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Rapid Fire: Playoffs In The Panthers Future?

Wednesday, 03.14.2012 / 3:34 PM ET / Rapid Fire
By Bill Lindsay  - FloridaPanthers.com
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Rapid Fire: Playoffs In The Panthers Future?
Welcome to Rapid Fire. Panthers broadcasters Steve Goldstein and Bill Lindsay will hit five different thoughts on a daily rotating basis. It's up to them as far as what topics they want to talk about as teams, and more specifically the Panthers, make a push towards the playoffs and the Stanley Cup.


We start Rapid Fire off with Mr Lindsay. Scoring one of the most memorable goals in franchise history, Lindsay knows a lot about regular-season and post-season success for a team. He discusses the five reasons to believe that the playoffs are in the Panthers' future.

1.
Opponent Record
vs BOS (3/15) 1-1-1
vs BUF (3/17) 1-1-1
@ PHI (3/20) 0-2-1
@ CAR (3/21) 4-0-0
vs EDM (3/23) 0-0-0
vs NYI (3/25) 3-0-0
@ MON (3/27) 3-0-0
@ MIN (3/29) 0-0-1
@ CLB (3/30) 0-0-0
@ DET (4/1) 0-0-0
vs WPG (4/3) 3-1-1
@ WSH (4/5) 2-3-0
vs CAR (4/7) 4-0-0
21-8-5
The Schedule: The Panthers have a great schedule with 10 of the last 13 games against teams currently below them in the standings. Nine of those teams are not currently in a playoff position. Florida is 21-8-5 so far this season against those teams left on the schedule (including 4-0-0 against Carolina (twice more), 3-0-0 against NY Islanders and Montreal and 3-1-1 aganst Winnipeg). Schedule wise, it looks great for the Panthers but they still have to get the job done.

2. Hot Netminder: They have the best goalie in the Southeast Division and one of the hottest goalies in the NHL. Jose Theodore is playing his best hockey of the year right now. He has allowed two goals or less in 10 of his last 13 games played. He is a veteran netminder who looks poised to carry the Panthers to the playoffs.

3. Health: The Panthers might be the healthiest they have been since the start of the season. The return of Kris Versteeg and Dmitry Kulikov will be key. Coach Kevin Dineen will then have a full compliment of players at his disposal. With Kulikov back, the Panthers will have their Top 6 defensemen back, which, during the first half of the season, was one of the best in the NHL. The Panthers have depth at all positions when healthy. Players have to play well to stay in the lineup which means you should get the best they have to offer.

4. Team tough: This group sticks up for each other. They protect Theodore and no one is getting close to the net after the initial shot. Erik Gudbranson is nasty and mean. Krys Barch can play and is a true heavyweight. He throws with both hands and I love him. Shawn Matthias showed last game that everyone is in this for each other as he stuck up for Keaton Ellerby after he got run from behind. This is a "team". They truly fight tooth and nail for each other. In general, everyone seems to have each others' backs, which is awesome.

5. Veteran leadership: The Panthers have players now who have been through the wars and come out on top. John Madden has three rings, Tomas Kopecky has two rings while Vertsteeg, Brian Campbell and Mikael Samuelsson all have rings as well. Ed Jovanovski has been to the finals and has well over 1,000 games in the league. Dineen has seen it all over his years as a player and earned his coaching stripes in the AHL. The team plays like he did; tough and hard with the utmost determination. All these guys should provide the leadership the Panthers desperately need in crunch time.

There's still a ways to go but I believe this is the year. Go Panthers.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

 
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