After a near-perfect October, despite some outside turmoil, the Florida Panthers entered the month of November atop the league in the standings. They went in with a strong showing, a nine-game point streak that continued into the first week of November with three straight wins. However, the fire would eventually be put out as they suffered their first regulation loss of the season against the New York Rangers on Nov. 8 by a score of 4-3. Unfortunately, it would not be the end of their road losses.
Nothing Beats Home Cooking
At home, the Panthers nearly broke an NHL record that stood for a very long time but failed to do it as they lost what would’ve been the clincher to the new Seattle Kraken by a score of 4-1. However, their 11 straight home wins still ties for the best home start in NHL history with the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks. Considering how much drama they’ve encountered since October, it shows that this team is determined night in and night out.
A Bad Trip
The road in November was not kind to the Panthers and left them homesick. In five road games this past month, Florida went 0-3-2. Despite outshooting them in four out of five of those games, they were outscored by their opponents by a score of 21-13. While it is great to win at your own barn, teams have to find a way to steal points when they’re away from home. Good teams find ways to win in a hostile environment.
The Captain Makes History
On Nov. 9 in a 7-3 loss against the New Jersey Devils, the captain Aleksander Barkov became the new franchise leader in goals by scoring his 189th career goal.
That passes former Finnish captain Olli Jokinen, who had 188 total goals during his time as a Panther. With that, the captain has set the bar for future Panthers players to surpass. Currently, Barkov is tied for third on the team in points with 17 (nine goals, eight assists) through 15 games played.
Bobrovsky Returns to Form
This past month, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky appears to have returned to his Vezina Trophy form. In the eight games he started for the Panthers, he won four and helped bank a point in two of those games. In three games last month, he had a save percentage (SV%) above .930.
He suffered his first regulation loss this season, but his stats this season are still All-Star numbers. On the current campaign, “Bob” has a .930 SV% and a goals-against average of 2.18 with a record of 10-1-2 through 14 starts. Bobrovsky has been a huge part of Florida’s success not only last month but the season so far.
The Duke Keeps Scoring
Throughout November in the absence of his captain in Barkov, forward Anthony Duclair showed that South Florida has become his new home. Through the 10 games he played in November, he’s piled up 10 points (three goals, seven assists). This brings his season total to 17 points (nine goals, eight assists), which makes him tied for the team lead in goals and tied for fourth on the team in points.
Unfortunately, his hot streak would come to a temporary halt as he is missing time due to an unexpected lower-body injury. He’s been a big piece to the success of the team this season.
The Lomberghini Extends his Stay
On Nov. 26, the Panthers announced that forward Ryan Lomberg was signed to a two-year extension worth $800,000 per year. Last season, he helped pick up a massive playoff win in Game 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning by scoring the overtime winner. This season, he has five points (two goals, three assists) through 13 games and had his first multi-point game on Nov. 30 against the Washington Capitals.
The physical presence he brings every single night was considered “contagious” by general manager Bill Zito.
“Ryan has brought physicality and contagious energy to our lineup,” said Zito. “We are excited to announce that he will continue to be a part of the Panthers organization for years to come.”Bill Zito on extending Ryan Lomberg
Hopefully, the energy he brings continues to be implemented night-in and night-out by Lomberg as it should drive the team to playoff success.
The Injury Bug Infects the Team in a Huge Way
Through this past month, injuries began piling up in the worst way for Florida. It seemed like every time they laced up their skates and took the ice, someone was getting hurt. It also doesn’t help that they’re still missing center Noel Acciari from the injury he took during the preseason and defensemen Olli Juolevi and Markus Nutivaara are still on the injured reserve.
After taking a knee-to-knee collision from New York Islanders forward, Scott Mayfield, Barkov was listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury. He is close to coming back but he has not played since the night he was hurt. Despite missing time, he is still tied for the team lead in goals with nine.
As previously mentioned, after being a late scratch for the game against the Capitals on Nov. 26, Duclair was deemed day-to-day with a lower-body injury. He’s been participating in morning skates as of late and should be good to go soon.
After taking a hard hit against the Rangers on Nov. 8, forward Mason Marchment was deemed week-to-week by coach Brunette. He has yet to participate in morning skates and it is unknown how close he is to returning to the lineup. Through 10 games, he has a goal and six assists.
After the game against the Kraken, defenseman Gustav Forsling was put on injured reserve. Currently, it is unknown how much time he will miss. On the bright side, he did resume skating. He is currently tied for third on the Cats in assists with 12 through 21 games.
Can The Success Roll Over into December?
While the road struggles are extremely noticeable, the Panthers have shown they have the depth and the talent to get the job done. The success in December has already begun with their 7-4 victory against the Buffalo Sabres on Dec. 3. The first half of the 2021-22 season is nearly over, and the Cats have a grip on the top spot in the NHL.
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My name is Joey. I’ve been writing about the NHL for about 3 years with my experience spread out between TSJ 101 Sports and Panther Parkway. I look forward to you reading my articles!