New-look Panthers look for success in Detroit
DETROIT -- The Florida Panthers are re-organizing themselves after changing coaches and making national headlines in the process.
The Panthers (11-10-2) visit the Detroit Red Wings (11-10-2) at Joe Louis Arena Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Florida fired Gerald Gallant on Sunday night after a 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh. Gallant then had to take a cab to the airport in order to return home to Miami. The Panthers said there was a mix up and they had intended to have a car service take Gallant to the airport.
General manager Tom Rowe is Florida's new coach. Assistant coach Mike Kelly was also fired.
The Panthers lost 2-1 in a shootout in Chicago Tuesday night in Rowe's debut as the team's coach.
During their practice on Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena, the Panthers worked on new defensive schemes and changed their power play personnel a little bit.
"We went over a lot of details in our video meeting on 1/8defensive 3/8 zone coverages and neutral zone assignments and this was a good day to do that," Rowe told the Miami Herald.
Florida goaltender Roberto Luongo talked about the changes.
"It's a bit of a different style than 1/8Gallant 3/8 was and it's going to take some time to implement what they want to show us," Luongo said. "In the long run, it will be beneficial to our club to play a game where we are more structured and give us fewer scoring chances."
Detroit is 3-0-1 in its last four games following a 3-1 win over the Dallas Stars at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday night.
That was thanks mostly to the efforts of goaltender Petr Mrazek, who made 34 saves. He has a 1.45 goals-against average and .949 save percentage in his last two games in the absence of Jimmy Howard, who is out with a groin injury.
"I think when he's playing his best hockey the puck sticks to him well," coach Jeff Blashill told www.mlive.com on Wednesday. "I also thought he had a high, high compete level around the net, where it seemed like there was no way the puck was going in unless it was a back-door or some kind of rebound play.
"I've been with him enough to know those nights where it just feels like there's no way the puck's going in and that's what it felt like last night when I was on the bench. He certainly looked like he was on top of his game."
Neither left winger Tomas Tatar nor veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall practiced Wednesday for Detroit. Blashill said they took maintenance days and are expected to play Thursday.
Florida has won both games between the teams this season. The Panthers won in Florida 4-1 on Oct. 15, and 5-2 in Detroit on Oct. 30.
Both Florida's former and current coach played with the Red Wings. Gallant spent most of his playing career with Detroit and Rowe played one season with the Red Wings.