The Atlantic division got burned and the teams are feeling the Florida heat with the Florida Panthers on top. The Panthers went on a 12-game winning streak that earned them the top spot in the Atlantic. They made it seem like the other teams were standing still as they blew by them.
My first thought was that it wouldn’t last, and they would fall back to where they belong, but now I am second-guessing myself. They continue to win games, and big games like January 22nd when they beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0. The Panthers have 63 points, and only 3 points separate them from the second division spot.
So why are they so successful?
A big part of their success can be tied with their young players. First would be the team’s point leader Jonathan Huberdeau. He has 34 points, and of those points 26 come from assists. This is a great feat for a 4th-year player who is only 22 years old.
A bigger piece of this Florida team would be 2nd-year player Aaron Exblad. Exblad is key to this team; he missed four games thus far and Florida stumbled in those games. Ever since his return to the lineup, the Panthers have found winning ways again. Exblad has 21 points this season, split pretty evenly between goals and assists (10G, 11A).
Finally, it wouldn’t be right to talk about this team without mentioning the great one: Jaromir Jagr. Jagr is second on the team in goals with 15 and in points with 33, only one point behind his line mate Huberdeau. Jagr is still finding ways to succeed in this league and his experience is helping these young kids as they push for the playoffs. I feel it will be interesting to watch this team in the playoffs, and this could be the final push for Jagr and another cup.
If I were to steal Rob Ray’s explanation for why Jagr is this old and still playing: he believes it’s because he has stayed single for all these years. Say what you will, but it makes you really think about his career and what he has achieved.