Thursday, May 30, 2013

From Panther Parkway: Three Ingredients The Florida Panthers Need This Coming Season

This is only one blogger's opinion, but there was mention of the Panthers' goalie situation, so I thought I'd post it. And this blogger does attend all Panthers' home games and has media credentials so he is more in the know than someone like me, who's just a fan of a player.

Full article found here.

Here is the part about goalies:

Third, the Florida Panthers need someone to “challenge” young net-minder Jacob Markstrom in order for him to continue his growth in becoming what many think is an elite goaltender.  Does this statement indicate that I don’t think he is?  I’d rather say that I’m not sold on the fact that so many think he will become the next Henrik Lundqvist.  He’s been both outstanding and below average, and needs to develop consistency in his game.  Forget the fact that the defence in front of him was shoddy at times this season, many of the goals scored against him were early in games when it appeared his focus or attention wasn’t in the right place.   The Panthers have been known to start games slowly offensively for years, and the ability of a goaltender to help the team survive the opening period of a game until they “find their legs” is just one more component of that.
If you look at the UFA market place, the available goalies for consideration in my book are Niklas Backstrom, Anton Khudobin, Ray Emery, as well as Jose Theodore.  With Scott Clemmensen as the current backup with one year left on his contract, and coming off arguably his worst year as a goal-tender, the Panthers could have their backs against a wall. If Jacob Markstrom remains as inconsistent as he was this past season, the Cats may once again have to fall back on Clemmensen which isn’t a favorable option. Luckily, the Panthers have a few options, but it all depends on their faith in Markstrom and if they’re ready to let Clemmensen go. Panthers could very well send Markstrom or Clemmensen to the minors, which means Clemmensen would have to clear waivers, (or they could just trade Clemmensen), and pick up a veteran goalie in free agency like Niklas Backstrom, or even trade for an RFA such Jake Allen from the St. Louis Blues or Jonathan Bernier of the Los Angeles Kings.  I don’t believe that Markstrom should be handed the keys to the car just yet, and while that will be met with disdain from much of that fan base, he still hasn’t proven to me that he’s ready for the task. It’s also difficult to determine if he’d have better numbers playing on a team that was not only better offensively, but also defensively.  The position of goaltender is one of the significant importance especially to a team that is so offensively challenged, and one that needs everyone firing on all cylinders every night.  In the past Florida has had Roberto Luongo,Tomas Vokoun and one healthy year of Jose Theodore, which wasn’t enough to compensate for a lagging offense.  You cannot expect your goalie to give up one goal or less every game.  It’s a recipe for failure.
Can all three “ingredients” be found in one offseason?  Yes.  Dale Tallon will be entering his fourth full season as the team’s general manager and this is the year that we should start to see some improvement.  Was 2011-2012 an aberration? With so many players having career years, maybe.  This past season was a fluke for the most part.  Too many injured players at too many important positions, with too many players making their NHL debuts in a season that was headed downhill. However, it would have helped a couple of them if they had come to camp in shape, and also taken care of some off season problems.
Adding leadership, toughness and a reason for Jacob Markstrom to raise his level of play will force this team to improve.  They can no longer continue being in the bottom of the NHL standings, and must figure out a way to be better prepared mentally, physically and emotionally.  Game one of this past shortened season made everyone think that it was going to be another playoff type year.  After beating Carolina 5-1 in the home opener the Panthers then went on to lose seven of their next eight games, and never recovered.

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