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Panthers Clinch Playoffs With Hopes to Return to Cup Final

The Florida Panthers lock up their fifth straight playoff appearance despite a loss to the New York Islanders

By Clyde E. DawkinsPublished 23 days ago 3 min read

The wild 14-game Thursday evening included so many clinching scenarios, with one of them including the Florida Panthers. The Panthers looked to return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a victory, but the New York Islanders had other plans. The Isles looked to move up in the Wild Card ladder, and they did so with a win over the Panthers, a 3-2 win at that. However, the Panthers did have other ways in, and one of them was a Detroit Red Wings loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. As a result of this, not only did the Canes get in, the Panthers did as well.

For Florida, this is their fifth straight playoff appearance, clearly their most successful stretch in their 31-year history. The Panthers entered that streak looking to win a series for the first time since their monumental run in 1996, and it wasn't until 2022 that they pulled it off. As Presidents' Trophy winners, the Panthers barely survived the Washington Capitals, only to be dismantled by the Tampa Bay Lightning in Round 2. And then there's last year. Despite a 30-point decrease, the Panthers shocked the world with their upset series win over a 65-win Bruins team, and they turned that into a dominant run to the Stanley Cup Final, falling three wins short of the Cup.

Right now, the Panthers are in a tight Atlantic Division race with the Boston Bruins. However, am I the only one who thinks this team is a bit on the overrated side? The two players pictured in the main photo, Matthew Tkachuk and Aleksandar Barkov, pretty much represent nearly all of the team's offense. And then, there's this player:

This man, showing off his "happy to be out of Buffalo" face, is Sam Reinhart. He spent seven seasons with the Buffalo Sabres before ending up with the Panthers in the 2021-22 season, so yes, he was part of that Presidents' Trophy season, as well as a playoff run that saw an embarrassing display from Florida's power play. The PP went 1-for-31 during the 2022 playoffs, but the one was scored by none other than Reinhart. He played a bit of a key role in their big run last year, but as for this year, well, he hasn't done much. Nothing at all. Just score 51 goals. Only Auston Matthews has more goals. Absolutely nothing special at all.

What Reinhart has been doing is absolutely amazing and needs to be talked about more often, but lets get something straight. Outside of Reinhart, Barkov, and Tkachuk, there's nothing else really special about the Panthers. I fail to see how this team could be considered bigger Cup favorites than teams like the Avalanche, Rangers, and Maple Leafs. The Panthers are not a deep team. They're deeper than the Bruins, but who isn't. I do think they'll win a series, but only if they a) win the Atlantic, and b) don't play Tampa Bay. If they enter as the Atlantic's #2 team, they can forget it. They'll face Toronto if that happens, and let's face the facts here, the Panthers are absolutely no match for the Leafs.

Despite all of this, there's really no pressure here. After all, this team is coming off a big time run. Yes, they want to get back there, but even if they don't, no one will hold it against them. That's the benefit of a long run.

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About the Creator

Clyde E. Dawkins

I am an avid fan of sports and wrestling, and I've been a fan of female villains since the age of eight. Also into film and TV, especially Simpsons and Family Guy.

Feel free to follow my social media:

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Comments (2)

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  • Philip Gipson23 days ago

    You've got a strong eye for detail when it comes to things such as sports.

  • Babs Iverson23 days ago

    Fantastic review!!! Loving it!!!❤️❤️💕

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