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Florida Panthers: Road to the 2024 Stanley Cup Final

The Florida Panthers clinched the Eastern Conference Finals series 4-2 with a Game 6 win on Saturday night and have now reached the Stanley Cup Final in back-to-back seasons.

For the 11th straight season, the Presidents’ Trophy winner will not be hoisting Lord Stanley.

That has been confirmed by the New York Rangers having been eliminated at the hands of the Panthers, who won Game 6 on Saturday night to win the Eastern Conference Finals series 4-2.

As we get set for the 2024 Stanley Cup Final, let’s take a look at the road it took for the ‘Cardiac Cats’ to get here.

2023/24 Regular Season

Sunrise, Florida may not be the first city fans think of when it comes to hockey, but it’s been all about the ice since last season.

That was due to the Panthers making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final despite being the absolute last team to even make the postseason. 

Since acquiring Matthew Tkachuk from the Calgary Flames two seasons ago, along with signing head coach Paul Maurice, Florida became a much more balanced team. Prior to that, they were explosive offensively, but lacked consistency on the defensive end of the ice.

Their balanced approach has allowed them to knock out the Presidents’ Trophy winners not only this season, but each of the past two seasons. Let’s not forget that they upset the Boston Bruins in the first round last year - the Bruins team that had set records for wins (65) and points (153) in a single season.

This year, it was been a different story with the Panthers boasting the second-best defensive record in the NHL regular season with 200 goals allowed, only one more than the Winnipeg Jets. That defensive strength did not come at the expense of offensive production as they still ranked 11th in goals scored 268 goals to boast the league's best goal differential of +68.

Florida's 52-24-6 record - with wins split evenly home and away - was good enough to edge out the Bruins by a point to win the Atlantic Division.

While it was still only the third-best mark in the Eastern Conference, and fifth in the NHL, all that matters is that they are now representing the conference in the 2024 Stanley Cup Final.

Florida’s 2024 Stanley Cup playoff run

So, how did the Panthers continue their regular season success into another strong playoff run? Well, it started by swiftly taking out their in-state rivals - the Tampa Bay Lightning - in just five games.

Speaking of which, it’s worth noting that this is now the fifth straight season that a Florida team is represented in the Stanley Cup Final. That is largely thanks to the Lightning appearing at that stage from 2020-2022, but the Panthers may have officially stomped out that near-dynasty.

After eliminating Tampa Bay, it was a playoff rematch with the aforementioned Bruins. While Boston didn’t have a record-setting season this time around, they were certainly a formidable opponent.

However, Matthew Tkachuk and the boys took care of Brad Marchand and the Bruins in six games. That set them up with the Eastern Conference Finals against the top-seeded Rangers, which saw them complete a 4-2 win on home ice on Saturday night.

They were simply the more dominant team for the majority of the series, and if not for New York goaltender Igor Shesterkin, they likely could have ended the series sooner. As great as Shesterkin performed, we now see Florida goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky among the favorites at +400 to win the 2024 Conn Smythe Trophy.

First though, the Panthers will need to overcome one more team, and if they get off to the better start, things bode well for them. Over their last 69 games, Florida is 65-0-4 when leading after two periods. 

With the physical hockey that the Panthers play, this year may be the year that they finally hoist their first ever Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Top playoff performers for the Panthers

Tkachuk leads Florida's scoring stats so far in the postseason, having amassed 19 points, two more than Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe. The latter has scored the most goals for the Panthers up to this point with nine, one more than Sam Reinhart, who has seen the most time on the ice per game of any forward (21:53), marginally more than Barkov (21:46).

Gustav Forsling leads the way for the Panthers' defensemen with 11 points - four goals and seven assists - topping the likes of Brandon Montour (9) and Aaron Ekblad (5) in all three categories.

Bobrovsky has so far been excellent with a 2.20 goals against average and .908 save percentage. It is worth pointing out that he has allowed more than two goals only four times in 17 games, and only once has that happened in the each of the last two series against Boston and New York.

This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.

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