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Cats & Coffee: Historic at Home; St. Patrick's Day

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 enter this week looking to build on already historic stretch.

With a 4-3 shootout win over the New York Rangers on Saturday, the Panthers extended their winning streak at home to a franchise-record eight games. Since the all-star break, Florida is 10-1-0 in Sunrise, climbing back into the playoff race through a string of incredible performances at BB&T Center.

"I know last year that one of the issues was the home-ice record," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said after Saturday's win. "We wanted to make sure that we established that culture and identity of being a tough place to play in. We wanted to be a good home team. We've certainly done that as of late."

The Panthers (34-25-7) have allowed a mere 16 goals during their eight-game stretch of dominance at home, thanks in large part to the resurgence of Roberto Luongo, who has posted a 7-0-0 record with a 2.10 goals-against average, a .942 save percentage and one shutout during that span.

"We've been winning different ways throughout the stretch," Luongo said. "That's what good teams do. It's all about the team, it's a team effort. There's going to be different guys coming up big every night and that's what we're seeing right now.

"We've been feeling comfortable at home as of late, the crowd has been really supportive and got behind us and we feed off of that. Right now, it just feels that when you're in a rhythm like that, you can just go out and play your game hard and find ways to win every night."

With three games left to play at home this week, Florida will host Ottawa, Boston and Edmonton before hitting the road for eight of its next nine games. With three games in hand, the Panthers currently trail Columbus by just two points for the second wild card spot into the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.

"I think the team is just playing really well right now," Panthers center Vincent Trocheck said. "Earlier in the year when we were playing bad as a team, we were losing games.

"It's just a matter of everyone pulling it together, working hard as a team, playing our system, playing our team game and that's what has been winning us games these past couple weeks."

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

THE GAMES

Monday: Ottawa Senators, 7:30 p.m.

The Panthers will be going for their ninth straight win at home when they host the struggling Senators (23-33-11) at BB&T Center on Monday. Ottawa has lost eight of its last 10 games and is expected to be without top-scoring winger Mark Stone. After suffering a leg injury on Friday in Calgary, Stone, who leads the Senators with 62 points this season, did not make the trip to Florida. Without Stone in the lineup, Ottawa's 25th-ranked offense (2.67 goals per game) should have a hard time going up against Florida's defense, which has allowed two-or-fewer goals in five of the last seven games. For Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle, Monday's matchup will also mark the 700th consecutive game of his career -- the seventh-longest ironman streak in NHL history. At 31, Yandle ranks first among Florida's defensemen in points (46), assists (40) and power-play points (16), while also leading the team in total ice time (1621:38).

Panthers vs. Senators: 1-0-0

TV: FSF

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

Thursday: Boston Bruins, 7:30 p.m.

In the first of four meetings down the home stretch, the Panthers will host the red-hot Bruins (43-16-8) at BB&T Center on Thursday. Boston has won six of its last seven games and currently sit in second place in the Atlantic Division. The Bruins are led by all-star forward Brad Marchand, who has recorded 69 points (29-40-69) in 53 games this season. The Panthers could, however, catch a break in the injury department, as Boston's perennial Selke Trophy candidate, Patrice Bergeron, isn't expected to play due to a foot injury that has sidelined him since Feb. 24. With Bergeron out of the lineup, look for Florida's own two-way terror, Aleksander Barkov, to find his way onto the scoresheet. Since the all-star break, the 22-year-old center has tallied 25 points (10-15-25) in 19 games.

Panthers vs. Bruins: 0-0-0

TV: FSF

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

Saturday: Edmonton Oilers, 2 p.m.

The Panthers will celebrate St. Patrick's Day with an afternoon matinee against the Oilers (30-34-4) at BB&T Center on Saturday. After an abysmal start to its campaign, Edmonton has been looking much improved as of late, winning three straight games entering this week. Connor McDavid leads the Oilers with 84 points (33-51-84) - the third-most points in the NHL - and is coming off a two goal, one assist performance against Minnesota on Saturday. While Aleksander Barkov is likely busy looking after McDavid, expect Vincent Trocheck to have a big night for the Panthers. The 24-year-old center leads Florida with 26 goals and has recorded nine points (5-4-9) over his last nine games. Trocheck also leads the Panthers in shots (231) and power-play goals (12).

Panthers vs. Oilers: 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

- Aleksander Barkov is two goals away from his 100th NHL goal.

- Vincent Trocheck is one point away from his 200th NHL point.

- Jamie McGinn is six assists away from his 100th NHL assist.

- Nick Bjugstad is nine assists away from his 100th NHL assist.

- Roberto Luongo is nine games away from his 1,000th NHL game.

ST. PATRICK'S DAY

You're invited to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with the Panthers. The first 10,000 fans to make it through the doors for Florida's afternoon matchup with the Edmonton Oilers at BB&T Center will receive a special St. Patrick's Day-themed shirt and be in prime position to catch a glimpse of the Panthers special warm-up jerseys. Want to take home a plaid Panthers sweater? Find out how in the Tweet below. 

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: Feeling lucky? Bid today on a signed warm-up worn #FlaPanthers St. Patrick's Day jersey! �� https://t.co/tWYOfe7HAq pic.twitter.com/QNE31QFxX7

TERRITORY TALK

It's finally here! The Panthers brand-new podcast, Territory Talk, launched last week, with hosts Doug Plagens and Jameson Olive sitting down to chat with Panthers forward Nick Bjugstad to discuss the team's playoff push, nicknames and Harry Potter. New episodes of the show will be available weekly for the remainder of the season and bi-weekly during the offseason. With in-depth discussions, interviews and analysis, this is the go-to podcast for staying in touch with Panthers Territory. You can listen to the first episode or subscribe on iTunes HERE

WRESTLING NIGHT

The world of suplexes and slap shots will collide once again when the Panthers host their second-annual Pro Wrestling Night during their matchup against the Edmonton Oilers at BB&T Center on Saturday. In addition to several Coastal Championship Wrestling matches on the JetBlue Tarmac prior to puck drop, there will also be a live edition of the "Something to Wrestle" podcast with Bruce Prichard and Conrad Thompson, marking the first time the duo has ever performed in South Florida. For tickets and information, click HERE

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: This is not a rib. The #FlaPanthers��Second Annual Pro Wrestling Night will be on March 17 featuring a live edition of Something to Wrestle with @bruceprichard & @heyheyitsconrad. #RoyalRumble2018 #RoyalRumble �� https://t.co/QPJ3QExvbV pic.twitter.com/XjET259aVP

HUNT FOR THE PLAYOFFS

As the Panthers push towards the playoffs, we want you to join the hunt. The newly unveiled "Panthers Playoff Hunt 4 Game Ticket Package" allows fans to build their own four-game package as the team heads down the home stretch in March and April. In addition to catching the excitement of a playoff chase, fans who purchase this package will also enjoy special benefits, including playoff pre-sale access, best available seat locations and discounted prices from single-game pricing.

Seating options include:

- 300 Level Goalzone x1/2x: $23.25

- Club End: $42

- 100 Level Sideline: $65

- Row 2: $125

For more ticketing information, click HERE

CATS IN THE COMMUNITY

Tweet from @FlaPanthersCARE: A brand new #LearnToPlay Class is taking the ice today @PBSkateZone! pic.twitter.com/sil7sT3OLS

Tweet from @SylvesterCancer: Hockey Fights Cancer tonight as the @FlaPanthers take on the @NYRangers. #UniteForCures pic.twitter.com/LdMJkUrIhZ

Tweet from @StanleyCPanther: The @SpecialOlympics is awesome! A lot of stellar athletes out here today. I even got to see my buddies Burnie and TD. @MDCollege @SOFLHC #oneterritory pic.twitter.com/hADw2edLqf

COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)

- U.S. women's hockey gold medalist Emily Pfalzer recently visited BB&T Center

- Frank Vatrano scored in his debut with the Panthers. Hear what his coach and teammates had to say about his play. 

- The Panthers signed Patrick Bajkov to an entry-level contract

- At 38, Roberto Luongo is playing some of the best hockey of his career

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