A year after finishing with the second lowest point total in the NHL, the Florida Panthers find themselves in the thick of the playoff race.
Florida currently has 49 points and sits in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. Only five points separate the Panthers from seventh place. There is a tie between the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins right ahead of Florida.
On its most recent road trip, the Panthers picked up four big wins out of six games played. Florida however has now lost two games straight while the teams ahead of it have won for the most part. Boston has a five-game winning streak and is 6-1-3 in its last ten games while New York is 7-3-0 in its past ten contests.
There are two games left for the Panthers before the All-Star Game takes place. Only Roberto Luongo and Aaron Ekblad will be heading to Columbus for the All-Star festivities. The rest of the team will have a week off to rest up and prepare for the stretch run of the season.
When the season resumes, Florida will have 38 games remaining and plenty of opportunities to gain ground. Three of Florida's first five games following the break will come against teams that sit ahead of it.
The Panthers will resume the schedule on January 27th against the Detroit Red Wings who currently sit in fifth. After games against the Columbus Blue Jackets and New Jersey Devils, Florida will head into a pair of contests in the Big Apple. First up will be the New York Rangers on February 2nd and then the New York Islanders the following day.
Florida has done a good job outside of BB&T Center this year and it will need to continue that to stay in contention. There is a stretch from February 12-24 where the Panthers will play seven of eight games away from Sunrise.
The Panthers will take on the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday and then the Vancouver Canucks on Monday. Both games will take place at home where Florida is 9-6-3 this season.