Panthers Painfully Close to Clinching Playoffs, but Keep Blowing It

With the Marlins Park opening today and the Heat clinching a playoff birth, South Florida hasn't been paying too much attention to another potential milestone sports story. The Florida Panthers (that's our hockey team in case you're wondering) are painfully close to not only reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2000, but winning their first division championship ever. Yet, they somehow manage to keep blowing it. 

The Panthers could have clinched both the division title and the playoff birth last night with a win against the Winnipeg Jets. They were up 3-0, but started falling apart during the second period. The Jets tied it up 4-4, and then finished the Panthers off in overtime. 

The Cats have now lost 7 of their last 8 games, and appear to be falling apart after a surprisingly successful season. 

The season has now come down to official nail bitter status, as the team only has two more games left. 

All the team has to do to get into the playoffs is score one more point in the NFL's ranking system. They don't even have to win. They just have to take a game to overtime (something they seem to be ridiculously good at) and they're in! 

The main team standing in their way: The Washington Capitols. The two teams play tomorrow at the Bank Atlantic Center in what's shaping up to be the biggest regular showdown of the season.  If the Capitals win their last two games and the Panthers lose their last two in regulation, then the Capitals are Southeast Champs. The Panthers just need to avoid a complete breakdown, or hope the Capitals lose out and they've ended the longest standing playoff drought in the NHL. 

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Kyle Munzenrieder