The 2014-2015 season has been a good one for Panthers fans, as their beloved team has reversed its bothersome trend of being among the worst in the league. This year's edition is actually competing for one of the Eastern Conference Wild Card spots, and the word "playoffs" is starting to be thrown around down in South Florida.
Though their position in the standings, and impressive record of 15-9-8, is something to be excited about, their recent play and improving possession numbers should have fans thrilled for where this team can go as the rest of the season plays out.
Their 20-game rolling Corsi numbers (combined totals of the past 20 games the team has played) and density distribution chart show a number of encouraging trends.
As you can see from the line graph, the team clearly is trending upward from the start of the season. Their rolling 20-game average is around 52% at the moment, which is usually about in the top third of the league.
As for the density chart, another clear trend emerges. In the majority of the games that the Panthers play in, their Corsi is around the 57% mark. The second most frequent number is around 42%. The Panthers are either outplaying their opposition, or being outplayed. But unlike past seasons, the Panthers are actually outplaying the opposition more frequently than they are being outplayed; a sign of a playoff team.
Their play in December has been even more encouraging. Score Adjusted Corsi (courtesy of fenwickstats.com) is the best known predictor of future goals for percentage. Over the month of the December, the Panthers have been the 4th best team in the league, behind only Los Angeles, Winnipeg, and Detroit.
As the young players continue to develop and get better, this team is only going to continue on its upward trajectory. I've been saying it since the start of the season, and I'll continue to say it until more people start to recognize it: this is a playoff caliber team.
It's nice to be able to say that again.