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Cats & Coffee: The Stars are Out in South Florida

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 Stars will be out in South Florida this week.

And, no, I'm not just talking about guys like Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov.

Returning to Sunrise after earning six out of a possible eight points on the road, the Panthers will open up a five-game homestand at BB&T Center with three straight matchups against the Stars on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday before facing down the Hurricanes on Saturday.

Entering this week in second place in the Central Division, the Panthers (11-3-2) were initially supposed to kick off their 2020-21 season with a back-to-back against the Stars on Jan. 14-15. Of course, those games ended up being postponed due to COVID-19 complications in Dallas.

Having already passed the majority of their tests in the early goings of this season with flying colors, the Stars stand as the last team that Florida has yet to face in its division this season.

"One game at a time against a good hockey club will be a good test," coach Joel Quenneville said after Saturday's loss in Detroit. "We [lost] a little bit of excitement. We had a chance to have a perfect trip. Let's go back home and get excited about what the next set of games are."

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

THE GAMES

Monday, Wednesday and Thursday: Dallas Stars, 7 p.m. ET (Mon/Thurs), 5 p.m. ET (Wed)

Completing their first go-around of the Central Division, the Panthers will host the Stars (5-3-4) for three straight games at BB&T Center on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Originally set to open the season against one another, the two teams were forced to postpone their initial two-game series after a COVID-19 outbreak in Dallas last month. Enduring even more bad luck as of late, the Stars enter this week having not taken the ice since Feb. 13 due to the weather crisis in the Lone Star State. Struggling to earn points heading into their most-recent pause, the Stars have dropped each of their last five games and seven of eight overall. In that eight-game span, Dallas has been outscored 26-21. Joe Pavelski leads the team in scoring with 17 points (nine goals, eight assists), including lighting the lamp in each of his last two games. Behind him, John Klingberg ranks second with 12 points, while Denis Gurianov and Alexander Radulov have 11 apiece. For the Panthers, look for Jonathan Huberdeau to be a threat to make a dent on the scoresheet in all three of these matchups. Florida's leading scoring with 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists), the 27-year-old winger has notched seven points (three goals, four assists) over his last four games. In 11 career games against the Stars, he's tallied five goals and eight assists.

TV: FOX Sports Florida, ESPN+ (Wed)

Radio Monday/Thursday: 560 WQAM (DADE/BROWARD); 640 WMEN (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS); 107.9 FM/1370 AM WZTA (TREASURE COAST) SIRIUSXM CH. 221/STREAMING 932

Radio Wednesday: 99.9 FM WKIS HD-2 (DADE/BROWARD); 640 WMEN (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS); 107.9 FM/1370 AM WZTA (TREASURE COAST) SIRIUSXM CH. 221/STREAMING 932

Tickets: HERE

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

Looking to build off their first meeting of the season, the Panthers will kick off a two-game series against the Hurricanes (12-3-1) at BB&T Center on Saturday. Sitting in first place in the Central Division, Carolina enters this week with victories in five of its last six games. The lone blemish in that hot stretch came on Feb. 17, when they let a two-goal lead slip through their fingers in a 4-3 overtime loss to Florida on home ice. Leading the Hurricanes in scoring, Vincent Trocheck, Andrei Svechnikov and Sebastian Aho have recorded 16 points each, while Jordan Staal isn't far behind with 15 of his own. In the midst of his first full season with Carolina after being traded there by Florida at last year's deadline, Trocheck has been carrying a very hot stick as of late, racking up nine points (four goals, five assists) during a seven-game point streak. Across the line, keep a close eye on Alex Wennberg for the Panthers. Providing the team with plenty of secondary scoring in recent weeks, the 26-year-old has produced five goals over his last eight games. Playing in all situations, he ranks eighth on the team with nine points (five goals, four assists) this season. In 10 career games against Carolina, he's notched one goal and four assists.

TV: FOX Sports Florida

Radio: 560 WQAM (DADE/BROWARD); 640 WMEN (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS); 107.9 FM/1370 AM WZTA (TREASURE COAST) SIRIUSXM CH. 220/STREAMING 932

Tickets: HERE

MILESTONE WATCH

Brett Connolly is one goal away from his 100th NHL goal.

Radko Gudas is four assists away from his 100th NHL assist.

Aleksander Barkov is seven games away from his 500th NHL game.

Radko Gudas is seven games away from his 500th NHL game.

FELTMAN'S VALUE PACK

It's never a good idea to watch hockey on an empty stomach.

New for this season, the Feltman's Value Pack includes upper-level Panthers tickets for either two to four people as well as a Feltman's all-natural hot dog, popcorn, soda and a parking pass. This offer is only valid for home games at BB&T Center, excluding games played on Saturday.

Now, this great deal isn't something you can find on the secondary market. In order to take full advantage of the Feltman's Value Pack, all patrons must make their purchase online through either only Fevo or FloridaPanthers.com. Right now, tickets are starting at just $34 per person.

For more information or to make a purchase, click HERE.

A SURPRISE VISIT

David Grad got a big - and furry - surprise this past weekend.

As a nominee for the "EverFi Future Goals Most Valuable Teacher" award, Grad, who teaches 6th grade at Polo Park Middle School, got a special visit on Saturday from Stanley C. Panther, who surprised him with a jersey and message from his favorite Cats player Sergei Bobrovsky.

Video: EVERFI Most Valuable Teacher

The award is intended to recognize teachers participating in the NHL and NHLPA Future Goals program who use the sport of hockey and the tools of the program to further educate students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) courses within their classrooms. A teacher for 27 years, Grad goes above and beyond to help his students grow their passion in those aforementioned STEM fields by coaching three robotics teams at his school in Wellington.

With the online polls open until Feb. 28, you can vote for Grad by clicking HERE.

PROSPECT SPOTLIGHT

Ryan Bednard is going to run out of space on his mantle if this keeps up.

Earlier this month, the Swamp Rabbits starting netminder captured his third - yes, third! - "ECHL Goaltender of the Week" award after posting a 2-1-0 record with a 1.68 goals-against average, .934 save percentage and one shutout over three stellar appearances from Feb. 1-7.

Tweet from @SwampRabbits: Bednard with the glove on the penalty shot!#RabbitsRising pic.twitter.com/AAy19kfF2w

Getting more comfortable in the crease during his second professional season, Bednard, who was taken by Florida in the seventh round of the 2015 NHL Draft, has gone 9-4-3 with a 2.60 goals-against average, .911 save percentage and two shutouts to open his 2020-21 campaign.

Doing a lot of heavy lifting, the 23-year-old also leads all ECHL goalies in total minutes with 945.

CATS CLIP OF THE WEEK

"That was so gross!" When Aaron Ekblad is wearing a mic, there's always more than a few gems.

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: To: Cats fansFrom: atFlaPanthersSubject: 🚨 @ekblad5fla mic'd up content 🚨 pic.twitter.com/vPietwUIgz

CATS IN THE COMMUNITY

Tweet from @FlaPanthersCARE: Our #FlaPanthers staff took time today to watch the @willieoreedoc at @thebbtcenter to continue education and celebration of #BlackHistoryMonth pic.twitter.com/C7zM3OhiAM

Tweet from @FlaPanthersCARE: 👏 👏👏 for our @BBT Territory Teammate Amy Freund tonight! She sprung into action when the pandemic began collecting groceries, gift cards and toiletries with @TheHarvestDrive for local families. pic.twitter.com/Cmx7LobiJv

Tweet from @StanleyCPanther: I had so much fun doing the Valentine���s Day deliveries this year! #oneterritory #stangrams pic.twitter.com/Z1qRbyn9Ya

TERRITORY TALK

On the latest episode of the Territory Talk podcast, co-hosts Doug Plagens and Jameson Olive take a closer look at Florida's hot start this season and also answer a handful of questions from fans on everything from the impact of new Panthers to the interesting world of cereal etiquette.

COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)

-- The Panthers recently announced their promotional nights for the 2020-21 campaign.

-- Check out the latest mailbag from Panthers radio play-by-play man Doug Plagens.

-- Miss anything from Florida's win over Detroit last week? We've got you covered!

-- The Panthers are off to a heck of a start this season thanks in part to these numbers.

-- Anthony Duclair is one of several players wearing special Willie O'Ree skates this month.

-- Radko Gudas has been bringing the pain for the Panthers.

-- On his 22nd birthday, rookie Owen Tippett penned a postcard to fans from Raleigh.

-- Student Rush Nights are back!

-- Mobile ordering is now available at BB&T Center. 

-- Make sure to sign up for the new "93 Society" newsletter.

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