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Florida Panthers Enter 2022 with a Bang, Leave with a Whimper



Florida panthers
Teammates surround Florida Panthers forward Carter Verhaeghe after his game-winning goal against the Washington Capitals in Game 4 in the first round of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs on May 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Today is the final day of 2022 and it was a year of excitement, disappointment and everything in between for the Florida Panthers.

The bookends of this year could not have been more stark.

Florida ended 2021 with a resounding 9-3 win against the Lightning, beat the Canadiens to kick off 2022 and went on to go 11-2-1 in January.

The Panthers ended 2022 with an uninspiring 4-0 loss to the host Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night.

It was a game in which the Panthers did not appear to have much interest in.

If they sleepwalked through a game say, in February of 2022, no worries. ‘

That team probably would have won, anyway.

When this version of the Panthers do that, well, worry.

That dismantling by the Hurricanes is what you get.

Florida went all-in during the 2021-22 season, buying out the final two years of Keith Yandle’s contract knowing it was going to throw this season’s salary cap askew.

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But it gave them much-needed breathing room going into the 2021-22 campaign. The Panthers decided to worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.

Well, tomorrow is here.

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In 2022, general manager Bill Zito put his trust in interim coach Andrew Brunette and played the trade deadline as if he was in Las Vegas.

He put all his chips into the center of the table, traded two first-round draft picks and a pair of prospects to land Claude Giroux and Ben Chiarot.

The excitement around the Panthers had not been that high since 1996. Maybe 1997.

Regardless, the Panthers spent the first few months of 2022 riding high.

Florida panthers

The Florida Panthers unveiled a couple of new banners before their 2022-23 season-opener against the Flyers. — Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

Florida set all sorts of franchise records, had the highest-scoring team in 20-something years and won its first Presidents’ Trophy.

The Panthers won a playoff series for the first time since the 1996 Eastern Conference title thanks to Carter Verhaeghe’s heroics against the Capitals but could not figure anything out in a demoralizing sweep to the Lightning.

Things have not been the same in Sunrise since.

With the salary cap limitations, both Giroux and Chiarot moved on as did Mason Marchment and Noel Acciari.

Florida pulled off a blockbuster of a trade weeks after free agency opened, sending fan-favorites Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar to Calgary for Matthew Tkachuk in what is the first sign-and-trade in NHL history.

The Panthers moved on from Brunette and replaced him with veteran Paul Maurice.

There have been all sorts of reasons why this team has not performed thus far in the first half of the 2022-23 season from injuries to illness to simply some ill-timed bad luck.

But put it all together, and the start of 2022 is infinitely better than what the Panthers turned out at the end of the calendar year as last season’s powerhouse squad goes into 2023 with losses in seven of their past 10 games.

Nothing the Panthers seem to do works, although getting a number of key players should help moving forward.

But if they come out like they did Friday night in Carolina, the start of 2023 may look a lot like the end of 2022.

And without a first-round pick in this year’s stacked draft, that is not going to do them any good.



  • When: Sunday, 5 p.m.
  • Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
  • Last season: Rangers won 2-1
  • All-time regular season series: Rangers lead 57-32-8, 6 ties
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David Bierman

The system they are playing is out dated. Todays game is about speed. 18 is constantly out of position and doesn’t move the puck. Time to see what we have in Charlotte


Denisenko or Heponiemi, I would take either one I’ve been blowing that horn all year. And I got to tell say, at his age, it’s only going to get worse. In a perfect scenario he wouldn’t even be playing the second game of back-to-backs.


The gamble of last years trades/ rentals will be felt for years. Understanding the cost of trading players who under performed in the playoffs but who were part of a very cohesive and tight knit group that preformed at a high level with in a system set up by Q the win a cup. They were very close and could have used some breaks, better motivation. But to put in a new system instead of tweaking the defensive side to win tight games just blew up this team. They were so close but are now so far that it now… Read more »

victor bagnato

Yep the last time we did something drastic was the rush to get offensive defencman resulting in the Yandle fiasco which set us back 5 yrs.This ants in the pants philosophy born of iimpatience to get to Stanley cup will set us back 5 yrs like last time.We were there as a playoff team and now we are not.I never heard of putting in a defensive system to make us advance in playoffs when we are NOT a playoff team,


First penalty of the game radco gets his helmet taken off by Cane’s player, clearly a penalty, which is called, at that point hurricanes coach Rod Brindamore starts berating the officials for a solid 30 seconds, yelling at them, when it was clearly a penalty. Roughly 15 seconds into said penalty Brandon Montour is called for interference, when he had been standing still for 4 seconds prior to a Cane’s player skating into him. 4 seconds! Prompting even the announcer to exclaim “but he was standing still”. An absolute BS call. The camera pans to Paul Maurice, and he is… Read more »

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