Going into this season, expectations were high for the Florida Panthers.
The team missed the playoffs by a point last season and their strong finish showed their fans that they are more than a good hockey team. They are solid at all positions and have a very bright future.
It appears, however, that they did not get the memo. The Panthers are 0-2-2 to start the season and have not looked anywhere near as good as they did last season. Yes, it is still early, but it is somewhat alarming for a team that should have a good chance to make the playoffs this season.
What does not help one bit is that their star goaltender, Roberto Luongo, is hurt. He is expected to be out 2-4 weeks with a knee injury and while James Reimer is more than a serviceable backup, missing a key piece like Luongo could end up hurting the team in a big way.
Reimer is going to need to really hold down the fort over the next couple of weeks. Unfortunately for his team, he is already off to a rough start as he is 0-2-1 with a 3.62 goals against average and a .885 save percentage. His play is going to need to change in a hurry if he wants to keep the Panthers afloat as they wait for Luongo to return to action.
Speaking of Reimer, people have to remember what he did last season while Luongo was injured for part of the season. Reimer went 22-14-6 with a 2.99 goals against average, a .913 save percentage and four shutouts. As such, he has shown that he can carry the load if need be.
Something else that does not help is that they have not been putting the puck in the net much to start the year, although scoring five goals against the Philadelphia Flyers is an encouraging sign.
This is going to need to improve in a hurry. With a roster that has the likes of Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck, Jonathan Huberdeau, Evgenii Dadonov, Mike Hoffman, and a few others, they should be able to put the puck in the net with regularity this season. That just hasn’t happened so far.
Like I always say at this time of the year, there is plenty of hockey left to play. Their goalscorers will start putting the puck in the net, Luongo will return to the pipes in the next few weeks, and hopefully, the Panthers will win some hockey game while Luongo is out.
Hopefully, that will happen because if the Panthers continue to slip early in the season, it could be another playoff-less season for the third straight year.