Can I not have nice things? Today, the Tampa Bay Lightning completed their sweep against the Florida Panthers with an Andre Vasilevsky shutout and a 2-0 final in Tampa.
Yes, that Florida Panthers. The ones who scored the most goals in a single season (under the cap era) just ended their season by being shutout 2-0 to the Lightning. According to Frank Seravalli, that’s the first time the Panthers have been shutout ALL SEASON LONG. So ya know, that’s just-
The Panthers were absolutely dominant this season. They won the President Trophy, put up a 58-18-6 record, and 122 points in the standings. During that magical regular season, they scored 340 goals while allowing just 246 against. But for some reason into the playoffs, they just could not for the life of them get that scoring going. In Round One against the Capitals, the Panthers took 6 games to close out the series. They scored 20 goals throughout that series, Carter Verhaeghe was lighting it up with 6 goals and 12 points in 6 games played. The Panthers relied heavily on goaltender Sergi Bobrovsky, he played all 6 games and stopped 163 of the 180 shots he faced. But they closed out the series, they were scoring more goals than they were letting in, it seemed like maybe if they washed away the first round butterflies then everything would be fine.
But when the Panthers moved into Round Two against the Lightning, their sudden ‘playoff power play troubles’ were their downfall. Despite being 24.43% on the power play heading into the playoffs, the Panthers went into their series with the Lightning with 0 power play goals in 18 opportunities. That would be an absolute thorn in their side through the remaining four games of their season.
In a series where they ended up being outscored 13-3, closing out those power play opportunities really would have been a game-changer. One of said 3 goals they scored in this series was on the power play and that brought the Panthers’ playoff power play total to 1 for 31. Of course, power play troubles aren’t the end all be all when it comes to why the Panthers were swept but it’s a big part of it. They had those 31 changes to get something to stay alive and just nothing would do. Their offense as a whole went absolutely silent. Bobrovsky played all four of these games as well, Spencer Knight didn’t get his chance to see a second of playoff hockey this year. Even if they did swap in Knight for a night, there’s only so much he can do with a cold offense at his feet.
It was such a swift ending for this incredible Panthers team. They were top contender all season, all of Round One, and then they just fell silent. Obviously, if you’re not new here, you know the number one reason I was pulling for them was my man Claude Giroux. After so many tough years in Philly, I was praying to the Hockey Gods that this was his year. That he would finally be able to raise the Cup. After getting traded from Philly right after his 1,000th game, to 23 points (3G 20A) in his first 18 games as a Panther, then putting up 8 points (3G 5A) in his first 9 playoff games since the Bubble, right up until his final shifts tonight, I was praying this was his year. He deserved it like no other. Giroux and Jumbo Joe Thornton were the two people I wanted to see finally get their name on that Cup. Looks like I will be moping for yet another season. At least I have my bucket hat:
Find more at ham-sports.com
Visit our shop here
Tweet me @shortman_hams
Tweet us @ham_sports
Featured Image: Jasen Vinlove via NBC Sports