While the Panthers have won five of their last seven games, there’s still a lot of work to be done as the team prepares this week to play four teams, all with winning records.
Beginning Monday at BankAtlantic Center against the Kings, the Panthers will play four teams with a combined record of 45-24-7 and three will be on the road against the Sabres, Red Wings and Rangers.
After starting slowly Saturday against the Islanders but still managing a 5-4 shootout win, the Panthers will focus on coming out better Monday night against the league’s leading scorer Anze Kopitar and the Kings.
“We’ve had bad starts all year; it’s been one of our nemesis,” said captain Bryan McCabe after a Sunday practice at incredible ICE. “We’ve got to find a way to come out with a little more fire, a little more urgency. It’s tough to come back in this league. We’ll take the points and build on it because we’ve got a big week with a lot of tough teams. We definitely need to come out stronger, especially at home. We tend to play a better game on the road, a little simpler for whatever reason. But we’ve got to be able to set the tone in our building.”
Coach Peter DeBoer said he’s looking for a “competitive consistency every night” that’s still lacking. “We’re not a hard enough team to play against right now,” he added.
That has to change against the Kings, fifth in the Western Conference with a 12-7-2 record. They rebounded nicely from a 7-0 loss Friday in Atlanta by winning Saturday in Tampa 2-1 when Kopitar scored the lone shootout goal. Goalie Jonathan Quick, who was pulled in the second period in Atlanta, stopped 28 shots in Tampa.
“(Friday’s) game was a rough one, so it was great to see the way the team battled back the night after on the road,” Quick said. “Everyone just dug deep and played a great game.”
Defenseman Rob Scuderi left Saturday’s game in the first period with a lower-leg injury and coach Terry Murray said he would be day-to-day.
PANTHERS LINES SUNDAY
Stephen Weiss, Michael Frolik, Nathan Horton Steven Reinprecht, Cory Stillman, Radek Dvorak Kamil Kreps, Gregory Campbell, Rostislav Olesz Dominic Moore, Kenndal McArdle, Victor Oreskovich
QUOTES OF THE DAY
“We switched them because we were down 2-0 and playing like crap.” DeBoer on why he changed his forward lines during Saturday’s victory against the Islanders.
Don’t forget: The Florida Panthers Foundation is collecting non-perishable food items before Monday’s game right outside the arena for the Cooperative Feeding Program of Broward County.
Canadiens goalie Carey Price did everything but stand on his head Saturday night, stopping a franchise-record 53 shots by the Predators. Unfortunately, the Canadiens couldn’t get many pucks to the net (20) or any in the net and lost 2-0. The Canadiens have dropped four of six games. Reaction by coach Jacques Martin: “We didn’t compete…All we had to do was win one period and we couldn’t do that.”
Home records of the Panthers opponents this coming week: Sabres (7-2-1), Red Wings (7-1-1), Rangers (6-3).
Song of the day: ‘West L.A. Fadeaway,’ by The Grateful Dead.