With only 5 weeks remaining in the 2010-11 NHL regular season, the Florida Panthers have miraculously prolonged the seemingly inevitable plunge into last place despite the massive fire sale prior to the deadline. With a roster filled in with new players and AHL call-ups, we have somehow kept up with our divisional rivals and ended the games with familiar one-goal finals. We have only 16 games to will our way into last place or to the playoffs, and although it means setting an NHL record for most consecutive years without a playoff appearance, the former option seems a bit more appealing and realistic. It's all about the future now. Again, it is unbelievably painful to willingly hope for the Panthers to lose; it seems like another wasted season, but on the bright side we hadn't dipped into the bottom five all year until the last week or so. It's been a great run, and only now are we realizing the expectations of ‘the experts' who recognize us as the perennial losers. Even though it might not be in their best interests, the Panthers are not going down without a fight. We have a lot to look forward to next year. More after the jump...
Our main competition for last place is divided between 4 other teams, the Colorado Avalanche, the Ottawa Senators, the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Islanders. The success of these teams is crucial to getting the best possible pick and hitting pay dirt at the Draft.
|Date||Away||Home||Benefits FLA||Significance||Final||Points from FLA|
|8th||OTT||NJD||OTT||Ottawa moves 6 points behind||
||Sens -8 (55)
|TOR||NYI||NYI||Isles overtake Panthers by 1 point||NYI 4-3 OT||Isles -1 (62)|
|EDM||PHI||EDM||Oilers move 5 behind||PHI 4-1||Oilers -9 (54)|
|BUF||PIT||BUF||Buffalo no longer a threat||PIT 3-1||Pens +23 (86)
|BOS||MTL||MTL||Doesn't much matter, ole||MTL 4-1||Habs + 16 (79)|
|CHI||FLA||CHI||FLA must lose||FLA 3-2||(63)|
|COL||MIN||COL||Avs overtake Panthers by 1 point||MIN 5-2||Avs -3 (60)|
|9th||EDM||WSH||EDM||Oilers win again, closing the gap||WSH 5-0||Caps +23 (86)|
|ATL||CAR||ATL||Atlanta seperates from the pack||ATL 3-2 OT||ATL +4 (67)|
|CHI||TBL||TBL||Lets go Lightning!!||TBL 4-3 SO||Bolts +21 (84)|
|NYR||ANA||NYR||Rangers hold on to playoff spot||ANA 5-2||Ducks +14 (77)|
|10th||BUF||BOS||BUF||Buffalo keeps winning||BUF 4-3 OT||Sabres +9 (72)|
|PHI||TOR||TOR||Toronto not likely a threat||PHI 3-2||PHI + 27 (90)|
|OTT||FLA||OTT||Who wants to lose more?||OTT 2-1||Sens - 6 (57)|
|MTL||STL||MTL||Habs get some points, ole ole||STL 4-1||Blues +8 (71)|
|11th||BOS||NYI||NYI||Isles keep moving up||NYI 4-2||Isles +1 (64)|
|CAR||WSH||CAR||Who cares?||WSH 2-1||Caps +25 (88)|
|EDM||DET||EDM||Edmonton moves closer to the Panthers||DET 2-1 OT||Oilers -8 (55)|
|NJD||ATL||ATL||Atlanta keeps trying||NJD 3-2 OT||Devils +3 (66)|
|OTT||TBL||OTT||Ottawa potentially one game back||OTT 2-1||Sens -2 (61)|
|ANA||COL||COL||Avs never beat this team, but lets hope they do||ANA 6-2||Ducks +14 (79)|
|12th||MTL||PIT||MTL||Habs get even more points, ole ole ole||MTL 3-0||Habs +18 (83)|
|BUF||TOR||TOR||Toronto officially in contention?||TOR 4-3||Leafs +5 (70)|
|NYI||NJD||NYI||Isles continue to build their pride||NJD 3-2 OT||Devils +3 (68)|
|ATL||PHI||ATL||Huge game for the Thrashers||ATL 5-4 OT||ATL +5 (70)|
|CBJ||CAR||CAR||Again, I hate the Canes||CBJ 3-2||CBJ +8 (73)|
|TBL||FLA||TBL||Help our brothers take the division!||FLA 4-3 OT||(65)|
|COL||NSH||COL||Avs continue to move away from us||NSH 4-2||Preds +15 (80)|
|NYR||SJS||NYR||Go Wolski!!...you too McCabe||NYR 3-2 SO||Rags +11 (76)|
|13th||CHI||WSH||WSH||Not a very critical game, at all||WSH 4-3 OT||Caps +25 (90)|
|EDM||PIT||EDM||Edmonton overtakes the Panthers?||PIT 5-1||Pens +23 (88)|
|OTT||BUF||OTT||Ottawa overtakes the Panthers?||BUF 6-4||BUF +11 (76)|
|14th||TBL||TOR||TOR||Also a quite arbitrary game||TBL 6-2||Bolts +22 (87)|
My biggest worry for the week ahead is the performance of the Colorado Avalanche. I took the time to watch the second period of their 5-1 loss to the Oilers on the 5th and I must admit they look sorrier than we do. To put it plainly, the Avs seem to have made the seamless transition to tanking after the trade deadline that the Panthers haven't made. It is equally painful to watch my two favorite teams, and it seems like we might go down to the wire to see who comes out on top (or is it ‘on bottom'?) The Isles and Oilers are playing mighty well right now; neither team seems interested in those bottom picks this year. The Sens also have been winning as of late although their schedule this week isn't going to be easy. The bottom five teams belong to two classes, those who hung around in contention as long as possible and are now tanking, like the Panthers and Avalanche, and the teams who hung around the bottom for seemingly forever who now wish to play for pride, like the Oilers, Sens and Isles. It's going to be an interesting (and painful) month ahead of us.
Since there are less than 20 games left in the season for each team, we can simulate the final standings with a little more confidence. Beware, this might mean you have to learn some simple algebra (oh no!).
y=mx+b is an algebraic function, where y is the total points earned, m is the rate of points earned (last ten games) x is the games remaining and b is the points already earned. Easy enough, right?
(Thanks for the whole box quote-equation inspiration from your PPE articles, Craig)
Using this function, at the rate we're going, the Avs will pick up the first pick with 67 points, followed by the Cats (71) Sens (72) Oilers (76) and Isles (77). This is neither the best or worst case scenario, this is what is in all likeliness to happen.
However, lets look at the best case scenario for the next week. The standings as of today (3/7/11):
And again, if everything follows my diabolical plan:
Now, I must remind us all that while we are 8 points out of 30th place, we are 11 points out of a playoff spot and our schedule has some winnable games. The effort we're playing with is commendable, and with the addition of some players (ie. Dadonov, Carter, Kennedy, perhaps Matthias and Skille soon) who knows what will happen. Conflicting intentions is an understatement.