Panthers Early Slump May Have Destroyed Playoff Hopes

The Florida Panthers are right in the thick of things in the playoff race in the Eastern Conference. They currently have 64 points with a record of 29-25-6. As of now, they hold the final wild-card spot in the East, trailing the New York Islanders for the top spot by three points.

Despite winning six of their last 10 games and receiving a ton of help last week in the standings, they inflicted a ton of damage on themselves earlier in the season. Poor defense and poor goaltending may have proved costly enough to find the Panthers outside looking in on the postseason once the regular season concludes.

Early Falters are Making Their Presence Known

Although Florida put themselves in the spot they’re in now, a lot of the teams chasing them have games in hand, such as the Detroit Red Wings with four and Pittsburgh Penguins with five. The losing streaks earlier in the season, such as two three-game losing streaks in November, are finally making their presence known.

Related: Panthers May Not Be Getting Back Duclair as Soon as Anticipated

Latest News & Highlights

Their slow starts have killed them in years past, most notably in 2017-18, where they would ultimately miss the playoffs by one mere point despite finishing the year with a five-game winning streak.

Teams are Catching up While Florida Rests

One of the big reasons some of the teams are getting closer with every game played is because of the Panthers’ current resting period. On Monday, Feb. 20, they won 4-3 in overtime against the Anaheim Ducks. They will not play another game until Friday, Feb. 24, against the Buffalo Sabres. In the time between, Pittsburgh played a game against the New York Islanders and will play one against the Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 23. Additionally, Detroit beat the Washington Capitals in regulation 3-1 on Feb. 21, and also play on Feb. 23 against the New York Rangers. Speaking of the Caps, they’ll play Anaheim on the 23rd.

Brandon Montour Gustav Forsling Carter Verhaeghe Florida Panthers
The Florida Panthers have teams inching closer and closer to overtake that final spot in the Eastern Conference (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Of course, it’s anyone’s game on any given night. But with the games played by the chasers, it definitely puts a ton of pressure on Florida for a chance to succeed. Dropping even one game could put their season on life support.

Is There Still Time to Make Up the Ground Lost?

There’s still time to grab some points and go for a big push toward the playoffs. According to, the Panthers have a 42.9% chance to get into the dance this season. Furthermore, the team has a lot to look forward to in the coming days as Anthony Duclair could make his anticipated return to the Panther lineup in their game against the Sabres this weekend

Related: 6 Dark Horse Trade Candidates at 2023 NHL Trade Deadline

In addition, 14 of Florida’s 22 games remaining are in their own barn. Considering their home record of 16-8-3, compared to their road record of 13-17-3, this is great for the club to be at FLA Live Arena for over half of their remaining season.

What’s Next for the Cats

For now, it’s just one game at a time for the Cats. As previously mentioned, if the season were to end today, they would be in. But the fact that the teams chasing the Panthers have so many games left to play and are gaining on them could ultimately cost them their spot once push comes to shove.

While the team is doing somewhat better as of late, the Panthers’ poor performances from earlier this season are still lingering around. And because of that, it feels as if the Panthers are in the playoffs right now, and every game is a Game 7.

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