32 Teams In 32 Days: Florida Panthers
Did they miss their best opportunity?
Good morning. Today our stroll around the NHL continues with the Florida Panthers, and whether or not they missed their best chance to win it all with this core.
Check out yesterday’s look at the Toronto Maple Leafs and why good teams sometimes fail and what they can do about it.
Also yesterday we started rolling out our daily look at the Pittsburgh sports scene with a dive into Jose Quintana and the Diontae Johnson situation.
For the first time ever the Florida Panthers are not only interesting, they are also actually really good.
The first two-plus decades this team existed it was nothing but losing, incompetence, and apathy as they almost never made the playoffs, never did anything once they did get there, and outside of a fluke run to the 1996 Stanley Cup Final (in just their third year in the league) they have never been even remotely close to a championship caliber team. In other words, there was no reason to ever pay attention to this team, even if you were fan of them.
That has started to change over the past two seasons with what have been the two most successful seasons in franchise history.
Along with winning the 2022 Presidents’ Trophy (best record in the league), their combined regular season record over the past two seasons is tied with Colorado for the best in the league. They have not only won a lot of games the past two years, but also had an offense that was an absolute terror trying to stop. They became the first team in over 25 years to average more than four goals per game, while the gap between them and the second-highest scoring team (Toronto) was the same as the gap between the second team and the eighth-highest scoring team.
Everything looked great.
Until the playoffs.
After struggling against Washington in the First Round, needing some huge comebacks to avoid what could have been a major upset, they were swept out of the Second Round by cross-state rival Tampa Bay. Despite all of the regular season success the last two years, the Panthers have won just six playoff games, only one round, and have watched their offense completely abandon them in the postseason.
Despite the playoff struggles, excitement is still justifiably high around this team, especially after the recent acquisition (and signing) of Matthew Tkachuk from the Calgary Flames. Tkachuk is one of the league’s top players, coming off a career year, and should be a great addition alongside Aleksander Barkov on the top the line to form a dominant duo.
But as that move enough to get the Panthers over the top, and did they potentially miss out on what might have been their best chance to make a serious run at a Stanley Cup?
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