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Cats & Coffee: Searching for Consistency; Star Wars Night

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 in search of consistency.

After a 4-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, the Panthers now sit at 8-12-2 on the season, good enough for seventh place in the Atlantic Division and 15th in a 16-team Eastern Conference.

"I think we took a step back tonight," Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad said after the loss. "The way we were breaking out the past two weeks was great. I think we were able to get pucks out against just about every team's forecheck we were playing against, and we were doing it consistently. Tonight we took a step back. We're going to evaluate it and move on."

With four games on the docket this week - a pair of back-to-backs - the Panthers know they need to start stringing multiple wins together in order to begin climbing out of this early-season hole. Florida has won back-to-back games only twice this season, with no winning streak reaching the three-game mark.

"We've got a young team, including myself, but we've got to be more consistent," Ekblad said. "We've played quite a few games so far; got to be more consistent night in and night out. We all have to. If somebody's not doing we've got to get on that guy or help pick him up."

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

THE GAMES

Monday: at New Jersey Devils, 7:00 p.m.

The Panthers will begin their two-game road trip with a early-season rematch against the Metropolitan Division-leading Devils (14-5-4) at the Prudential Center on Monday. Florida suffered a 2-1 loss to New Jersey on Nov. 11, thanks in large part to the efforts of goaltender Cory Schnieder, who stopped 32 shots in victory. In this matchup, the ability or inability to deal with Schnieder will likely once again be the biggest factor in whether or not the Panthers leave the Garden State with a much-needed two points. So what's the bad news? Well, he's allowed two-or-fewer goals in four of his last six starts.

Panthers vs. Devils: 0-1-0

TV: FSF

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

Tuesday: at New York Rangers, 7:00 p.m.

The Panthers will barely have time to catch their breath before taking on the red-hot Rangers (13-9-2) at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. New York enters the week having won four straight games and 10 of its last 12 overall. If they want to play the role of streak stopper, the Panthers will need a very strong performance from their defense, as the Rangers currently boast the league's eighth-ranked offense (3.21 goals per game) and 11th-ranked power play (22.2 percent). While every member of Florida's blue line will need to be on its toes, Mark Pysyk will need to be especially responsible in his own zone, as the 25-year-old has been on the ice for a team-leading 21 goals against this season.

Panthers vs. Rangers: 0-0-1

TV: FSF

Radio: 880 WZAB (DADE/BROWARD); 850 WFTL (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS); 1370 WAXE (TREASURE COAST)

Friday: San Jose Sharks, 7:30 p.m.

The Panthers will make a one-game pit stop back home to battle the Sharks (12-8-2) at the BB&T Center on Friday. The Panthers already got the best of Sharks' top-ranked defense once this season, riding a strong performance from Roberto Luongo to a 2-0 win in San Jose on Nov. 16. In this matchup, offense will likely once again be at a premium, as the Sharks enter the week allowing a league-low 2.23 goals per game. Nick Bjugstad, who was bumped up to Florida's top line last week, has five goals in eight career games against San Jose.

Panthers vs. Sharks: 1-0-0

TV: FSF

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

Saturday: at Carolina Hurricanes, 7:00 p.m.

The Panthers will be looking for redemption when they visit the Hurricanes (10-8-4) at PNC Arena on Saturday. The Canes defeated the Panthers in Carolina on Nov. 7, scoring three times on 48 shots in a 3-1 victory. However, Carolina's defense has stumbled recently, allowing 14 goals over its last three games. In this contest, look for Aleksander Barkov to be the one that greases the wheels of Florida's offense. Florida's top-line center is tied for the team lead in assists (15) while ranking fourth in goals (6) in 22 games this season.

Panthers vs. Hurricanes: 0-1-0

TV: FSF

Radio: 880 WZAB (DADE/BROWARD); 850 WFTL (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS); 1370 WAXE (TREASURE COAST)

MILESTONE WATCH

- Aleksander Barkov is eight points away from his 200th NHL point.

- Jamie McGinn is eight points away from his 200th NHL point.

- Colton Sceviour is eight points away from his 100th NHL point.

- Roberto Luongo is one win away from his 200th victory with the Panthers.

STAR WARS NIGHT

Forget the droid attack on the Wookies; it's time for Star Wars Night!

The Panthers will hold their third-annual Star Wars Night at the BB&T Center on Friday, Dec. 1, when the San Jose Sharks make their long journey from the outer rim to battle the Cats in Sunrise.

When you purchase this package - sorry, we don't accept Republic Credits - you will get a limited edition Florida Panthers Star Wars print jersey, an exclusive photo opportunity and, of course, a seat for the game.

There are only 1,500 Star Wars jerseys to go around, so follow the link in the Tweet below to secure your package ASAP!

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: Hop in your X-Wing and head to BB&T Center on 12/1!�� https://t.co/xlvTAidgBb pic.twitter.com/kWyXJyBkm7

CYBER MONDAY SALE

This Cyber Monday, the Panthers are brining you tickets free of fees.

From midnight through 11:59 p.m. on Monday evening, enjoy no fees on single-game tickets. Take advantage of this deal and have more cash in your pocket to spend on food and souvenirs, such as that Aleksander Barkov jersey you've been eying for the past few weeks.

Check out the Tweet below for more information on how to take advantage of this deal. 

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: #CyberMonday is coming. Enjoy no fees from midnight tonight through 11:59pm Monday evening on your #FlaPanthers ticket purchases! ���� https://t.co/lPug1UXGgt pic.twitter.com/TKHHhzrXoe

CATS IN THE COMMUNITY

Tweet from @FlaPanthersCARE: #FlaPanthers ice skating rink & more at today's @WinterfestInc Family Fun Day in @FTLCityNews! pic.twitter.com/9XXV9t5zOS

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: Bringing the winter feeling to the kids of South Florida. ����������� pic.twitter.com/Y8Ov7iUplO

Tweet from @FlaPanthersCARE: A special welcome to tonight's Community Champion, @BBBSBroward! pic.twitter.com/8VvqffFp1M

COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)

-- Chase Balisy was loaned to Springfield (AHL) on Sunday

-- What's it like meeting Teemu Selanne? Why No. 16? Find out the answers to these questions and more in the latest edition of Aleksander Barkov's mailbag.

-- With a new partnership in place, former Panthers captain Olli Jokinen wants to turn the Panthers IceDen into 'a powerhouse' in the world of youth hockey

-- Jamie McGinn took over the Panthers' Twitter account to have some fun last week. The highlights can be found HERE

 

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