The Florida Panthers concluded their 2021 season with a very good record. With just four months remaining in the season, they are currently in second place in the Atlantic Division. Their record is 20-7-4 and 44 points. While the team is performing admirably, they must fix several issues if they are to survive the playoffs and the rest of the regular seasons. They should be seen as their new year’s resolutions as they turn the page into 2022.
Power Play and Penalty Kill are both lackingluster
Despite having a lot of elite defensemen and two-way forwards as well as good goaltending and offensive power, the Panthers have had a difficult season on both ends of special teams.
With a 17% conversion ratio, they rank 24th in the league on the man advantage. They are ranked second in league at a 17% conversion rate. goals per gameThis power play, at 3.78 is terrible. This must be improved if they hope to compete in the playoffs.
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The team is now a little more balanced, but they are still at the bottom of the NHL at 18th. Their current penalty kill rate is 80.2%. They are strong in shorthanded defense, with two-way forwards like Aleksander Barkov or Anton Lundell and elite defensemen like MacKenzie Weeger and Aaron Ekblad. With this in mind, it is expected that the team will have enough talent to increase that stat over the course of the season.
Win on the Road
Florida is home with a record of 17-3-0 in the NHL. But, their road play is almost the exact opposite. The team’s road record is 4-4-4 when they travel away from home. They have made 12 road appearances. Additionally, they only won two of their 12 road games against teams in the playoffs for the Tampa Bay Lightning (and Detroit Red Wings) this year. Furthermore, they’ve been outscored in all road games this season 37-35, giving them a minus-2 goal differential on the road. This is a dramatic difference from their home goal differential. They defeated their opponents 97 to58 for a plus 39 goal differential
While it’s great to win at home, a good hockey team needs to be able to win in any barn, regardless of how hostile it seems. The Panthers must learn how to win away to be successful in the playoffs.
Play Faceoff Dot and Win the Puck
Despite having a lot of talent and depth at the centre position, the Cats have struggled tremendously in the faceoff circles this season. Florida currently ranks 29th in NHL faceoff winning percentage, with a 46.2% win ratio. This could also be a result of the previous issues they had with special teams. With a win rate of 54.1%, Barkov has been their best center in the circle.
It is crucial that the Panthers win a faceoff. This can help them move forward offensively as well as defensively. For this season, the Panthers have to find a way that they can win at the dot.
Trade for a Defenseman
Florida does possess defensive talent in their top 2 pairings. The door in their third pairing continues to revolve open as they’ve dressed five different defensemen for that role.
Related: Panthers Need to Target Coyotes’ Chychrun
Not surprisingly, desperate times call for desperate measures. Bill Zito, Panthers general manger, has been a master at bringing in trade acquisitions before the deadline. Rumours circulating about Jacob Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes defenseman, are causing concern. Trade marketZito should at most listen to the possible asking price.
These Resolutions are for a Better Tomorrow.
It all comes down to the Cats executing on their plans. The Panthers had enough cushion with their impressive start to the year and the incredible home record to allow them to make small mistakes and still be in the playoffs. However, true playoff teams will search for an opponent’s weakness and make them pay for it. If Florida can implement and keep their resolutions, it can immediately be a contender for the Stanley Cup.
Joey, my name is I’ve been writing about the NHL for about 3 years with my experience spread out between TSJ 101 Sports and Panther Parkway. I look forward reading your articles!