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For the eighth time in nine years, the Florida Panthers failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Despite rallying down the stretch and finishing with 86 points, a lengthy slump in November (eerily similar to one in November 2005) killed their playoff hopes.

Yet despite the woeful record of futility there are very encouraging signs that the Panthers could be on the verge of a breakthrough.

The roster has shown signs of real progress, gaining points in the standings in each of the past five years. In 2001-02, they amassed a mere 60 points, but since then they've had seasons of 70, 75, 85 and 86 points.

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