“We’ve had a few years where we haven’t won that many games,” the striker said at the 2022 NHL All-Star Game. “Ownership is stuck with us, the players, and I think now is the time to show them that they have picked the right players. We are more mature now, and the leaders of this team just have to show it on the ice.”
The Panthers (33-10-5) started the season with an eight-game winning streak and 10 wins in their first 11 games. The longest running streak without a win was 0-2-2 from November 8 to 13.
They haven’t lost four in a row since, winning 13 of 17 since January 1, and are first in the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division to enter their game at the Minnesota Wild on Friday (8 p.m. ET; ESPN+, HULU, NHL live).
Now they want to preserve the good times and find the same success in the Stanley Cup playoffs, something that has eluded them throughout their history.
It’s been 26 years since the Panthers won a playoff series, when they reached the Stanley Cup Final in their third season (1995-96) before being swept away by the Colorado Avalanche. Postseason Florida has had both of the last two seasons but lost in the 2019-20 Stanley Cup playoffs to the New York Islanders and in the first round of the 2020-21 Stanley Cup to Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I think we played really good games. We played well enough to win, but Tampa [Bay] I just found out how to win those matches, “Panthers forward Alexander Barkov He said in September on the NHL/NHLPA Player Media Tour. “Even though they didn’t play better than us, they still found a way to win games and that’s all that matters in qualifying. That’s what I think we’ve learned, like how to do these little things right, not get ahead of ourselves. Think about those Exact moment and go from there.”
leopards forward Patrick Hornqvistwho was acquired in a deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins on September 24, 2020, and won the Stanley Cup with them in 2016 and 2017, said he sees similarities between those championship teams and Florida when it comes to dealing with adversity within the game.
“I remember the times we had in Pittsburgh when we won, even if we had scored a few goals in the second and third, you knew you had that goal in that room,” Hornqvist said. “I feel the same here. We know what we can do when we play our best hockey game. That’s great.”
The Panthers are 23-0-0 when they lead after two periods, 6-9-1 when they fall behind, 3-1-4 when they are tied after two periods, and they outperform opponents 65-43 in the third period this season.
Video: SJS @ FLA: Huberdeau scores in the third game
Led by Huberdeau’s 66 points (17 goals, 49 assists), they finished first in the National Hockey League with 4.06 goals per game, scored at least six eight times, and scored twice nine goals: a 9-3 victory against the Lightning in December. 30 and a 9-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on January 15th.
“They can score like 10 goals in a match, that’s the challenge,” the Lightning goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevsky He said with a laugh. “I mean, they’ve obviously been very good the past few years. It’s not like that, this year they’ve been very good. No, they’ve been so good the past few years. Their attack this year is clearly off the charts. You have to be prepared to save,” he said. Some balls when you play against them.”
Much of the scoring comes from players who have been with Florida since the beginning. Huberdeau was named with the No. 3 pick in the 2011 NHL Draft; Barkov, who was named with the No. 2 selection in the 2013 NHL Draft, is fourth in the Panthers with 42 points (22 goals, 20 assists) in 35 games; defenseman Aaron Ekbladis their No. 1 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, third with 43 points (11 goals, 32 assists) in 47 games.
After Bill Zito was appointed General Manager on September 2, 2020, the Panthers signed a forward free agent. Carter Verhaghiwho won the Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2020, on October 9, 2020, and striker Anthony Dockler on December 17 Sam Bennett In a deal from Calgary Flames on April 12, 2021, the second goal Sam Reinhart (45 points in 45 games) in a deal with Buffalo Sabers on July 24, 2021.
Add in the third line the left wing Mason’s careerwho scored 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) in 23 games, and the rookie striker Anton Lundellwho scored 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) in 44 games, Florida has the secondary scoring essential for post-season success.
“We’re very deep and I think we play very competitive and fast hockey,” coach Andrew Brunot said.
The 48-year-old was promoted on October 29 after coach Joel Quinville resigned following an independent investigation into allegations by former Chicago Blackhawks forward Kyle Beach of sexual assault in 2010 by then-video coach Brad Aldrich.
“We knew we were ahead. You have a player like ‘Marchie,’ who played really well for us in the preliminary rounds and in the playoffs last year, so we knew what he was going to achieve,” Brunett said. “Adding ‘Reino’, a very versatile and intelligent player you can move him up and down in the lineup, so we knew any line we put in that line would be productive. It’s fun to watch them develop, this group, together. They’re a highly competitive puck-hunting team. And the puck support team was really, really fun to be in.”
Hurricanes coach Rod Princemore, 0-1-2 against Florida this season including a 3-2 loss in overtime Wednesday, called the Panthers “team juggernaut for me.”
“This management team has done a great job at how to put this team together,” said Brind’Amour. “There are no weaknesses in this team.” “You play on a team, you think ‘Okay, we might be able to take advantage of this or that. “You play this team, there is no one.
“They play with their identity, which is what all the big teams do. You know what you’re going to get, you get a high-octane team, and you have to be on your toes or they’re going to push you. It’s a fun team to watch, and it’s not very fun to play against them.”
The Panthers were a disappointing regular season team. As they wrap up their last 34 games, they want to maintain the same advantage in the playoffs.
“The next part of the season will be more fun,” Huberdeau said. “It doesn’t matter what you’ve done now. You put yourself in a great position in the standings. It gets more difficult. It doesn’t matter if you’re first or eighth, you still have a chance of winning the Stanley Cup. In the playoffs, anything can happen.”
NHL.com Senior Writer Dan Rosen and Senior Fantasy Editor Pete Jensen contributed to this report.