The Florida Panthers are officially headed to the postseason following a loss by the Boston Bruins on Sunday.
Florida had a huge come from behind win on Saturday, but was unable to celebrate a playoff berth. Following the win, the Panthers were a near certainty for playoff qualification and now that goal has been reached. Florida still has plenty to play for as it tries to win the Atlantic Division and secure a good seed.
The Panthers have not seen the playoffs since the 2011-12 season when they were knocked out in the Conference Quarterfinals by the New Jersey Devils. It was in that season that the Panthers won their first ever division title as well. Since that year, Florida has finished with 36, 66 and 91 points respectively.
The 2015-16 season has been a resounding success for Florida after building momentum last year. The Panthers have been atop or near the top the Atlantic Division nearly all season long. Their 44 wins is the most in franchise history and the team's 97 points shows the Panthers are one of the elite teams in the NHL this year.
Seeding is going to come down to the wire and makes a tremendous difference in potential success. Third-seed Florida is only one point back of the second seed, but is also only two points up on the fifth seed. Finishing fourth or better will allow the Panthers to hold a home-ice advantage in the first round. While the Panthers play well on the road, there is no question they would prefer an extra game at BB&T Center.
Winning on the road is something Florida will need to do to earn the extra game in Sunrise. Three of Florida's final four games will come away from home. After stops in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, the Panthers will host Carolina on the final day of the season.
The Panthers will take on the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday at 7:30 p.m.