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Cats & Coffee: Panthers, Bobrovsky Heating Up as Homestand Rolls On

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 are hitting their stride on home ice.

Wrapping up last week with back-to-back wins over the Columbus Blue Jackets and San Jose Sharks, the Panthers have kicked off their franchise-record, nine-game homestand with six out of a possible eight points in the standings to move into second place in the Atlantic Division.

Florida currently sits at 15-9-5 on the season, including a 9-4-2 record at home in Sunrise.

"Over the course of this homestand, you take away one period out of the 12 we've played, and we've been pretty pleased with how we've played from start to finish for most of the games," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. "For the most part, [there's been] a lot of good things."

Already boasting one of the top-ranked offenses in the league, the Panthers also appear to be turning a corner on the defensive side of the puck. Over the first four games of their homestand, they've barely given opponents any good looks while allowing one-or-fewer goals three times.

A big part of that defensive resurgence has been a return to form for Sergei Bobrovsky, who stopped a combined 63 of 65 shots over the weekend to lead the team to back-to-back wins.

"He looks like he's very settled into that positioning," Quenneville after Sunday's win over San Jose. "I liked his composure. He was square to the puck and aware of the rebounds. He was in control all game long. He had a quick couple toe, leg saves… He had a very good weekend for us."

Looking to stay hot and keep their momentum going, the Panthers will face three very tough tests this week as they host the Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Islanders and Boston Bruins.

"We know we have a tough week coming up," Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau said. "You look at the schedule and there's some division teams, some other tough teams coming in. We've got to be ready for that. We've got to take advantage of being at home."

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

THE GAMES

Tuesday: Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:00 p.m.

After splitting their first two matchups earlier in the season, the Panthers will face off against the Lightning (14-10-3) once again at BB&T Center on Tuesday. Tampa Bay has lost four of its last six games, but enters the week fresh off a 7-1 win over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. The top-ranked offense in the league with an average of 3.74 goals per game, the Lightning are led by the trio of Nikita Kucherov (31 points), Victor Hedman (27 points) and Steven Stamkos (25 points). Kucherov is also tied with Brayden Point for the team-lead in goals with 10. As for the Panthers, who boast the league's fourth-ranked offense at 3.52 goals per game, look for Sasha Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau to both do some damage in this game. Tied for the team-lead in scoring with 36 points each, the top-line duo has combined for 16 goals and 30 assists over the last 17 games. Of those 16 goals, 11 of them have come while the team is at even strength. In their most-recent matchup, the Panthers topped the Lightning 4-3 in Sunrise back on Oct. 5.

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; Same Here South Florida; Caravan of Joy Toy Drive with NBC6 and Twin Peaks; Nacho Tots Tuesday; Holiday Jersey Auction at Foundation Table outside Club Lexus

Tickets: HERE

Thursday: New York Islanders, 7:00 p.m.

In their final matchup of the regular season, the Panthers will look to avoid a sweep against the Islanders (19-7-2) at BB&T Center on Tuesday. Florida has gone 0-1-1 against New York so far this season, losing one game in the shootout and the other by a goal. As for the Islanders, they enter this week on the heels of a 3-1 loss at the Dallas Stars on Saturday. After having their 17-game point streak snapped on Nov. 25, they've lost four of their last seven games. Led by the two-headed monster of Thomas Greiss (.930 save percentage) and Semyon Varlamov (.923 save percentage) in net, New York owns the fourth-ranked defense in the league, surrendering an average of 2.43 goals per game. However, look for Brett Connolly to put a little dent in that defense for the Panthers. The 27-year-old winger and sneaky-amazing offseason pickup leads the team with 14 goals this season, including eight over his last 10 games. He also ranks tied for fifth on the team with 21 points and has cracked the scoresheet in nine of the last 11 games.

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; $5 Beer Thursday; Star Wars Night; Cooper and Hunter Takeover Night

Tickets: HERE

Saturday: Boston Bruins, 7:00 p.m.

A month after their epic comeback in Boston, the Panthers will host the Atlantic Division-leading Bruins (20-4-6) at BB&T Center on Saturday. In their last meeting, Florida clawed back from down 4-0 in the third period to win 5-4 in a shootout at TD Garden on Nov. 12 - the first time the team has ever erased such a deficit to win a game in franchise history. Heading into this week's rematch, the Bruins are looking to shake out of a two-game skid after a 4-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. Prior to their current losing streak, they had won eight in a row. Boston is led up front by Brad Marchand (44 points) and David Pastrnak (43 points). Pastrnak also has 25 goals, which leads both the team and the league. Over his last 11 contests, the 23-year-old winger has lit the lamp nine times. For the Panthers, look for Keith Yandle to contribute some offense from the blue line against his hometown team. Entering this week on a five-game point streak, the 33-year-old veteran leads Florida's blueliners in points (26) and ranks second among the league's defensemen in assists (23). In his last 14 games, he has two goals and 16 assists.

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 with Guaranteed Pot of at Least $25,000; Territory Takeover (Sunrise/Plantation); World of Coca-Cola Polar Bear Appearance

Tickets: HERE

IN A GALAXY NOT SO FAR AWAY

If you hate sand like Anakin Skywalker, skip the beach this week and head to BB&T Center.

The Panthers will host their fifth-annual Star Wars Night on Thursday during their battle with the New York Islanders. In addition to the action on the ice, there will also be Jedi, Sith, droids and Stormtroopers parading around the arena for some fun photo opportunities throughout the night.

And even though it's not exactly pod racing, hockey might just be as fast.

By purchasing tickets HERE, fans will receive a ticket to the game and a special edition T-shirt.

SAME HERE SOUTH FLORIDA

The Panthers have partnered with "We're All Little "Crazy"' to host "Same Here South Florida," a Mental Health Awareness Night during Tuesday's matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Founded by sports business veteran and former Panthers executive Eric Kussin, "We're All A Little "Crazy"' is a 501(c)(3) with a mission of showing that mental health is a topic for everyone.

"After being an athlete and having a career in professional sports, I saw my world drastically changed. It was then that I realized that life experiences that we all face at varying levels unite us to one team," Kussin said. "It was from this realization that the #SameHere movement was born and I look forward to bringing the movement and discussion to South Florida next month."

Prior to the game, Kussin will share his personal story of a life-changing mental health decline and how it led to him to changing the global conversation through mental health advocacy. By purchasing tickets HERE, fans will receive access to the pre-game event and a T-shirt.

WIN BIG AT THE CITY FURNITURE TAILGATE

There's a party going on outside BB&T Center this weekend.

Prior to Florida's matchup with the Boston Bruins at 7 p.m., fans are encouraged to arrive to the arena a bit early for a City Furniture Tailgate at the City Lounge by City Furniture at 4:30 p.m. At the event, fans will be provided with complimentary sliders and hot dogs. There will also be discounted beer and giveaway goodies.

Two lucky fans will also be leaving with big prizes.

By posting photos on social media from the tailgate with both of the hashtags #OneTerritory and #CityFurniture, fans can win either a signed Panthers jersey or a $500 gift card to City Furniture.

City Furniture will randomly select two winners at the tailgate.

PANTHERLAND HOLIDAY HOURS

Looking to get some holiday shopping into your schedule? Then you're in luck! 

On Saturday, Dec. 14, Pantherland will be open from 3-5 p.m. for fans who do not have a ticket to the game but want to shop in the official team store.

For more info, click HERE

MILESTONE WATCH

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

- Brian Boyle is four assists away from his 100th NHL assist.

- Jonathan Huberdeau is four games away from his 500th NHL game.

- Jonathan Huberdeau is five points away from his 400th NHL point.

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

PROSPECT SPOTLIGHT

Spencer Knight continues to make headlines at Boston College.

Last week, the stellar 18-year-old goaltender was named the National Rookie of the Month by the Hockey Commissioners Association after an absolutely dominant November in which he posted a 7-1-0 record with a 1.12 goals-against average, .959 save percentage and two shutouts.

Over his eight starts last month, he never allowed more than two goals in a single game.

Selected 13th overall by the Panthers in the 2019 NHL Draft, Knight enters this week on a nine-game winning streak after backstopping the Eagles to a pair of wins against Notre Dame over the weekend. In those games, he let in just one goal while stopping a combined 53 of 54 shots.

Just 15 games into his freshman campaign, Knight boasts an 11-4-0 record, 1.73 goals-against average, .940 save percentage and is currently tied for the NCAA-lead with four shutouts.

CATS CLIP OF THE WEEK

What's it like down on the ice? Check out Noel Acciari's recent mic'd-up feature for an inside look! 

Video: Mic'd Up: Noel Acciari

CATS IN THE COMMUNITY

Tweet from @FlaPanthersCARE: Tonight we���re honored to welcome @CityFurniture Hero Among Us WWII veteran Arnold Kann and his family to the #FlaPanthers game. pic.twitter.com/MxUilPRzOW

Tweet from @MSAASports: The MSAA & the Florida Panthers are bringing floorball to our middle schools! Fox News was there to interview Forest Glen today! @fgms_principal @s_dorfman @BCAA_Sports @browardschools @FlaPanthers pic.twitter.com/ZVqDk3XUUl

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: Today we had the very special opportunity to visit three South Florida Hospitals.��� pic.twitter.com/MXoy9r0yUi

TERRITORY TALK

On the latest episode of the Territory Talk podcast, goaltender Chris Driedger joins the show to discuss his road to the NHL and how it felt to post a shutout in his unforgettable Panthers debut.

COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)

-- Let's send a Cat to captain the Atlantic Division at the 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis!

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: Cats fans, you can now vote for your #FlaPanthers #NHLAllStar through Dec. 20 by going to https://t.co/FVxNuqAqKg! ��� pic.twitter.com/fAVL13HY4M

-- You can bid on Panthers "Holiday Crazy Sweaters" until Dec. 15!

-- A World War II veteran recently spent his 100th birthday with the Panthers.

-- The Panthers have joined TikTok!

-- After missing some time with an injury, MacKenzie Weegar felt great in his return to Florida's lineup.

-- Give the gift of Panthers hockey with a personalized "Flex Plan" this holiday season.

-- The Panthers recalled Aleksi Saarela from AHL Springfield.

-- Feeling nostalgic this week? Check out pieces of Panthers history in the Virtual Vault.

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