Fans, media, and critics alike are all wondering – what happened to the Florida Panthers?
After a scorching end to the first half of the NHL season, the Panthers have once again collapsed when it counts.
Florida has dropped three straight and five of six heading into a must win against Boston Thursday.
This season was poised to be one of fulfilled hope, with a new coach and goaltender to lead the way.
Instead, the losses are piling up.
Before their 10 day break in January, the Florida Panthers were one of the hottest teams in the NHL, riding a 6 game winning streak and sitting in 3rd place in the Atlantic. Since the break they’ve won 5 of 17 games and are in 11th place in the east.
— Gord Miller (@GMillerTSN) March 2, 2020
As are the teams in front of them for the final Eastern Conference wildcard spot.
So, how did we get here?
The Panthers managed to get to the All-Star break without being held scoreless in a single game.
In the 17 games since, Florida has been blanked three times.
The Panthers still rank in the top five league wide in goals per game and overall, but the luster is fading.
Florida averages 3.35 goals per game on the season but have been held to three or fewer goals 12 times since the break.
The power play is slowly creeping down the rankings and will be out of the top 10 soon if this trend continues.
Florida has not tallied with the man advantage (0-for-7) on their current three game slide.
The trade of Vincent Trocheck at the end of February was supposed to shake things up.
Except the two main players that came over in the deal, Erik Haula and Lucas Wallmark, have yet to make an impact.
The two forwards have combined for a single point – an assist by Haula – in the four games since the deal and are a combined -4.
On the top line, Sasha Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau have crashed to Earth after a strong first half.
— Ryan P. (@RedSteeg32) March 4, 2020
Huberdeau and Barkov have combined for a mere three assists over the last five games.
Mike Hoffman has been one of the lone bright spots recently with seven points over that span, the other forwards need to step up.
No Help From Defense Either
While the offense is not doing the squad any favors the play on the blue line has been abysmal.
Unforced turnovers, failing to maintain possession at the line, and costly mental errors have all contributed.
Florida is 29th in the NHL allowing 3.33 goals per game and have only outscored their opponents by one goal total this season.
The penalty kill (21st) has been an issue in the second half and the Panthers rank 23rd in shots allowed per game.
Despite all this the Panthers are just five points out of the wild card entering Thursday’s game versus Boston.
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) March 5, 2020
It will take a monumental effort for the Panthers to defeat the Eastern Conference leading Bruins, who have won three straight and eight of ten games.
The Panthers will have one more home game on this five game stand, Saturday against Montreal.
Roberto Luongo will have his jersey lifted to the rafters this weekend, the first Panther to earn that honor.
Hopefully his former team will show some inspiration this week and right the ship before it is too late.