The Florida Panthers are a team on the rise in the NHL. After an underwhelming 2013 season they made a 25 point jump in 2014 and were just 7 points out of a playoff spot. They occupied the tenth spot in the Eastern Conference by the end of the season. With plenty of young talent on the roster and a few seasoned veterans, Florida looks to continue the upward trajectory in the 2015 season.
The Florida Panthers schedule starts out very light in 2015. They play many teams that finished below them in the 2014 standings throughout the first month of the season. Their first tough tests come in the form of a back to back against Pittsburgh and Chicago. Pittsburgh is a team they will be looking to surpass in the standings this year and Chicago is the gold standard of the NHL. Both games happen to be on the road, which is one area the Panthers must improve in order to obtain a playoff berth this year. In November, Florida will get a good test with back to back games against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning are a young team that have already reached the pinnacle of the sport and they will provide a good test for the young Panthers. This back to back followed by games against the Ducks and the Rangers makes up the toughest stretch of the Panthers 2015 schedule.
Graphic via foxsports
The Florida Panthers schedule has another challenging stretch when the calendar turns to 2016 as they face the Lightning twice and the Blackhawks once in a four game stretch. Overall, the Panthers schedule is up and down. They do not have the hardest schedule in the league by any means but they do have some rocky stretches where they will need to avoid losing streaks. One of those stretches comes at the very end of the regular season. If the Panthers want to take the next step and reach the playoffs this year, they will most likely need to finish the season strong. Two of their last five games come against last year’s second seed in the east, the Montreal Canadiens. One thing the Panthers have going for them this season is a full year with goaltender Roberto Luongo. Luongo is one of the veterans that can make a huge difference on this team. He is one of the better goalies in the NHL and will keep them in most games. Then it will be on their young players to provide the necessary points on the offensive end. The Florida Panthers schedule is difficult and could be the deciding factor for a young team attempting to grow up and reach the playoffs.
Graphic via miamiherald