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Petrovic's Blog: Panthers Will Benefit From New Structure

by Alex Petrovic @AP3392 /

A lot of people don't know what we mean when we talk about structure.

It just means that everyone is on the same page. There's guys on the ice that have certain jobs and they just go to their spots, so everyone knows where the puck's going to go at any time during a game. It's just about being on the same page instead of just ad-libbing it, keeping your head up and trying to read a play.

The game moves a lot quicker when everyone is on the same page and working as a unit. With Bob Boughner, I think we're definitely going to have that now. We know he's going to be a good coach, a hard-style coach. Under him, we're going to have a fast and structured team.

At the end of the end of last year, during our exit meetings, it was pretty clear who was going to be in charge this summer and we were all pretty happy when we found out that Boughner had been hired in June. It was actually one of the more positive summers I've ever seen. In talking to some of the other guys, it was pretty clear that everyone really wanted to be here and get back to work.

With Dale back in a leadership role, it's just been a good feeling all summer.

For myself, knowing all of that really helped a lot. It's a lot easier going to the gym when you have that structure and know the kind of team that you're going to have. We know we're going to compete and play a hard style of game. It really makes you excited throughout the summer, just knowing some of the same guys and the personnel that are going to be here when you get back to Florida.

I've actually already played under Boughner once before, for a few games at the U18 Ivan Hlinka with Mark Pysyk in 2009. This summer was the first time I've really talked to him since then, but he's still the same guy. He's hard and pretty intense at the rink, but he's a really nice a guy. He's a straightforward guy, you know, a straight shooter, and that's what everyone likes.

When I sat down with him to talk about my role for the upcoming season, he told me that basically it's going to be exactly the same as it has been for the past couple years -- I'm a shutdown defenseman. They don't care how many points I get or what plays I make on offense. My first job is just defense, shutting down top lines. If we're up a goal or two with a few minutes left, I'm going to be the guy out there defending our net and playing hard against guys.

When someone is playing the Panthers, I want them to know they're going to be in for a really tough night.

As for the preseason, it's tough because you're not really playing for much. It doesn't have those pressure moments that you want to be in. You're fine-tuning your game and whatnot, but I feel like I'm a better player when I'm playing for something. For the next few days we're going to be battling hard in practice to really get ready for those pressure games. When the season comes, I'll be ready.

With our new coaching staff we go over video every day, looking at the mistakes we've been making and all of that. It's just about breaking old habits, changing old habits through repetition. The more we work, the quicker we're going to erase those old bad habits and bring in some good new ones. I think we've already started and we're pretty much almost there.

We've got the 23 guys in here that we're going to have this year. I think we've got the right set of guys. Everyone is determined to win this year. We're not messing around anymore. I think the last couple years we've been up and down, but this year it starts with Game 1. We know that it's important to get these games at the beginning of the year. These points are so huge.

I know we're a really skilled team. I know we're a hard working team. So, if we can be one of the sharpest teams out of the gate then we're going to get some points under our belt at the start. I think that's what we've been missing the past couple years. We've had some slow starts in the past, but this year we're going to come out hard and keep playing that way throughout the whole year.

See you on Saturday at the BB&T Center.

- Petro

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