Stopping the momentum of the Florida Panthers might be the hardest task in all of hockey.
Even with a few bumps in the road which have included struggles away from FLA Live Arena, the Panthers have found ways to overcome it while sitting on top of the Eastern Conference.
A few different factors have made them a must-watch team this year:
The high powered offense has been leading the way
No one else in the east has scored at the rate that the Panthers have. Florida is second in the NHL in goals-per-game at 4.00 a game. When they get rolling, it’s hard to contain them to under five goals a game.
The Panthers have scored five or more goals 15 times this season, with their peak being two nine-goal performances.
The production hasn’t been all just from the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau, Aaron Ekblad, and Aleksander Barkov. Anthony Duclair and Sam Bennett are two names who’ve found a home in Florida’s lineup and are tied for the team lead in goals with Barkov. And Carter Verhaeghe is on pace for his most productive season yet with 14 goals and 33 points this season.
Sergei Bobrovsky has found his groove again
Bobrovsky’s tenure in Florida hasn’t always been smooth sailing but this year he’s been turning back the clock and giving his team a chance to win. Since Dec 29th, the veteran netminder has gone 8-0-1 with an overall mark of 20-4-0 with a .923 save percentage.
The renascence, unfortunately, will not see Bobrovsky selected to head off to Las Vegas for all-star festivities in Las Vegas but it is showing many that, in his third season in South Florida, that he can be counted on, but the real test is still ahead.
Florida’s strong play may help to establish further Battle of Florida playoff matchups
Last season saw the first-ever all-Florida series between the Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, a series that provided incredible action during the first round.
The Panthers may have fallen in six games, but seeing the Panthers keep games close and take the defending Stanley Cup champs to overtime showed that they could throw everything but the kitchen sink at Tampa Bay. We also can’t forget the animosity and physical play between both clubs.
This year, both teams are once again battling for a division crown, with the Panthers leading the Atlantic only via goal differential over their inter-state rivals.
A rematch between these two would almost certainly go the distance.