The Panthers have played better hockey under new coach Peter Horachek. He and his assistants, Stanley Cup winners John Madden and Brian Skrudland have brought a different mentality to the team. A mental approach of high energy and intensity is evident.
The team has still made some unacceptable mistakes defensively but they're becoming fewer and further between. The turnovers that lead to opponents' goals will not be tolerated. The system is one of aggression. More aggressive play in the offensive zone, defensemen jumping up into the play and a north/south style is easy to see. Add in better goaltending and its a recipe that can be successful.
The Panthers have a big hill to climb and the current 5-game road trip presents both a great opportunity and daunting challenge. The Western Conference is better than the East this season. That said, the Cats have held their own against the West with three wins and two shootout losses (3-4-2). (Dallas, Minnesota, Anaheim, Chicago, Edmonton)
Hopefully the new coach will be able to clearly implement his system as there isn't that much time except for a few days for practice. It's ultimately up the the players to bring a strong effort to every shift and play smart hockey. The mental part of the game has been lacking at times but one can see improvement in that area.