MIAMI - It wasn't an ordinary November practice before heading to the airport to travel. Paul Maurice had bite in his voice and ran a more intense practice than usual.
This following two consecutive losses, the last which left Maurice unhappy, saying basically everyone including himself, didn't perform well. It sets up a big week, a three-game road trip on the road, against division rivals.
Following that practice on Sunday, Maurice referred to Friday night's three-nothing home loss to winnipeg. He said 16 of the 19 players didn't play well, and he gets paid to prepare a team, and he didn't do his job. It will be interesting to see how the Panthers come out Monday night in Ottawa, where the Tkachuk brothers reunite on the ice.
Despite the unhappiness over the effort, the Panthers are going to go with the same lineup. For the most part, over the first quarter of the season, this team has played well and has been consistent. The Panthers believe in their players, and the players have earned a lot of rope to get things back to where they were. It would appear that Dmitry Kulikov will return to the blueline replacing Uvis Balanskis.
Now in his second year with the Panthers, Matthew and his brother Brady of the Senators will see each other fairly often playing in the same division. Mom has one rule, they are not allowed to fight each other. That said, count on both of them to be feisty with each other's teammates. The Tkachuks play a hard style, are tough, and have a ton of talent, which is a rare combination these days. And, Monday's game is big for both teams.
Video? Not for Reinhart
On a recent podcast Panthers forward Sam Reinhart made the interesting point that he is not interested in watching game video on a tablet on the bench during games. You see many players do this, but Reinhart has his own philosophy. Part of it is, you won't see the same play the same way again, so what's the point of taking the time to look at the video. He would rather be more engaged in what's going on in the game and on the bench. And in general, Reinhart watches less video than he used to. Whatever Sam Reinhart is doing, it's working. He's been amongst the league leaders in goals through the first quarter of the season and leads the team in scoring.
This week long road trip takes the Panthers through their Canadian division rivals. Following the Ottawa game, the Panthers play back-to-back, making a visit to Toronto for the first time since eliminating the Maple Leafs in the second round of last year's playoffs. The trip wraps up Thursday night against much-improved Montreal. It is way too small of a sample size to say the Panthers have hit adversity but the fact that Maurice let his team know he's not happy and players in the locker room talked about playing harder, makes this a pretty big road trip for November.
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