Things haven’t gone great this season for the Florida Panthers, who sit fourth in the Southeast Division with a 3-5-1 record. While promising young star Jonathan Huberdeau is off to a great start and defenseman Brian Campbell is tied for the team lead with four goals, the team could use a little more help from their defense on the offensive end of the ice.
Campbell has four goals and seven points but is the only defenseman to make a real contribution so far. The Panthers continue to wait for Dmitry Kulikov to justify his new contract – he has just one assist in eight games. Keaton Ellerby, Michael Caruso and Tyson Strachan have yet to register any point this season, and veteran Ed Jovanovski has been bothered by injury and has only played five games, with one assist. Mike Weaver also has just one assist while Filip Kuba, in his first year with Florida has two assists. Kuba, Weaver and Kulikov are all logging more than 20 minutes of ice time per game, making their performance even more disappointing. The team will hopefully get a boost when sophomore defenseman Erik Gudbranson makes his season debut tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Panthers rank 28th in the league in goals allowed, which mean not only is their defense failing at the offensive end, they’re not doing so hot in their own end either. If the Panthers want to build on last year’s surprise trip to the playoffs, steadying their defense would be a smart move to try and right the ship moving forward.