Florida goldfish? The Panthers must forget the evil to make the playoffs
SUNRISE — Less than a week ago, the Florida Panthers found themselves holding a spot in the NHL playoffs when everything seemed to be going their way.
I feel like a month ago.
Since beating the Red Wings 5-2 in Detroit and taking the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference, Florida has lost its last three games.
Losing to Toronto and the New York Rangers is understandable. These two are after all part of the elite of the NHL.
The loss in Philadelphia wasn’t completely unforgivable, but it came at a heavy cost.
And that could end up costing the Panthers a playoff spot.
The Panthers are now three points out of the playoffs, as Pittsburgh comes off the mat — as Florida coach Paul Maurice likes to say — by beating the Capitals on Saturday night.
The Pittsburgh Penguins won 4-3 on Saturday night just hours after Florida took a 2-0 lead and lost to the Rangers by the same score.
Florida still has nine games to play with a four-game road trip beginning Monday night in Ottawa.
In one of the first episodes of the popular AppleTV+ show “Ted Lasso”, the AFC Richmond coach tells a struggling player he must be like a goldfish.
For what? Because goldfish have an extremely short memory.
Screw it up?
Forget that. Pass.
Be a goldfish.
The Panthers need to erase those last three games from their memory as soon as possible.
Easier said than done.
But… it has to be done.
“It’s our job to forget,” said Sasha Barkov. “We do that, we play so many games that if you focus on the wrong things you will ruin the whole season. We must forget all the bad things. We were in this situation earlier in the season and we got out of it. We have to forget this one.
Says Ryan Lomberg: “We have to put on our ‘big boy pants’ and do it. There is no point in lowering your head. We know we are capable of doing it. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but we have to swallow it and move on.
The mood around the Panthers right now is anything but positive.
The players are hiding from the media, with Maurice talking about other teams suffering from the stress of being in a stressful playoff race.
He’s probably talking about his team.
Monday night, the Panthers were in the driver’s seat, controlling their own destiny. They saw the problems faced by teams like the Penguins and Islanders and laughed at them.
After all, Florida was playing its best hockey of the season.
Less than a week later and no one is saying it.
The Panthers stifle this and have to drop everything and go back to playing like before.
The problem is, things snowball and when things start to go wrong, well, you know what happened Saturday night against the Rangers.
“It will come out for all these teams. We are all facing exactly the same thing,” Maurice said. “First of all you look at your managers to lead. They have to be your drivers, bring their A-Game. Barkov had two tonight, he was a driver. We have other guys who can be better.
PANTHERS ON DECK FLORIDA PANTHERS AT OTTAWA SENATORS When: Monday, 7 p.m. Where: Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa TV/Broadcast: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+ Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932 Season Series (Florida leads 1-0): Panthers 5, Senators 3 (October 29) Last Season: Florida won 3-1
All-time regular season series: Ottawa leads 56-43-5, 3 ties Panthers next game: Florida at Toronto, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.