3 Panthers Improvements That Must Be Made in the Second Half

The Florida Panthers come into the end of the All-Star Break three points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with 54 points and a record of 24-22-6. They’re also coming off of a huge win against the Boston Bruins by a score of 4-3 in overtime that may have saved their season. But, they still have very noticeable problems that have cost them games all season long and need to be fixed for the playoffs to be even a concept in the future.

Stay Disciplined

The Panthers are the most penalized team in the NHL with 256 penalties over the course of 52 games. Additionally, they have the second most penalty minutes in the league with 639, three less than the leader. Furthermore, forward Matthew Tkachuk and defenseman Brandon Montour have the third and fourth most penalty minutes among all players across the league.

Related: History of Florida Panthers All-Stars

Latest News & Highlights

It doesn’t help that the team has the 25th overall penalty kill with only a 74.7 percent kill rate. If the team wants to win games both in the regular season and the postseason, they need to keep their emotions in check, stay disciplined and stay out of the box.

Work on Defense

The Panthers’ defensive lapses have cost them dearly way too often this season after having great defense the year prior. The team is ranked 24th in the league in goals allowed per game with 3.5 and 25th in shots allowed per game with 32.3. Last season, the team was ranked 12th in goals allowed per game with 2.95 and 10th in shots allowed per game with 30.7.

Brandon Montour Florida Panthers
Brandon Montour of the Florida Panthers currently has the fourth most penalty minutes in the NHL with 73 PIM (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Granted, the Panthers have been battered with injuries left, right, and sideways. But with some players getting healthy post-All-Star Break, and some of the younger players performing well with the chances they’re getting, they should be able to improve their defensive structure in the second half.

Improve Further on Special Teams

When it came to special teams to start the season, the Panthers were awful on the man advantage. Before the start of the new calendar year, they were ranked 26th in the NHL on the power play with a 19.1 percent conversion rate. As of now, they are 11th in the league in the same department with a 23.5% success rate. There is still room for more improvement, but the power play is starting to click for the Cats.

Related: Oilers & Panthers Linked as Potential Trading Partners

On the other side of the puck is a different story, however. As previously mentioned, the Panthers are ranked 25th in the league on the kill with a 74.7 percent kill rate. But, they have not shown signs of improvement down a man. This has to be fixed considering five of the top 10 teams on the power play are all in the Atlantic Division. If they can’t find a way to keep up with the kill, their playoff hopes will sink lower and lower every day.

Can the Cats Claw Their Way Back?

The second half of the season for the Panthers begins on Monday, Feb. 6 when they take on their in-state rival in the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team they’ve struggled against so far this season. But, they’ve found ways to win against tough teams this season by beating the Colorado Avalanche last month and they still remain the only team in the NHL to beat the Bruins twice.

If the Panthers want to have playoffs in the future, they have to improve their game and find ways to win in the second half. With the offensive firepower they possess, and the stars doing what they do best, this should be an easy feat for the Cats.

Sign up for our regular 'Panthers Newsletter' for all the latest.