Let’s get this straight. The Florida Panthers were where before their five-game road? And after that treacherous swing of away games they did what and are now where in the Atlantic Division?
On the day of Feb. 10, Florida was ready to embark on five-city road excursion, starting in Nashville. The Panthers won the Atlantic Division a year ago, but started slowly, in fact so slowly they fired coach Gerard Gallant and were roundly criticized for the move. (Including this reporter) Sitting in 12th place in the Eastern Conference and 15 points behind Montreal for the division lead, the chances of Florida generating much support for NHL picks was remote at best for this trip.
The Panthers offense has ranked in the 20’s in the league all season, but scored seven times in Nashville and six goals four days later in San Jose to start the trip 2-0. From there, GM and now head coach Tom Rowe was able to lean on his defense and they held Anaheim, Los Angeles and St. Louis to four total goals and earned 10 points in five contests, a franchise-best and they moved up to seventh in the conference and are only four points behind the slumping Canadiens in the Atlantic.