So what’s wrong with the Florida Panthers? Plenty, as it turns out.
Rookie center Jonathan Huberdeau has lived up to all his hype, but it’s tough to find anybody else meeting their preseason expectations.
After starting the season 1-5, the Panthers improved, slightly, to 3-1-4 during their next eight games. They lost three straight overtime games, all at home. Those single points won’t help them catch up during this shortened 48-game season.
“We're not finishing,” Panthers coach Kevin Dineen told reporters. “It's finishing the game, giving a complete game, whether it's 60 or 65 minutes. We're not complete right now . . . You're not going to get in the playoffs with 48 points. You can't try to get a point a game, it's just not going to work.”
Here are some of the issues:
- Florida’s minus-18 goal differential is worst in the league. At last check the team ranked the Panthers ranked 26th in goals scored and 29th at even-strength scoring.
- Winger Kris Versteeg has missed time with groin and chest injuries after recovering from offseason hip surgery. After scoring 54 points last season, Versteeg has scored just three points with a minus-7 rating in seven games.
- Center Stephen Weiss has been slowed by a strained groin muscle. He has scored just four points with a minus-9 rating in 10 games. Given his looming free agency and his team’s tough financial straits, Weiss has been the subject of many trade rumors.
- Winger Tomas Fleischmann, who flanks Weiss on the top line, has 10 points in 14 games. But he, too, has a minus-9 rating.
- The aging Jovocop, Ed Jovanovski, is sidelined by a significant knee injury. Fellow defensemen Brian Campbell (minus-9) and Filip Kuba (minus-9) have been awful at even strength.
- Goaltenders Jose Theodore (3.41 goals-against average and Scott Clemmensen (4.43 GAA) have paid the price for their team’s poor defensive play. How long before top prospect Jacob Markstrom gets his chance to man the nets?