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Florida Panthers lose 5-3 in Ottawa ... Pete DeBoer: "We Weren't Ready to Play'' ... McCabe, Higgins, Santorelli Score 1st of Year


OTTAWA – Panthers coach Pete DeBoer benched winger Michael Frolik on Thursday in a desperate attempt to get his sputtering offense going. During Thursday's 5-3 loss to the Senators at Scotiabank Place, DeBoer was likely thinking about others he would like to have sat down.

The Panthers were sloppy, slow and didn't have much going at all against an Ottawa team that started slow but has won two straight. By the time the Panthers got anything going, it was way too late. Struggling forwards Chris Higgins and Mike Santorelli each scored their first goals of the season – after Ottawa held a 5-1 lead early in the third.

Florida has lost two straight and three of four.

“It was obviously much worse than the score indicated,'' DeBoer said. “We weren't ready to play. At the start of the game, their best players were better than ours. We lost all the key areas of the game: The faceoff circle, the puck battles on the board. You're not going to win in this league if you're not ready to compete. We lost all the races for the puck, all the battles for the puck. They were the hungrier team. There's no excuse for that.''

The Panthers took a 1-0 lead in a first period during which they took all of five shots. Florida wasn't as fortunate in the second as Ottawa opened it up by scoring three times – including two goals within a span of 91 seconds. Ottawa then scored twice in the first four minutes of the third to put things out of reach.

“I was terrible and that's not how I want to play. We were a step behind all night,'' defenseman Dennis Wideman said. “We were sloppy with the puck, made bad decisions. Do that against that team and they're going to score.''

The listless Panthers were boxed into their end for much of the opening period before Ottawa's Nick Foligno was charged with goalie interference after taking out Tomas Vokoun.

Referee Stephen Walkom, who worked Tuesday's controversial game in Toronto in which an obvious goalie interference call wasn't made, was assigned Thursday's game as well. But he didn't make this call either as Tim Peel did the honors. Regardless, the Panthers took advantage as Bryan McCabe got his first goal of the season from outside the left circle.

“We were getting outplayed but had the lead thanks to Caber's nice shot,'' Higgins said. “We thought we would be able to turn it around in the second. We talked about coming out with a good start. We beat ourselves tonight. The turnovers in the neutral zone really set us back.''

Milan Michalek got the Sens on the board 5:20 into the second when Florida turned the puck over in the neutral zone and he buried a pretty pass from Chris Kelly. That marked the first shorthanded goal the Panthers had surrendered this season. 

Mike Fisher gave Ottawa its first lead at 13:18 of the second when he hammered a rebound that McCabe couldn't clear. Just 91 seconds later, Zack Smith charged in on Vokoun and snuck the puck past him shortside to make it 3-1.


In just a matter of weeks, Frolik has gone from being on the Panthers top line to sitting in the press box. Frolik has no goals and two assists through the first seven games.

"We need more out of him,'' DeBoer said. "He has some character, some pride. I think he'll respond the right way. It's not all production. For me, the opportunities have slowed to a trickle. That's the symptom I'm concerned about and have to fix.''

Said Frolik: "Obviously it's hard. We lost and the coaches need to make some changes. They expect goals from me and I haven't scored. The season is long. Hopefully I'll be back in the lineup and be good for this team.''

-- The Panthers could be looking for a new AHL affiliate as the team president of the Rochester, N.Y., Americans said Thursday that their team is officially looking for a new deal – be it with Florida or another NHL team.

“As of today, Rochester has informed Dale Tallon, general manager of the Florida Panthers, that we would not be renewing/extending the existing affiliation with Florida,'' Rochester president Lewis Staats said in a statement.

“We are continuing to build and improve the Amerks from a business perspective and will be very diligent in our search for an NHL partner who we believe will help us achieve our goals both on and off the ice.”

Tallon declined to comment on the matter.


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Pete Deboer must go, George this is getting old!!!!!!!

We need to get fresh blood behind the bench.......

With this talent we need a Doug Maclean type coach........

A loud in your face coach!!!

20 games ... 20 points hes gone...

oh my. fresh blood? you guys are funny :(

DeBoer is not motivating anyone here by sitting them down.Why cant he just accept the fact they have NO TALENT.You could see he is putting pressure on everyone and they are reacting negatively.They look punchdrunk.Same old Panthers.One little thing like the bad call in Toronto sinks them.Leave the lines alone and dont bench Frolik and Matthias.It is not working.No intensity at all.

Deboer is doing the best he can with the talent he has. This is a built for last place in the East. No mater who comes in, the talent will dictate where they finish. BTW if you haven't seen any of the games you should. This team plays hard for Deboer. That's all you can ask from a coach.

who cares

mike, he just admitted they didn't come prepared to play

why are people acting surprised that this team is near the bottom because of no finishers, the real problem is the lack of effort that is coming back.

Tallon needs to know that this team can't compete with the lack of talent up front, he needs to start getting feelers out for the few assets this team has and get value back, the rebuild is just starting and has a long way to go

There is not enough talent on this team to blame the coaching. Let's face it, the Panthers are missing HOrton, who was a consistent physical presence and passer. He made the first line better.

I think Deboer right to bench. These guys are getting paid to create scoring chances and score goals. NOt to take the night off when they choose. Frolik has looked out of position about every game this year.

Also, I think that it is time to bring up Repik. Maybe he can add a spark to the line up.

Repik is in the same mold. He takes nights off too.

Where the "H-E-double hockey sticks" are the Cats from the first 4 games?! Back to the same old we-weren't-ready-to-play speeches already?!

I think blaming DB is the easy out. This team has been a turnstile of players and has never had a true top scoring line. While I do think benching Frolik is a bit silly b/c he's not scoring, since I'd rather the young kid work his way through it. Slumps will happen with youngsters. Plus is it really Frolik's fault the team needs him to score 30 goals at 21/22 years old?

This is going to be a constant source of complaints all season long and the fact that we are not a very talented team offensively is the issue, not DB. Pete can't turn this turd of a forward corps into gold.

I always thought we would lose a lot of 2-1 and 3-2 games. The obvious problem is that our first line would be a decent second line somewhere else, our second line would be a good third line, our third line a very good fourth line, and our fourth line would do well in Rochester. If they would at least play hard like in the first four games and do some hitting, a lot of fans would be happy for now until we can get some scorers.

By the way, I always thought that if someone messed with your goalie in hockey, he could expect some retribution from the other team, but I guess we have nobody other than Hordy who would stand up to Colton Orr and he doesn't see much ice time.

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