Carolina Panthers: Clinching 5th Straight Playoff Berth Fuels Hunger for More

Carolina Panthers playoff streak

This season was clear cut – no doubts or surprises occurred in any regard.

While in 2022-23, the Florida Panthers needed until the final days of the regular season to secure entry to the Stanley Cup Playoffs — before embarking on a journey all the way to the Stanley Cup Final — their ticket had long since been punched this time around; as they spent much of this season competing against Boston Bruins for the top spot in Atlantic Division, they had every reason to expect they would qualify.

Carolina Panthers playoff streak

On Thursday night when they officially booked their fifth straight postseason berth, however, their postgame dressing room wasn’t exactly filled with celebration. Coach Paul Maurice indicated a desire not to discuss anything further, and their stars seemed relatively subdued after victory.

“I appreciate all of the inquiries, though I am currently feeling quite cranky. So I will answer each of them tomorrow; at present, I don’t feel up for discussing good things.”

As soon as Detroit fell to Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday at Amerant Bank Arena, their spot became assured; that was their sixth loss out of seven and second in succession for them.

Panthers playoff berth 5th straight season

Still, seeing their name appear next to that “X” must bring immense satisfaction.

“This loss was definitely disappointing,” defenseman Aaron Ekblad stated. “It would have been wonderful if we’d been able to secure victory and see an X on our scorecard, but unfortunately, that could have happened as well.”

“But any time we experience that feeling of disappointment, we should consider all our accomplishments for the year and making the playoffs is no easy task – especially given that there were times this past season when making them was extremely challenging – but everyone in this room should receive at least some credit for being part of such an achievement.”

Carolina Panthers postseason aspirations

Last season, the Panthers secured their playoff berth on April 11 when both Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins suffered defeat – they then had one remaining game before moving into the Eastern Conference First Round. Now there are nine left; plenty of time for the team to hone its game, relax a bit, and prepare itself against an opponent that remains unknown from Round 1.

“Last season, it came just prior to the final game of the season; now there’s some breathing space here,” stated captain Aleksander Barkov after notching his 700th career point during Sunday’s loss. “Of course, we know there’s much work ahead and that our performance must improve significantly, particularly from recent performances.”
Since making their NHL Qualifying Round debut in 2019-20, the Panthers have reached five straight postseason appearances – previously, this streak had never spanned more than two seasons!

Panthers NFL playoff contention

And that should be celebrated!

Maurice noted before the game that it can be challenging for any team to remain competitive for extended playoff runs. With five teams now having made the postseason, only six could do it this year; when making them seems easy enough — follow your normal approach, play your game — but actually, staying there requires hard work.”

Since 2012, the Panthers have emerged as one of the League’s elite teams. Only six other teams boast longer active playoff appearance streaks: Boston (eight appearances plus this year’s clincher! ), Toronto Maple Leafs (7), Colorado Avalanche (6), Tampa Bay Lightning (6) and Carolina Hurricanes (6 appearances plus this season) as well as now, themselves; now it is their turn!

They have worked diligently, yet know there is more work ahead.

“Every game counts towards playoffs; even Game 1 in the regular season can serve as preparation,” Barkov noted. “Now that playoff season is rapidly approaching, everyone’s getting excited, but we must also remain mindful that every single match must also bring our very best efforts from us before then.

Carolina Panthers playoff clinch

Last season, they reached the Final before falling short against the Vegas Golden Knights in five games. Knowing all too well the fine line between losing against the Boston Bruins in their seven-game first-round series last season and becoming one of two final-standing teams this time, this Lightning knows just what is required of them in order to excel during playoff play.

“Our main priority right now is finishing as high as we possibly can and securing home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs,” Ekblad noted. “Building our game up for playoffs has been ongoing since Game 1, so this will continue for those last nine games and any needed tweaking.”

Panthers still have nine games remaining before beginning playoff play, and 22 days remain until the starting point is set for their playoff run.

The Panthers understand first-hand just what’s required of them during the playoff run.

“We’re hungry,” forward Sam Bennett stated. “We had our chance, came close but fell just short, and everyone in this locker room is desperate for their chance at victory – this group’s willingness to go the distance speaks for itself. We won’t rest until victory has been secured!”

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