When you’re of the thoughts the low season doesn’t start till the second the Stanley Cup is handed out, you may make the case the Panthers had been an low season winner earlier than the low season even started. Name it the Joel Quenneville impact.
The idea was Quenneville’s hiring was going to place an up-and-coming crew into constant competition. Certainly, the items had been seemingly in place, a few of which might draw comparisons to the gamers with whom Quenneville had been so profitable in Chicago. Aleksander Barkov was Quenneville’s new Jonathan Toews. Jonathan Huberdeau has the flexibility to masquerade as Coach Q’s Patrick Kane Lite. Aaron Ekblad is the malleable younger defenseman, not in contrast to these Quenneville helped mildew into stars. And Keith Yandle is the blueline’s calming veteran presence. It’s no one-to-one comparability, however he has the flexibility to be in Florida what Brian Campbell – coincidentally a former Panther – was to the early-Stanley Cup-era groups in Chicago.
And up to now, so good. With a couple of month within the books and 20 % of the schedule of their rearview, the Cats discover themselves 4 video games above .500 with three wins and factors out of all however one in every of their previous 5. By means of 17 video games, the Panthers are much less velocity bump and extra precise obstacle to its opposition.
The proof of that may be discovered within the underlying numbers, be it total percentages or per-60-minute charges, which point out these Panthers have been higher than those who took the ice final season in virtually each noteworthy class. Florida’s Corsi proportion at 5-on-5 has elevated from 49.four to 53 %. Florida’s photographs proportion has elevated by four.5 % to 55.1 %, tops within the league. The Panthers’ 54.1 scoring probability proportion is second within the NHL and up 5.2 % from final season. Florida has additionally seen a 2.four % improve in share of high-danger probabilities. That mentioned, their 48.four % ranking ranks 22nd. Can’t win ‘em all.
The method has led to outcomes, too. Whereas not dominating the Atlantic Division, maybe probably the most troublesome division in hockey, the Panthers have 21 factors with 20 % of the season within the books. That’s 100-plus factors when extrapolated throughout a full marketing campaign, virtually assuredly sufficient for Florida to seek out its approach again to the post-season for the primary time in 4 seasons.
But, one can’t have a look at the Panthers – and, extra particularly, peruse the person statistics – with out getting the sensation that one thing isn’t fairly proper, that this crew might already be a lot extra that it’s, that Florida has doubtlessly left some factors on the desk.
Heading into Tuesday’s motion, Florida’s offense has been among the many league’s elite, producing three.53 targets per recreation and 35.1 photographs per recreation, second-best within the NHL. The facility play has been glorious, rating eighth with a 22.6 % success price. Even the penalty kill has been above common, the 83 % clip solely a fraction exterior of the league’s 10-best. However the Panthers additionally possess the league’s sixth-highest targets in opposition to per recreation, a minus-one purpose differential and it’s incontrovertible that Florida has among the many worst goaltending duos in all the NHL some 5 weeks into the season.
Gorgeous in regards to the play within the Panthers’ crease, in fact, isn’t solely that it has been so poor – solely the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks and New Jersey Devils tandems have posted a decrease mixed save proportion than the .886 SP registered by Florida’s duo – however that it has been so poor when it’s the one place into which the crew poured a boatload of money in the summertime. A watch-popping seven-year, $70-million contract was handed to Sergei Bobrovsky, and for many who believed the needle wanted to be moved additional after Quenneville’s addition, Bobrovsky’s signing seemingly did the trick.
5 weeks in, nonetheless, and the outcomes have been disappointing at greatest. Coming into motion Tuesday, Bobrovsky’s .884 SP and bloated three.39 goals-against common rank 45th and 41st, respectively, among the many 46 goaltenders with at the least seven video games performed. In the meantime, Bobrovsky’s .883 SP ranks 43rd among the many 44 goaltenders with 300 minutes performed at five-a-side and his minus-9.81 goals-saved above common, second-worst among the many group of 44 netminders, paints an extremely unflattering portrait of his efficiency.
However right here’s the silver lining, what the general numbers don’t say about Bobrovsky: he’s getting higher and seemingly settling in. Since a 2-2-2 run in his first six appearances, throughout which he sunk to an .872 SP, Bobrovsky has dropped just one regulation determination and has posted an .895 SP. Granted, that’s not a complete befitting a $10-million netminder, nevertheless it’s a begin. That we’ve seen this story play out earlier than with Bobrovsky earlier than, too, ought to encourage at the least some confidence that he can proper his recreation. Of the eight prior seasons during which Bobrovsky has performed 35 or extra video games, he has began with a .915 SP or decrease 5 instances. And in all however a kind of campaigns, he’s rebounded from a sluggish begin.
In 2012-13, Bobrovsky started with a .907 SP by way of 14 video games. He completed with a .923 SP and the Vezina Trophy. In 2013-14, his .909 SP by way of 14 video games was the preamble to a marketing campaign during which he completed with a .923 SP. In 2014-15, it was the identical story, a .907 SP by way of 14 video games and a .918 SP by season’s finish. And when it appeared he would possibly lose his job because of his early efficiency in 2018-19, he wrapped up the marketing campaign with a .913 SP and a league-best 9 shutouts. That outlier is the 2015-16 marketing campaign, which Bobrovsky started with an .888 SP by way of 14 video games, close to similar to his efficiency coming into Tuesday. That season was the worst of his time with the Columbus Blue Jackets, one he completed with a .908 SP.
Nonetheless, there’s methods for the Panthers to assist the netminder – and backup Samuel Montembeault, who has likewise disillusioned – and the onus will be shared. Solely eight goaltenders have confronted extra high-danger photographs in opposition to per 60 minutes at five-a-side than Bobrovsky. That’s an space that may be cleaned up. And the identical goes for clearing rebounds. Per hour at 5-on-5, solely seven netminders face extra second-chance alternatives. Bobrovsky’s common shot in opposition to additionally comes from tighter in than all however 4 netminders, which factors to some crease-clearing and insulating points that would completely be tightened up.
If the Cats can try this, too, then there’s no cause to consider Bobrovsky can’t bounce again. And if he rounds into kind behind a crew that’s offensively gifted and extra defensively sound, the low season success might very effectively translate to the tip of a post-season drought and the long-awaited step ahead that the Panthers have been ready to take.
(All superior statistics by way of NaturalStatTrick)
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Tags: florida panthersConnect: Concerning the AuthorJared ClintonJared Clinton is a author and net editor with The Hockey Information. He is been with the crew since 2014. He was born, raised and resides in Winnipeg, the place he will be discovered lacking the web on out of doors rinks throughout city.