With 12 games in the books, the Florida Panthers have reached the end of the first quarter in this abbreviated hockey season. Seems like only yesterday that the games just began, but already the season is flying by. With only 48 games to play, and now 36 remaining, there is little margin for error. Especially with an inconsistent start which has been the one constant of the first quarter so far. After 12 games we see a team that has 10 points and is in the 13th spot in the conference. However, they’re only four points out of 8th for the final playoff seed, and five points off the division lead. Yes, it’s tight, and no, time isn’t on our side.
As we look over the first dozen games, we see a team that has looked solid on many nights, disinterested on others, and average on some. Opening night against Carolina saw the Panthers win confidently on home ice after raising their first ever championship banner by beating the Carolina Hurricanes 5-1. Then the Panthers proceeded to lose five in a row, before getting back on track with a win in Buffalo after being down 3-1 early. That game was the first of a four game road trip that ended Saturday night with a shutout loss in Washington against a Capitals team that was looking to end a three game losing streak. Which they did, beating the Panthers for the 6th consecutive time at the Verizon Center. The Panthers picked up five out of eight points on the trip, which sounds great, but losing the Washington game, and the way they lost left a sour taste in your mouth virtually ruining any positive thoughts you might have had. Only because you expected better.
In breaking down the season so far, we’ll look at three segments. The offence, the defence, and goaltending. We’ll hand out a final grade, and talk about the what to expect next.