2. Florida Panthers
The Florida Panthers come in at number two on the power ranking, but they missed the top spot just barely.
Their star players in Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau are firing on all cylinders, and they have the ability to come back from huge deficits (though I wish I knew this in other ways than I currently do…). They have a big, physical team as well, playing a style that has found success in the postseason (as literally all of these teams do).
However, the Panthers brought in Ben Chiarot and Claude Giroux during the trade deadline, adding needed depth on defense as well as a solid third-line center for the playoffs. On top of this, Aaron Ekblad is expected to return to the lineup for the playoffs. They have added three big names for the postseason who they expect to be the finishing touches to a potential Stanley Cup champion. This looks to be a very well-rounded team that can play any kind of game they want and succeed with it.
However, there is some concern.
First off is their goaltending, which Sergei Bobrovsky has proven that can be feast or famine. Him, along with Spencer Knight, are a great goaltending tandem, but they can get cold at any moment which may be a scary thought for Panthers fans. He can be that goalie who swept the Lightning, or he could be a goaltender who allows seven goals in one game. IF Bobrovsky is on form, then the Panthers are in a great position to make a long run.
But, there is their inexperienced coach in Andrew Brunette. As he is inexperienced, coming in to lead the team after the resignation of Joel Quenneville, I do not know how good he is at making adjustments on the fly. He could be like Craig Berube who led the St. Louis Blues to the Stanley Cup, but until I see his first playoff series I’ll look at it with cautious optimism.
IF everything goes right for the Panthers and they prove me wrong with my concerns, then they earn their second place ranking. If they don’t, then the Toronto Maple Leafs overtake them for number two.