Kevin of Litter Box Cats is an overachiever. He asked me five questions about the Blues, so I had to think of five questions about the Panthers. I used to know a good bit about them back in the day (2011), but I have to admit that since the Thrashers relocated I haven't been paying that much attention to Florida.
1. Nick Bjugstad - how much of a reason is the fact that he missed most of the first month for early-season stumbles?
Bjugstad looked ineffective in his first few games this season, and spent a few games in the press box as a result. Since he got back into the regular rotation, he's been skating a lot stronger on the puck, like, Jagr-like strong. If he can keep it up, I see no reason why he can't end up a strong top-six guy.
2. Would you consider Tim Thomas going on injured reserve a blow to this month for the team?
Of course! Thomas is easily the best goaltender for the Panthers right now. The TT that you guys saw on October 5th is not the TT who has played for Florida in the rest of his appearances. I'm not saying Jacob Markstrom doesn't have the right stuff, but he seems to let in a lot of goals that he shouldn't. He would really benefit from a season spent as a number two guy behind a certified number one talent.
3. You guys have three wins on the season. How much of that is the difficulty of your division, and how much of that comes from within?
It's not the division. Florida is stocked with players who are IN the NHL. If you can get paid for playing hockey at the NHL level, then you're capable of getting some wins at that level. On a good night, the Panthers can skate with anyone. Florida is beating themselves with bad passing, inprecise shooting, and defensive lapses. If they could figure out a way to shore up their fundamentals, then maybe they could string together a few wins.
4. What do you think of Brad Boyes? High and wide, or stud scorer?
Yeah, he's our leading scorer right now, isn't he.... The guy isn't done. I know it's been a few years since he scored 75 goals over two seasons for you guys, but he's the most experienced pure scorer on the roster. Personally, I really like what he brings to the table.
5. Brian Campbell seems to be a defensive bright spot for the Panthers. What makes him so strong this season?
I'll give you the benefit of the doubt since you don't watch all of Florida's games. Campbell is easily Florida's best offensive defenseman, but he is frequently guilty of defensive lapses which often result directly in opponents scoring goals. Still, a lot of those lapses occured when he was playing out of his natural spot at left defenseman, and coach Dineen has since made sure that he's now playing mostly on the right side.