What many fans were hoping for has actually come true. The Florida Panthers have won their last six games and currently sit third in the Atlantic.
Approaching the end of the stretch, I (like many others) was hoping that the Florida Panthers would find it in them to close out with wins in their last two outings to maximize their standing. Not only did they achieve this challenge, but their last six wins have all come in regulation – something they struggled to do during the start of the season.
Florida has seriously come along way since opening night. They’ve had their ups, and they’ve certainly had their downs, but above all, they have always found a way to turn the ship around when it was spinning in various directions.
Now, the Cats not only sit in third place in the Atlantic Division, but they were able to leapfrog their way over the Toronto Maple Leafs – who at one point were six points ahead of them.
The doctor ordered that if they were going to get back into a divisional spot, they were going to have to go on their own run of games while receiving some luck along the way from their opposition losing grip. This is exactly what happened as the Panthers took care of their own business while teams like the Maple Leafs dipped in form, dropping five of their last six and experiencing some heavy injuries on their blue line.
With all that said and done, the Cats are now even with them in games played (49) but sit four points ahead of them in the standings. At the same time, the Panthers are up on the Sabres and Canadiens by 10 points while trailing the Lightning by one.
Considering Florida’s schedule coming up after the All-Star Break – which includes meetings with Montreal and Toronto to start – the Panthers’ work is nowhere near complete and they will need to remain focus with their eye on the prize if they remain hopeful of locking down a playoff spot for April.
There’s still a lot of hockey to be played until the 82-game mark officially rolls around and the Panthers know very well that they are going to have to display more of these showings throughout the latter half of the season.
With a solid foundation and a great coaching staff, it was always in the Panthers to perform the way we saw them play over the last week. None of this should really come as a surprise given the roster’s breakdown and makeup.
This team is not only skilled, but it possesses the balance upfront to make some noise. The only question that remains is whether or not they can keep the puck out of their net. This past week, they showed progress, but it’s going to have to take a lot more than that if they want to secure their spot for the annual dance.
Time will only tell of course, but if the Panthers continue down the stretch with this type of form, then they should be a force to be reckoned with the rest of the way. For now, the Cats deserve a nice break where they can sit back and recharge their batteries before they head back to work. In the meantime, they sit in the best standing possible: four points ahead of the Maple Leafs in the third divisional spot.
Your Florida Panthers are back in action on Saturday, February. 1 @ 2 P.M. against the Montreal Canadiens to kick-off a three-game road trip.