MIAMI (CBSMiami) – With just more than a month to go in the NHL’s regular season, the Florida Panthers have positioned themselves to fight to the last game for the chance to win the Southeast Division title.
Through 61 games, the Panthers have 70 points on the season. That leads the southeast division by two points over second place Winnipeg and by three points over third place Washington.
The Panthers have chosen the right time to start to heat up too. After gaining a point in an overtime loss to Minnesota last Thursday, the Cats swept a pair of weekend games against the Carolina Hurricanes and the Montreal Canadiens.
Florida takes on Toronto Tuesday night to end a tough month of February. In the year’s second month, the Panthers can move two games over .500 with a win against the Maple Leafs. A loss will drop the Cats to .500 for the month of February.
Still, Florida has dealt with a multitude of injuries throughout the month and even during a recent four-game losing streak, the Panthers have remained the cream of the crop in the Southeast Division.
Things will get much tougher in March as the Cats start the month on the road against the second-place Winnipeg Jets. They then return home for a pair of games against the Nashville Predators and the Ottawa Senators.
Ottawa has had Florida’s number lately, while the Predators are a strong third place in the Western Conference’s Central Division.
If Florida can hold on through March, the squad should be poised and ready for a charge in the playoffs for Lord Stanley’s Cup. If Florida makes it to the playoffs, it will cap off a worst-to-first story the NHL hasn’t seen in several years.
All Florida has to do is keep winning, or at the very least, keep getting points each night. Winnipeg and Washington will continue charging to the front, meaning the Panthers better keep playing their best hockey as the regular season comes to a close.