Welcome to the first edition of Florida Panthers: State of the Union. Each week we will take a look at the week in Panthers hockey, what's coming up for the Cats and talk a little about the NHL as well.
Mike Lewis is the voice behind the State of the Union and each week will look to bring in some insight from analysts and Panthers media personalities.
This week's guest, Florida Panthers play-by-play announcer "Red Deer" Randy Moller himself.
ML: Seeing what the Panthers did against Ottawa, all the chances that we had, but unable to solve Craig Anderson, what did you see from the team that night that impressed you?
RM: The Ottawa game structurally and systems-wise I thought the Panthers played their best game through the first three. Even going back to that point that they lost in Tampa Bay on opening night, I thought they did a lot better, I thought they protected their goal, I thought Luongo even though he was strong in goal, he wasn't counted on to make a number of point blank saves. In order for a team to be successful long term, they have to be responsible defensively, clean up their own end and then the offense usually evolves from that, and I saw signs of that against the Ottawa Senators the other night.
ML: Now heading out onto this four-game road trip, still looking for that first win, what do you think is important to get after on this road trip for the Panthers?
RM: I think a number of things the coaching staff is looking for, and the players themselves, I think more chemistry on their lines. We've seen some herky-jerky play from the Panthers top two lines, the Bjugstad line and the Barkov line. I think once we get into games four, five, six and seven we're going to see a little more unity on the line combinations. I know they want Barkov to play with Jussi Jokinen. The chemistry hasn't sparked just yet, we're looking for that maybe on the road.
ML: Coach Gerard Gallant said yesterday he has been very impressed with Aaron Ekblad and is impressed with his pairing with Brian Campbell. What have you seen from the young defenseman that's impressed you so far?
RM: I've been impressed by his composure, his poise, his confidence back there. You have to understand as well, this player is only 18 years old. Even though Aaron Ekblad is a very mature 18-year old, he's still only 18-years old. He's going to be playing in his fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh game in the National Hockey League on this road trip. I think they're trying to put everything in perspective, I know they're trying to control his ice time, they don't want to expose him to certain situations, but so far to wrap it all up, he's handled everything not only the Panthers have thrown at him as far as challenges on the ice with practices and games, but also to the opposition and that bodes very, very well for the future of the Florida Panthers. He's going to be a star in the league, you just need to be patient with him.
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