With the NHL playoff race getting down to the wire, we’ll be providing regular updates on each bubble team’s postseason push.
On the bubble: Florida Panthers
Where they stand: 3rd in the East (first in the Southeast Division), three points clear of eighth-place Washington and ninth-place Buffalo, and with a game in hand on each
Games remaining: 7
SportsClubStats.com says: 96.2% chance of making the playoffs
Why they’ll get in:
They’ve already given themselves a decent-sized cushion, so it’s not like they’ll have to run the table to clinch their first postseason berth since 2000. The Panthers have earned at least a point in eight of their last nine games. If they can get eight points out of a possible 14, they should be okay. And they might not even have to do that.
Why they won’t:
They just blew two great opportunities to get wins by losing Friday to Edmonton in a shootout and Sunday to the Islanders in a shootout. Both those games were at home against teams in the bottom five of league standings. Now they have to play five of their last seven away from the BankAtlantic Center. And while three of their five road opponents – Montreal, Minnesota and Columbus – are non-playoff teams, road games are still road games and tough to win in the NHL.
“We wanted four of four [points against the Oilers and Islanders], but, hey, that’s life in the big city. You don’t always get what you want. We’ll regroup and get back at it.” – Panthers forward Stephen Weiss
Key game coming up:
Apr. 5 at Washington