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Cats & Coffee: Homestand Ends; Luongo's Jersey Retired

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

Good morning and welcome to "Cats & Coffee," a weekly segment, presented by Koffee Kult, in which we serve up an exciting look at what's on deck for your Florida Panthers. Like our friends at Koffee Kult, this forecast serves up only the best -- so sit back, sip and enjoy our latest brew of news, notes and information!

The Florida Panthers enter this week looking to right the ship on home ice.

After hosting the Boston Bruins in a crucial tilt on Thursday, they'll close out their five-game homestand with a matchup against the Montreal Canadiens at BB&T Center on Saturday.

"We've left some points and a lot of gravy on the table here at home," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. "That's the tough part about it. But we created it, so it's up to us to fix it."

With 16 games left on their schedule, the Panthers (33-26-7) currently trail the Toronto Maple Leafs (35-23-8) by five points for third place in the Atlantic Division. The two clubs also have one head-to-head matchup remaining, which will take place on March 23 at Scotiabank Arena.

"I've always liked to look at it like it's a completely different league in the second half," Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad said. "It's not as easy to score goals. It's a much tighter game. I think we haven't found a way to crack that code yet. We really need to here soon."

Saturday's game against Montreal will also mark a special night for a goaltending legend.

After hanging up his skates this past summer, Roberto Luongo will have his No. 1 jersey raised into the rafters during a pre-game ceremony before the Panthers and Canadiens hit the ice. An unforgettable event, the festivities will begin at 5 p.m., with doors to the arena opening at 4 p.m.

Originally selected by the New York Islanders with the fourth-overall pick in the 1997 NHL Draft, Luongo was traded to the Panthers on June 24, 2000, ushering in an era of "Luu!" chants and excellence in net, including a 2003-04 season in which he finished third for the Vezina Trophy.

A veteran of 19 NHL seasons -- including parts of 11 with Florida -- he ended his career ranking second in games played by a goaltender (1,044), third in wins (489) and ninth in shutouts (77).

So what do you say, are ready to bring the "Luu!" chants back for one more night?

For more information on Luongo's jersey retirement ceremony, continue reading below!

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

THE GAMES

Thursday: Boston Bruins, 7:00 p.m. ET

The Panthers will look to get their playoff push back on track when they host the Bruins (41-13-12) in the penultimate game of their homestand on Thursday at BB&T Center. Sitting atop the Atlantic Division, Boston enters the week with wins in seven of its last nine games, including a 4-0 win at the New York Islanders on Saturday. A potential Vezina Trophy finalist this season, Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask has been on cruise control in recent weeks, going 7-3-0 with a .935 save percentage and two shutouts over his last 10 starts. Up front, David Pastrnak leads the team in goals (47) and points (91), while Brad Marchand paces the club in assists (56). Over his last nine games, Pastrnak has found the back of the net nine times. Meanwhile, at the other end of the ice, look for Mike Hoffman to lead the charge on offense for the Panthers. Ranking first on the team in goals (27) and second in points (56), the 30-year-old winger has produced at a point-per-game clip in his last 14 games, racking up eight goals and six assists in that span.

TV: FSF

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

In-Arena Activations: 50/50 Raffle; FDOT Takeover Night, PantHER Happy Hour

Tickets: HERE

Saturday: Montreal Canadiens, 7:00 p.m. ET

Wrapping up their five-game homestand, the Panthers welcome the Canadiens (30-28-9) to BB&T Center on Saturday. Montreal enters the week with wins in three of its last five games and is fresh off a 4-3 overtime win over Carolina on Saturday. Tomas Tatar leads Montreal in goals (22), assists (39) and points (61). Extending his point streak to three games against the Hurricanes, the 29-year-old forward has posted one goal and five assists in that span. In 27 career games against Florida, he's racked up 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists). For the Panthers, look for captain Aleksander Barkov to make some magic happen in the offensive zone. Sitting in second on the team in scoring with 62 points (20 goals, 42 assists), the 24-year-old center has traditionally had a lot of success against the Canadiens. In 23 career games against Montreal, he's registered 27 points (16 goals, 11 assists) -- his most points against any single opponent. Prior to the game, the Panthers will hold a special ceremony as they raise Roberto Luongo's No. 1 jersey into the rafters. For more information on the event, continue reading below.

TV: FSF

Radio: 790 WAXY (DADE/BROWARD); 640 WMEN (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS); 1370 WAXE (TREASURE COAST)

In-Arena Activations: 50/50 Raffle with Guaranteed Pot of at Least $25,000; Baptist Health Takeover Night; Territory Takeover (Hollywood / Dania Beach); Roberto Luongo's pre-game jersey retirement ceremony.

Tickets: HERE

MILESTONE WATCH

- Keith Yandle is one goal away from his 100th NHL goal.

- Brett Connolly is three goals away from his 100th NHL goal.

- Mike Matheson is four games away from his 300th NHL game.

PROSPECT SPOTLIGHT

Danick Martel has gotten off to a hot start with AHL Springfield.

Acquired in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning back on Feb. 20, the 25-year-old forward has posted five points (one goal, four assists) in five games since the move. Making a splash in his debut with Thunderbirds, he registered a goal and an assist in a 4-1 win over Hartford Feb. 21.

In 57 AHL games this season, Martel has posted 35 points (17 goals, 18 assists).

HE WAS NUMBER ONE

This was a night fans have seen coming for quite a while.

In honor of his contributions to the Panthers and the NHL, Roberto Luongo will become the first player in franchise history to have their number retired when his No. 1 sweater is raised into the rafters of BB&T Center during a special ceremony before Saturday's matchup against Montreal.

"Roberto is a cornerstone of Panthers history and an icon of the game," Panthers Owner & Governor Vincent J. Viola said of the honor. "He has represented himself and the Panthers with tremendous dignity, determination and a standard of excellence throughout his career.

"Roberto exemplifies what it means to be a Florida Panther. His level of commitment to this franchise, his teammates, his family and the South Florida community is second to none. There is no player more deserving to be the first Florida Panther to have his jersey number retired."

Officially retiring on June 26, 2019, Luongo ended his long and illustrious playing career ranking second in NHL history in games played by a goaltender (1,044), third in wins (489) and ninth in shutouts (77). As of now, he is one of only three goaltenders to have played 1,000 NHL games.

Spending 19 seasons in the NHL -- including parts of 11 with the Panthers -- Luongo was a three-time finalist for the Vezina Trophy (2003-04, 2006-07, 2010-11), a finalist for the Hart Memorial Trophy (2006-07) and was a finalist for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (2017-18). On the international stage, the Montreal native helped Canada win gold at the Winter Olympics in 2010 and 2014, while also capturing gold at the 2003 and 2004 IIHF World Championships.

For more on Luongo's incredible career, visit FloridaPanthers.com/Luongo.

Since this is such a special occasion, doors to the arena will be opening a 4 p.m. You're also going to want to make sure that you get into your seats rather early, as the ceremony is set to commence at 5 p.m. All fans in attendance will also receive a scale replica of Luongo's banner.

If you'd like to purchase tickets to the jersey retirement ceremony, click HERE

NETWORKING HAPPY HOUR

The Panthers will be hosting a special "PantHER Happy Hour" presented by Spectra Baby USA on Thursday from 6-7 p.m. at BB&T Center prior to the team's game against Boston.

A fun networking mixer, all fans are invited to share in on the fun at the Coors Light Cold Zone.

For tickets to game, click HERE.

CATS CLIP OF THE WEEK

The Panthers held a special puck drop to kick off their "Kids Day" festivities on Sunday.

Video: CGY@FLA: Panthers hold puck drop for kids day

CATS IN THE COMMUNITY

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: Face painting, photo ops and snow cone machines! @BrowardHealth providing fun on Kids Day at @thebbtcenter. pic.twitter.com/iaqoV3lWmS

Tweet from @FlaPanthersCARE: We���re honored to welcome tonight���s @mossconstruct Community Champion @BrowardHealth. pic.twitter.com/Zrm0f6eKjp

Tweet from @StanleyCPanther: Surprise visit to @RivergladesElem for Amelia���s going away party. Good luck in New York. #alwaysacat #oneterritory pic.twitter.com/CFxQRHOjIB

TERRITORY TALK

On the latest episode of the Territory Talk podcast, Jameson Olive and Katie Gaus discuss what Panthers fans can expect from Erik Haula and Lucas Wallmark down the home stretch after the gifted forward duo came over from the Carolina Hurricanes at last week's NHL Trade Deadline.

COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)

-- Territory Memberships are on sale now! 

-- Need to fix a line? Just call Noel Acciari. 

-- Want to get on the ice? The "Adult Learn to Play" program is back! 

-- The Panthers recently assigned goaltender Chris Driedger to AHL Springfield on a conditioning assignment. 

-- Sergei Bobrovsky posted one of his best starts of the season last week in Arizona. 

-- The "Pucks & Pints" Beerfest is coming back to BB&T Center. 

-- You have until March 9 to enter the #BestLife contest for a chance to win an amazing trip. 

-- The Panthers addressed their present and future at last week's NHL Trade Deadline. 

-- Peer into the past with the Panthers Virtual Vault, presented by Baptist Health. 

-- Want to watch the Panthers battle the Blues from a suite? RedCon1 wants to make it happen. 

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