Welcome to Florida Panthers: State of the Union, where we talk all things Panthers hockey as well as what is going on in the NHL.
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 radio play-by-play announcer, Randy Moller.
ML: The Cats come off one of the best all-around games they’ve played this season against San Jose. Everything seemed to be clicking for them and they virtually shut down a team who has been one of the top Western teams for the last few years. What stood out to you most from that game?
RM: I think a total team effort. It all starts in goal with Roberto Luongo. This team seems to play with so much confidence with Roberto Luongo in goal. They know that he’s going to make the first save, he controls his rebounds and me being a former defenseman, it’s easy to play when you have a goaltender that has that much confidence.
The three pairs of defense, I thought were sensational and overall the whole team probably played their most complete game. They didn’t allow goals, they didn’t allow power plays to the opposition, they cut down on their odd-man rushes and they scored on their opportunities and hopefully they can keep it going.
ML: Willie Mitchell has been a strong influence on the young players in the locker room and the game of Dmitry Kulikov so far this season and continues to log an average of 22 minutes a game. At 37-years old he still sacrifices the body every night and doesn’t miss a beat. He’s got 31 blocked shots in 13 games. How do you feel Mitchell has performed so far and what has he brought to this team?
RM: I’ll be honest with you. I knew he was a solid player, I knew he was a solid character player in the locker room, but I didn’t realize how effective he is on the ice and off the ice. He’s a true leader.
Willie Mitchell day in and day out has been a blessing for the Florida Panthers. I think that not only has Mitchell brought out the best in Kulikov or a Colby Robak and obviously the tutorship of Aaron Ekblad but also I think because of the ice time that he logs, has taken the pressure off of Brian Campbell.
Campbell can now hit the ice and be very effective by jumping in offensively and I think it’s helped his game. I think if you ask Campbell as well he’ll agree with that. The ice time now has been spread out and he’s much more effective.