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 have clawed their way back into the hunt.
With a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on Saturday, the Panthers (27-20-10) improved to a perfect 4-0-0 on their current five-game road trip, becoming the first team in franchise history to leave the state of California with a completely unblemished record after defeating both the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks earlier in the week.
"It's been a really big road trip for us so far," said Panthers forward Jussi Jokinen, who has six points (4-2-6) in his last five games. "Obviously, we have all the players back now and we have a healthy team, so we're playing with lots of confidence. The bottom line is I think we see the playoff picture."
After winning seven of their last eight games, the Panthers, as Jokinen made sure to point out, have clearly positioned themselves right back into the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, trailing the Boston Bruins by just two points for third place in the Atlantic Division with two games in hand. Florida also sits a mere one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card spot with one game in hand.
"Everybody is healthy, so I think it is a big boost for our club as far as knowing everyone is in the lineup," said Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo, who has won three of his last four starts. "We are getting results, so we see that we are a pretty good team, and we want to keep it going right now."
With 25 games remaining in their regular season, the Panthers, who have scored three-or-more goals in each of their last five games, will need to keep their foot on the gas in the upcoming week, as home matchups against Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa await, following the final game of their current road trip in St. Louis on Monday.
"We're learning how to shut things down and close teams out," Panthers general manager and interim head coach Tom Rowe said.
Here's everything you need to know for the week ahead…
Monday: at St. Louis Blues, 8:00 p.m.
The Panthers will look to finish off a perfect five-game trip away from home when they visit the Blues (31-23-5) at the Scottrade Center on Monday. When looking at the numbers, it's possible that this game will come down to whichever team can manage to convert on the power play, as both Florida (85 percent) and St. Louis (84.6 percent) currently rank among the league's top-five teams in terms of penalty killing. Luckily, the Panthers have been heating up on the power play as of late, scoring three goals with the extra attacker their current trip, thanks in large part to Vincent Trocheck, who assisted on two of those scores.
Panthers vs. Blues this season: 0-0-0
English: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast) *No pregame show on WAXE
Wednesday: Edmonton Oilers, 7:30 p.m.
The Panthers will attempt to turn their recent road-trip magic into a hot start at home when the team kicks off a four-game homestand against the high-octane Oilers (32-19-8) at the BB&T Center on Wednesday. Like the Panthers, the Oilers have been on quite a roll lately, winning four of their last five games behind a series of stellar offensive performances. That being said, the Panthers should have no trouble keeping up with Edmonton in the goal-scoring department, as Florida has averaged an astounding 4.17 goals per game since Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov made their return to the lineup on Feb. 3.
Panthers vs. Oilers this season 0-0-1
English: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 850 WFTL (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast) *WAXE start time 8:00 PM; Spanish: 990 WMYM (Dade/Broward); 760 WEFL (Palm Beach)
Friday: Calgary Flames, 7:30 p.m.
The Panthers should definitely benefit from being the far more rested team when they host the Flames (29-26-4) at the BB&T Center on Friday. Calgary, which will battle the Lightning in Tampa the night before heading to Sunrise, has struggled quite a bit in the latter half of its back-to-back series this season, posting a 2-4-3 record in such contests. With that in mind, look for the Panthers to try and take full advantage of their worn out opponents and come out firing on all cylinders in this game, especially Jaromir Jagr, who has registered five points (2-3-5) in his last five games.
Panthers vs. Flames this season 0-1-0
English: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast) *WAXE star time 8:00 PM; Spanish: 990 WMYM (Dade/Broward); 760 WEFL (Palm Beach)
Sunday: Ottawa Senators, 7:30 p.m.
The Panthers will have a good chance to gain even more ground in the Atlantic Division standings when the Senators (31-20-6) visit the BB&T Center on Sunday. The Panthers, who currently trail Ottawa by four points for second place in the division, have already defeated the Senators twice this season, winning those games by a combined score of 10-6. In this contest, look for Aleksander Barkov to make life hard on Ottawa's goaltender, as the 21-year-old center has notched eight points (5-3-8) in his last six games.
Panthers vs. Senators this season 2-1-0
English: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure coast); Spanish: 990 WMYM (Dade/Broward); 760 WEFL (Palm Beach)
Whether you're a fan DC's Justice League or Marvel's Avengers, there's one team of superheroes that we can all agree is better than the rest when it comes to the NHL - the Panthers.
In an effort to celebrate the world of caped crusaders and otherworldly invaders, the Panthers will be hosting their first-ever Super Hero Night at the BB&T Center on Wednesday, Feb. 22, when the Edmonton Oilers come to town.
With ticket packages starting as low as $25 per person, the night will feature appearances from your favorite heroes and villains, as well as exclusive photo opportunities and a limited edition t-shirt for each participant.
STANLEY'S BIG DAY
It's time celebrate everybody's favorite feline.
With Stanley C. Panther's birthday right around the corner, the Panthers are teaming up with Coca-Cola to host a very special party on Sunday, Feb. 26, when the Ottawa Senators visit the BB&T Center.
Don't forget to wish Stanley a Happy Birthday with #HBDStanley!
- Panthers forward Jonathan Marchessault is one game away from 100 for his career.
- Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle is two points away from 400 for his career.
- Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad is seven points away from 100 for his career.
- Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo needs three victories to surpass Curtis Joseph for sole possession of fourth place on the NHL's all-time wins list.
COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)
-- Former Panthers forward Tomas Fleischmann is helping grow the game of hockey in South Florida, serving as a special guest instructor during a recent series of youth hockey clinics at the Panthers IceDen. Read More.
"The main thing is that I see them smiling before and I see them smiling after," Fleischmann said. "They've enjoyed it. We are having fun and working hard out there. I'm here to make sure they get better. It's good."
-- Jaromir Jagr recently joined Gordie Howe and Chris Chelios as the only players in NHL history to score a goal after turning 45. According to NHL.com, the future Hall of Famer is showing no signs of slowing down either.
-- Panthers 2016 first-round pick Henrik Borgstrom is showing off his skills as a freshman at Denver this season, recording 29 points (15-14-29) in 26 games. You can read up on that and more in our latest prospect report.
-- The Panthers are running a #HeartHealthySelfie contest throughout the month of February in order to raise awareness for heart disease. Fans are encouraged to post a selfie using #HeartHealthySelfie on Twitter and Facebook for a chance to win a selfie with a Panthers player. Click here for More Info.