Florida Panthers vs. Columbus Blue Jackets Recap | 04/11/2024

Lundell celebrates Rodrigues' goal. Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Florida hasn’t played the Blue Jackets since December 10th, which ended in a 5-2 win for the Panthers—this time around, Bobrovsky got a shutout and a Panthers 4-0 win over Columbus. Despite the rotating players on the fourth line, the consistency in the top three lines pays dividends for the team, with each of the lines getting at least one goal. While Cousins may not be many fans’ choice for playing on the second line with Tkachuk and Bennett, they were a playoff line last season, and as of late, putting them back together has done great things for the Cats. Florida’s starting to look like the team fans saw in February, and that’s without Verhaeghe and Ekblad. Where Verhaeghe will slot in is a bit of a mystery right now with the top three lines clicking so well together. Tarasenko has settled in and is playing great with Barkov and Reinhart, and Rodrigues compliments Lundell and Luostarinen. We’ll have to wait and see what HC Paul Maurice does, but overall things are looking much better than they did a couple of weeks ago, yes the Panthers aren’t playing the same caliber of teams but the effort is better and so is the puck handling.

Bobrovsky Shutout and Suffocating Defense:

Bobrovsky had a stellar game against Columbus, stopping all 25 shots he saw. The Florida defense only allowed two shots from the slot, nine from the faceoff circles, and the rest came from beyond the faceoff circles or from center ice. The defense pressured the Blue Jackets heavily and forced 19 giveaways. The Panthers have developed a habit of giving up short-handed chances during the power play, but Montour and Ekman-Larsson got back to break up any shorty attempts. Bobrovsky made some massive saves that drew big cheers from the home crowd, and “Bob-by” chants showed their appreciation for him. It wasn’t the busiest night for Bob, but there were some quality chances from Columbus. All in all, it was a very solid effort from Florida on the defensive side of things.

Team Chemistry Improving Fast:

Back in February, the Panthers only lost two games in the entire month. That’s an extremely impressive feat for a team to achieve, but it’s not a realistic expectation in the long term for almost any team. Even though myself and other fans have been rather frustrated watching the Cats over the last month, it can be easy to forget that the team is at a point where they’ve clinched a playoff spot and can now focus on building team chemistry and just get to the playoffs healthy. It felt like the team chemistry went completely awry after the trade deadline and like the acquisitions haven’t benefited the team. However, Tarasenko has only gotten better the more games he’s played with Florida, especially when he’s on the top line with Barkov and Reinhart. Okposo has seen less ice time and isn’t a regular starter, while he’s had less of an impact there was visible improvement against the Blue Jackets as he took more shots on goal and made a couple of nice defensive plays. Cousins moving back to play with Bennett and Tkachuk has improved Cousins’ effectiveness with him scoring in the last two games against Ottawa. Tkachuk has scored in three of the last four games with Bennett scoring against Ottawa and Toronto last week. Luostarinen-Lundell-Rodrigues is becoming a great line together, with them producing four goals in the last five games, and all of them have 12 goals on the season. The Panthers are getting depth scoring and improved 5v5 scoring, which is something they’ll need for a deep playoff run this year.

Playoffs Looming:

While fans have been all doom and gloom for the last few weeks, HC Paul Maurice hasn’t been concerned in the slightest. Not every game has been a pretty one, but there have been a few that had good effort, and the puck bounces just didn’t go the Panther’s way, or they took undisciplined penalties, leading to momentum changes that allowed the opponents to change the narrative. The Toronto game last week is an extreme example of what can happen when the Panthers are playing at both their best and their worst. They had dug themselves into a 1-5 hole going into the third period and then all of a sudden looked like the team fans expect to see all the time and scored three goals to nearly tie the game. They ultimately fell short of the comeback, but had they played the way they did in the third period, it’s doubtful they would’ve been in that position to begin with. While the schedule has been easier down the stretch for Florida, these are good confidence-building games going into the playoffs. Getting back-to-back shutouts with different goaltenders is no small feat, regardless of who they’re playing against. The team is itching for the playoffs to start at this point, but there are still two games left to play before next weekend, and the Panthers have home-ice advantage on the line for motivation to play their best and get wins.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

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