The streaking Florida Panthers are straddling the road between contender and pretender

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The Panthers’ assault is among the many league’s greatest, however the defensive play leaves one thing to be desired. That units Florida up for a visit to the dance. How far the Cats can go is the massive query, although.The Florida Panthers rejoice|Invoice Smith/NHLI by way of Getty ImagesA six-game successful streak isn’t precisely a distant reminiscence for the Florida Panthers, nevertheless it certain has been some time for the reason that group has had a run this profitable. Not as soon as through the 2018-19 marketing campaign, a season during which hopes had been excessive however outcomes had been middling, did the Cats handle to win six straight. 5? Certain, they did that by means of the early a part of November 2018. However six? That’s not a mark the Panthers had celebrated in fairly a while, not in practically 700 days.
That modified Tuesday night in Chicago, nevertheless, on an evening coach Joel Quenneville returned to his outdated stomping grounds. On the power of Frank Vatrano’s second-period hat trick and a few well timed stops by netminder Sergei Bobrovsky, the Panthers skated away from their tilt with the Blackhawks and into their 10-day break with a Four-Three win and a run of six consecutive victories – all in regulation – of their again pocket.
The results of the successful streak, too, is that a Florida membership that underwent an low season renovation with the hiring of Quenneville, monster free agent signing of Bobrovsky and complementary additions of Noel Acciari, Brett Connolly and Anton Stralman now finds itself proper within the thick of the Japanese Convention post-season image. Earlier than the streak, which kicked off with a defeat of the Vancouver Canucks one week into the brand new yr, the Panthers had been one level out of the ultimate wild-card spot, 4 factors again of third place within the Atlantic Division and trailing the state rival Tampa Bay Lightning by 5 factors. Lower than two weeks later, the Panthers possess the third divisional spot, have a four-point benefit on the fourth-place Toronto Maple Leafs and are respiration down the Lightning’s collective necks. One level separates the 2 Floridian franchises.
On the floor, that means one factor in regards to the Panthers: the low season additions have labored, and a company that completed a dozen factors out of the ultimate wild-card spot final season appears set to punch its ticket to the dance this time round. Numerous the numbers appear to say the identical, too. Not solely is Florida retaining tempo with Tampa Bay, forward of Toronto and according to the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers, all three of whom are preventing for the wild-card spots, the Panthers additionally boast the perfect file of any membership over the previous 10 video games. As properly, the Panthers have a plus-20 purpose differential, higher than all however seven NHL golf equipment, and a factors proportion that trails solely seven groups, the vast majority of which might have been in most pre-season Stanley Cup conversations.
With the house stretch on the horizon, that claims contender. However is that basically the reality about these Panthers?
To make sure, the offensive firepower of the group can’t be questioned. Although Florida doesn’t get practically the find it irresistible deserves as one of the deadly sides within the league – at Three.67 targets per sport, no group has matched their output – the Panthers boast one of many NHL’s deepest assaults. All instructed, Florida enters the break with 4 40-point gamers and one other, 39-point rearguard Keith Yandle, on the cusp. That matches the best complete within the league, alongside the Lightning and defending champion St. Louis Blues. As well as, the Panthers have a league-high six gamers with 15 or extra targets, an offense that generates the seventh-most photographs per sport and an influence play bested by solely 4 groups. Offensively, Florida is sort of unassailable.
Defensively, nevertheless, it’s one other story. By the bottom numbers, the Panthers have allowed Three.27 targets in opposition to per sport, tied with the New York Rangers for the seventh-worst mark within the league. Florida’s penalty kill is worse than that of all however eight golf equipment. In the meantime, there are solely eight groups who enable a larger variety of photographs in opposition to per sport. That hardly makes the Panthers a shining instance of defensive power. And the underlying numbers say a lot the identical.
On the subject of five-a-side charges, Florida isn’t any higher than a middle-of-the-road membership in quite a lot of superior metrics. Shot try suppression? The Panthers’ 55.6 makes an attempt in opposition to per 60 minutes ranks 16th within the NHL. Shot suppression? The Panthers transfer down one spot to 17th at 30.7 in opposition to per 60 minutes. Florida additionally sits in related standing to the remainder of the league when measuring scoring probabilities in opposition to (26.Four) and are among the many league’s worst golf equipment in the case of surrendering high-danger probabilities. The Panthers’ 11.Three in opposition to per 60 minutes is the sixth-worst mark within the NHL. So far as that final quantity is worried, too, Florida isn’t producing close to sufficient to steadiness the scales. Proudly owning a meager 46.5 % of the 5-on-5 high-danger scoring probabilities, the one groups worse than the Panthers in that metric are the Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets.
It’s the own-zone play that’s the greatest concern dealing with a Cats group that appears to in any other case have what’s needed to hold with the league’s huge canine, and it’s a priority that has turn out to be larger because of the play of Bobrovsky. Among the many 35 goaltenders with at the least 1,000 minutes performed at five-a-side, the Panthers $10-million masked man has the fourth-lowest SP (.906) and a targets saved above common (minus-Zero.39) per 60 minutes that ranks equally as low. Granted, that he’s confronted a mean of 30.7 photographs in opposition to, 9.Zero high-danger photographs in opposition to and has an anticipated targets in opposition to of two.47 per 60 minutes, marks which might be the 13th-, sixth- and eighth-highest among the many 35 keepers with 1,000 5-on-5 minutes performed, speaks to how poorly he has been insulated at occasions.
So, are the Panthers a contender or pretender? The truth is that Florida falls someplace within the center. Florida has a top-tier group offense and a mediocre group protection that has at occasions regarded that a lot worse because of the inconsistent play of their No. 1 netminder. However in a building-block season, a marketing campaign during which the franchise is making an attempt to make the transition from fringe wild-card group to constant post-season participant, that we’re even asking the query is a optimistic for the Panthers.
(All superior statistics by way of NaturalStatTrick)
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Tags: florida panthersConnect: In regards to the AuthorJared ClintonJared Clinton is a author and net editor with The Hockey Information. He is been with the group since 2014. He was born, raised and resides in Winnipeg, the place he could be discovered lacking the web on out of doors rinks throughout city.

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