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Countdown 23: Success In Back-To-Backs?

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
The Panthers 2010-11 season is quickly approaching and with that, is taking a look at the top ten questions, players to watch and games of the season on a countdown to the home opener on October 16th against Tampa Bay. We'll unveil one of the top ten on a rotating basis each day to help fans get ready for what hopes to be an exciting season.

In today's topic, we take a closer look at will the Panthers be successful in back-to-back situations in our Top 10 Questions Of The Season.

Every team has to deal with them.

Trying to get in 82 games into just over six months, you're going to be playing in numerous back-to-back situations as well as three-games-in-four nights and four-games-in-six nights. It's the only way to cram a jammed packed schedule in that time frame.

With that, the Panthers struggled last year in back-to-back situations. Playing 18 different sets of back-to-backs, they finished just 13-18-5 while going 7-8-3 in the first game and just 6-10-2 in the game after. While the Olympic break affected every team, it really took it's toll on the Panthers last year.

"It's really tough," said head coach Peter DeBoer of the team's lack of success in back-to-back situations. "One I think we had an extraordinary amount last year with the condensed schedule and we didn't have a great schedule to begin with. Two when your team relies on playing with energy and forechecking and pursuing the puck, the first thing that goes in back-to-back games is your energy level.

"We're not a team that can beat anybody with just straight skill so it's tough, especially on the Florida Panthers because of the way we play and what we rely on when we don't have those energy levels to be able to execute our game plan."

You look at the season before last and the Panthers were above .500 when it came to back-to-back situations, going 11-9-4 in their 12 situations. That includes an admirable 7-4-1 in the second game of the back-to-back series. That success helped lead them to a tie for eighth with Montreal as they finished with 94 points.

So the question is, what can you do to be successful in those situations?

"It's energy management," said DeBoer. "You get to the other cities as quickly as you can or if you're at home, you get home as quickly as you can. We've tinkered with pre-game skates in back-to-back situations whether or not to skate. Sometimes we just meet at the hotel and don't even go to the rink in the morning, those types of things.

"You're always experimenting."

This season the Panthers will play in 15 different back-to-back sets. For DeBoer, the reduced number should help the club. But that's not the only thing that should help.

"We also have more depth in the organization where on those back-to-back situations, I think we've got guys where we can throw in two or three fresh bodies in the lineup in order to make sure those energy levels are still up," said Deboer. "That's something we're going to look to do to address that."
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