The Florida Panthers, based in Sunrise, Florida, have been a part of the National Hockey League (NHL) since 1993. In their almost three decades of existence, the Panthers have had their fair share of ups and downs as a team. However, amidst the struggles and triumphs on the ice, a few rivalries have emerged that have added an extra layer of excitement to the Panthers’ seasons. These matchups have sparked fierce competition, close games, and unforgettable moments, making them an integral part of the Panthers’ history.
As fans eagerly await the return of hockey, let’s take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of the Florida Panthers’ most significant rivalries.
A Classic Battle: Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
The Florida Panthers’ rivalry with the Tampa Bay Lightning truly embodies the phrase Battle of Florida. Both teams entered the league in 1993 and quickly became fierce competitors, with passionate fan bases on both sides. The proximity between the two franchises, only a two-hour drive away, has only fuelled the rivalry over the years.
The Panthers and Lightning have faced off against each other 131 times, with almost an even record of 66-198-12-1 in favor of the Panthers. But it’s not just about the numbers; it’s the intensity and drama that have made this rivalry a fan favorite. In 2016, the Florida Panthers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in a thrilling Game 6 of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, ultimately advancing to the second round for the first time since 1996. This game is still talked about among fans as one of the most memorable and historic moments in Panthers’ franchise history.
The Panthers and the Lightning are expected to continue their fierce rivalry in the upcoming season, especially with the Panthers’ recent acquisition of former Lightning star, Anton Stralman.
A Clash of the Titans: Florida Panthers vs. New Jersey Devils
The rivalry between the Florida Panthers and the New Jersey Devils dates back to the 1995-1996 season when the two teams met in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Panthers, in their third year as a franchise, were the underdogs, facing off against the experienced and well-established Devils. The series went to a dramatic Game 7, with the Devils ultimately winning the Stanley Cup. The close and intense series only added fuel to the fire for this rivalry.
Since that momentous season, the Panthers and Devils have faced off against each other 89 times, with the Devils holding a slight edge with a record of 43-38-6-2. However, these matchups have always been highly anticipated due to the talent and skill of both teams. The Panthers and Devils have both had their fair share of success over the years, making their games against each other must-watch for hockey fans.
A Divisional Showdown: Florida Panthers vs. Carolina Hurricanes
The Florida Panthers’ rivalry with the Carolina Hurricanes may be fairly new, but it is undoubtedly an important one. The two teams have been in the same division (Southeast and now the Metropolitan) since 1998, making for competitive and intense matchups.
The Panthers and Hurricanes have faced off against each other 133 times, with the Panthers holding the upper hand with a record of 65-50-5-13. But it’s not just about the wins and losses; this rivalry has produced some intense and emotional games. In 2015, the Panthers and Hurricanes engaged in a line brawl that resulted in multiple ejections and suspensions. This event only added to the intensity of the rivalry and has been talked about among fans for years.
Continuing the Legacy: Florida Panthers vs. Expansion Teams
As the NHL continues to expand, the Florida Panthers have formed rivalries with newer teams such as the Vegas Golden Knights and the Seattle Kraken. The Panthers have faced off against the Golden Knights six times, with an even record of 3-3. However, the Panthers will have the chance to make their mark on the rivalry in the upcoming season as they face off against the expansion team, the Seattle Kraken, for the first time.
These matchups against newer teams may not have the same history as the Panthers’ other rivalries, but they are undoubtedly significant as the team continues to leave their mark in the ever-growing NHL.
The Florida Panthers have had their fair share of rivals over the years, each adding to the excitement and competitiveness of the team. From classic battles against the Tampa Bay Lighting to fierce divisional matchups with the Carolina Hurricanes, these games have produced some of the most memorable and historical moments for the Panthers. As the NHL continues to expand, the Panthers will undoubtedly have the opportunity to form new rivalries, adding to their already rich history.