Florida Panthers: Hopeful Cats Look to Aim Big in 2019-20

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 30: The Florida Panthers celebrate a goal against the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden on March 30, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 30: The Florida Panthers celebrate a goal against the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden on March 30, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images) /

As the season nearly approaches, the Florida Panthers look to aim big and fulfill expectations in 2019-20.

The Florida Panthers enter the new season with a fresh look. A new coach, franchise netminder, and a couple of other additions in the forward/defense department bolster the new-look roster the Panthers are eager to showcase this season.

Now with all the necessary personnel changes made, it’s time for expectations to be met. Without having to even guess, the playoffs are what the Cats look to strive towards this year.

While hope and optimism are great virtues to abide by, they unfortunately aren’t going to get the job done. Fulfilling this particular expectation is no easy task, especially in the crowded Atlantic Division the Panthers are situated in.

In the Atlantic, the Panthers are going up against some of the best teams in the league. Tampa, Boston, and Toronto are all perennial contenders, dubbed rightfully as top 10 (and even top 5) teams.

Those three teams alone fill up the three Atlantic Division playoff spots, which correspond with the new playoff format the NHL implemented a few seasons ago.

Can the Panthers beat out any one of those three teams for a division playoff spot? Most would currently say no, but while it’s not an impossible task to complete, it’s certainly a hard one to face and accomplish.

If the Cats are going to surprise many and grab one of those three spots, then they would undoubtedly need a red-hot start to the season – something they’ve struggled to do over the last few years.

As well, they would also need to receive some breaks and bounces along the way from others in the division. But if we’ve learned anything from the past, you can’t rely on other teams to get you to your goal, especially if you’re the Florida Panthers – which stays true to every team, really.

Coach Quenneville will do his part to ensure that everything is put in place from the start. However, the players will also need to hold up their end of the bargain and meet the results that are mapped out by the coaching staff and management.

The excuse of not having a true starter in goal is something that will not fly this season. After the Panthers forked out the money to sign the top goaltender on the open market, the Cats finally have their true No. 1 that will instill confidence between the pipes.

While the back end still looks rather shaky on paper, it should receive greater results under Quenneville’s new system. With his systems alone, the Panthers *should* be better defensively than in prior years.

Up front, the Panthers will be deeper, especially on their bottom two lines – who they’re looking to get more out of this year. The scoring should balance out a lot more smoothly and naturally this year than in years prior, with less reliance from their top six, particularly their first line.

Ideally, the Panthers are looking to aim big this year, with a newly constructed roster (and coaching staff) put in place. Rightfully so, with the new personnel changes that they made this past summer, the goals and expectations triumph anything that was said in the past.

As difficult as it may sound, the Panthers do need to head into the new season with the mentality of making the playoffs. All the seasons that were full of promise, but were wasted, are now in the past and should totally be forgotten about (but should also be used as a reminder and teaching tool).

This group is quite promising and bound to do great things, but both of those hypotheticals are neither guarantees in a competitive league as the NHL.

The Panthers are in the toughest division in hockey, and with little margin for error put on them in such a talented division and conference, the Panthers cannot afford to have many slip-ups (any, if all).

The group needs to continue to hope and dream big, but they also need to fulfill it for the sake of the organization and fanbase. The playoff hunger is quite enormous, and the South Florida area is waiting for this team to break out and perform as the team they’re set out to be.

Next. What the Forward Lines Should Look Like This Season. dark

The Cats will be hopeful this season, but will they live up to their end of the bargain, one way or another? Time will only tell, but the direction they’re heading towards is the right one. Coach Q, among others, will be crucial if Florida is to succeed.