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 looking to recharge their batteries a little bit.
With Thanksgiving on Thursday, the team will play just two games this week, starting with a matchup at the Washington Capitals on Wednesday. After that, they'll head home, eat some turkey and then kick off a nine-game homestand against the Nashville Predators on Saturday.
Despite dropping back-to-back games against the Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres over the weekend, the Panthers enter this week still in a great position. They've won seven of their last 12 games overall and, at 12-7-5, currently reside in second place in the Atlantic Division.
After closing out last week with an exhausting stretch of three games in four nights, Panthers winger Brett Connolly said the rest should be beneficial as the team looks to get back on track.
"We've got a couple days to recharge and get ready for Washington on Wednesday," Connolly said. "It doesn't get any easier. Every team in this league is so good so you've got to be ready to go every night."
Here's everything you need to know for the week ahead…
Wednesday: at Washington Capitals, 7:00 p.m.
Their last road game for almost a month, the Panthers will visit the Capitals (16-4-5) at Capital One Arena on Wednesday. Entering this week sitting in first place in the Metropolitan Division, Washington has lost four of its last seven games, including a 2-1 shootout loss to Vancouver on Saturday. Tied for the fifth-ranked offense in the league (3.52 goals per game), Alex Ovechkin leads the team in goals (15), while John Carlson has the most assists (28) and points (36). The highest-scoring defenseman in the league, Carlson has notched 13 points (one goal, 12 assists) over his last nine games. As for the Panthers, look for Brett Connolly to have another good night against his former team. Leading the team with 11 goals - including 10 at even-strength - the 27-year-old winger has found the back of the net five times over his last five games. In Florida's only previous game against the Capitals this season, Connolly, who played three seasons with Washington before joining Florida, scored one goal in a 5-4 overtime loss in Sunrise on Nov. 7.
Radio: 560 WQAM (DADE/BROWARD); 640 WMEN (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS); 1370 WAXE (TREASURE COAST)
Watch Party: Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park.
Saturday: Nashville Predators, 7:00 p.m.
After short Thanksgiving break, the Panthers will return to the ice to kick off a mammoth nine-game homestand against the Predators (10-9-3) on Saturday at BB&T Center. After losing six games in a row, Nashville enters this week on the heels of a 4-2 win at St. Louis on Saturday. One of the biggest issues for the Predators in recent weeks has been on the defensive side of the puck, where they've surrendered 32 goals over their last seven games. Overall, the team ranks 26th in the league in defense, giving up an average of 3.36 goals per game. On offense, Roman Josi leads the team in scoring with 22 points, while Filip Forsberg has netted a team-high 10 goals. Deploying a balanced attack, seven different players on the team have at least 15 points. For the Panthers, look for Jonathan Huberdeau to pick up more than a few points of his own in this contest. Leading the team with 30 points (10 goals, 20 assists), the 26-year-old winger has recorded at least one point in 18 of 24 games this season. In his career against the Predators he's also put up good numbers, registering five goals and five assists in 12 games.
Radio: 790 WAXY (DADE/BROWARD); 640 WMEN (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS); 1370 WAXE (TREASURE COAST)
In-Arena Activations: 50/50 Raffle (25k guaranteed pot); Territory Takeover Night (Davie); 'Pucks & Pints' Beerfest; Salvation Army Red Kettle Bell Kickoff on JetBlue Tarmac
- Keith Yandle is four goals away from his 100th NHL goal.
- Evgenii Dadonov is one assist away from his 100th NHL assist.
- Brian Boyle is four assists away from his 100th NHL assist.
Matthew Wedman has been leading the charge on offense for the WHL's Seattle Thunderbirds.
Florida's final pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, the 20-year-old forward leads the team in scoring with 17 points, including 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in his last nine contests. Over this past weekend, he notched two assists to help lead Seattle to a 3-2 win over Saskatoon on Saturday.
In 2018-19, Wedman became the first Thunderbirds skater to reach 40 goals in almost a decade when he recorded 40 goals and 37 assists in 66 games to earn a spot on the WHL's Second All-Star Team. A breakout campaign, his 77 points were 30 more than his previous career-best.
THE RETURN OF THE HOLIDAY RINK
This holiday season, the Panthers want to you to enjoy skating and some sweets.
In what is quickly becoming one of the most unique traditions in South Florida, the team recently opened its annual outdoor holiday rink at Hoffman's Chocolates in Greenacres. The sheet of ice - yes, it's real - is part of Hoffman's Chocolates 29th Annual Winter Wonderland holiday display.
"We're excited to collaborate with Hoffman's Chocolates again this year to create the Holidays Ice Rink for the third year in a row at their Winter Wonderland in Greenacres," Panthers Chief Operating Officer Sean McCaffrey said in a release. "The Panthers are dedicated to introducing ice skating and the game of hockey to communities in the tri-county area and this gives families the opportunity to ice skate outside during the holiday season."
The 2,400 square foot outdoor rink officially opened on Nov. 16 and will run through Dec. 30.
The rinks hours of operation are as follows: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The rink will be closed on all Tuesdays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
If you'd like to hit the ice outdoors, general admission tickets are $15 including skate rentals, group admission (10+ skaters) is $13, military and first responders are $10 (valid ID required).
A portion of the proceeds from each ticket sold will benefit the Florida Panthers Foundation.
For more information, please visit FloridaPanthers.com/HolidayRink.
You can't go to a Panthers game without hearing "Sweetness" blasted throughout the arena.
The team's goal song for the past several seasons, the band behind the jam, Jimmy Eat World, was recently down in South Florida to play a set at the Riptide Music Festival in Ft. Lauderdale.
So, of course, we had to hook them up with some sweaters.
CATS CLIP OF THE WEEK
Jonathan Huberdeau had a blast waving the green flag at Miami-Homestead Speedway.
Video: Huberdeau Honorary Starter
CATS IN THE COMMUNITY
Evgenii Dadonov joined the latest episode of the Territory Talk podcast to discuss everything from Florida's dynamic top line to how he first started playing hockey as a kid back in Russia.
COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)
-- There's still time to bid on some autographed jerseys from First Responders Night.
-- Flamingo Gardens is a great place for Panthers fans to learn about the team's namesake.
-- Following his latest call-up, Dominic Toninato sat down with FloridaPanthers.com for a Q&A.
-- You can fit Panthers hockey into even the busiest schedule with a personalized "Flex Plan."
-- Jonathan Huberdeau was feeling the love from fans at Miami-Homestead Speedway.
-- Need an energy boost? Re-live last week's comeback over Anaheim with "5 Takeaways."
-- Don't miss "Yoga Day" at BB&T Center on Dec. 8.
-- Check out interesting pieces of Panthers history in the Virtual Vault.