The 2013-14 Florida Panthers have the second-fewest points in the Eastern Conference for a lot of reasons. Unlike last season, a slew of injuries can’t be blamed for the team’s poor performance. A change at head coach has done little to improve this year’s Sunrise squad. The majority of the problem with this team is its personnel.
The individual points leaders for Florida are Brian Campbell and Scottie Upshall, whose 15 points in 25 games are worse than 129 other NHL skaters. Their latest opponent, the Ottawa Senators, became just another in a long string of teams that have out-shot and out-hit the Panthers.
Ottawa got off 45 shots and 26 hits, while Florida managed only 32 and 17. The Panthers’ 28.9 shots-per-game average is the second lowest in the NHL and their 2.11 goals per game are third-last. If Florida’s struggles were all on the offensive end, that would be easier to swallow than the truth that the defense and goalkeeping are no better.
The four Senator goals allowed by Tim Thomas and the Panthers’ defense is sadly all too typical. Florida’s GAA is 3.25 and Thomas is a big part of that issue. His .904 save percentage is good for only 35th in the NHL, meaning there are teams that have backup goalkeepers stopping pucks at a more efficient rate than Thomas is.
A worse statistic yet is that 33 of the 49 goals he has allowed in 18 games have been while the Panthers are at full strength.
Special teams are another issue for Florida. One of the goals that Ottawa scored tonight came on a Sens power play, which has again become a frustration after it appeared that Florida may have been improving in that area. The Panthers’ opponents are scoring on 24.7 percent of their man-advantages, which puts Florida among the bottom of the NHL in that regard. Conversely, the Panthers have made good on only 12.4 percent of their own power play opportunities.
A team that is performing so poorly in every phase of the game raises many questions, one of which is whether the players on this roster can ever win on a regular basis together. Florida has already made a few changes since the beginning of this season. Many more are necessary to bring a chance to win nightly to Sunrise.