The Not-So-Mighty Panthers

The silence in the Florida Panthers locker room said it all. After a disappointing
3-0 loss at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks at the BankAtlantic Center on Monday
night, there was no “Bad Romance” or rock music blaring through the locker room
like after most games. The only things that could be seen were long faces and a
very worried team that can’t seem to find a way to score goals.

Much like a baseball lineup that has one hitter go 3-for-3 only to see
the other eight players go 0-for-everything, the Panthers offense consisted of star
forward David Booth and not much else throughout the game.

“We have to score some goals. We can’t expect [Goaltender Tomas] Vokoun
to save everything every night,” said Panthers defenseman and Captain Bryan
McCabe. McCabe was the first player to take questions after the game was over,
showing the leadership and willingness to address the press that any good
captain should display.

On just his second game back from a severe concussion that sidelined him
for over three months, Booth provided a spark for Florida’s offense and was
very active with six shots on goal, including the clearest chance of the night
for the Panthers with a shot that skidded off the post four minutes into the
first period.

Booth thinks that the lack of scoring is a matter of persistence and
mentioned the absence of forward Nathan Horton as a factor for the Panthers’
struggles.

“Horton is one of the best players in the league,” said Booth. “He is a
great scorer and passer.”

Horton was the catalyst of Florida’s offense before Booth came back with
17 goals and 29 assists in 51 games before being sidelined until after the Olympic
break with a fractured leg.

Panthers head coach Pete DeBoer was very satisfied with Booth’s
performance, but he was disappointed with his team’s effort in the back end of
back-to-back games and said that the Panthers “weren’t prepared” and “didn’t do
enough to earn a win”. As far as Florida’s offensive woes are concerned, DeBoer
had no answers.

“If you could teach [how to get out of an offensive funk] in practice, I
would be making a lot more money,” said DeBoer. DeBoer added that every line combination
is up in the air after the Panthers’ lackluster offensive performance.

Things weren’t much better on the defensive side of things, as Florida’s
defense had some unusual and costly offensive miscues in the second period.

With five minutes left in the period, defenseman Keith Ballard made a
turnover near the Panthers’ right faceoff circle as he passed the puck to Ducks
forward Ryan Getzlaf, who said “Thank you very much” and capitalized on Ballard’s
mistake to give Anaheim a 1-0 lead.

The Ducks would widen their lead right before intermission as Florida’s
defense couldn’t get a hold of a rebound off of a shot that hit the post. Ducks
forward Teemu Selanne would, however, and Anaheim took a 2-0 lead that seemed
like it was a five goal lead because of the nature of the game.

The Panthers will stew over the loss for the rest of this week, since
they don’t play again until Friday, when they will host the Carolina Hurricanes
in a key divisional clash.

 Side note: Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun earned the NHL’s Third Star of the Month honor for the month of January, right behind Ovechkin and Canucks center Henrik Sedin. Vokoun had four shutouts in January and DeBoer said that he “doesn’t know where [the Panthers] would be without him.”

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