Florida Panthers: Tim Thomas Shows His Rust

By Derek Helling
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday night, it looked like Tim Thomas wouldn’t have any problem getting back to being a serviceable goalie in the NHL after a season off. Tonight in St. Louis, that idea was dismissed by the St. Louis Blues.

The Blues got five goals past Thomas on 28 shots, forcing Florida Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen to replace him with Jakob Markstrom after the second period. To compound the problem, the Panthers were shut out by the Blues’ Jaroslav Halak and Markstrom allowed two more goals in the third.

Thomas didn’t get much help from the defense in front of him or the Panthers’ lines. The Blues outshot the Panthers 34-19 for the game and were perfect at killing off seven Florida power plays. What’s worse for Florida is that the Blues flat out played a more physical game.

The Blues more than doubled the number of hits by the Panthers and tripled the number of takeaways. Throughout the entire game, St. Louis controlled the puck and dictated the game to the Panthers. How a roster filled with young talent responds to a bad night will be crucial as this team develops.

7-0 loss nights will be more common for a team whose average age is 28 and has four skaters with less than three NHL seasons under their belts playing significant minutes on the ice. This is an opportunity for the Panthers to learn from some mistakes, like how getting beat in physicality is unacceptable.

Thomas is capable of better play, he proved that against the Stars. At this point, he is Florida’s best choice in goal. The other five men on the ice have to execute better in order to have a chance to win games consistently though. When 11 of a teams’ 19 shots are stopped before they even reach the circle, it’s clear that there are spacing issues.

On Thursday night in Dallas, the Panthers saw what their roster is capable of in a positive way. Tonight, Dineen and the new ownership saw how ugly it can be. The Panthers have 80 games left this season to develop some consistency towards their upside.

Derek Helling is a writer for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “like” him on Facebook and add him on Google+.

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