Florida Panthers: The Week Ahead - 3/15-3/21

With only one month left in the season and two big wins at home last week, our Cats still hold on to slim playoff hopes. 11 points out of the eighth seed and 10 out of 30th place, the Cats’ future is there for the tanking taking, as it always seems to be this time of the year. That aside, I think we can all agree beating Chicago and Tampa Bay was unexpectedly satisfying, further proving that our little team can compete with the league’s Big Guns even on an eight-game winning streak.

As far as the loss to Ottawa, I certainly didn’t mind; the points we gave them will likely come back to help us as the Sens are slowly creeping up the standings. 13 games remain people, the future is near! As I promised, there would be games that we need to win for pride and bragging rights. On Tuesday, we host the Philadelphia Flyers and on Thursday we host the Toronto Maple Leafs, winning both games would even the season series and leave a very sweet taste in our collective mouths. More after the jump.

At this point, the possibility of losing our way into 30th place is all but over. Edmonton has a few games that could translate into wins in the last two weeks of March, but the Avs…well let’s say they really want Gabriel Landeskog. If we beat Philly and Toronto this week and the Avs and Oilers lose, we of the tanking faction can shift her into neutral and see where our feisty little team puts us come the end of the regular season. This is our week ahead:

Date Away  Home Benefits FLA  Significance Final Points From FLA
15th ATL NJD ATL Give the Thrashers some hope NJD 4-2 Devils +5 (70)
NYI NYR NYI Isles overtake the Panthers  NYR 6-3 Rags +13 (78)
BOS CBJ BOS Doesn't really make much difference BOS 3-2 SO Bruins +22 (87)
WSH MTL MTL Slows the Caps down for Tampa WSH 4-2 Caps +27 (92)
CAR  BUF CAR Canes keep their playoff hopes alive CAR 1-0 Canes +9 (74)
PIT OTT OTT Sens keep climbing PIT 5-1 Pens +25 (90)
PHI FLA FLA Win this one for pride PHI 3-2 Flyers +28 (93)
16th TOR CAR TOR Carolina, Toronto, whatever… TOR 3-1 Leafs +7 (72)
WSH DET DET Whatever it takes for TB to win the SE DET 3-2 Wings +27 (92)
COL VAN COL A big win starts a new winning streak? VAN 4-2 VAN + 38 (103)
17th PHI ATL ATL Beat 'em again Thrashers! ATL 4-3 SO ATL +5 (72)
TBL MTL TBL Tampa gets back in the win column MTL 3-2 SO Habs +18 (85)
NJD OTT OTT Ottawa continues to win OTT 3-1 Sens -6 (61)
TOR FLA FLA Even up the series Panthers! FLA 4-0 (67)
BOS NSH BOS I don't exactly care, do you? NSH 4-3 OT Preds +15 (82)
COL CGY COL Avs need to start moving up CGY 5-2 Flames +16 (83)
PHX EDM EDM Brings up #30 PHX 3-1 Yotes +20 (87)
18th WSH NJD NJD The Devils continue their push  WSH 3-0 Caps +27 (94)
MTL NYR NYR Rangers hold on to a playoff spot NYR 6-3 Rags +13 (90)
NYI CAR NYI Isles keep up with the Panthers CAR 3-2 OT Canes +9 (76)
19th ATL BUF ATL Keep trying Atlanta BUF 8-2 Sabres +11 (79)
BOS TOR TOR Just win Leafs TOR 5-2 Leafs +6 (74)
TBL OTT OTT Sorry Tampa, we need the Sens to win    OTT 3-2OT
Sens -5 (63)
NYI FLA NYI Probably a good team to lose to NYI 4-3 SO Isles -- (68)
PHI DAL  PHI Isn't very critical PHI 3-2 SO Flyers +28 (96)
COL EDM EDM Bettman points please! COL 3-2 SO Avs -6 (62)
20th NYR PIT NYR Hold on to your spot Rangers NYR 5-2 Rags +14 (82)
NSH BUF BUF Whatever… NSH 4-3 OT Preds +18 (86)
NJD CBJ NJD Onwards to the playoffs New Jersey! NJD 3-0 Devils +4 (72)
MTL MIN MTL Most boring game of the year?  MTL 8-1 Habs +19 (87)
21st PIT DET PIT I'll go with Pittsburgh, I guess… PIT 5-4 SO Pens +24 (92)


For this week, let’s just hope the Sens and Isles keep up their impressive play and put up a few more wins. Playing for pride and tanking for the pick are two options that really can’t be done together, but if one truly believes that Edmonton and Colorado are locks for picks 1 and 2, and Ottawa and the Isles keep playing well, we can potentially take the third pick and while winning some games for pride. Following the same equation as last week, simulated standings for the bottom five follows: Colorado (64), Edmonton (66), Florida (75), Ottawa (75) and New York (79).

Here are today’s (3/14) standings:

Seed Team GR Points
26 Florida 13 65
27 New York 12 65
28 Colorado 14 60
29 Ottawa 13 59
30 Edmonton 12 55


And if everything works out in our favor:

Seed  Team GR Points
26 New York 9 71
27 Florida 10 69
28 Ottawa 10 65
29 Colorado 11 64
30 Edmonton 10 59


Of course, if we win against PHI and TOR, we do lose some ground on Edmonton and Colorado, but the benefit of beating at least Philly might outweigh the points we’d gain. For Ryan Carter and Niclas Bergfors, who recently scored their first goals as Panthers, beating Philly would hopefully remind them that they can lead this team to a win just like they did against Tampa Bay. Again, the effort that this team has played with is absolutely delightful, whether they are grizzled veterans or Rochester call-ups battling for a spot, the energy and intensity is certainly not being overlooked by me anyways.  

Also, kudos to Shawn Matthias and Jack Skille for shaving their heads and welcome back to the Panthers' Mike Duco, recalled on Monday.

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