The Florida Panthers are having a tough go.
In their last five games they’ve earned just a single point, while handing two to Washington, Winnipeg, Montreal, Tampa Bay and Boston. Hell, in their last 12 contests, they’ve only grabbed two points twice. That is not good.
But they aren’t dead yet. I mean, they’re pretty much dead -after all, they are last in the NHL…
…which 28 games into a shortened season isn’t exactly ideal. But hey, they’re only eight points out of a playoff spot. Tie a little streak together, and hey, …Okay I’m done pretending this is possible. The Panthers goose is cooked.
The sad part for their fans is that they aren’t just sort of losing this season. They’re getting killed.
Goal differential is often used to show that a team is not just doing well, but kicking ass. This season, the Chicago Blackhawks went 6300 games (or thereabouts) without suffering a regulation loss, so naturally, their goal differential is the best in the NHL, at +28.
Even with their run though, the Blackhawks aren’t exactly running away from the league in goal differential. They have 87 goals for, and 59 goals against…some teams are fairly close to those numbers (and the team that isn’t, the Pittsburgh Penguins, gives up so many that their team +/- suffers):
So yeah, they’re good. But today we’re talking about the Panthers. Who are truly bad.
MINUS 38. Well more than double the second-worst Calgary Flames.
What that means is, this season, the Florida Panthers have been worse than the Chicago Blackhawks have been good. They are the true outlier so far in this shortened season.
They knew they weren’t going to be President’s Trophy contenders or anything, but I mean, they had just waded out from this general terribleness. Last year was supposed to be something of a rebirth.
In 2010-11 they were this team…
Then Dale Tallon took over, brought in some real talent (to get to the salary floor), and made them this team…
BOOM. Division champions, and sixth most successful team in the East over 82 games.
And starting this year, many of us still thought they were playoff contenders. Blame goaltending, blame underachieving, blame Kevin Dineen (don’t actually, he’s great), the fact is, people expected more.
And now, right when they would be identifying that it’s time to be sellers and plan for the future, they’ve gotten more bad luck. Two of their biggest trade assets, Kris Versteeg (knee)…
and Stephen Weiss (wrist)…
…are out for the year with injury. As in, you can’t even move them. So, they’re stuck. (Well, everyone but Thomas Fleishmann, who will almost certainly get dealt.)
The Panthers do have rookies Jonathan Huberdeau and Drew Shore who are having exceptional first seasons in the league. They are the lone bright spots in a bleak Panthers season.
But beyond that right now, the Panthers aren’t having a lot of fun, and it’s doubtful it’s going to get better on the way home this season.