This season, there was no question. No doubt. No surprise.

Whereas it took until the final days of the 2022-23 regular season for the Florida Panthers to punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- before embarking on a run that would take them to the Stanley Cup Final -- this season it was long assured. The Panthers, who spent the season battling the Boston Bruins for the top spot in the Atlantic Division, were a lock.

But even as the Panthers clinched their fifth straight trip to the postseason on Thursday, their postgame dressing room wasn’t exactly overflowing with joy. The coach, Paul Maurice, said he didn’t feel like talking about it and their stars were muted.

“I appreciate the questions and I’m just a grumpy old man,” Maurice said. “So I’ll answer them all them all tomorrow. I don’t feel like talking about good things right now.”