What a season this has been so far. When this season started I don’t think anyone would have thought that the Florida Panthers, the team that lost to the Islanders in the play in round of last years playoffs, would be #1 in the Central Division. This team has hit the ice season with heart, determination, and ferocity that has led them to not only lead their division, but be second overall in points in the league and continuously make franchise history.
Through the beginning of the season the team danced around the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place spots, but after an amazing showing during the three game stand against the Tampa Bay Lightning, taking two out of the three games; the team took first place. They continued on to beat the Carolina Hurricanes in overtime and the dominated the Detroit Red Wings to bring them to a record of 11-2-2. This is the best record the Panthers have had at the start of a season; even better than the 1996 team. This is a team that is consistently playing the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Carolina Hurricanes, and the Chicago Blackhawks. Against those three teams alone they boast a record of 5-1-0. Hell, even TV viewership is up +71% due to how great they are doing. This team has come together to boast some amazing numbers that have put them in this amazing position.
Chris Driedger is currently boasting a .926 save percentage. I get flashbacks of John Vanbiesbrouck standing on his head in net when I watch Driedger. He has consistently made amazing save after amazing save and makes an argument to be Florida’s starting goaltender; with Bobrovski, who has done better this year, sitting at a .884. If Driedger keeps this percentage up by continuing to play the way he is; he cold easily take the record for best save percentage by a goalie.
Radko Gudas leads the league in hits with 81. Lending to the Panthers increased physicality over previous seasons. I knew he would have an impact on the Cats in this sense and it is great to see it come to fruition.
Jonathan Huberbeau becomes the fastest Panther to reach 20 points in a season, sitting at 22 currently. He is also second player in history of the franchise to collect multiple points in four consecutive road games.
Aleksander Barkov continues to add to his franchise
Combined with the performances of Carter Verhage, Patrick Hornqvist, Anthony Duclair, and the rest of the team we not only stand at the top of the Central Division, but also stand at the top of the leagues point percentage with .800.
This is the best the Panthers have ever looked. I have immense love for the 1996 team; Beezer is my all time favorite player, but this team is something special. If you don’t have the Panthers projected to make at least a playoff run you need to reevaluate. This is a team that is fighting for contention and is willing to prove everyone wrong about Florida hockey.
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