Push for the Playoffs: Can Panthers get back into playoff spot?

Getty Images
1 Comment

Push for the Playoffs will run every morning through the end of the 2019-20 NHL season. We’ll highlight the current playoff picture in both conferences, take a look at what the first-round matchups might look like, see who’s leading the race for the best odds in the draft lottery and more.

When the Florida Panthers hired Joel Quenneville as head coach and signed Sergei Bobrovsky, Noel Acciari and Brett Connolly, many expected them to be one of the eight playoff teams in the East. But if the postseason started today, they wouldn’t be participating in them.

Luckily for Florida, there’s still time for them to get back into the playoff hunt. They managed to take care of a bad Montreal team over the weekend, but they’ll have a stiff test against the St. Louis Blues tonight.

As of this moment, the Panthers are three points behind Carolina for the final Wild Card spot in the conference. The bad news is that they’d have to leap over three teams to get into that position. The good news is that they’re also three points back of the Maple Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division. They’d only have to jump one team to get that.

So they’re still very much in this race. They just need to put it all together soon.

“Let’s use this momentum swing here and change the direction here in a real positive way,” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said after the win over Montreal, per NHL.com. “We have a great opportunity ahead of us and let’s take advantage of it.

“I thought we had a workmanlike type of game, more businesslike than we’ve had recently. We took that awful stretch we’ve had here and turned it into a different situation when you look at where we’re sitting.”

If they’re going to get in, they’ll need Bobrovsky to find his game in a hurry. The 31-year-old’s first year as a Panther has been underwhelming at best. He owns a 23-19-6 record with a 3.23 goals-against-average and a .900 save percentage this season. That’s nowhere close to being good enough for a player that signed a seven-year, $70 million contract over the summer. He’s currently day-to-day with a lower-body injury. They need him back and at the top of his game as soon as possible.

IF PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY

EASTERN CONFERENCE
Bruins vs. Hurricanes
Capitals vs. Blue Jackets
Lightning vs. Maple Leafs
Flyers vs. Penguins

WESTERN CONFERENCE
Blues vs. Canucks
Golden Knights vs. Wild
Avalanche vs. Stars
Oilers vs. Flames

TODAY’S GAMES WITH PLAYOFF CONTENDERS
Capitals vs. Sabres, 7 p.m. ET
Coyotes vs. Jets, 8 p.m. ET
Panthers vs. Blues, 8 p.m. ET
Golden Knights vs. Oilers, 9 p.m. ET
Avalanche vs. Kings, 10:30 p.m. ET

EASTERN CONFERENCE

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via Hockey Reference)
Bruins – 100 percent
Lighting – 100
Capitals – 99.9
Flyers – 99.7
Penguins – 95.6
Hurricanes – 78.2
Maple Leafs – 71.7
Islanders 61.2
Panthers 38.8
Blue Jackets – 35.6
Rangers – 18.6
Canadiens – 0.4
Devils – 0.3
Sabres – Out
Senators – Out
Red Wings – Out

WESTERN CONFERENCE

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES 
Avalanche – 100 percent
Blues – 100
Stars – 98.3
Golden Knights – 97.5
Oilers – 97.4
Flames – 66.5
Canucks – 62.9
Wild – 53.9
Predators – 50.2
Jets – 42
Coyotes – 28
Blackhawks – 3
Ducks – Out
Sharks – Out
Kings – Out

THE DRAFT LOTTERY PICTURE
Detroit Red Wings — 18.5 percent
Los Angeles Kings — 13.5 percent
Ottawa Senators — 11.5 percent
Ottawa Senators* — 9.5 percent
Anaheim Ducks — 8.5 percent
Buffalo Sabres — 7.5 percent
New Jersey Devils — 6.5 percent
Chicago Blackhawks — 6 percent
Montreal Canadiens — 5 percent
New Jersey Devils** — 3.5 percent
Winnipeg Jets — 3 percent
Minnesota Wild — 2.5 percent
Florida Panthers — 2 percent
New York Rangers 1.5 percent
Columbus Blue Jackets — 1 percent

(* SJ’s 2020 first-round pick owned by OTT)
(** ARZ’s lottery-protected 2020 first-round pick owned by NJ. If top three, moves to 2021)

ART ROSS TROPHY RACE
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 110 points
Connor McDavid, Oilers – 96 points
David Pastrnak, Bruins – 94 points
Artemi, Panarin, Rangers – 93 points
Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche – 93 points

ROCKET RICHARD RACE
David Pastrnak, Bruins – 47 goals
Alex Ovechkin, Capitals – 46 goals
Auston Mattews, Maple Leafs – 45 goals
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 43 goals
Mika Zibanejad, Rangers – 39 goals

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.