The Florida Panthers looked dead in the water at one point in the season, but they managed to make it back to the playoffs. Not only have they won five of their last seven games, but they’ve also beaten some competitive teams, including division rivals the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning.
A big part of that streak has been the play of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who has had a .943 save percentage in his last five games. Tyler Yaremchuk and Mike McKenna talked more about Bobrovsky and the Panthers’ game on Daily Faceoff Live.
Mike McKenna: At the start of the year, Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight were coming and going, and I thought Knight was going to be the answer. Bob really wasn’t great until Jan. 1, he had .897 on the season and now, even if you go back to Jan. 1, he’s 8-3-1 with .918.
It really comes down to what I think a goalie is, and I think Aaron Ekblad has found his mojo defensively for this team in Florida as well. It made a difference for them. The scoring has been there, Verhaeghe, Tkachuk, Barkov, Reinhart, they’ve all been pretty consistent throughout the year for me. I really thought that defensively, they were a little better, the power play was very good, but Bobrovsky, he played a lot, he found a rhythm, and he also finally put some color back on his pads. He’s been playing with those long white pillows for too long, I think he got some juice out of it.
Now will they make the playoffs? Here is the real question. 58 games is the most in the Eastern Conference for Florida. Pittsburgh and Buffalo have five games in hand, Detroit has four games in hand and they’re hot too. So what that really means is that it’s a race out East, but the vibes coming out of Florida are pretty strong. This team can score, and if they can lock down the defense and continue to have good goaltenders, I wouldn’t be counting them right away, and I’ll be back in early November.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Yeah, I think the interesting part too, and maybe it works against the Florida Panthers, is they don’t have any money. The big story a month ago was that they couldn’t activate both Hornqvist and Duclair because there was no money for it so how could Bill Zito help this team over time .
It may be impossible for him to do so, and the ongoing games also work against them. The Red Wings just two points behind them, they have won five in a row. This team is starting to rise, as are the Buffalo Sabers, who are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. We have a playoff run in the Eastern Conference, and it’s going to be fascinating to keep an eye on for the stretch.
You can watch the full episode here…