Carter Verhaghi, the new generation of the Panthers End’s NHL playoff series won by drought

Carter Verhagé may not remember when the Panthers won the Eastern Conference Finals in 1996, but he will not forget when they won the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Verhaeghe had 12 points in the Panthers’ 4-2 Series win over the Capitals, but no point was more important than the previous one: an overtime goal from Game 6 from a superb pass from possession deadline trade-off Claude Giroud to win the match 4-3.

Verhaeghe was just 9 months and 18 days old when the Panthers beat the Penguins to advance to the Stanley Cup Final 26 years ago. Since then, it has been rebuilt after rebuilding as the team searched for its identity. Looks like she found one.

Florida set an NHL record for goals in a salary cap era of 331, with the likes of Verhaeghe, Giroux, Jonathan Huberdeau (franchise record 85 assists) and Sam Reinhart up front. Captain Alexander Barkov won the Silke Cup last season as the best striker in the league. Aaron Ekblad proves the blue line.

More: When was the last time the Maple Leafs won a playoff series?

The Panthers, not even one of the youngest teams in the league this year (20 in the NHL with an average age of 27.78), is celebrating a feat that half of the team wasn’t alive last time that happened to the organization.

As if the stakes weren’t high enough for the Maple Leafs on Saturday, the Panthers’ drought ending gives the Leafs their longest active run without winning the game series. Toronto hasn’t won a series since 2004. Maple Leafs will play Lightning in Toronto in the Decisive 7 game.

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Near the Maple Leafs are the Sabers, who have not won in 15 seasons (2007).

The Panthers will play the winner of the Maple Leafs-Lightning series in the second round.

And Verhaeghe’s 12 points tied for most of the playoffs with Oilers’ player Conor McDavid, who also plays in Saturday’s game seven against the Kings.

This, of course, is just the first step for the Panthers. The 2021-22 Presidents Cup winners have lofty ambitions for this season. But winning this series is a huge monkey off the team’s back.

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