The Florida Panthers are one of the final four teams remaining in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And they have a 1-0 series lead over the New York Rangers in the 2024 Eastern Conference Finals. One aspect of their game that has helped them to this point is their physicality. Though that has led to discipline issues, head coach Paul Maurice is unbothered by those issues.

The Panthers head coach spoke with reporters during the first intermission of Friday night's game. He was asked about the discipline of his team throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Maurice, as he often does, delivered a rather hilarious response to those questions. “Nobody’s been arrested yet,” the veteran bench boss said, via former Los Angeles Times columnist Helen Elliott.

Florida has not taken their foot off the gas pedal in Game 2. They have recorded five penalties during the first two periods against the Rangers. At the time of this writing, the Panthers are tied 1-1 with New York during the third and final period of regulation.

Panthers are no strangers to penalty woes

Florida Panthers head coach Paul Maurice looks on against the Boston Bruins during the third period in game five of the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amerant Bank Arena.
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers and their players are rather familiar with the penalty box. During the 2022-23 regular season, Florida had the second most penalty minutes in the league with 998. Only the Ottawa Senators incurred more penalty minutes across those 82 games than the eventual Eastern Conference champions.

In the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, that trend remained constant. The Panthers earned the most penalty minutes of any postseason team with 379. Behind them was the Vegas Golden Knights with 352. Vegas defeated Florida during the 2023 Stanley Cup Final in five games.

Florida was certainly no more disciplined during this past season. In fact, the Panthers were one of two teams in the league to record more than 1000 penalty minutes. They finished second in the league, just one minor penalty shy of the Anaheim Ducks. Anaheim had 1108 penalty minutes but finished near the bottom of the league record-wise.

As of this writing, Paul Maurice's team is not the most penalized team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That distinction belongs to the Boston Bruins. Florida defeated the Bruins in the second round of this year's tournament. If they advance to the Stanley Cup Final, Florida is likely to overtake Boston in total penalty minutes.

Paul Maurice has revitalized Florida

Paul Maurice arrived in Florida as head coach ahead of last season. At first, the sailing was rather rocky. The Panthers struggled for parts of the 2022-23 season. In fact, they made the Stanley Cup Playoffs largely on the back of journeyman goalie Alex Lyon. And they went down 3-1 to the Bruins in round one.

By now, hockey fans are aware of the story. Florida came back to defeat the Bruins in that series. Then went on to dominate their way to the Stanley Cup Final. But the Panthers didn't experience a decline after that remarkable playoff run. They were one of the best teams in the league this year. And they're close to another appearance in the Stanley Cup Final.

Maurice has been a major influence on the team's turnaround. Under the veteran bench boss, Florida has played with a lot more physicality. And they have been able to adapt to their opposing team's style, finding ways to win no matter who they are against. Part of the reason for their success is the team's penalty kill.

Florida takes more penalties than most teams in the NHL, as previously established. But they don't let those penalties sink them. In fact, they have the third-best penalty kill in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Only the Rangers and Edmonton Oilers have a better time killing penalties.

The Panthers are on the cusp of a return to the Stanley Cup Final. They may take penalties, but Florida finds a way to overcome that and win games. It helps that their physical play on the ice has yet to lead to legal issues, as Maurice expressed on Friday night.