Panthers Scratching and Clawing Their Way Up the NHL Standings

At this point last season, the Florida Panthers were not in a playoff spot.

They were far from it. They were playing inconsistent hockey, not getting great goaltending, and despite having an above-average roster, they were not playing to their full potential.

Well, we all know what ended up happening. The Panthers got their act together and came within three wins of winning their first Stanley Cup.

Fast forward a season later, and the Panthers are doing the exact opposite of what they did last season. The team is rolling right now as they are currently on an eight-game winning streak and are looking like Cup contenders. Thanks to their current winning streak,  the Panthers are second in the Atlantic Division, third in the Eastern Conference, and sixth in the league with a record of 26-12-2 for 54 points. They are just two points behind the division-leading Boston Bruins and four points behind the league-leading Winnipeg Jets.

There are several reasons why this team is having success this season. For starters, they are getting excellent goaltending.

The team’s starter, Sergei Bobrovsky, has carried his outstanding play from last year’s postseason into the regular season. Bobrovsky, 35, is currently 20-9-0-1 with a 2.45 goals-against average, a .911 save percentage, and two shutouts. Backup goaltender Anthony Stolarz is also having a fine season for the Panthers. He is currently 6-3-0-1 with a 1.95 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage.

Speaking of keeping the puck out of their net, the team’s defensive play has been terrific this season. As of this writing, the Panthers are third in the league in goals allowed, as they have allowed 99 goals in 40 games.

This team plays well defensively because they are aggressive, they know how to block shots, they break up a lot of plays in their end, and their head coach Paul Maurice implements a great defensive system to follow. When you take these things and combine them with great goaltending, you have a team that knows how to prevent goals.

The Panthers are also getting outstanding offense from a player that has garnered a lot of attention around the league this season because he is in the last year of his contract. That player is Sam Reinhart. Reinhart, 28, currently leads the Panthers in scoring this season with 51 points on 29 goals and 22 assists. He also leads the team in power-play goals (14), shorthanded goals (2), game-winning goals (8), and shooting percentage (27.4 percent).

The team is also getting solid offense from the likes of Aleksander Barkov (44 points), Carter Verhaeghe (40 points), and Matthew Tkachuk (39 points). Considering that Tkachuk had over 100 points last season, his 39 points might look bad right now, but he is still recovering from an injury he suffered in the playoffs last season.

Lastly, this team is thriving because of Maurice. Maurice knows how to get the best out of his players, and he knows how to get them to believe in each other, something he did last season since they went to the Stanley Cup Final.

There is still a lot of hockey left to be played, but not only have the Panthers put themselves in a good position to have success during the rest of the regular season, but they are also primed to be a tough team to play against when it matters most.

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

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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