Last night summed up this entire Florida Panthers season. In their final home game of the season, the Panthers fell 4-0 to the Toronto Maple Leafs while clinching the worst record in the NHL and thus assuring themselves of receiving a top 2 pick in the 2013 NHL draft.
Not wanting to disappoint their fans, the Panthers delivered all their signature flourishes we have come to know and love from a season chock full of losses. Give up an early goal? Check. Poor goaltending? Check. Tally a bunch of shots but get shutout? Check. Let the game get away before the middle of the second period? Check. Florida came out last night and played the hits.
Oh what a difference a year makes. Last season the Panthers clinched their Southeast Division title in their last home game before the playoffs. This year the Panthers clinched a much more dubious place in the standings, last place. With the loss to Toronto last night, the Panthers assured themselves the worst record in the NHL. This means they will have a 25% chance of winning the number one pick in the NHL draft and are guaranteed at least a pick in the top two. The loss last night means either Seth Jones or Nathan Mackinnon (the projected top two picks in the draft) will be with the Panthers next season.
Here are some other tidbits from around the NHL:
- All 8 playoff teams are set in the Eastern Conference as the New York Rangers 4-3 OT win over the Hurricanes last night knocked the Winnipeg Jets out of contention. While the seeds are not set, the East playoff teams are as follows: Pittsburgh, Boston, Washington, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, NY Rangers, NY Islanders. The Bruins with the two seed and Canadiens with the four seed could still swap positions before the seasons end while the Senators in the six seed could move up to five displacing the Maple Leafs. The Senators, Rangers and Islanders, six, seven and eight respectively, all have 54 points so there could be a lot of movement in those final three playoff spots.
- With the Jets eliminated from playoff contention, the Southeast division will be poorly represented again with only the Capitals qualifying. With NHL realignment coming next season it appears we have seen the last of the perennially underrepresented “South Least” division.
- Speaking of realignment, pending the Red Wings season finale, five of the eight teams that will compete in Florida’s new division next year made the playoffs this year. That looks to be the most out of any of next year’s new divisions for whatever thats worth.
- Out West, the Minnesota Wild, Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets are battling for the final two playoff spots. There are a number of ways this could all shake out, but the important thing is my Jackets only have a 30.8% chance of qualifying and they HAVE TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS!! I cannot suffer any more losses, the Panthers have made me a shell of my former self. I cannot fathom the devastation that would come with the Blue J’s missing the playoffs. (Actually nothing would probably happen I would just move on with my life but c’mon I gotta see J-Bus in the playoffs!!!)