The Florida Panthers came into this season as one of the most talked-about teams. Big expectations were set, none bigger than the ones the players set themselves. As Aaron Ekblad said during a preseason interview with George Richards of The Athletic, “I would say we go into this year as the team to beat.” Yet, through 24 games played this season the Panthers are struggling to set themselves ahead of everyone else.
The 2019-20 Florida Panthers Inconsistencies
The Panthers are notorious for starting the season slow, leaving them to chase after points later on. In spite of that, the Panthers are off to their best start since the 2011-12 season. After the Panthers’ first 20 games that season they saw themselves with an 11-6-3 record with 25 points. They finished first in their division that season to later, sadly, be bounced out from the playoffs by the New Jersey Devils in heartbreaking overtime.
If history is to repeat itself, the Panthers are on the right track once again. So far this season, the Panthers are 12-7-5 with 29 points, holding onto the second Atlantic division spot. That’s not to say there is no room for improvement. If it weren’t the structure of the point system within the NHL standings, the Panthers would have 24 points and be tied for the fifth wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Cats have been good on the road, holding a 6-4-3 record. They’re even better at home with a 6-3-2 record. Within their last ten games, the Panthers are average with a 5-4-1 record. With all this skill and knowledge both on and off the ice, things should be more consistent. So, what is it that seems to be the problem?
To start, the Panthers have one of the highest goals-against totals in the league. They are currently the second-highest scoring team in the NHL. 85 goals for the Panthers and they averaged 3.5 goals per game. While at the same time, they allow in the second-most amount of goals in the NHL, averaging almost 3.5 a game with a total of 86 goals against.
Don’t forget about their power-play, though. It has carried over from last season as one of the most dangerous ones in the NHL. The Panthers power-play currently holds the sixth spot in the league at a 24.3 percent conversion rate. Unfortunately, their penalty-killing skill has dropped tremendously, tied for 11th in the league at an 83.1 percent conversion rate. Regardless of these numbers, teams can and have survived with worse.
Things to address
The two biggest issues with the Florida Panthers seem to be goaltending and not playing a full 60 minutes. Within nine days of each other, the Panthers were able to overcome two four-goal deficits to win later in overtime against the Boston Bruins and Anaheim Ducks, keeping a three-game winning streak alive; showing their ‘never-say-die’ attitude to the coaching staff, the fans, and even themselves.
However, they turned right back around and lost back-to-back games in regulation. Firstly, to the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 and then at home against a struggling Buffalo Sabres team the next day, 5-2. If they could keep the puck out of the net they would be one of the best teams in the league.
Sergei Bobrovsky is not playing up to anyone standards at this point, yet, he is still playing well. Bob has played 20 games so far, tallying a 9-5-4 record where he had his first shutout as a Panther. His starts are not for the faint of heart. Bobrovsky’s goals-against average is one of the lowest for all starters in the NHL, .888 percent. His goals-against average is very high as well, 3.44 goals per game.
Once all the Panthers return healthy and Bobrovsky can find his groove, the Florida Panthers will be one of the best teams in the league come April.
Embed from Getty Images