Back in November of 1997, the Florida Panthers were playing the Colorado Avalanche. This game was special for many players because it marked both personal and league records. Ray Sheppard scored his 11th career hat trick, Scott Mellanby gathered a franchise record of 4 assists, and Ray Whitney had 2 goals and 2 assists while playing for the Panthers. This was their first game under a new coach as well, marking the start of a successful season.
The 2011 Florida Panthers are currently leading the southeast division in the standings, registering 12 wins, 6 losses, and 4 ties. In recent past years, the Panthers had been team who if you asked someone to name 3 players, they could probably name 1… 2 if they were lucky. And this year, it is much of the same. I guess we could consider the past 6 years of the Panthers to be “building seasons”. Nonetheless, this Florida team’s organization has put together a great group of hockey players. This year, the Panthers acquired Kris Versteeg, a forward obtained from the Philadelphia Flyers. Versteeg has helped this organization out by providing a spark in the offense, even if it is just his presence on the bench.
The Florida Panthers are the team to beat right now. In my opinion, their conference is on the weaker side. But once Washington and Tampa Bay gather their rhythm back, I’m sure we will see a race for that number one spot in their division.