It has been nearly 30 years since the NHL has seen an offense like the one the Florida Panthers have put on the ice this season and it kept rolling on Sunday afternoon.
Florida extended its current winning streak to 10 consecutive games with a 6-1 dismantling of the Detroit Red Wings, continuing its offensive dominance of the league.
When the Panthers are at their best — which has been quite often this season — they are capable of embarrassing opponents in a way that few other teams can.
Some of the updated numbers from this season so far….
- Sunday’s game was already the 17th time they have scored at least six goals in a game this season. That includes eight seven-goal games, three eight-goal games, and two nine-goal games.
- They are currently averaging 4.19 goals per game, by far the highest mark in the league. The next closest team is the Colorado Avalanche at 3.87 goals per game. That is a 0.32 per game difference between the first and second best goal scoring teams in the league. And that second team — Colorado — is a monster in its own right. There are currently only three teams averaging more than 3.72 goals per game this season.
- The Panthers need just 14 goals over their remaining seven games to average more than four goals per game for the season.
- If they are able to maintain that average (and there is no reason to believe they will not get those 14 goals over the next seven games) they will be the first time since the 1995-96 Pittsburgh Penguins to average more than four goals per game in a season.
- They would be just the 12th team in the past 30 years to top that mark and only the second (1995-96 Pittsburgh) in the past 28 years.
It has been the result of some great front office work to put this roster together.
Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau have been the foundation of the organization for years and were always among the league’s best offensive players. They were never a problem at the top of the lineup. The problem was always the fact they simply did not have enough complementary pieces around them, and the Panthers have struck gold with pretty much every move they have made over the past couple of years when it comes to building around them. It has been a mix of shrewd free agent signings, great trades, and great drafting and player development.
Anthony Duclair and Carter Verhaeghe were initially added as under-the-radar free agent signings and have blossomed into top-line players.
Sam Bennett got a fresh start in Florida after struggling in Calgary and has realized all of his potential.
Sam Reinhart got out of Buffalo and has had a career year, averaging more than a point per game.
Those four players all have at least 22 goals this season, are on track to all top 50 points, and all it cost them in terms of assets were Devon Levi, a late first-round pick, a second-round pick, and a prospect. Granted, Levi is an excellent goalie prospect, but to get those four players and only give up one premiums prospect is a massive win for a Stanley Cup contender.
Beyond that group, they also have Eetu Luostarinen who was acquired in the Vincent Trocheck trade, Patric Hornqvist who was added for Mike Matheson, and trade deadline acquisition Claude Giroux who only cost them Owen Tippett and a future first-round pick that is still years down the line. That does not even get into Mason Marchment and his 41 points in 49 games who was acquired back in 2020 for Denis Malgin.
Internally, they selected Anton Lundell with the No. 12 overall pick in 2020 and he already looks like he has an extremely bright future as part of this core.
It is an offense with absolutely zero weaknesses.
The big question mark for the Panthers in the playoffs will be the availability of top defender Aaron Ekblad and whether or not they get enough goaltending (something that is a concern right now). But as long as Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight avoid having a complete meltdown in the playoffs this has the look of a team that will not only be extremely difficult to beat, but is also wildly entertaining.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.