It has been well documented how long it has been since the Florida Panthers won a playoff series.
For some, 1996 does not seem that long ago.
Honestly, for those who were around then, the memories of rubber rats flying down from the Miami Arena stands and the magic of a new hockey team grabbing hold of South Florida is still fresh.
For others, not so much.
Heck, six members of the current Panthers were not even alive when the Panthers went all the way to the 1996 Stanley Cup Final.
Joe Thornton, was of course. He was 16 at the time. Probably had a rubber rat, too.
Anyway, it has been a long time since the Panthers made it out of the first round.
They lost in 5 to the Rangers in 1997; swept by the Devils in 2000. In 2012, the Panthers ended a long postseason drought by losing in 7 to Pete DeBoer’s Jersey Boys. The Islanders in 2016, Tampa Bay last year.
Friday, all of that can change.
The Panthers now hold a 3-2 series lead for the first time since 2012 and can move on to the next round with a win at Washington on Friday night.
This series is far from over.
At the same time, the Panthers are so close they can feel it.
Carter Verhaeghe has been channeling his inner Mario Lemieux in a historic first-round series for the Florida Panthers.
Verhaeghe scored twice in Game 4 and was the hero again in Game 5.
— Seriously, what a game.
— Claude Giroux is enjoying his playoff role with the Panthers.
— And, Claude was definitely in a good mood on Wednesday night.
— Jonathan Huberdeau is not one of the three finalists for the Hart Trophy.
— A lot of content on YouTube from yesterday including postgame with Verhaeghe, Patric Hornqvist, Sasha Barkov and Andrew Brunette is on the FloridaHockeyNow YouTube channel.
We also have a special pregame with the esteemed Tim Reynolds as well as a postgame extravaganza with Jessica Blaylock and Ed Jovanovski.
Check it out — and if you like what you see on the YouTube page, please subscribe!
The Washington Capitals were in control of the Panthers on Wednesday night — and then they were not. Now, the Caps are on the verge of elimination.
— T.J. Oshie says the Caps have to move on from their disappointment of losing the past two games to the playoffs.
— Nicklas Backstrom: “We gave this game away.”
— Don’t forget to visit Sammi Silber for the best Washington Capitals coverage around at WashingtonHockeyNow.Com …
AROUND THE NHL
Sidney Crosby being knocked out of the Pittsburgh Penguins game on Wednesday night obviously altered the outcome of that game — and perhaps the series.
New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba, who caught Sid with an extended elbow, will not face any supplemental discipline.
— What is going on with Bruce Boudreau? He talks to Rob Simpson about his future with the Vancouver Canucks.
— Like the Panthers, the Maple Leafs can end a long first-round drought but they’ll have to beat the Lightning in Tampa to do it tonight. If not, there’s always Game 7, right?
— Looks like the Calgary Flames are back on track.
— If you have questions about the Colorado Avalanche, Adrian Dater opens up the mailbag.
— Who are the Philadelphia Flyers going to take at No. 6?
— The latest on what is going down as the San Jose Sharks continue their search for a new GM.
NHL STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
PANTHERS V. CAPITALS (FLA leads 3-2)
- Game 6: Friday, 7:30
- Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, TBS
- Radio: WQAM 560 (Miami/Fort Lauderdale); WMEN 640 (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3 (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Tickets: CLICK HERE
PANTHERS V. CAPITALS
- Regular season series — Florida won 2-1: @Florida 5, Washington 4 OT (Nov. 4); @Washington 4, Panthers 3 (Nov. 26); @Florida 5, Washington 4 (Nov. 30)
- All-time regular season series: Capitals lead 67-44-11, 9 ties
- Playoff history: First meeting
- First-round schedule — Game 1: Washington 4, @Florida 2; Game 2: @Florida 5, Washington 1; Game 3: @Washington 6, Florida 1; Game 4: Florida 3, @Washington 2 (OT); Game 5: @Florida 5, Washington 3; Game 6: Florida at Washington, Friday 7:30 (BSF, TBS); Game 7*: Washington at Florida, Sunday. *If necessary