The Florida Panthers are a team that have surprised the NHL. While surprisingly battling for a spot in the postseason, they have competed with playoff regular Boston for supremacy in the Eastern Conference wild-card battle. But can they finish it off?
As of right now, it’s not looking good. Although they have won their last two games, they have fallen to the ninth seed, six points behind the Bruins. They lead the tenth seed Ottawa Senators by only one point. If they continue to lose these games, then the race may not end up close.
One bright spot for the Panthers has been goaltender Roberto Luongo, who has a .921 save percentage and a 2.37 goals-against average. While those are exceptional statistics, it has not translated into wins. He is only 23-16, which is about average on a playoff-contending team. He will need to start winning more games if the Panthers are going to beat out a team that has previous playoff experience.
At the trade deadline, the Panthers made no moves that will really improve their roster. They dealt Tomas Fleishmann, one of their leading scorers, to Anaheim for a draft pick and forward Dany Heatley. Fleischmann was a big player for them, but they downgraded to Heatley in the deal. The major deal that they made was acquired 43-year old Jaromir Jagr, who can still score but is not somebody that will really help them. While he will provide a veteran presence in the locker room, he will not be somebody that will lead the team to a postseason berth.
While Florida has surprised people this season and have played very well, they will not make the playoffs. The Bruins have so much experience and talent that the Panthers can not overcome that, especially when they are already behind six points.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Harrison Hamm