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Playoff Hopes: Dream the Impossible Dream?

Playoffs2 If the Panthers lose to the Canucks tonight -- and believe it or not kids, that is a possibility -- Florida could slip eight points back of Tampa Bay for second in the division but remain six points back of idle Philadelphia for eighth in the east.

Of course, the Flyers would have two games in hand.

Check out James Mirtle's breakdown of the east race and he thinks 87 points will do the trick in the watered down east this year. Boomer on XM's Home Ice agrees.

So, with the Panthers sitting at 57 points with 23 games left, they have some makin' up to do.

To get to 87 points (and I'm not sure that's going to cut the mustard), Florida would have to get 30 of the available 46 points.

That's a lot of points for a team that has lost four straight and five of six. AND, has yet to win more than three straight at any point in the past two seasons.

A loss tonight and that means the Panthers would have to get those 30 points with 22 games. With a three game trip through the west (Minnesota, Denver, San Jose), three games to Canada (Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa), a few up north (Buffalo, Boston) and games remaining against Tampa Bay (twice to close), Atlanta (there) and Washington (0-7 against the Caps so far).

So where are these points coming from?

Your guess is as good as mine.

I have no idea.

-- Could a move happen tonight or tomorrow before Friday's 3 p.m. Olympic break trade deadline?

Surely. As Goldie pointed out today, it would actually make sense for the Panthers to make a deal. Sure, you probably won't have the player for Saturday's game but you would have that player(s) the week before the Olympic break ends -- kind of a mini training camp.

Truthfully, if they lose these next two, it really doesn't matter a whole lot.

-- Is Tomas Vokoun untouchable? I would think so, but crazier things have happened.

Vokoun is Florida's MVP to date and there are some teams out there who would love to have him between the pipes for a true playoff run.

If the Panthers were to be offered a lot -- and decided all that money off the books looks better each day -- they may be tempted.

Now, would T-Vo waive his no movement clause if asked? Wouldn't you?

Of course, Vokoun has another year on his contract and the Panthers might want to extend that although with Jacob Markstrom coming up, that is doubtful (he's going to want multiple years at similar dollars).

So, Vokoun is eventually going to be in play, right? Next year he'll be in the final year of his contract and a UFA meaning he could walk for nothing.

There are rumors Vokoun could be on the block this offseason, but with the Panthers out of it, what's the difference whether he's moved in March or in June?

And I am just assuming that the Panthers would be looking to move Vokoun in the summer although they may not. They may be content going into next season with Vokoun and try another stab at this whole playoff thing.

After getting nothing for Bouwmeester really (Jordan Leopold doesn't count) can the Panthers afford to not get anything for Vokoun as well?

-- Of course, the Panthers could win two straight here to go into the break with a nice little shot of confidence, come back with a stronger Stephen Weiss and David Booth, get Nathan Horton back and all is well.

And that very well could happen.

The Panthers coming out strong tonight and beating a very beatable (these days) Vancouver team would not surprise me at all. The guys looked pretty ticked the other night in Raleigh. Maybe that was the final straw, that wake up call everyone needed.

We'll see pretty soon, eh?

Eastern Conference Standings courtesy of ESPN.com/nhl
Washington 60411278923-3-318-9-4239167+729-0-1Lost 1
New Jersey 59362037519-9-117-11-2155137+183-5-2Lost 3
Buffalo 58321887218-7-614-11-2160147+132-6-2Lost 5
Pittsburgh 60362227418-10-118-12-1190172+186-3-1Won 1
Ottawa 60342247222-8-312-14-116716709-1-0Won 1
Montreal 61292666415-12-414-14-2160167-76-3-1Won 1
Philadelphia 58302536317-11-213-14-1170156+146-4-0Won 2
Tampa Bay 582621116317-6-69-15-5150167-177-2-1Won 4
Boston 582522116113-12-612-10-5141148-72-5-3Won 2
Atlanta 58252495913-10-412-14-5175187-124-4-2Lost 1
NY Rangers 60262775913-15-413-12-3153165-122-8-0Lost 1
Florida 59242695712-10-612-16-3153171-183-6-1Lost 4
NY Islanders 60242885615-11-29-17-6151186-352-8-0Lost 1
Carolina 59223075114-12-38-18-4159189-307-3-0Won 3
Toronto 601930114911-13-58-17-6162204-422-6-2Lost 1