Saturday, June 21, 2008

Panthers Outlook

If there’s one thing the Panthers have made clear this offseason, it is that defense is going to come first. These third period meltdowns led by nervous defenders are going to become a thing of the past. Although Florida doesn’t have much in terms of scoring depth at the moment, it appears as though the Cats are going to try a different strategy this season. One that hopefully will pay off.

It’s no secret that the Eastern Conference is full of speedy teams with scoring machines, especially in the Panthers very own Southeast Division. With Eric Staal leading the Hurricanes, Alex Ovechkin heading the Capitals attack, Ilya Kovalchuk taking the reigns for Atlanta, and now Steven Stamkos joining the ranks of Martin St. Louis and lifetime Lightning man himself Vinny Lecavalier in Tampa Bay, the Panthers have a virtual mine field in their path. Plus, the Panthers only borderline star is now on his way to Phoenix.

So how in the world can the Panthers compete come October? Florida is going to come out next season with a very different style; one reminiscent to the Western Conference. With a strong defensive core anchored by Bryan Allen, a product of a Western Canadian team, and now joined by two more western players, Florida should have the top defense in the division, and one of the best in the conference. The Panthers already have the best goaltender in the division, and it is clear the Panthers are building from the net, outwards.

While the Hurricanes will try to get by with Joe Corvo and Tim Gleason, Washington will try to contain forwards with Mike Green and Tom Poti. While Atlanta hopes draft pick Zach Bogosian can join Tobias Enstrom, Tampa Bay will keep the scoreboards lit with the 32 year olds Dan Boyle and Filip Kuba leading the way.

The Panthers defense looks so formidable right now, that losing potential stud Jay Bouwmeester would still leave the Cats with three pairings that could shut down any team. So while the Panthers are going to have to bank on young guns Shawn Matthias and Michael Frolik putting up decent numbers, they will bring a physical, Western Conference feeling to games next season.

Yes, we all hope that the Panthers will sign a couple of scoring threats during free agency, but it’s going to be defense first in Florida next season. No more 5-4 games on a nightly basis. Hopefully the Panthers can grind their way to a playoff appearance for the first time since the turn of the century.


Stanley C. said...

Great outlook Imber. It'll be interesting to see how a defense-first gameplan works in the East, especially with so many offense-heavy teams as you pointed out. I know I'm already hesitantly excited about the season!

Imber said...

I have the exact same feeling. I'm so excited for the season to start, but I'm afraid of this system not working out. Oh well, just 10 days till free agency!

FloridaPanthers4ever said...

Great post!

Yea I think Matthias and Frolik will be fine.

DONT FORGET DUCOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO AND REPIK. Yea they are not ready yet but look out!

Bouwmeester signs 7 year deal, I HOPE!

go panthers. I was on youtube last night and Ballard is nasty! so im not so mad ne more.

Imber said...

The only thing I'm worried about is both players are free agents next offseason. This trade will look really bad if we lose both of them. At least Ballard will be a RFA, so we should be able to keep him. I'm not so sure we'll even need Boynton but we'll see how he does.