Sports Outside the Beltway

What are you waiting for?- Florida Panthers beat Colorado 6-5

Very little comes easy for the Panthers in the 2009-10 NHL season. Last night was the most recent example. Florida blew a 2-goal lead with less than a minute to go in the game but were able to gain redemption in a shootout. Last night’s shootout victory was the Panthers’ 6th such triumph this year, twice their total from the 2008-09 season.Weiss

Panther Center Stephen Weiss scored the shootout winner. It was his 4th goal of the evening. Weiss scored the first three goals of the game for Florida to accomplish a natural hat trick. Then for some unknown and bewildering reason(I’ll get to this more later), Weiss was the 5th Panther to attempt a shot in the shootout. Four previous Panthers had shot and failed but Weiss got one past Avalanche Goalie Peter Budaj. When T.J. Galiardi couldn’t do the same, Florida was able to come away with the victory they came so close to squandering.

Why did Florida Coach Peter DeBoer send four players out in the shootout before giving Weiss a chance? At the moment he is Florida’s hottest scorer. The FSN announcers, not just myself, were questioning this decision. So far as I know, DeBoer did not address his strategy in post game comments to the media.

I will point out, that Weiss was 2 for 16 lifetime in shootout goal attempts before last night. Still, why send 4 players up to shoot before him?

Another decision of DeBoer’s has Panther watchers scratching their heads. Forward Shawn Matthias was again shipped down to Rochester, Florida’s AHL affiliate. In 10 games this year, Matthias has scored just one goal.

This can be attributed to Matthias use on Florida’s punchless 4th line. Also Coach DeBoer gives these players almost no ice time in a game. More than 5 minutes is alot.

DeBoer explained this personnel move by saying he was unhappy with the 4th line’s play that set up Atlanta’s 1st goal on Monday night. I’d counter, that Kamil Kreps turnovers have resulted in opposition goals in two consecutive games prior to last night’s affair with Colorado. How many goals has Kreps scored this season?

ZEROin 24 games. In fact Florida’s 3rd line, Kreps, Radek Dvorak, and Gregory Campbell have combined to score just one even strength goal all season.(Dvorak has two shorthanded goals to his credit. Campbell and Kreps haven’t scored a goal of any type.) I don’t see any of these guys having their ice time limited or being shipped off to Rochester.

Matthias is supposed to be Florida’s top scoring prospect, and he has scored 3 goals in limited play over the last 3 seasons. Is Kreps any better?

Kreps scored 4 goals in his last 90 Florida Panther games
Matthias scored 3 goalis in his last 31 games

Kreps is garbage, and if not for his contract, he’d be playing somewhere else in the NHL or not at all. I don’t think DeBoer has much confidence in Matthias and I expect him eventually to be moved on to another NHL team before he’s given a real chance to prove himself. How dumb will Florida look when Matthias does prove himself after being given up on?Collision

Maybe I should myself isn’t this normal procedure for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in 10 years?

A few other notes.

*- What does Keith Ballard have against goaltenders? For the second straight game, the Florida Defenseman knocked a Goalie out of the game. Monday it was Tomas Vokoun with a swing of Ballard’s stick, last night it was ex-Panther Craig Anderson getting knocked senseless by a charging Ballard. Will the NHL require Ballard to carry Collision insurance?

All snark aside, last night’s incident was an accident caused by hustle, not a stupid swing of the player’s hockey stick.

*- Florida Goalie Scott Clemmensen again played like garbage. He has allowed five or more goals in three separate games this year. Next up is Washington, tonight in Washington and DeBoer has already stated Clemmensen will get the start.

Why not give Alexander Salak a shot? Salak was called up Wednesday to replace the injured Vokoun. Let him get his first NHL start. Especially in light of the fact that Clemmensen gave up 7 goals to Washington the last time the two teams met. The Capitals weren’t even playing with scoring sensation Alex Ovechkin when they mauled Clemmensen. They won’t be with him tonight either, Ovechkin is serving a 2-game suspension at this moment.

Clemmensen was great against Detroit, but that’s looking more like an aberration with every game this goalie plays this season. The choice of Clemmensen over Salak is another one of those recent decisions of Peter DeBoer have me questioning if he really is a suitable NHL head coach.

*- Injured forwards David Booth and Cory Stillman will be out till at least Christmas.

*- I’m going to stick to this prediction. Florida will not make the playoffs this year, and I predict them to have less than 80 points when the season is done, marking the 2009-10 season the worst for the franchise since the NHL lockout. Florida just has too many weaknesses to finish than that.

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