Sports Outside the Beltway

The toothless Florida Panthers- Shutout three games in a row

Boy are the Florida Panthers pitiful this year. From the Palm Beach Post-

SUNRISE — Jacques Martin looks at his team’s fledging season and sees a car wreck.

A day after the Panthers suffered what Martin called a 6-0 “shellacking” against Ottawa, Florida’s coach knows his team is anywhere but on the road to a successful season.

That’s three consecutive games in a row the Panthers have been shut out. Can Florida Panther season ticket holders sue the team’s management and players(excluding goalies) for lack of support or for inflicting cruel and inhuman punishment?(Cue the sarcstic laughter)

“Last night we’re driving along and we ended up in the ditch,” Martin said. “Now we need to pull ourselves out of the ditch.”

But for the Panthers, whose season continues to sputter, pushing the team back to safety might not be an option much longer.

The loss Thursday marked Florida’s third consecutive scoreless game, and its 10th defeat in its past 12 games.

That puts the Panthers (8-14-5) in last place in the Southeast Division and without an obvious solution to revive the season.

“One of these days we’re going to have to get our (stuff) together and turn it around,” defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said. “It’s frustrating.”

But Bouwmeester wasn’t sure how the Panthers do that, other than “just playing the games,” which start tonight at home against Atlanta.

The Panthers also started last season in a drought before making a late run, but it was too late to reach the playoffs. A few more losses in Florida’s upcoming stretch of games against top-tier teams could doom this season in similar fashion.

“You put yourself in too big of a hole,” Bouwmeester said. “Everyone knows that, and realizes you’ve got to turn it around pretty quick or you’re just going to be back in the same position (as last year).”

Captain Olli Jokinen continued to call Thursday’s loss embarrassing, blaming himself and the team’s other top players for lackluster play.

“I feel bad for our owner, and I feel bad for our fans,” he said. “How do you explain what we did (Thursday) night?

“As long as you can keep your chin up and look at your teammates and you can say you’ve given your all for this team, then you can be satisfied. I don’t think there are too many guys that can say that.”

All the sports cliches in the world aren’t going to change this team. No talent, no coaching equals few wins. As bad as the trading of Star goaltender Roberto Luongo looked last summer, I didn’t think the Panthers would fall this far.

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