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Cats & Coffee: Heading West in Search of Answers

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 return home briefly to host the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night at BB&T Center before heading West for a pivotal three-game road trip against the San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks.

The Panthers (5-9-2) enter this week sitting at the bottom of the Atlantic Division standings after concluding their recent 1-2-0 road trip with a 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.

"I'm really disappointed," Panthers head coach Bob Boughner said after the game. "I'm happy with our effort and execution. I thought we deserved better."

Can the Pacific Ocean wash away what's ailing the Panthers?

Well, last season the Panthers did prove they could conquer California, briefly climbing back into the playoff picture in mid-February by sweeping the Sharks, Ducks and Kings for the first time in franchise history.

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

THE GAMES

Tuesday: Dallas Stars, 7:30 p.m.

The Panthers will open their week with a one-game homestand against the Stars (9-7-0) on Tuesday at the BB&T Center. Florida has been slightly better at home than on the road this season, posting a 3-3-2 record in Sunrise. The Stars have won four of their last six games and are led by John Klingberg, who leads all NHL defensemen in points (18). In this contest, look for Jonathan Huberdeau to find his way onto the scoresheet, as Florida's scoring leader has six points (2-4-6) in six career games against Dallas.

Panthers vs. Stars in 2016-17: 1-1-0

TV: FSF

Radio: 560 WQAM (DADE/BROWARD); 640 WMEN (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS); 1370 WAXE (TREASURE COAST) *WAXE Start Time 8:00 PM

Thursday: at San Jose Sharks, 10:30 p.m.

The Panthers will kick off their crucial west coast swing with a late-night matchup against the Sharks (10-6-0) at the SAP Center on Thursday. The Sharks enter the week having won six of their last seven games, thanks in large part to the play of their top-ranked defense, which is currently allowing a paltry 2.25 goals per game on average. Still, after spending the last two seasons behind San Jose's bench as an assistant, Panthers head coach Bob Boughner likely has a few surprises in store for his old team in this one. In this contest, look for Aaron Ekblad to be a facilitator on offense. The 21-year-old leads Florida's defensive corps with eight points (3-5-8) from the blue line this season.

Panthers vs. Sharks in 2016-17: 1-1-0

TV: FSF

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

Saturday: at Los Angeles Kings, 4:00 p.m.

Florida's road trip rolls on with an afternoon game against the Kings (11-4-2) at the Staples Center on Saturday. Like San Jose, the Kings are off to a hot start behind the play of their defense, which currently ranks second in the league in goals against (2.41) and first in penalty killing (91.9 percent). In order for the Panthers to crack L.A.'s defense, they'll need to see more production from Keith Yandle, one of the quarterbacks of their 22nd ranked power play. Although he has spent plenty of time on Florida's top power play unit, Yandle has recorded just one point with the extra attacker so far this season.

Panthers vs. Kings in 2016-17: 1-1-0

TV: FSF

Radio: 880 WZAB (DADE/BROWARD); 640 WMEN (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS)

Sunday: at Anaheim Ducks, 8:00 p.m.

The Panthers will wrap up their west coast trip with a rematch against the Ducks (7-7-3) at the Honda Center on Sunday. Florida defeated Anaheim, 8-3, on Oct. 26 at the BB&T Center - the Panthers biggest margin of victory of the season. In this contest, look for Radim Vrbata to potentially light the lamp for the Panthers, as the veteran forward scored his seventh-career hat trick in Florida's previous win against Anaheim.

Panthers vs. Ducks: 1-0-0

TV: FSF

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

MILESTONE WATCH

- Mike Matheson is one game away from 100 for his NHL career.

- Nick Bjugstad is three games away from 300 for his NHL career.

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

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

SKATE OUTDOORS IN SOUTH FLORIDA

The Panthers, the City of Fort Lauderdale and Hoffman's Chocolates recently announced that they will be partnering to host two outdoor ice skating rinks in South Florida during this holiday season.

"Our Holiday Rinks allow Panthers Fans to enjoy the holiday season with the Cats in Ft. Lauderdale and Lake Worth," Panthers Chief of Staff Sean McCaffrey said. "We're excited to work with the City of Ft. Lauderdale and Hoffman's Chocolates to offer a unique and family-friendly ice skating experience to our South Florida Community."

The Palm Beach rink will officially open on Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. and the hours of operation will be: Monday to Friday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Santa Claus, taking time out of his busy schedule, is scheduled to appear at the Palm Beach rink starting Nov. 24 every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Starting Dec. 14, he will be there every night from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The Fort Lauderdale rink will open on Sunday, Nov. 26 and run through Jan. 7, 2018. The hours of operation will be Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The Panthers will be offering a special Panthers ticket package at both rinks that will begin at $25 for an upper level ticket voucher and $55 for a lower level ticket voucher.

For addresses and admission prices, please click the Tweet below. 

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: You heard it right! The #FlaPanthers announce TWO outdoor ice skating rinks for the 2017 holiday season.�� https://t.co/pYYyVLcyro pic.twitter.com/RZmiGesIZ3

TURKEY DRIVE

The Panthers and Harvest Drive will partner to host a Turkey Drive on Monday, Nov. 20 at BB&T Center where fans are encouraged to bring frozen turkeys to the JetBlue Tarmac.

Founded in 1992, the goal of Harvest Drive is to not only provide local families with food and other non-perishable goods, but to also teach children that they can and must give back to their community.

Harvest Drive has 16 distribution sites located throughout Broward County, with more than 180 public schools currently participating in the collection of non-perishable food.

With the help of local schools and organizations, Harvest Drive assisted more than 2,800 food-insecure families in 2016.

CATS IN THE COMMUNITY

Tweet from @FlaPanthersCARE: Thank you to all of the veterans who came out to the Virtual Honor Flight - A Mission of Thanks! Your service is truly appreciated! pic.twitter.com/Z0es4SJYCJ

Tweet from @FlaPanthersCARE: We���re honored to be hosting the Virtual Honor Flight with Honor Flight South Florida today @thebbtcenter. pic.twitter.com/OzNViPu5Kh

Tweet from @FlaPanthersCARE: We had a great time working with @BestBuddiesFL with their Best Buddies Ambassador Training program today! pic.twitter.com/nIUR3l59SH

COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)

- The Panthers acquired defenseman Ludwig Bystrom from the Dallas Stars.

- The Panthers recently recalled forward Dryden Hunt from Springfield (AHL).

- Hockey Fights Cancer hits home for Vincent Trocheck this season

- How good has 2016 first-round pick Henrik Borgstrom been this season? Find out in the latest installment of our "In the Pipeline" series.

- Need tickets for an upcoming game? Check out our Value Pack! 

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: All good things come in fours, so grab your Value Pack and come watch some #FlaPanthers hockey! �� https://t.co/L96aQcFINE pic.twitter.com/lqygarZXU1

 - Time is running out to bid on Hockey Fights Cancer jerseys! 

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: Don't forget to bid on a limited edition Hockey Fights Cancer warm-up jersey. Online auction ends 11/19!�� https://t.co/hEOhisfjS6 pic.twitter.com/yyj2fTB8mR

- Are you a fan of beer and hockey? Then make sure to check out our first-annual "Pucks & Pints" beerfest on Saturday, Dec. 9.

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: Come join us for some tasty brews at our first ever Pucks & Pints event with @GoldCoastBev on 12/9! �������� https://t.co/sunbQPzEhJ pic.twitter.com/dZPOw81uUD

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