Panthers playing with purpose
As the Panthers slog through November, this much is evident: The Cats are playing harder and with purpose on a much more consistent basis than they did last season.
Too many times during the 2009-10 schedule, the Panthers simply did not show up for long stretches during games, or even for an entire 60 minutes. That is not the case this season. The effort and tenacity have been there. However, that has not translated into wins as much as it should.
For me, the reason behind this is pretty simple. The Panthers have to work too hard to score. For example, launching 55 shots at Atlanta's goal in a home game, only to lose 4-3. Firing 41 shots at the Boston Bruins' goal, only to be shut out by goalie Tuukka Rask.
Here's the analogy: It's like a basketball team that NEVER scores a fast-break basket. It has to grind through a half-court offense all night. Eventually, over the course of a game or several games, that catches up with a team.
The Panthers do not have a Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, or Steven Stamkos to produce that 'magic moment' when they take a half chance and turn it into a spectacular goal. The vast majority of Panthers goals are gritty, tough, bang it at the net and go get the rebound type of scores. While that is certainly laudable, it takes a lot of energy and mental fortitude to play that way for 60 minutes, game after game.
All that said, there is not much Coach Pete DeBoer or his players can do about it. They have to continue to work hard, play smart, be physical and depend on good defense to win a bunch of 3-2 or 2-1 games.
The Panthers' roster is what it is. Although the players have taken the correct approach, sticking to the game plan and their strengths as a team on most nights, the difficult part is sustaining that over an 82-game schedule.