The Florida Panthers Are Rolling

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

It was a topsy-turvy season for the Florida Panthers last season.

They were inconsistent for most of the year despite having a talented roster. With that said, they managed to find a way to squeak into the Stanley Cup playoffs and advance all the way to the Stanley Cup Final before losing to the Vegas Golden Knights in six games.

This season has been a much different one for the Panthers. They have been one of the league’s best teams all season long and look like legitimate Cup contenders.

As of this writing (Thursday, February 15th), the team is 34-15-2 for 72 points. That puts them second in the Atlantic Division (they are currently two points behind the Boston Bruins), second in the Eastern Conference, and third in the league.

There are several reasons why the Panthers are having a lot of success this year. For starters, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is playing like the Bobrovsky of old.

Bobrovsky, 35, is currently 26-10-0-2 with a 2.42 goals-against average, a .914 save percentage, and three shutouts. He is playing with a lot of confidence, is not allowing many soft goals, is keeping his team in games that they have no business being in, is coming up with timely saves, and is showing that the way he played in last year’s postseason was not a fluke.

The team is also getting good goaltending from their backup, Anthony Stolarz. Stolarz, 30, is currently 8-5-0-2 with a 2.11 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage.

As a whole, the Panthers have been stingy when it comes to their defensive play. As of this writing, they are second in the league in goals allowed, as they have given up 132 goals in 53 games (2.49 goals against per game).

The team does a good job of blocking shots, letting their goaltenders see the puck, being responsible with the puck in their own end, and creating turnovers. When a team does all of these things, it is easy to see why they do not give up a lot of goals.

The Panthers are also playing well this season because of their offense. The team is currently 11th in the league in goals scored, as they have scored 171 goals (3.23 goals per game) so far this season.

The team is led by Sam Reinhart. Reinhart, 28, currently leads the team in scoring with 39 goals and 64 points.

It seems like Reinhart can score in any situation he is put in. He has 22 power play goals, four shorthanded goals, nine game-winning goals, and two overtime goals.

Following Reinhart are the likes of Matthew Tkachuk (18-41-59), Carter Verhaeghe (26-27-53), and Aleksander Barkov (12-39-51). What is amazing is that Tkachuk has been recovering from an injury he sustained in last year’s playoffs for most of the season and he is still producing at a high level.

The Panthers have also been excellent when it comes to their special teams. They currently have the league’s sixth best power play and penalty kill.

Lastly, some credit needs to be given to head coach Paul Maurice. Maurice knows how to get his team to play the way he wants them to play and because of that, they are a very hard team to play against.

With the playoffs just a few short months away, the Panthers are in a good position to make some noise and may be even win it all.

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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