Every once in a while we like to get a guest voice on the site, which really helps with getting first-hand insider information that impact’s fantasy hockey. Today, we have Bill Whitehead, a correspondent for partner-site NHL Hot Stove as well as for Scripps newspapers of Florida, who will be discussing the Florida Panthers’ powerplay troubles with coach Pete DeBoer and captain Bryan McCabe.
As has been the case since Nov. 10, the Florida Panthers couldn’t get the job done on the power play in Monday night’s 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. While Pittsburgh capitalized on two of its three man-up moments, the Panthers (9-10) came up short, going 0-for-5 in the tight game. The worst stretch occurred when Tyler Kennedy took a boarding penalty with 4:37 to play in regulation, but Florida couldn’t add the tying marker and dropped the first contest in the three-game homestand. The Panthers, whose power play is ranked last in the NHL, have come up scoreless in their last 26 attempts with the man-advantage.
Florida hasn’t scored a power-play goal since it did so twice against Toronto two weeks ago. In that game, a 4-1 win over the Maple Leafs at the BankAtlantic Center, Steven Reinprecht and Michael Frolik both netted goals on the power play, but the performance recently has been brutal, with players either cycling the puck or standing around waiting for a big shot from the blue line from Bryan McCabe or Dennis Wideman.
Here’s what McCabe and head coach Pete DeBoer were saying about the Panthers’ not-so-special teams following the loss:
“I think the power play cost us the game again,” said McCabe, who tied the game at 2-2 by stealing the puck from Mark Letestu after a cross-ice pass from David Booth. “They get two, we get zero, and had a bunch of opportunities. It’s got to win us a game at some point. Right now it’s costing us games. We can talk about getting a lot of chances, but bottom line, we’ve got to score. We’re not doing it, and it’s costing us games, bottom line. We’ve got to bear down and score. They got two and we got zero, that’s the difference. Our power play’s got to find a way to get us a goal.”
Sidney Crosby play a prominent role in the Penguins’ two goals in the opening period. He recorded an assist on Kris Letang’s shot from the blue line for a 1-0 lead. Crosby later scored his 15th goal on a backhand shot past Florida goaltender Tomas Vokoun after a nifty pass from Kennedy to put Pittsburgh ahead 2-0, both goals coming on the power play. “They have some pretty good players out there,” McCabe added. “The first was a seeing-eye shot — what can you do? — and the next one was Crosby at his best.”
DeBoer said he worried about a well-rested Pittsburgh team coming in to play the Panthers, who returned from a week on the road that had them winning two of three. Ultimately, he said, the power play was a major culprit in preventing Florida from starting the homestand on a high note.
“I think it was a combination of their key guys like Crosby capitalizing. In the first period, I thought we were off, and they took advantage of that. They’re a good team, and a rested good team, and they’re going to do that to you,” DeBoer said.
“We’ve got to find a solution (on the power play). You work on it ever day, trying different guys, trying different sets. At the end of the day, something’s got to go in. We’ve got to keep at it and keep going to the drawing board until something works…It’s just not working right now. We work on it on a daily basis. It’s not as complicated as it looks. It’s just execution and guys getting the job done.”
NHLHS Florida Panthers Credentialed Correspondent