It’s well documented that the Florida Panthers have stumbled out of the starting blocks of this shortened NHL season. The reasons are all over the place. They have tons of injuries to important players. The young guys they are calling up are very talented and promising but also very green. Also they have flat out just not played very well for the past four games. There is no time to wallow in self doubt however. They play a good looking team Tuesday night in the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Right from the drop of the puck you figure the Panthers are probably in trouble in this game. They have all of these problems and the Lightning are rolling. I think there is a factor that will change the balance of momentum a little more in the Panthers favor however. That factor is their head coach Kevin Dineen.
I’m not the president of the Dineen fan club or anything like that, but I do like what I hear from him. He got visibly upset when asked about what effect the injuries are having on his hockey club after the bad loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. That had nothing at all to do with the loss, he said with purpose. What he didn’t say could be read easily between the lines.
I could almost hear him. We are capable of playing better hockey. We will play better hockey! Dineen clearly planned to drag his team through a tough practice to get things lined out. He seems to be taking pride in the fact that he and his team can win in spite of their circumstances, not next year but this year. I have no crystal ball to see through but I will say one thing. If the Panthers come out hot with a chip on their shoulder against the Lightning on Tuesday night, they will have their coach to thank for it.