Goaltender Craig Anderson will be in net Wednesday when the Panthers play the Senators in Ottawa. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)
By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com
OTTAWA – The Panthers spent Tuesday morning in The Ice House at Carleton University working, in the words of coach Peter DeBoer, in those “dirty areas of the rink where you have to score goals.”
While the Panthers created a number of scoring chances in their 3-1 loss Monday evening to the Canadiens, it was clear they could have helped themselves by creating more traffic in front of the net.
That will be the key Wednesday when the Panthers play the Ottawa Senators Scotiabank Place. The Panthers, winless in Ottawa the past two seasons, will start Craig Anderson in goal.
While the Panthers took 36 shots Monday on Canadiens’ goalie Jaroslav Halak, many were shots from the perimeter that Halak had no trouble seeing. The Panthers also were not in position to get the few rebounds Halak gave up.
“We have to have more traffic, more of a killer instinct and hunt down rebounds,” DeBoer said. “We have to stand in there and take a shot to score a goal. We’re a little outside and a little on the perimeter and we have to have that killer instinct around the net.”
That killer instinct could also jump-start the Panthers offense. They’ve scored five goals in the past three games, and four of those goals have come from their defensemen.
“I think we had good chances (Monday),” said Radek Dvorak. “But we need more chances in front of the net. That will be the key (Wednesday).”
In an effort to determine what his best lines might be, DeBoer moved rookie Michael Frolik up onto the first line during Monday’s game with Nathan Horton and Cory Stillman. That line will likely be together again Wednesday.
“We put them together for a period (Monday) and I think Michael played well,” DeBoer said. “He brought speed, energy, enthusiasm. He’s a skilled guy. I’m not married to any line combinations, but (Frolik) deserves another opportunity with those guys.”
DeBoer emphasized, however, he doesn’t feel a need this early to shuffle lines.
“We’re creating chances,” he said. “It’s not like we’re getting 20 shots and three or four chances. We’re creating chances. I think Michael is a skilled guy and brings some dimensions to that line which they probably need, which is some speed and somebody who can get in on the forecheck. He deserves the opportunity. He played well (Monday).”
DeBoer said he didn’t foresee any other changes to the lineup with the exception of Anderson getting his first start of the season in goal.
“We have the luxury of two good goaltenders,” said DeBoer of Anderson and Tomas Vokoun. “I thought (Vokoun) played well (Monday), but we need to keep both (goalies) in game-ready shape. I would have liked to have played (Anderson) a bit earlier, but (Vokoun) worked through some things and I think he’s back where he should be.”
And Anderson said Tuesday afternoon he’s prepared for the Senators. But in the words of DeBoer, “We can get all the goaltending we want, but you’re not going to win many games with one goal in any league.”
DeBoer said defenseman Bryan McCabe continues improving from a back injury but is still a couple weeks away from returning to the lineup. Meanwhile, defenseman Bryan Allen (knee) is in the process of getting different opinions on his injury before taking the next step…