Are The Florida Panthers The Worst NHL Team?
There are arguments to be made about a few of the bottom feeders but in my opinion there is one clear cut bottom feeder who is the worst of the worst. That team is the Florida Panthers. With one of their longest win streaks of the season, of two wins in a row, they’ve managed to total nine wins in 31 games. That’s good for last in the Eastern Conference and 30th place overall.
The Florida Panthers Statistically
Statistics don’t tell the whole story but they will give you an idea of how bad they actually are.
The Florida Panthers have score 2.45 goals for a game good for 24th overall.
The Florida Panthers 3.55 goals against a game good for 30th overall.
The Florida Panthers are 30th place overall in 5 on 5 goals for/goals against.
The Florida Panthers have a 74.2% on the PK good for 30th overall.
Those statistics paint a team that is awful defensively and struggles to score. If it weren’t for their 15th ranked powerplay they’d be somehow, even worse.
This is all surprising seeing how they returned a bunch of players from their division winning team, their young guys are a year more experienced, specifically Kulikov, Gudbranson and Shawn Matthias.
So why are the Florida Panthers so bad?
The simple explanation is they’ve been decimated by injuries. They’re missing Stephen Weiss who is out for the year with a wrist injury that will require surgery. They’ve lost Versteeg to a freak knee injury for the year after he clipped a Tampa Bay Lightning player’s leg. The Florida Panthers also had other players out for a substantial time. Top four young defenseman, Kulikov has been out for a long time with an undisclosed injury. Mike Weaver who is one of the more underrated d-men in the league is also out with an injury. They’ve even lost their captain, Ed Jovonavski for a ton of games with a knee injury. Up front, they have had a handful of forwards out for some time. Sean Bergenheim has missed all season with what has been rumored as a sports hernia in which he took the Florida Panthers to arbitration.
With that many key players it’s no surprise they’ve struggled. But there’s more to it. The goaltending has been abysmal. With Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmenson, the Florida Panthers were competitive in almost every game last season. They gave the rag tag bunch of newly signed free agents a chance to get some points during the season on to their way to win the division. This year, they’ve done nothing but let in soft goals. They’ve had a team in front of them that has struggled defensively but even on weak shots, they’ve gone in. Not surprisingly, Jose Theodore was hurt and goalie of the future, Jacob Markstrom was called up. Possibly infected with some soft goal virus that had been going around the locker room, he struggled early in games to establish himself, often giving up soft goals, leaving this terrible team to dig themselves out of a hole. Things have looked better for the giant Swede who has played extremely well in his two most recent starts against the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers. Both games he carried a shutout going into the final few minutes, only to lose it by giving up a goal. Both games the team played better in front of him. He has finally restored some quality goaltending to a position that was suffering all season long.
Overall, the Florida Panthers because of so many injuries and awful pay by their usually reliable goaltenders are easily the worst team in the NHL. Things are looking up for them as they’ve played better as a team lately and this is a shortened season due to the lockout. With another top pick, they can solidify their top 6 to play along side potential rookie of the year candidate, Jonathan Huberdeau. They have a young core that should give their fans a lot of hope. In goal they have Jackob Markstrom, the highest rated goaltender prospect. On D they have Erik Gudbranson and Dimitry Kulikov. With other prospects such as Alex Petrovic of the San Antonio Rampage and recent first round pick, Mike Matheson who will play a couple more years in college. Up front they are stacked with quality players. Jonathon Hubderdeau is a star in the making and Drew Shore has had a surprise rookie campaign. If the Florida Panthers can stay healthy next season they have a good shot of making the playoffs.