Florida Panthers get mixed results over homestand. Where things stand after 12 games

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Jordan McPherson
·4 min read
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They played six games over 10 days at their home arena, hoping to continue to find their identity and continue their hot start to the season along the way.

The Florida Panthers stumbled at times during the half-dozen games at the BB&T Center and put together a mixed bag of results.

The Panthers went 3-2-1 over the homestand, picking up seven out of a possible 12 points, and are now 8-2-2 on the season.

It ended with a whimper with a 6-1 loss to the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning two days after Florida beat Tampa Bay 5-2.

“They were a hungrier team,” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said Saturday of the Lightning. “I don’t think they’ve had one of those games like the first [on Thursday] where they got out-played. ... They came back with a different appetite.”

They were hoping for more than a split at home — 1-0-1 against the Nashville Predators, 1-1-0 against both the Detroit Red Wings and the Lightning — but they are still in decent position near the top of the Central Division as their schedule begins to pick up in difficulty.

Picking up points, however possible

The result may not always be pretty, but the Panthers have found ways to consistently pick up points.

Their 18 points entering Sunday put them a four-way tie for second place in the Central Division with the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks. However, the Panthers are one of just six NHL teams that has picked up at least 75 percent of its possible points so far this season. The Central is the only division with multiple teams that fit this mark (Tampa Bay is at 80.8 percent; Florida and Carolina are at 75 percent).

The reason for this: 17 of 56 games between Central Division teams entering Sunday — 30.4 percent — have gone to overtime or shootouts, which guarantees each team at least one point in the standings.

Teams are only playing inside their division during the 56-game regular season, with the top four teams in each of the four divisions advancing to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Every game that doesn’t end in regulation only tightens the divisional race.

What to make of Sergei Bobrovsky

We’ll start this with a caveat: Not all goals allowed are created equal, just like not all saves are created equal.

But there comes a point where results begin to even out and the picture becomes a little clearer about a team’s goaltending situation.

Which brings us to Sergei Bobrovsky.

5-1-1 record aside, the base numbers haven’t been pretty through his first seven starts. His 3.33 goals against average is 37th out of 48 goaltenders with at least five starts this season. His .884 save percentage is 41st out of 48 goaltenders.

He had two games this homestand where he looked incredible, stopping 50 of 53 combined shots in wins over the Red Wings and Lightning. And then he had two where nothing was working — six-goal onslaughts by the Predators on Feb. 4 to start the homestand (including two in the final two-plus minutes of regulation to force overtime) and Lightning on Saturday to end it.

But there’s more to those numbers.

According to the advanced statistics website Natural Stat Trick:

Eleven of the 24 goals Bobrovsky has given up have been classified as “High Danger” scoring chances.

Seven of his 24 goals (and only two of the “High Danger” goals) have come on an opponent’s power play.

His .910 save percentage when both teams are at full strength is 28th out of 39 goaltenders with at least 240 minutes of ice time in 5 on 5 situations.

In summary: There’s still a lot left to be desired from Bobrovsky in the second year of his seven-year, $70 million deal.

The penalty kill needs improvement

The Panthers’ power play has been one of the best in the NHL. Their scoring goals 32.4 percent of the time when they have an extra attacker, which is the fifth-best mark in the NHL.

Their penalty kill? It’s been spotty at best. And it struggled during the home stand. Florida gave up five power play goals on 14 attempts over the six games, killing off penalties at just a 64.3-percent efficiency. For the season, Florida has just a 74.3 percent penalty-kill rate, which ranks 25th out of 31 NHL teams.

On the road again

The Panthers play their next four games on the road. They face the Lightning for a third consecutive game on Monday, this time at Tampa’s Amalie Arena. After that, it’s a Wednesday game against the Hurricanes and a back-to-back against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday and Saturday.

OddsMoney LinePoint SpreadTotal Points
+130+2.5O 6.5
Tampa Bay
-154-2.5U 6.5