The Florida Panthers have been the surprise of the NHL in the second half of the regular season. Ever since the all-star break, Florida’s record is 14-3-1. They are currently two points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the east and three points behind the New Jersey Devils for the first wild card spot in the east.
Florida’s record so far this season is 33-25-7 with 73 points. They have three games in hand on the Columbus Blue Jackets and the New Jersey Devils. Florida has to play the Boston Bruins four times in their next 17 games. Will that cause the Florida Panthers to miss the playoffs or make it?
Florida also has to play the Nashville Predators one more time, the Toronto Maple Leafs one more time, and the Columbus Blue Jackets one more time. That is eight games right there that will be tough for them.
Columbus has just four games remaining in the regular season against the teams who are currently in the playoffs right now (at Philadelphia, at Boston, vs Pittsburgh, and at Nashville). New Jersey’s last 10 out of 14 games are against current playoff teams (at Nashville, at Vegas, at Los Angeles, at Anaheim, at San Jose, at Pittsburgh and vs Pittsburgh, vs Tampa Bay, vs Toronto, and at Washington).
It will be a very close call. With those schedules, I think Columbus will get in and the last spot will go to either the New Jersey Devils or the Florida Panthers. At the end of the day, it will probably be the New Jersey Devils because even though the Florida Panthers have looked good, they will be fatigued from making a big run in order to just make it to the postseason.
Bob Boughner has been a very good coach for the Florida Panthers during this stretch. Aleksander Barkov leads the Panthers in points with 68 (25 goals and 43 assists). Vincent Trocheck has scored 26 goals and recorded 34 assists so far this season. Jonathan Huberdeau has scored 21 goals and recorded 38 assists so far this season.
Evgenii Dadonov has scored 21 goals and recorded 30 assists so far this season and he has been a surprise for the Florida Panthers. Keith Yandle leads the Panthers defenseman in points with 45 (six goals and 39 assists).
Roberto Luongo’s record so far this season is 13-7-2 with a .930 save percentage and a 2.50 GAA, along with two shutouts. Luongo has missed some of the 2017-2018 season with a lower-body injury. James Reimer’s record so far this season is 16-13-5 with a .907 save percentage and a 3.16 GAA, along with two shutouts.