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Where do the Florida Panthers Stand Right Now? It’s Not Good



Florida panthers
Matthew Tkachuk and Anton Lundell celebrate a goal against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 29 in Sunrise. The Florida Panthers have not had much to celebrate lately.  (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

For those of you who have watched the Florida Panthers this season, it comes as no surprise that the team has not lived up to expectations.

Although no one thought this team would continue its high-flying scoring pace of last season — which was highest in the NHL in 20 years — or end with the league’s best record again, they certainly should have been better than this.

And yet here we are.

The Panthers went into the Christmas break in a bit of a tailspin.

Florida has now lost three consecutive games for the third time this season and have dropped six of its past eight.

Do not even bother looking at the standings.

Those will not make you feel better.

Although NHL coaches have said over the years that they do not pay attention to the standings, everyone knows that is not true.

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Players and coaches all know exactly where they stand, doing quick math in their head in order to figure out what they need to do to stay where they are at — or, in Florida’s case now — what they need to get back into this thing.

”We need to start winning games,” Matthew Tkachuk said on Thursday, before he lashed out following the Panthers’ sleepy 5-1 loss to the Islanders on Friday.

“We have to keep ourselves in the race and we are going to have to go on a run. Unfortunately we are under .500 right now which puts us behind a lot of teams almost halfway through the season. At some point, we need to get on a run to pull ourselves back up. Who knows how long that run needs to be, but we are not in an ideal spot right now. We need wins until we get healthy again.”

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Florida won its division last season, spacing itself from the pack as the season went on and ended up leading Toronto by seven points in the Atlantic.

The Panthers figured they were good enough to be in the top three this season despite all of their changes in both personnel and strategy.

That does not appear to be the case barring a minor miracle.

Boston and Toronto look like teams which have already punched tickets to the postseason as the 1-2 teams in the division.

Tampa Bay has a comfortable lead in third with a six-point cushion on Detroit and seven on the Panthers.

Not only that, but the Panthers have played 35 games already — more than anyone else in the Atlantic.

Florida is on pace for 80 points, certainly not good enough for anything aside from a long offseason.

Coach Paul Maurice has often said he is trying to change the Panthers’ style of play that is conducive to postseason hockey — a line critics have pounced on as the team has struggled.

”It is the continual mindset of what will this look in the playoffs,” Maurice said. “That quote is going to be taken out and ‘you have to make the playoffs.‘ Yeah, I get all that. But there is not point in making it without a game you can win with.”

The Panthers expect to have a boost coming out of the break what with the potential return of captain Sasha Barkov and defenseman Radko Gudas from injury.

Florida could also get Anthony Duclair back around the All-Star break.

But things only get tougher once Florida returns this week.

The Panthers have a back-to-back against Montreal and in Carolina starting Thursday and then comes January where nine of 15 are on the road with six of those nine coming against current playoff-holders.

Florida does have a large chunk of their home schedule from February on but will the Panthers be out of it by then?

With their next three first-round picks already traded elsewhere (Montreal, Philadelphia and Calgary own them) and salary cap concerns, no one expected the Panthers to be serious buyers at this year’s trade deadline.

Could they be sellers?

If things continue down this path, they will be, yes.

The Panthers have only won two consecutive games three times this season and have yet to go on any sort of a winning streak.

That does not bode well for a team which considers itself better than their record.

But records are what count.

So do the standings.

Florida will be, realistically, only able to get in with one of the two wild card spots and will be battling with a handful of teams to get it. The Panthers are currently eight points behind Washington for the final spot.

There are plenty of points out there for the Panthers to claim.

But they better hurry up and start getting some of them.

Time waits for no team.

“We have played good enough hockey to win and some of these games have been frustrating,” Tkachuk said.

“Unfortunately we put ourselves in this situation where we have to scoreboard watch this early in the season and it sucks. There is nothing we can do about what happened, we just need to move forward and get on a run here. There are a bunch of us fighting for one or two spots. We need to get going.”



  • When: Thursday, 7 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: Florida won 3-1
  • All-time regular season series: Florida leads 51-38-11, 6 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Dec. 30 at Carolina Hurricanes, 7:30 p.m.

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This Organization keeps making the same mistakes over and over again. This is the 2016/17 season all over again and will take years to recover before they undoubtedly will make the same mistakes again. They’re hopeless and we as their fans, what few we are, are just gluttons for punishment and heartbreak.

resident grinch Vic

Been around 15 yrs and I agree with you.The rush to get offensive defenceman led to the Yandle fiasco and also the firing of Gallant didnt help.Rowe is now coaching somewhere in Germany.I believe ownership and Caldwell should let zito progress slowly until we have proper players instead of this ants in my pants premature push which leads to BIG mistakes.All of a sudden you push for a defensive system for the playoffs without making playoffs in first place.This coach is wrong for what we have here.Now we have no defense no offense and no draft picks for next 3… Read more »


George, has Maurice lost the room? Generally, if a coach says , if you do A, B and C, you’ll get these results, then you go out and do what he’s saying to do, and low and behold, you get the promised results. Well what happens when you do exactly what he says to do, repeatedly, yet you end up getting the opposite results ? At what point does your message fall on deaf ears? At what point do players start to question your methods? Has that already happened?

David Bierman

What is happening with Samoskevich?

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