The Florida Panthers continued their great start to the season, improving to 2-0 after a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. It was a complete team effort from start to finish, as not only did they put up the four goals, but they also limited Detroit to just 22 shots on goal – 13 through the first two periods.
While it is easy to expect them to compete for another division title, through injuries and some other factors the Panthers had some questions they had to answer before they get into the thick of the Atlantic race.
So far, so good, and here are some things that the first two games have told us thus far.
They still may want to limit his workload, management wouldn’t have brought someone like James Reimer in unless they were going to, but remember at one point there was question what kind of Luongo we were going to get going into the season?
Coming back from offseason hip surgery, there was some question in whether or not Luongo was going to be ready for the start of the season. Florida brought in Reimer and Reto Berra just in case he wasn’t.
In two games now, Luongo has stopped 44-of-46 shots, earning wins in both contest.
Florida doesn’t play their first back-to-backs until the middle of November, but you would have to think Reimer would play a factor at some point before then.
In a perfect world, Jonathan Huberdeau is in the lineup and Jonathan Marchessault is thriving as a third/fourth line player, adding offensive depth to the team.
But even without their regular left winger, the Panthers’ top line hasn’t missed a beat, thanks a lot to the play of Marchessault. His speed and creativity has allowed him to flourish in his new role, and after a three point night against the Red Wings, Marchessault now finds himself leading the team in points.
He registered 18 points in his first full season in the NHL with the Tampa Bay Lightning, he has five now through two games.
The Defense is Really Good
Losing Erik Gudbranson and Dmitry Kulikov – two former first round picks – should have hurt, but management made it a point to address and bring in help to help solidify the blue line. Whether it be by trade (Keith Yandle, Mark Pysyk) or free agency (Jason Demers), the Panthers did a wonderful job building up the defensive group.
As a group, the Panthers’ blue line has come together to allow the third fewest shots against per game in the league. They have also been active offensively, despite not registering a goal yet, the defense as a group have combined to fire 23 shots on net, paced by Aaron Ekblad’s eight.
The Panthers have a couple of good test coming up in the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Washington Capitals, which are opportunities to learn even more about this team.
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