The Miami Dolphins have lost 3 of their past 4. The Miami Hurricanes are on a 4 game slide. The Miami Heat are 6-8. South Florida sports fans have not had a lot to be happy about lately.
Unless, of course, you’ve been paying attention to the Florida Panthers. If you haven’t been, you should be.
The Cats are now red hot, winning 5 straight games. After a horrific start, they find themselves only 4 points out of a playoff spot. This is especially significant when you take into account the fact that they’ve played 3 fewer games than each of the two teams (Buffalo and Montreal) who currently occupy the wild card spots in the East.
This team has the talent for a deep run in the postseason. Skaters like Aleksander Barkov, Evgenii Dadanov, Vincent Trocheck, Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad are good enough to feature on the top 3 lines of most of the best teams in the league. You can throw Mike Hoffman into that mix, too. He’s currently riding a career-best 13 game point streak. He’s tied hall of famer Pavel Bure for the longest point streak in Panthers franchise history.
It’s not just the skaters stepping up. In net, the Panthers can be positively domimant now that Roberto Luongo is back in the mix.
In fact, Florida’s current 5 game winning streak started on the very night Luongo made his return from injury. He’s still elite at 39 years old, and his playoff experience will be invaluable if the Panthers can get there.
Another major factor to Florida’s recent success: The POWER PLAY.
The Panthers have scored at least one power play goal in each of their past 6 games. Their success on special teams has helped them outscore opponents 19 to 7 during their winning streak.
Anyone who knows hockey knew it was only a matter of time before the Panthers put together a positive run of form. They’re in it now, and will look for 6 in a row tonight.
The Panthers take on the Blue Jackets in Columbus at 7:00. You can listen to the game tonight on 560 WQAM.