The NHL’s season is in danger of ending on a cliffhanger after the Florida Panthers fell behind 2-1 to the Ottawa Senators Saturday night, and the league’s playoff outlook is being questioned by the team’s fans.
In a blog post, NHL vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford said the Panthers’ chances of making the playoffs were “close” to zero.
“The odds of us winning the Stanley Championship are near zero.
It’s been a long and hard year for our organization,” Rutherford wrote.
“We will continue to fight for championships, we will not stop until we have them, and we will always win them.”
Rutherford acknowledged that the Panthers had a tough season.
“This is a tough time for our franchise and we’re all hurting right now,” he wrote.
“I can only imagine how hard it’s been on our entire organization, and I’m so sorry for our fans and our players, for our city, for us as a team, for the fans who have supported us for so long.”
The Panthers are tied with the Minnesota Wild for second place in the Atlantic Division and are just three points behind the Ottawa Sens in third place.
The Senators and New York Islanders are tied for fourth place in their division and have the second-best record in the league at 19-9-2.
The Panthers, who will face the Boston Bruins on Sunday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., are playing in their eighth Stanley Cup Playoffs game and are the fourth team in NHL history to win four straight Cups.
In October, the Panthers and Sens shared the Stanley Playoffs for the first time since the 1993-94 season.
Carolina won the Cup and Sens defenseman Sergei Gonchar was named the game’s MVP.
“That’s the only time in my life I’ve been a part of a championship team winning four straight.
It doesn’t happen that often,” Gonchar said Saturday.
“I’m really excited about the next challenge for our team.”