On Monday April 4th the Florida
Panthers beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 for their 45th victory of
the season. The win further solidifies their position atop the Atlantic while
continuing the slow, tortuous death of the Leaf’s 2015-16 season. But another
win and another step closer to the playoffs weren’t the only reason for
celebration in Panther country Monday night. Florida also racked up its 99th
point for a new franchise record.
The Panther franchise officially began with
the 1993-94 season and the team’s ability to win was established right away.
With stars like John Vanbiesbrouck, Rob Niedermayer, and Scott Mellanby the
Panthers had one of the most successful inaugural seasons of any expansion team
ever. With a near .500 finish they barely missed a spot in the 1994
playoffs. Then in the 1999-2000 season
the franchise record was set at 98 points, an achievement that held for 15
With goals by
Bjugstad, Rocco Grimaldi, and Aleksander Barkov, not to mention 22 saves by
netminder Al Montoya, the Panthers held on to win after jumping to a 3-0 lead
in the second period. The team hopes that surpassing the previous team record sends
a clear statement that this isn’t the same team who found themselves at the
bottom of the league during the 2013 season. ''Those are
some tough times,'' Bjugstad said. ''Losing a lot of games and it's not fun coming
to the rink a lot of times because it's a tough environment.''
With only four playoff appearances in
franchise history nobody is feeling overconfident moving into the post season
though. According to right-winger Jaromir Jagr, "It's something new for a lot of
guys to make the playoffs. We'll see how we're going to react. It can scare us
away or the other way around." The team’s last visit was during the
2011-2012 season where they lost to the New Jersey Devils in the Quarterfinals.
at step one,'' said center
Nick Bjugstad. ''We keep saying step one,
keep moving on, we don't want to be satisfied.''
Florida team does have some reason to feel confident going into the post-season
though. Monday’s victory clinches home-ice advantage in the first round, which
should go a long way towards helping them find their way into the later rounds.
good to get the home-ice clinched tonight and the next goal is to try and get
first in the division,” Florida head coach Gerard Gallant said.
In the meantime the team continues to build
momentum and prepare themselves for the post season. No matter what happens
though, they can honestly say that this was their best year in franchise
Labels: Michael Quinn