[caption id="attachment_101" align="alignleft" width="236" caption="Panthers Coach Peter DeBoer "][/caption]
Peter DeBoer has been the Panthers coach since June 2008 and has, like many other coaches in the franchise history, failed to get the team into the post-season. Although in his first season the team finished with the second most points in franchise history (93) they finished 9th in the standings. Last year, the Cats had only 77 points, good for 14th in the conference. This year the Panthers are off to not so hot a start, going 4-6 through their first 10 games. Although you cannot blame that all on the coach, the way they have lost some games, you can, particularly last night's game against the Thrashers. It was not the first time this season that the Panthers tried to sit back and protect a lead in the third period, only to see it vanish, and thanks to goals by Byfuglien and Bergfors, the Thrashers actually prevailed despite trailing with only half a period left to play. DeBoer fails to realize that the Panthers blue line men, and really the team defense as a whole, are not good enough to just sit back and try to protect the lead. The Panthers dominated that entire game, putting pressure on the Thrashers, and particularly their lackluster goalie Chris Mason last night. The Panthers tied a franchise record for shots on goal with 55 last night, but failed to win.
This isn't really the coaches fault, Tomas Vokoun played less than his usual self, he probably should have had all four goals. DeBoer also is not putting the right lines together and the right players on the ice at certain times. For example, last night was not the first time that David Booth, Michael Frolik, and Stephen Weiss were put on the same line and they have dominated their opponents every time they play together. That line should be kept together so that the struggling Panthers offense may find some goals. Although that would be putting the three best players on the team on the same line, the rest of the roster is good enough to chip in their share of goals while letting that line take the majority of the scoring, as they should. By splitting those three players up he is actually making their offense a lot less potent than it could be.
Also, he decided to put Dvorak, Stillman, and Reasoner out on the ice (although Reinprecht was responsible for the lost face-off that led to the tying goal). Those three really should not have been on the ice in that situation. With the one goal lead the best offensive players on the team should have been out on the ice. The Panthers should have been pressing to extend their lead to 2 rather than hold on to the 3-2 score. DeBoer should rethink his philosophies if he wants to get the Panthers back onto the winning track, they have to beat teams in their offensive zone, they are simply not good enough to play in their own end (I'm not sure why you would want to anyway), or else I think it is the duty of Dale Tallon to find a replacement that will get this team to win like they are capable of. They really are not the fourteenth best team in the Eastern Conference and need to start living up to their potential. There really is no reason why this team cannot make a push for the playoffs like they did two years ago.