After missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a record-setting 10 straight seasons, the Florida Panthers’ first playoff game since 2000 ended just like their last postseason contest -- with a loss. The Panthers quickly fell into a 3-0 hole on Friday and lost Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series to the New Jersey Devils, 3-2.
The Panthers have now lost their last nine playoff games. Bill Clinton was still in office the last time Florida won a postseason game, a 3-0 win over the New York Rangers at Miami Arena to open the 1997 playoffs.
Some other quick notes on the Panthers’ playoff losing streak:
• All nine losses have been to the NHL’s New York-area teams. The first four defeats of the streak came against the Rangers, and the last five have been at the hands of the Devils.
• Offense has been an issue for the Panthers during their playoff losing streak. They've been held to two goals or fewer in seven of the nine defeats.
• The Panthers have been in almost every game during the playoff drought. Their Game 1 loss on Friday was the seventh one-goal loss of the streak, with two of the defeats coming in overtime.
Also of note:
• In the 15 years since their last playoff victory, the Panthers have had 10 different head coaches: Doug MacLean, Bryan Murray, Terry Murray, Duane Sutter, Mike Keenan, Rick Dudley, John Torchetti, Jacques Martin, Peter DeBoer (now coach of their playoff opponent, New Jersey) and Kevin Dineen.
• Four current NHL teams (the Predators, Thrashers/Jets, Blue Jackets and Wild) were not even in existence when the Panthers last won a postseason game.
Heading into today's Game 2, the good news for Panthers fans is that they are nowhere near the all-time record for consecutive playoff games losses. That belongs to the Chicago Blackhawks, who once lost 16 in a row. However, the Blackhawks’ playoff losing streak ran far fewer years, lasting from 1975-80.