Florida Panthers v Boston Bruins

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…

flabad

…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):

top differential

So yeah, they’re good. But today we’re talking about the Panthers. Who are truly bad.

flawful

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…

10-11

Then Dale Tallon took over, brought in some real talent (to get to the salary floor), and made them this team…

11-12

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)…

versteeg-injured-130312

and Stephen Weiss (wrist)…

stephen weiss

…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.

Comments (10)

  1. High lottery pick might be the only reason to get excited?

  2. They have great prospects, but the contracts they gave 2 years ago were so weird, kind of a transition plan, are blowing up in their face. They have to do a complete rebuild, fortunately they already have some chips in place, they need to add more. But it is so bad that they can’t trade Weiss and Versteeg, before what is said to be a great draft year.

  3. I believe the Panthers are only “mostly dead.” There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.

    Well . . . maybe not in this case.

  4. Some perspective: last season only four teams were worse than -38, and that is over a full 82 game season. -38 in 28 games puts them on pace for -111 over 82 games. Last season Columbus was last in the NHL with -60. So the Panthers have been almost twice as bad as the worst team in the league last year. And the Panthers will probably be worse going forward, considering they are now without Weiss and Versteeg. Astounding.

  5. Right now the Panthers are down two-thirds of the first line (Weiss and Versteeg), two more second or third-line forwards (Sean Bergenheim and Scottie Upshall), three of the top-six defensemen (Ed Jovanovski, Dimitry Kulikov and Mike Weaver) and the starting goaltender (Jose Theodore). Even the Penguins would be hard-pressed to win games with that many guys out. A deeper team, like the Pens, wouldn’t be losing as badly, but the Panthers are just too many guys down. Who actually thought the Keaton Ellerby trade would come back to bite the team, but there it is.

    The only reason for Panthers fans to bother to watch the games at this point is for the good shifts that the Huberdeau-Shore-Mueller line puts in and Shawn Matthias’ streak of highlight goals. Besides that, it’s waiting for the offseason to see what happens with Weiss and maybe another decent draft. The season’s over.

  6. They really need to make a trade with Vancouver…they need to trade with Vancouver…Vancouver… do it… yes…. you are wanting to trade with Vancouver….

  7. Florida did have the worst goal differential of all playoff teams last year (-24, next worst was Washington at -8, and then Ottawa at +9), so it’s not terribly surprising to see them with a poor record.

    Indeed, one reason for optimism in Montreal during the off season was that we were 19th in goal differential, despite finishing 28th overall. -shrug-

    • The only reason they were in the playoffs was because they managed to take games to OT/SO and then lose. They were below the true W/L .500! (by a pretty solid margin too)

  8. They’ve scored more than Edmonton, though, and who would’ve predicted THAT at the start of the season?

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