Revisit the Florida Panthers' improbable run to the 2023 Stanley Cup Final.
The Panthers were one of the least likely teams to win the Stanley Cup entering the postseason, but here they are, just four games away from bringing the trophy back to Sunrise, Florida.
Ahead of the franchise's second-ever Stanley Cup Final appearance - and first since 1996 - we recapped exactly how they got here.
The Florida Panthers came into the postseason as the second Wild-Card in the Eastern Conference. That being said, they were not expected to make a run, let alone make it out of the first round.
This is because they were up against the Boston Bruins, who had a historic season in terms of points and wins.
The Bruins easily won the President’s Trophy, but as the saying goes "if you win the President’s Trophy, you won’t win the Stanley Cup Final".
That rang true once again as the Panthers managed to come back from a 3-1 series deficit, eliminating the Bruins in overtime of Game 7 while also on the road.
After taking out Boston, Florida was matched up against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference semifinal.
The Panthers were once again heavy underdogs, but made quick work of Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs, winning the first three games of the series, before eventually winning the series 4-1.
Next up was the Eastern Conference Final against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Believe it or not, the Panthers upped their level of play again, dismantling the Hurricanes in a sweep.
It is worth noting that Game 1 of this series with the Hurricanes went to four overtimes but winning that game in dramatic fashion seemed to give the Panthers an extra boost of confidence, which has helped them book their ticket into the Stanley Cup Final.
As we have seen throughout the playoffs, the Panthers have a very balanced team.
Of the 21 players on their roster, 18 of them have recorded at least one point throughout the playoffs, and five players have managed at least 10 points or more.
Looking at their top point producers, it’s also safe to say that Matthew Tkachuk has been their best player this postseason.
He has a total of 21 points, which includes a team-leading nine goals and a team-leading 12 assists.
Tkachuk has failed to record a point in just two of their 16 playoff games thus far and has already scored two overtime goals to help propel his team to the Final.
Panthers’ goalie Sergei Bobrovsky must also be mentioned as one of the top players in this years’ postseason run.
Bobrovsky has easily been the best goalie in the playoffs, posting a record of 11-2 and a save percentage of .935.
In the Eastern Conference Final alone, Bobrovsky saved 168 of 174 shots, a save percentage of .965.
This includes him saving 63 of 65 shots in the Game 1 4OT thriller and all 32 shots in a Game 3 shutout.
Bobrovsky alone gives the Panthers a legitimate chance of bringing home the Stanley Cup and with the level he is playing at, he can shut down whoever they face next.
As previously mentioned, the Panthers were the second Wild-Card team in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
This essentially means they were the last team in the Eastern Conference playoffs due to their record.
The Panthers ended the regular season with a record of 42-32-8. This equates to 92 points and was the least amount of points for any team that made the postseason.
For reference, the Boston Bruins ended the regular season with 135 points, a whole 43 points more than the Panthers, yet the Bruins were upset in the first round by this team.
Since their inception into the NHL in the 1993-1994 season, the Florida Panthers have generally been known as an average team at best.
They have made just nine playoff appearances (including this year), and have only been to the Stanley Cup one other time - in 1996 - where they were swept by the Colorado Avalanche.
Before their current playoff run, the Panthers hadn’t even made it to the Eastern Conference Final since that Stanley Cup run almost 29 years ago.
The fact they aren’t known for deep playoff runs just makes this season’s run more special, especially with the way they have been dismantling their competition.
The Florida Panthers are +105 to now go on and lift the Stanley Cup.
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