Florida Panthers: The next two months of hockey are crucial

NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 11: Nick Bjugstad
NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 11: Nick Bjugstad /

As the Florida Panthers‘ season continues to roll along, the Cats continue to fall lower and lower in the standings. What will it take for them to get out of the cellar?

So far, the Panthers’ season has been a complete dud. The team currently sits as the worst team in the entire conference, second worst in the whole league and eight points out of a playoff spot. While it’s still extremely early into the season and there is plenty of time for a team that is playing very poorly to make a run, the run has to happen sometime soon.

As far as history goes, there have been many teams that have had awful starts to their season only to find themselves making the playoffs or even winning their division. In the 2015-16 season, the Anaheim Ducks got off to an awful start of 1-7-2 and everyone wrote them off as a team that would struggle the entire year.

Instead, the Ducks continued to battle and by New Year’s eve, they sat at 15-15-7. After their atrocious start, Anaheim went 14-8-5 over the next two months and were just 2 points out of a playoff spot. By the time the season ended, Anaheim had wrapped up another division title.

Just last year, the Calgary Flames saw themselves fading out of the picture at 5-10-1. In just a span of two months, the Flames had gone 18-10-1 (23-20-2 overall record) and found themselves just 3 points out of a playoff spot. The Flames also made the playoffs that year.

You May Be Asking, What’s The Point Of This Explanation?

The point is plain and simple: the Panthers need to have a great upcoming two months. Florida stands at 5-9-2, just one point better than Calgary was last year. Not much has gone right for the Panthers so far: some injuries, bad defending and shaky goaltending have all led to a bad start.

Many fans and so-called “experts” will already announce the Panthers as dead for this season (just like they did to Anaheim and Calgary), but the Cats are far from dead if they can just string together a solid two month stretch.

No, this doesn’t mean that the Panthers have to go on a ten game winning streak. Yes, it would be nice, but it’s very unrealistic. Instead, the Cats need to put together short win streaks and no major losing streaks. If the Panthers can win 2-4 straight, maybe drop a game and then repeat, the Cats should notice an improvement in their record. Plus, once they get more confidence by winning a few, the wins will start to pile up.

The Panthers will play 28 games over the next two months from today. If the Cats want to have a chance to make a postseason push, they will probably need to do something very similar to what Calgary did last year.

Let’s say they go 17-9-2. They will have a record of 22-18-4 and will be right in the mix for a playoff spot. Remember, last year when the Panthers were hovering over .500, the five game winning streak propelled them into a playoff spot (for the time being) and just a couple of points out of leading the division.

Next: Florida Panthers: James Reimer failing to run away with starting gig

These next 60 days could very well determine how this season will go for the Florida Panthers. If they have a high winning record over the next two months, all will be forgotten about this rough start. If they continue to lose, the grumbling and complaining will only get louder. It’s up to the Panthers to come through in this crucial two month stretch.