It is rare to hear a team publicly admit it’s time to panic, acknowledging that their season is spiraling out of control.
Yet this is where the Panthers find themselves after a humiliating 7-1 home loss to the Flyers on Saturday night.
“You have to panic right now,” winger Tomas Fleischmann said quietly. “We have to bring everything we have. It’s a short season. We have to panic right now.”
The Panthers are most definitely sweating after losing their fourth consecutive game just five games into the season.
For all the talk of how Florida needed to get off to a hot start in this truncated 48-game schedule, 2013 could hardly have gotten off to a worse start.
“The time is short here, and we’re obviously not taking advantage of it,” said coach Kevin Dineen, whose team is off to its worst start in four seasons. “This will be a miserable couple of days for us. This is on our scorecard now. We have to deal with it.”
In 82 games last year, the Panthers didn’t lost four in a row without picking up at least a single point.
Now, the Panthers go into Tuesday’s game at Tampa Bay 1-4-0. With four of their top forwards out with injuries, the defending division champs are currently a shell of their former selves.
Dineen held an short and angry postgame news conference in which he said: “Injuries had absolutely nothing to do with what happened. We got our tails handed to us in every way.”
Dineen ended his comments by saying blasting his players made little sense at this point.
“I hate sitting in one of these things and beating up on your people. It’s just stupid,” he said.
Had it not been for Florida scoring four goals in the opening period of its opening game against the Hurricanes, who knows where the Panthers would be right now.
As it is, things don’t look good. At all.
The last time Florida lost four in a row without picking up a final point came in the final days of the Pete DeBoer era in 2011 when the Panthers already had been given up for dead, their fire sale completed weeks before.
The Panthers had three four-game winless streaks last season but picked up at least one point in all of those slides. This version of the Panthers hasn’t sniffed a point in the standings since beating Carolina 5-1 in the opener as they have been outscored 18-3 in the week since.
The previous Florida team to start 1-4-0 was in 2009. That team finished in last place for the first time in franchise history and ended up 11 points out of the playoffs. General manager Dale Tallon was brought in to right things not long after it ended.
“We have to stop this quick or it’s going to be a miserable couple of months,” Panthers captain Ed Jovanovski said.
The Flyers, who have now won two in a row after starting out 0-3, jumped out with three goals off nine shots in the opening period to chase starter Jose Theodore.
Philadelphia opened the scoring 3:10 into the game when Florida’s Dmitry Kulikov and Jack Skille were in the box.
Matt Read made it 2-0 four minutes later by walking in and scoring top shelf on Theodore. That goal was Read’s first of three. He scored in the opening seconds of the third to make it 6-1 as a handful of orange-and-black baseball caps hit the ice to celebrate his first career hat trick.
The Flyers’ ninth and final shot of the first period came with 1:09 left as Tye McGinn picked up his first NHL goal by redirection a shot from Braydon Coburn. It was a puck Theodore never saw yet the final one he would face this night as Scott Clemmensen took over to start the second.
As was the case in Thursday’s loss to the Senators, the Florida offense had a few chances to get things going but strong goaltending — this time from Ilya Bryzgalov — kept the Panthers off the board.
Bryzgalov, best known for his big contract and wacky starring role on HBO’s 24/7 last year, made a pair of outstanding saves in the second period that would have helped the Panthers get back into the game.