Panthers Capture 2nd Straight Eastern Conference Regular Season Title
After today's victory over the Winnipeg Jets, the Florida Panthers secured their 2nd straight first place finish in the Eastern Conference. It also marks the 4th straight season the team has taken the SouthEast division crown.
But this year was different than the others, thanks to the hard fought battle with the Carolina Hurricanes for the vast majority of the season.
"If anything, we're very grateful of the Canes having a lot of success this season, " said GM Brock Otten. "I think it pushed us to play better, and it pushed me to make some big moves that made our team better. I think this is the best team I've ever assembled."
The players are equally as thrilled. "This is huge for our organization. I think it's a great accomplishment to take home another regular season title. But best of all, it gives us home ice advantage for the playoffs," said captain Mike Richards. "Now we just have to focus on taking home the grand prize at the end of the playoffs," continued the captain.
Perhaps the biggest reason for the Panthers success this season has been the play of winger Zach Parise, a 50 goal scorer in 2011-2012. "If I had a vote, I'd certainly give him the nod in the Hart Trophy voting," said head coach Todd McLellan. "He's been incredibly consistent for us all season long. Among the league leaders in every category, including plus/minus. I think his resume speaks for itself."
The Panthers finish out the season against the Capitals and the Hurricanes, before awaiting their yet to be determined first round opponent.