In some ways, nothing ever changes for the Florida Panthers. The team starts poorly, makes a late-season push and inevitably falls short of the playoffs.
But a shift of some sort is already underway, with perhaps more serious changes to follow.
By their usual early-season standards, the Panthers have been pretty sturdy of late, pulling to within spitting distance of a playoff spot. Much of the success is due to unheralded backup-turned-starter Craig Anderson and his league-leading .940 save percentage.
Meanwhile, No. 1 defenseman Jay Bouwmeester has long been rumored to be on the block thanks to his pending unrestricted free agent status this July. It has been reported the Bouwmeester sweepstakes is heating up and it’s increasingly likely the big blueliner will be out of Florida before the trade deadline passes.
Still haven't lost at home in regulation after 18 games
Phil Kessel has a 15-game, month-long point streak going
League's best power play clicks nearly 30 percent of the time
Showed their explosiveness with a four-goal third period in a 6-5 come-from-behind win over Carolina
Patrick Kane will have a 100-point season before he's 170 pounds
Simeon Varlamov stopped 32 shots in Montreal to win his first NHL start Saturday
Thirteen of Teemu Selanne's 14 goals have come on the power play
Chris Drury is on pace for just 42 points this season
Zach Parise could become first Devil ever to score 50 goals
Looks as though Marc-Andre Fleury will be back this week after a month on the sideline
Injury bug attacking Habs, with captain Saku Koivu the latest victim
Just trying to tread water until Roberto Luongo makes his return
This team is simply allergic to consistency
J-P Dumont quietly producing at nearly a point-per-game clip
Rookie Michael Frolik finding his game with nine points in past eight contests
Dropped five straight and didn't score more than two goals in any of the defeats
Maxim Afinogenov is essentially an afterthought on this club
Dwayne Roloson playing like the No. 1 man
Getting Olli Jokinen back last week was a big boost for Phoenix
Maybe Anze Kopitar, with seven points in his past five games, is finally coming alive
Up to Cam Ward or Eric Staal to take this team by the neck and shake them
Mike Van Ryn is back and fellow blueliner Jonas Frogren shouldn't be far behind
Without a doubt the worst third jerseys we've seen this year
Does Sean Avery go down as the most regrettable free agent signing ever?
Sakic's 20th season has quickly turned into a complete nightmare
Solid team at home, but need to get much better on the road, where they play eight of their next 11 games
One more really high pick could make the Blues a great team in the not-so-distant future
Must be happy to see prospect Angelo Esposito finally make Canada's national junior team
Stamkos last draft, John Tavares or Victor Hedman this year?
Have surrendered more goals than any other NHL team
The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 each Monday based on a combination of last week’s play and a squad’s overall outlook.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.