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Six Straight Wins Have the Panthers in the Top Wild Card Spot



Matthew Tkachuk Celebrates courtesy @FlaPanthers

A six-game winning streak has the Florida Panthers back in the driver seat for the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. After a four-game losing streak had the Panthers on the outside looking in at the Stanley Cup Playoffs, recent success has bolstered them up over the Penguins and Islanders into the top wild card spot. The Panthers own the tiebreaker over the Islanders, who both sit at 91 points, while the Penguins sit one place behind with 90 points. All three teams have two games remaining as they battle it out for the two wild card births. 

The Panthers have been the hottest of the three teams battling for the last two playoff spots, but have the toughest remaining schedule. The Cats take on the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Carolina Hurricanes in their final two games, two playoff teams that are fighting for higher seeding. Meanwhile, both the Penguins and Islanders face two teams that are well outside of the playoff picture and have nothing of significance to play for at this point in the season.

One factor the Panthers do have on their side in this final playoff push is that both of their remaining games are at home in Sunrise. The Panthers are 23-12-4 in front of their home crowd compared to just 19-19-3 when hitting the road. Cats’ fans have embraced this late push for the playoffs and should create a great home ice advantage in these final two matchups of the regular season. The Panthers’ Thursday night game against the Senators was a near sellout and both of these final games are expected to be sellouts.

The Panthers will likely need to win both of their final games to not only lock in a wild card spot, but to get the all important first wild card spot and avoid the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs. The Bruins are having a historically good season and are expected to make quick work of whoever they face in the opening round. Boston currently sits at 63-12-5 on the season and are an even more impressive 33-4-3 at home. If the Panthers close the season with two more wins, they’ll avoid the Bruins and take on either the Devils or the Hurricanes. Both the Devils and ‘Canes would still be favored over the Panthers, but are much closer matchups for the Cats.

The Panthers’ final push for the playoffs continues Monday night at 7:00pm against the Maple Leafs in front of what should be a raucous crowd at FLA Live Arena. Depending on how the cards fall, Florida’s final game could be a preview of the first round series as they take on the Carolina Hurricanes at 7:00pm on Thursday night. The Cats have fed off the energy of their home crowd all year, so Panthers’ fans should be sure to pack FLA Live Arena for these final two regular season games.



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