The Florida Panthers Advance to the Next Round of Stanley Cup Playoffs

Allison Gould, Print Editor-in-Chief

On May 3, South Florida’s National Hockey League team, the Florida Panthers, played against the Washington Capitals in their first game in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Prior to the playoffs, the team had a record-breaking season, ending with a total of 122 points, winning the first President’s Trophy in the team’s history. The trophy is awarded to the team that ends the regular season with the best overall record.

Throughout the season, the Panthers advanced to the first seed in their division — the Atlantic Division — which consists of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres. 

During the NHL playoffs, the top three teams per division have guaranteed spots in the postseason, meaning after the regular season is over, the top two winners within the division are given playoff spots. To complete each conference’s seeding – those being Eastern and Western – there are two spots deemed “wild cards” that are taken by the next best teams with the best records. Overall, there are 16 participating teams, eight per conference.

The Panthers had a guaranteed spot within the Eastern Conference due to their record and played the Capitals who took the second wild-card spot. In order to progress to the next round of playoffs, the team needed to win four out of seven total games in the previous round. On May 13, the Panthers beat the Capitals in the sixth game of the series in overtime, with a final score of 4-3. In hockey, overtime works in a sudden-death manner, meaning that as soon as a team scores one goal to take the lead, the game is over. 

On May 17, the Panthers played their first game in the second round of playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning. In the second round of the playoffs, the teams still play other teams within the conference. The Panthers will not play teams in the Western Conference unless they make it to the final round of the tournament, fighting for the Stanley Cup title. The Panthers, in order to progress to the next round in the finals, now must beat a team that has won the title for the past two years, but after the season that the Panthers have had, it is not impossible for them.

“The Lightning were great, they had their wins in the past, but their team is older and it’s time for a new Florida team to claim the Stanley Cup,” Miami Palmetto Senior High senior Analysse Humaran said. “The Panthers have their best team yet this year, their first ever President’s trophy speaks for itself, so, I’m betting they move on to the next round.”