The Florida Panthers are not very good. But for 17 minutes on New Year's Eve they were great.
Jaromir Jagr manufactured two goals in those 17 minutes and the Panther power play added a third as Florida piled up an absurd SOG total of 20 with three minutes remaining in the first period. The Stars could not keep pace with the pacey Panthers, and the start was the complete inverse of what happened at the AAC Thursday when Dallas blasted Colorado early.
That was enough to win the hockey game tonight. 17 great minutes by the Florida Panthers and their great player, most people's favorite of all-time, Jaromir Jagr.
Interestingly, there are two ways to look at this game. There's the way Lindy Ruff will look at it, likely appraising the contest's totality and commenting that the Stars had plenty of chances and just couldn't finish.
Then there's the way some of us might look at it- Wondering what score effects had to do with the Panthers' altered style of play in the game's final two frames and whether or not anything outside of those 17 minutes is deserving of much in the way of analysis or attention.
Either way it's a loss in which the power play did not do enough to help the cause. The power play which threatened to be the goat had things gone south with a sour bounce Thursday against the Avalanche (0-for-6) continued it's futility this evening when it had a shot to make the game about more than the Panthers' hot start.
Patrick Eaves did manage a tally on the job in the second period, but it was the two missed chances in the third that hurt when it's all said and done. Six shots on four power plays is not enough.
Dallas badly out-shot the Panthers the rest of the way- Does that excuse the start? Or does a results based business care not? An interesting question because the guy who signs the checks was in the house tonight looking rather dour with his coterie when shown on television.
One of 82, of course, but there were a couple of matters to discuss with larger implications:
First, Kari Lehtonen. #32 lay on the ice for a pretty uncomfortable period of time Thursday night after Jarome Iginla so carelessly steam rolled him, and left the ice as part of the league's concussion protocol. That he looked so sharp in relief tonight is a great sign.
That Patrick Sharp looked as engaged and spry as he did tonight is also a good sign.
That Jamie Benn was tripped with a Panther stick in his skate, causing his ankle to twist (no orange arm bands raised, somehow) was not a good sign. The Captain gutted his way through that shift and was credited with an assist on the goal that would soon be scored, but he did not look right afterward.
He gingerly tested it, played another shift, then came out for the third period looking rather ginger again as the Fox Sports cameras so admirably caught his walk down the tunnel and onto the ice. It was a gutsy effort to finish the game but one wonders what the long-term effects will be on a player that is already suspected of "not being right."
Hats off to the Stars tonight for the way they tilted the ice down the stretch, but you can't have that start. The loss breaks a five-year win streak on New Year's Eve.
That's it- short and sweet. There's partying to be done. Be safe out there, and we'll see you in 2017, when the offense hopefully comes back to life.