The Weeks Ahead: Panthers closing out the season

Note: Since the season is quickly coming to a close and I’ll be computer-less over an extended spring break I have decided just to make a super post to close out the season.

If you haven’t been watching the Florida Panthers lately, I hate to break it to you but you only have two and a half weeks to do so. The regular season is dwindling away; only ten games are left for the Panthers, only three of which are at home. Urgency is the key at this point, barring a miracle we’ve got ten games to soak in all that we can before Panthers hockey takes the summer off. 11 points separate us from 8th seed Buffalo, 12 points comprises the chasm between us and 30th seed Edmonton. Although the team is playing well, dare I say the best hockey in months, it seems nothing less then a sparkling 10 game winning streak will vault them into the playoffs. A satisfying win at home against Toronto and a shootout loss against the New York Islanders leaves us tied for 26th place with said Islanders while the select few teams below us in the standings haven’t gained any ground since last week. In these last two or so weeks, enjoying the handful of remaining games seems to be the most important thing for us fans regardless of final scores. Final countdown after the jump...

Although I would love to cash in at the draft with a really high pick, the current roster wants otherwise. This is not a team that is playing to lose, watching the games I can find very few examples of the team giving up early in the game like we used to see. At this pace, the lowest seed I can imagine ending the season in would be the 27th above the Ottawa Senators, Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers. Let’s just hope that the any points we gain will be marginalized by the even better play of the Islanders who currently threaten hopes of getting a high draft pick. Between now and April 9th the Panthers face several playoff teams that could use a good whooping as a final present before they hit the postseason. Playing for pride is one thing, screwing bubble teams out of the playoffs or playoff locks out of home ice advantage is another. I personally wouldn’t mind beating up on the Washington Capitals in the final games of the year. The rest of the season follows:


Date Away  Home Benefits  Significance Final Points from FLA
23rd FLA CHI FLA Huge win against a better team? Nope. 4-0, CHI Hawks +20 (88)
24th MTL BOS MTL Doesn't make too much of a difference 7-0 BOS Bruins +24 (92)
ATL  NYI NYI Bettman points please! 2-1 ATL ATL +6 (74)
OTT NYR OTT Sens close gap 2-1 OTT SO Sens -3 (65)
PIT PHI PHI Battle of Pennsylvania 2-1 PIT Pens +26 (94)
EDM STL EDM EDM brings up the bottom 4-0 STL Blues +7 (75)
TOR COL COL Avs move closer to FLA 4-3 TOR Leafs +10 (78)
25th NJD PIT NJD Devils keep climbing 1-0 PIT SO
Pens +28 (96)
FLA BUF BUF We don't really need to win this one… 4-2 BUF Sabres +15 (83)
WSH OTT OTT Sens gain momentum 2-0 OTT Sens -1 (65)
VAN ATL ATL ATL keeps hopes alive 3-1 VAN Nucks +41 (107)
CAR TBL TBL Canes lose a big one 4-3 CAR Canes +12 (80)
26th NYR BOS NYR Whatever 1-0 NYR  Rags +19 (87)
COL LAK COL Avs keep winning games 4-1 LAK Kings +24 (92)
NJD BUF NJD Most important game of the season for Devs 2-0 BUF Sabres +17 (85)
WSH MTL MTL Give TB a chance for SE Division title 2-0 WSH Caps +30 (98)
PHI NYI NYI Isles keep moving up 4-1 PHI Flyers +32 (100)
TBL CAR TBL Canes lose home at home 4-2 TBL Bolts +23 (91)
TOR DET TOR Go leafs go? 4-2 DET Wings +29 (97)
CGY EDM EDM EDM starts winning again CGY 5-4 SO Oilers -12 (57)
27th FLA PIT FLA Just win… PIT 2-1 SO Panthers (69)
OTT ATL OTT Sens winning when they come to Florida ATL 5-4 SO Sens -1 (68)
BOS PHI BOS Again, whatever BOS 2-1 Bruins +25 (94)
28th COL ANA COL Avs jump over Panthers?
29th BUF TOR BUF Sabers hold on to playoff spot
PHI PIT PHI Flyers win home at home
CAR WSH WSH No playoffs for the Canes
FLA CBJ CBJ If NYI is playing well; win, if not; lose
CHI BOS BOS This one doesn't make much difference
ATL  MTL ATL Come on Thrashers!
OTT TBL OTT Sorry to betray you Tampa!
LAK EDM EDM Play for pride Oilers
30th NYR BUF NYR Go McCabe!
NYI NJD NYI Keep on winning Isles!
MTL CAR MTL Hope you like the 9th seed Carolina
31st TOR BOS TOR Someone needs to beat Boston
NYR NYI NYI Isles put together and epic winning streak
ATL  PHI ATL Keep them away from the 4th pick!
CBJ WSH CBJ Whatever it takes for TB to take the SE
PIT TBL TBL Beat Pittsburgh, everyone please beat PIT
OTT FLA OTT Won't be the first time I've watched FLA lose live
NSH COL COL Please don't get swept, Avs
1st PHI NJD NJD Someone needs to take the 8th from BUF/CAR
COL PHX COL Don’t lose this series either…
2nd ATL  BOS ATL Win this one for pride!
TBL MIN TBL MIN is basically eliminated?
TOR OTT OTT Everyone wants to beat the Leafs
MTL NJD NJD Onwards to the playoffs!
CAR NYI NYI Isles space themselves from Cats
BUF WSH BUF I guess I'll go with the Sabres
PIT FLA FLA I didn't pay good money to see a loss to PIT…
EDM VAN EDM 1st game of a home at home
3rd NYR PHI NYR Solidify a playoff spot
BUF CAR BUF Lose Canes lose!
TBL CHI TBL The SE crown is yours Tampa!
CGY COL COL No playoffs for Jay Bo! Muahaha!
4th BOS NYR NYR Possible 1st round match?
5th TBL BUF TBL Go on a roll Lightning!
WSH TOR TOR Go Leafs go!
NJD PIT NJD You might as well make the playoffs Devils
PHI OTT OTT Sens could overtake the Panthers
COL STL COL No love for Stewart
ATL  NSH ATL Well, I guess NSH can afford to lose one
VAN EDM EDM Oilers win home at home
6th NYI BOS NYI Spoil their fun Isles
TOR NJD NJD That’s right, you beat them Leafs
FLA WSH FLA This will at least tie the season series
DET CAR DET Lose Canes lose!
EDM CGY EDM Oilers win the last Battle of Alberta
7th ATL  NYR ATL Keep it going Thrashers
MTL OTT OTT Nothing sweeter then beating the Habs
COL DAL COL 1st game of a home at home
8th PIT NYI NYI Isles no longer threaten 4th pick?
PHI BUF PHI Flyers win the East?
CAR ATL ATL Essentially ATLs final chance for playoffs
FLA TBL TBL Take the points and run with them
DAL COL COL Avs win home at home
MIN EDM EDM Who likes the Wild anyways?
9th NJD NYR NJD Just win…
OTT BOS OTT Slow Boston down for the playoffs
MTL TOR MTL No playoffs for the Leafs
NYI PHI NYI End the season with a big win Isles
TBL CAR TBL Last chance to win the SE
WSH FLA FLA Send the Caps one final loss before playoffs
BUF CBJ CBJ No playoffs for BUF?
10th BOS NJD NJD Everyone will be watching this one…
PIT ATL ATL End the season right, Thrashers
EDM COL EDM Battle for Larrson?


Despite the fact that this season and the last don’t have much in common, it is worth to note that the 2009-2010 Panthers ended with 77 points, and this year I project the 2010-2011 Panthers to end with (you guessed it) 77 points. The last 5 teams in the standings using my simulation should be EDM (63) COL (65) OTT (74) FLA (77) ATL (83). The only team that might pass us in the standing would be Ottawa which would be miraculous seeing as the Sens schedule is quite difficult in their final games. The only team that we could realistically pass would be the Islanders who also have a few difficult games to close out their season. Even the Panthers have an unfavorable 10 games, especially since 7 of them are on the road--a rigorous test for next season or one final thumping before a summer of scouting reports and UFA inspecting?

If everything goes as planned, the race to the bottom should look like this:

Seed Team Points
25 Atlanta 86
26 New York 86
27 Colorado 82
28 Ottawa 81
29 Florida 78
30 Edmonton 74


And there you have it, another season in the books. Now I surely dont expect for the standings to look like this after its all said and done, those figures are assuming that Colorado, Edmonton, Ottawa and New York wins every last game, which is all but impossible. All we can really do is watch the Isles and hope they win, because I'd love to win some of these final games without giving up the 4th pick. I hope everyone can muster enough courage to attend the final game whether you fear losing or a shower of confetti, I'd love to see a sellout for the final home game. Maybe you'd like to clear this season from your memory like the last you might have done for the last couple of seasons, I can certainly understand this, but remember that this season was a giant stride towards better times and a bright future for the Panthers.

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