It pains me to write this. The Florida Panthers‘ ride has come to an end. There wasn’t enough Sports Lemonade to make it happen. The Panthers were four points out of the final wild-card spot. To clinch the playoffs, the Panthers would have had to win their final two regular-season games, including tonight’s game vs. the Buffalo Sabres, and the Philadelphia Flyers would’ve had to lose against the New York Rangers. Philly played the Power(less) Rangers earlier today at 3 PM and walloped The Broadway Blueshirts to clinch the playoffs. Florida came into tonight’s game already knowing that they were eliminated from playoff contention. We, here at Lemon City Live, take full responsibility for not showing up sooner. We had a good run, though, right? It was supposed to be “the year of the lemon!” The Cats won 21 of 31 games since we started covering the team on Feb. 3rd, and they have gone 15 of 18 at home! If only we had shown up sooner… Such is life, or c’est la vie for my French Canadian fans. But, there’s always next season, and we plan to cover the Rink Rats from the very beginning!
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) April 8, 2018
Let’s keep the positivity flowing, though. On Thursday, the Panthers tied the franchise record for most home regular season wins. Aside from potentially making the playoffs, tonight the guys had an opportunity to record their names in the history books for sole possession of the record, regardless of the Philly/New York outcome, so either way, they were coming out to play. The Cats took a 3-0 lead in the 1st period. Jonathan Huberdeau opened up the scoring with his 27th goal of the season, tying Aleksander Barkov, and Evgenii Dadonov for 2nd on the team in goals scored this season, all behind Vincent Trocheck (30). The Cats would go on to win 4-2, making it one for the record books. Speaking of Barkov and Trocheck, and record books, this season is also the first time two Panthers players both reached the 70-point mark in a season since the 1999-’00 season, when three different Panthers reached the mark (Pavel Bure-94, Viktor Kozlov-71, Ray Whitney-70). After today’s goal, Huberdeau is only one point shy of reaching the 70-point mark for the first time in his career. Expect him to go for the trifecta tomorrow night in Boston!
Can we all just appreciate that pass. 😍😍 pic.twitter.com/CAcbJuiQyp
— NHL (@NHL) April 7, 2018
After the game, Coach Bob Boughner said, “We set the franchise record for home wins. There’s a lot of good things that we can take away from this season.” Similarly, Trocheck said, “We can definitely take away positives from the second half of the season. We had one of the best records in the League after the All-Star Break.” The guys know they’re on the right path to building a good, sustainable product on the ice. Despite the disappointment, having to rely on other teams, and possibly being the 2nd team in history to reach 96 points on the season and not make the playoffs, the Cats showed why they should be listed as one of the favorites going into next season.
— Lemon City Live (@LemonCityLive) April 8, 2018
Photo Credit – Elliot J Schechter