Craig Anderson makes a save against Anaheim Ducks Teemu Selanne during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 9, 2008. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com
Before boarding a flight Monday morning from Anaheim to South Florida, the Panthers and coach Peter DeBoer took solace in the fact they can beat teams like the Ducks and Sharks on any given night.
And collapse like a cheap card table against some of the worst.
Still learning, still working to create an identity, the Panthers headed home Monday feeling a little better about themselves after breaking a six-game winless streak with a huge 3-1 victory Sunday in Anaheim.
DeBoer was looking for players to step up, have career-like games, and he got that in David Booth, who recorded his first career hat trick, and Craig Anderson, who stopped 44 shots.
“I think anytime you end a losing streak it’s a good feeling,” said DeBoer Monday morning. “I think we got better as the trip went on.”
After playing what DeBoer called “our worst game” of the season Thursday in Los Angeles, the Panthers played a more “tenacious” game Sunday in Anaheim after falling apart the previous night in Phoenix.
“I think we got better in Phoenix (than Los Angeles),” DeBoer said. “We didn’t have a lot of luck around the net and we took too many penalties.”
After playing eight of their last 10 games on the road, the Panthers will remain at home this week when they play host at BankAtlantic Center to cross-state rival Tampa Wednesday evening and the defending Stanley Cup-champion Red Wings Friday evening.
DeBoer also offered hope Monday that Cory Stillman, injured Nov. 2 in Atlanta, could be ready to return to the lineup Wednesday against the Lightning.
While DeBoer reiterated he isn’t happy with the team’s start, he believes the Panthers are moving forward.
“Like I said before, we’re a work in progress,” he said. “We knew we’d have some growing pains. We have some new players, new coaches and a new system. We’re learning what we need to do to win games. We’ve had a lot of road games early, so our schedule hasn’t been the best, and we haven’t been helped by some of the injuries.
“But the most important thing for me is that I believe we’re heading in the right direction. The important part is that we keep getting better."