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Cats & Coffee: Five-Game Road Trip; First Trip to Vegas

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

Good morning and welcome to "Cats & Coffee," a weekly segment presented by Community Coffee in which we get you caffeinated with an exciting look at the week ahead for the Florida Panthers.

The Florida Panthers will begin a five-game road trip this week looking to shake off any remnants of Saturday's 7-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche at BB&T Center.

With a chance to finish off their homestand with five of a possible six points, a mixture of missed opportunities and missed assignments doomed the Panthers, as goaltender James Reimer finished the game with four-plus goals allowed for the eighth time this season.

"Every team gets breakdowns," coach Bob Boughner said after the loss. "That's when you need your goalie to make a big save. We didn't allow a lot of chances tonight. We didn't. The ones that we did went in the net."

The Panthers (11-14-4) are 1-2-2 in their last five games and have scored more than three goals just three times in their last 12 games. They are without injured center Aleksander Barkov (lower body) and right wing Evgenii Dadonov (upper body), who have combined for 17 goals between them this season.

Barkov is expected to return to early this week, while Dadonov is just around two weeks into his initial 4-6 prognosis. Until they both return, the Panthers will need to see improvement up and down the lineup heading into a crucial week. "Not having Daddy and Barky in the lineup, sooner or later, it's going to catch up to you," Boughner said.

Here's everything you need to know for the week ahead…

THE GAMES

Monday: at Detroit Red Wings, 7:30 p.m.

Florida's road trip will begin with a matchup against the Red Wings (11-13-5) at the new Little Caesar's Arena in Detroit on Monday. The Red Wings, like the Panthers, are also entering this week on the back of a blowout loss. Detroit, which has dropped eight of its last nine games, suffered a 6-1 defeat at the hands of St. Louis on Saturday. With their defense in a rut, the Red Wings have allowed a whopping 27 goals over their last five games. For the Panthers, look for Jonathan Huberdeau to take advantage of Detroit's shaky defense, as the top-line winger has six points (1-5-6) over his last four games.

Panthers vs. Red Wings: 0-0-1

TV: FSF

Radio: 560 WQAM (DADE/BROWARD); 640 WMEN (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS); 1370 WAXE (TREASURE COAST)

Tuesday: at Chicago Blackhawks, 8:30 p.m.

The Panthers will have a shot a redemption when they battle the Blackhawks (14-11-5) at the United Center on Tuesday. A 4-1 loss to Chicago on Nov. 25 has been described by a handful of Panthers players as the moment the team "took a step back" earlier in the season. In the seven games since that defeat, the team has won just three times. Looking for a spark, a win here could be exactly what the Panthers need to turn the tide. In this contest, the Panthers will need to capitalize on what is expected to be a limited amount of opportunities, as the Blackhawks currently boast the league's sixth-ranked defense (2.7 goals allowed per game). With that in mind, look for Aaron Ekblad to do some damage from the blue line for Florida, as the 21-year-old defenseman enters this week in the midst of a career-high, three-game goal streak.

Panthers vs. Blackhawks: 0-1-0

TV: FSF

Radio: 880 WZAB (DADE/BROWARD); 850 WFTL (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS); 1370 WAXE (TREASURE COAST)

Thursday: at Colorado Avalanche, 9:00 p.m.

Less than a week after a lopsided loss at the BB&T Center, the Panthers will have a chance to split their season series with the Avalanche (13-13-2) at the Pepsi Center on Thursday. As it was in their last meeting, Florida's ability to win this follow-up matchup will come down to whether or not the team can contain Colorado's lethal top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen. In their win on Saturday, both MacKinnon and Rantanen lit the lamp against the Panthers. In order to erase the sting from that loss, the Panthers will need to take advantage of the Avalanche's porous defense, which has allowed four-or-more goals in three of its last four games.

Panthers vs. Avalanche: 0-1-0

TV: FSF

Radio: 560 WQAM (DADE/BROWARD); 640 WMEN (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS); 1370 WAXE (TREASURE COAST)

Sunday: at Las Vegas Golden Knights, 8:00 p.m.

It'll be a meeting of past and present when the Panthers make their first-ever visit to Las Vegas to face the expansion Golden Knights (19-9-1) on Sunday. Easily one of the league's biggest surprises this season, the Knights currently sit in second place in the Pacific Division, thanks in large part to the efforts of three former Panthers. After hiring ex-Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant, Las Vegas plucked Jonathan Marchessault from Florida in this summer's expansion draft and acquired Reilly Smith in exchange for a fourth-round pick. So far, all three have been succeeding in their new surroundings. Marchessault is tied for first on the Knights in points (26), while Smith is tied for fourth (22).

Panthers vs. Golden Knights: 0-0-0

TV: FSF

Radio: 560 WQAM (DADE/BROWARD); 640 WMEN (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS); 1370 WAXE (TREASURE COAST)

MILESTONE WATCH

- Aleksander Barkov is two points away from his 200th NHL point.

- Jamie McGinn is four points away from his 200th NHL point.

- Colton Sceviour is five points away from his 100th NHL point.

- Vincent Trocheck is two assists away from his 100th NHL assist.

CATS & COCOA

The Panthers will host their annual Cookies & Cocoa event on Friday, Dec. 22 at the BB&T Center, when the Minnesota Wild make their only visit to South Florida this season. In addition to enjoying the action on the ice, all tickets purchased for this event will also include a very special pre-game holiday cooking decorating contest with, you guessed it, plenty of hot cocoa to go around. And when there's cookies and cocoa, Stanley C. Panther usually isn't far away.

Click HERE to learn how you can purchase tickets. 

HOLIDAY SKATING RINKS

With cool weather rolling in this week, there's no better time to get your winter clothes out of storage and head on over to our holiday outdoor skating rinks.

The Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale rinks are open Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Santa Claus, who we are pretty sure is a Panthers fan, is scheduled to appear at the Palm Beach rink every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. After Dec. 14, Saint Nick will be there every night of the week from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. What's it like to ice skate outdoors in South Florida? Panthers Mark Pysyk and Jamie McGinn recently found out. 

Video: Boat Ride with Jamie McGinn and Mark Pysyk

For addresses and admission prices, please visit FloridaPanthers.com/holidayrinks.

CATS IN THE COMMUNITY

Tweet from @FlaPanthersCARE: We���ve got some incredibly special military heroes tonight!https://t.co/swpIuQpuit pic.twitter.com/XEriCvHcg0

Tweet from @FlaPanthersCARE: Welcome,@BrowardSTEM! pic.twitter.com/EzV2CeNxIk

Tweet from @FlaPanthersCARE: We've got a Champion from each South Florida Rink here tonight to compete in the Mini 1 on 1 Shooutout Competition! pic.twitter.com/WOql0065FQ

COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)

- NHL All-Star voting has begun! Vote for your favorite Panthers HERE.

- The Panthers will retire No. 37 in honor of franchise founder H. Wayne Huizenga on Jan. 19

- Micheal Haley played the role of hero last week for the Panthers

- The Panthers honored the women of WWII during an in-game ceremony on Saturday.  

- 11-year-old Jessica King has a new best friend - Shawn Thornton. You can find out why HERE

- Give the gift of hockey this holiday season. 

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: 2 tickets to 3 games, parking, holiday shirts and an autographed puck all for $99? You don't want to miss out on this holiday spectacular! �� https://t.co/ujOh3VQc75 pic.twitter.com/bMWHYmMo3Y

 

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