Sloppy play and having a number of top players not scoring goals is a bad combination.
Yet that’s where the Panthers find themselves these days.
With every goal seemingly a precious gift, Florida can’t afford to give up cheap ones in their zone. In Saturday’s 3-2 loss at Carolina, Florida was sloppy with the puck leading to two goals.
And don’t even start with the power play. Coach Peter Horachek said Sunday that he will likely take struggling forward Tomas Fleischmann off the point to try and get something going there.
“We’re our own worst enemy sometimes,” said Horachek, whose team plays the powerhouse Penguins on Monday. “We have to keep it tight and know this [Pittsburgh] team is a different animal. They move the puck very well, are dangerous. We have to get up to that challenge and take things to another level. We haven’t been desperate enough.”
Florida, which has scored two goals or fewer in six of its past eight games, is definitely looking for more out of a lot of its top offensive players.
Aside from the line of Aleksander Barkov, Brad Boyes and Sean Bergenheim, Florida isn’t getting much production out of anyone.
“The other lines have to pick things up,” Horachek said. “Sometimes your fourth line has to win you the game. We need more desperation from more people.”
In the past six weeks, Fleischmann, Scottie Upshall, Shawn Matthias, Jonathan Huberdeau and Tomas Kopecky have combined for five goals and 16 assists over an 18-game span.
The Panthers have just 14 goals in their past eight games.
“Obviously, I’m one of the first people who should shoot and score goals,” said Fleischmann, who has led the Panthers in scoring in each of his first two years here. “I have to pick it up.”
Since Dec. 8, he has one goal and five assists.
Things don’t get any easier for the Panthers on Monday. The Penguins are well rested, and with the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, they can score when the need arises.
“We should get fired up for games like this, be at our best,” Horachek said. “We have to play our best against these teams.”
The Panthers came into Sunday’s games nine points back of Columbus for the final playoff spot.
Horachek knows the odds are against his team, but with 10 games left before a three-week break for the Sochi Winter Olympics, Florida’s interim coach said the Panthers can make up some points and come into the final part of the season with a little momentum.
“We have to close the gap from where we are so we can see the light,” said Horachek, who said he will be fine with Florida being five points out at the break.
“This is season one and season two is after the break. Lets give ourselves a chance by pushing the envelope. Things can change.”
This and thatVincent Trocheck Michael Houser Jesse Winchester