After last night’s somewhat surprising (not too surprising as our Florida Panthers tend to do the unexpected) 6-2 win over the Minnesota Wild, I took a peek at the standings and saw that the Cats had crept back to within nine points of a playoff spot, thanks in large part to two-game losing streaks for both current wild card holders, Carolina and Montreal.
I know we have been throwing wild scenarios out there the last few weeks (20-4-1, 15-3, 14-1, what have you), but what about a miracle run that has an actual touch of realism for a middling club that’s only won 29 games so far this season.
With 14 games currently left on the slate, I went back and looked at the best 15-game run the Panthers have put together in 2018-19 (15 games because I am including the win over the Wild as starting the something extremely positive that it would take to achieve this feat) and that mark is a 10-5 segment from the middle of January until deep into February.
So, if we go ahead and count the Minnesota victory as of one of those 10 possible wins, then the best we can honestly expect from the Cats, without seriously kidding ourselves, the rest of the way is a 9-5 finish. One of those nine wins would need to come against Montreal on March 26.
A 9-5 run to cap things off would give the Panthers a total of 88 points with 38 wins and ROW total of 35.
Carolina is currently sitting at 79 points with 15 games remaining and the Canadiens have also collected 79 points with just 13 games left. No bueno...
Fortunately, the two teams the Cats are chasing play each other just one more time. Not great, but it could be worse. With less games left, it would be much better for the Habs to win that game in regulation than the those jerks the Hurricanes, as much as it pains me to type that.
To make this hypothetical math work, Carolina would have to limp to a 4-11 finish, while if Montreal were to be the team to falter, they could go no better than 4-9 as both teams are extremely likely to hold applicable tiebreakers over the Panthers. Now keep in mind, Florida would only need one of the two teams to collapse, not both, so one of those teams could finish decently to strong and capture WC1, it’s WC2 we need to happen.
The Panthers would also need cooperation from the other two teams they would have to pass on the path to wild card glory, the Columbus Blue Jackets (77 points) and the Philadelphia Flyers (72 points). In our thought exercise, the Jackets could only garner 10 more points (a 5-10 finish - unlikely, not out of the realm of possibility) while the Flyers could add up to 15 more points ( a 7-7-1 finish).
Obviously, the more the Cats win (say an 11-4 or 12-3 finish), the better the numbers look. Breaking this down, we see that a lot (most likely too much) would need to go right, but it’s not impossible. While the fat lady might be backstage warming up her pipes, she hasn’t started to sing... yet.