Connect with us

2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Clinched! Florida Panthers Head Back to Stanley Cup Playoffs



Panthers playoffs
Panthers celebration photo: Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

SUNRISE — For the fourth straight season, the Florida Panthers will be part of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Panthers clinched a spot in the 2024 postseason despite a 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

Thanks to the Carolina Hurricanes beating Detroit 4-0, the Panthers are officially dancing once again.

“We obviously don’t want to lose at home, but it happened and we will move on and learn from it,” captain Sasha Barkov said. said

“Last year, we did not get in until before the last game of the season. Now, we have some breathing room. Of course, we know we have a lot of work to do. We need to be a little better than the past few games, for sure.”

This will be Florida’s fifth straight season in the NHL postseason — only the 2019-20 team did not advance out of the Covid qualifying round into the eight-team playoff.

So, that’s four straight playoff appearances.

Or five, depending on who you ask.

“It counts,’’ Aaron Ekblad said, as he always has, about the 2020 bubble.

Get FHN+ today!

Regardless, Prior to last season, the Panthers had never made it to the playoffs in more than two consecutive seasons in franchise history.

Making the playoffs is, indeed, a big deal.

This berth just felt a little anticlimatic — and it was not just Thursday’s loss.

Florida has lost six of seven (1-5-1) and has not won on home ice since beating Calgary at the beginning of the month.

With nine games left, the Panthers have plenty of time to get right before the puck drops on the real season April 20.

“It is hard to do,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said Thursday morning. He was not in the mood to talk about clinching later that night.

“If block it out to teams that have made it once or twice, it’s only like six or seven teams with consecutive playoff appearances. The only ones I can think of are Boston, Carolina, possibly New York. Hey, Vegas missed the playoffs a couple years ago. It is hard to stay in the playoffs. We’re at four. It is hard to do. When you make the playoffs, you think you should make them every year. Just do things right, play your game. But it is hard to do.’’

Last season, the Panthers rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Bruins in the opening-round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Florida then beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in the East semifinals before sweeping the Carolina Hurricanes to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

The Panthers lost in 5 games to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Florida was the top seeded playoff team in 2022 — and No. 16 last season.

This year’s placement has yet to be decided.

“We’re just trying to get through these last few games playing the right way, doing all the right things to prepare ourselves for the playoffs,” Sam Bennett said. “We are a hungry team. We had a taste of it, came up a bit short, and we want it badly. Every guy in this locker room is excited for that chance to win.”

Said Ekblad: “It would have been nice to get the win and seen that ‘X’ and we knew that would have been the scenario. Anytime you see that, you can look back on the year and the accomplishment of making the playoffs. It is no easy task. We had a stretch here that has been extremely difficult. But the guys bought into the system, and deserve to enjoy this a little bit.’’



Get FHN in your inbox!

Be the first to know. Enter your email to get the latest from Florida Hockey Now delivered straight to your inbox.