so one would have though anyway.

This peculiarity and the fact that the Panthers appear strikingly disorganized and indifferent at times; is what probably boggles the fans’ collective mind the most.

Not sure what to make out of all this.

Except of course, that there is still plenty of room for improvement after last night’s game against the Senators—despite it perhaps being the best consecutive 60 minutes played thus far this season.

There are several notches up the ladder that the players can reach if they work even harder in practice and games. And maybe then, lady luck will smile on South Florida again.