The Florida Panthers are 3-2-1 after the first 6 games of their 82 game road to the Stanley Cup Finals, they have had some very good things to take away from these games and of course some negatives.
Strengths: Well Jagr still looks…. Like Jagr. The oldest player in the league is still going very strong on the Cats number one line with young guns Barkov and Huberdueau. Even though it is still early, Jagr leads the Panthers in points with 7. Roberto Loungo looks like he dropped 10 years, hes been on fire looking down right unstoppable in the early season. Lou has a .942 save percentage which is 5th among starting goalies, and honestly the Panthers defense has not looked very good, often having the luxury of Loungo saving the day. The dare i even call them the 4th line has been playing with so much grit, speed, heart, and determination. The Mackenzie line features under valued center Derek Mackenzie, a loud voice in the locker room often wearing the “A”, Mack always is going 100% on the ice and is the teams best penalty killer. New comer Connor Brickley plays one of the wings on this line. Brickley just made the team with a great performance in training camp, rookie mini camp, and the preseason and is now earning a spot on the every day roster. Quinton Howden is a big body on this line, he may also be the quickest player on the team with his smooth skating and hard work.
Weaknesses: Because of some of Lous heroics the Cats defense looks a little better than they are playing. To many defensive lapses from Kulikov, turnovers by Campbell, and penalties by Mitchell all need to be fixed as soon as possible. Speaking of penalties the Cats have been taking WAY to many ranking in the top 10 in minor penalties. A lot of really bad offensive zone penalties have been hurting the teams offense. Offensive consistency has also been something that has worried me, we just don’t seem to be able to keep any rhythm due to the penalties. The number one problem i have witnessed with this young team is getting pushed around. Last nights overtime loss had a crazy amount of bad calls and it was great the players kept calm and kept playing there game, but the hit on new winger Reilly Smith needed to be answered. It was a very dirty hit by Kris Letang and one of our tough guys like Petrovic, Guddbranson, or captain Willie Mitchell cant let that happen to their team. Goaltender Loungo has been rammed way to many times without any consequence. Allowing other teams to rush your goaltender causes him to have to focus on another thing and can take him out of his game and can lead to goals the Cats all need to stand up and get more physical to take the next step.