Last season the Florida Panthers finished with 96 points, but unfortunately came up one point shy of a postseason berth. Florida ended the year as one of the best teams in the league and are poised for a big run this upcoming season.
The Panthers dominated the last month of the NHL regular season and finished out the year 15-5-2, which was good for the league’s best record in that time frame.
Florida’s end of season tear featured wins against Stanley Cup Contending teams such as Boston, Nashville, Philadelphia and Toronto. On the defensive side of the puck, the Panthers were extraordinarily dominant and only allowed 2.31 goals per game. The offense backed up their end of the play by averaging 3.13 goals per game down the stretch.
Heading into the 2018-19 regular season, the Panthers feel like they have the tools needed to contend for a cup and make a run at the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Florida knows that to make the postseason, they will have to put together a complete season.
Vincent Trocheck said it best when he stated that the Panthers needed to learn from their mistakes last season. “Every single point matters.” Trocheck said, “The first half, the second half, it doesn’t matter.” The Panthers players and coaches will not be banking on an end of season run to carry them into the postseason.
Captain Barkov Reporting For Duty
After a breakout year last season, 23-year old Aleksander Barkov earned himself a spot as the captain of the Florida Panthers.
Barkov had been on a steady rise his entire career in Florida, but last year in year five, he finally broke out into the star Florida hoped he would become. The former second overall pick in 2013 was on the ice for a career-high average of 22 minutes per game last season, and he made the most of it.
In 79 games Barkov scored 78 points on 27 goals and 51 assists. Barkov also shined on the defensive side of the puck and in turn earned himself an All-Star spot and a fourth-place finish for the Selke Award for the best defensive forward in the league.
Barkov’s teammates speak high volumes about the young star, but the one that stands out the most comes from Roberto Luongo.
“He’s probably the most complete player I’ve ever played with,” Luongo said. “Both ends of the rink. He’s so smart and strong. Always in good position.” A compliment like that from a player that has been in the league as long as Luongo is not something to take lightly.
Barkov will lead the Panthers in 2018-19 with no resentment from his teammates. Now with a complete season as the top forward under his belt in Florida, Barkov will be hoping to carry his team into the postseason and potentially make a run at the Hart Trophy.
For a team to make a postseason run they have to be deeper than just one player and the Florida Panthers seem to have their pieces in place.
One of the biggest surprises of last season was the emergence of Evgeni Dadonov. Dadonov played three years in the NHL, before leaving for the KHL in 2013. Dadonov had success overseas, but no one expected him to have the impact on the ice that he did right away last season.
Evgeni finished fourth on the Panthers in scoring with 65 points in 74 games and was one of the driving forces behind their end of season success. Dadonov finished the month of March with 24 points which was good for the 11th best total in the entire NHL in that time frame.
Much like Barkov, Trocheck is a player that came onto the scene for the Panthers last season. The former third-round pick established himself as one of the better goal scorers in the NHL, as he eclipsed the 30 goal mark for the first time in his career.
Trocheck’s linemate Jonathan Huberdeau is another one of the many players that excelled for the Panthers last season. After missing most of the 2016-17 season, Huberdeau responded with a 69 point season in 2017-18.
If the Panthers can continue to get increased production from their young forwards this team will be one of the most dangerous in the entire NHL. Florida has a solid goalie rotation and young forwards and defensemen that are poised for a big run in 2018.