Opening Night for 2016-17 – Knee Jerk Reaction

As I sit and watch opening night in Florida, I… have some concerns.  They are not playing badly, but just not too sharp.  It is opening night, though, so I’ll give them some slack.

I’ll start with the good:

Their offense which has consistently struggled post Parise and Kovi, has some real potential.  And the “new” style of fast paced hockey I think will really serve the new lineup well.

And Corey Schneider looks sharp.  In fact (well the score is tied 1-1 right now) but he’s the reason why the Panthers haven’t scored more is solely because of him.

And that brings me to the bad:

The game wasn’t chock full of penalties, but I feel like they were on their heels a little too often leading to some situations that they could have had better control of.

They haven’t spent a great deal of time in the offensive zone like the once were able to.  Keeping the puck in the Florida end is the best way to keep the pressure on and keep the chances going.  The best defense is a good offense, right?

The third period has just ended and they showed some life.  As Jen said while sitting next to me, “They woke up.”  She also noted that it took them four games last year to get a point, and we’ve done that game one tonight.  So that’s looking at the silver lining.

Now we go in to OT – I’m still not settled in to three on three overtime.  Something about it just makes me feel like this is part of some type of all-star competition, much like the shootout.  But I lived with it all last year and clearly the feedback wasn’t all that bad because here it still is this season.

Pavel Zacha make an incredible defensive play, stopping a shot attempt from point blank range in front of Schneider which probably saved the game as the OT clock ticked down.  But no more than a minute later we lost.  Schneider went to poke the puck away from Florida Panther Mike Matheson who came around the net and, unfortunately, Matheson passed it to Aleksander Barkov – instead of shooting it.  Schneider didn’t even see the pass and, with his head still turned, Barkov had the puck, shot the puck, and the puck hit the back of the net.

So game 1 ends up in the Regulation Overtime Loss column.  It wasn’t a bad game by any stretch of the imagination.  There’s some work that needs to be done.  The stats from tonights game:

Devils Panthers
24 Shots 34
18 Hits 19
16 Blocks 4
0/2 Power Plays 0/3
26 Face-Offs 30
8 Takeaways 10

This solidifies a bit what I was saying – their shots are indicative of the fact they didn’t spend as much time in the offensive zone as they should have or would have liked to see, and we spent more time defending as seen by the shots blocked category.  In total, Panthers made 50 attempts that either hit Schneider or another Devil.  Devils only had 28 – nearly half.  That needs to be addressed.

But I remain optimistic that the team on the ice has the potential to gel and become something special.  After all, that’s what being a fan is all about, right?  Unfettered optimism that your team will be great!

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