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Cats & Coffee: Trocheck Heating Up; YMCA Day

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 are starting to find their groove.

After a thrilling 4-3 victory over the red-hot Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night at the BB&T Center, the Panthers have now won five of their last eight games, placing the team right back into the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

"It's great momentum," Panthers coach Tom Rowe said after Saturday's victory. "We've got to stay in the fight. We've got to keep trying to catch that eighth spot [in the standings]. Philadelphia lost today, so the guys knew going in that these two points were going to be huge."

The Panthers (20-17-8) will look to continue their winning ways this week as the team hits the road for a four-game swing through Western Canada, starting with games against the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks.

As it has been in recent weeks, Vincent Trocheck should be the cog that keeps the Panthers moving in the right direction during their trip, as the 23-year-old center has recorded 13 points (6-7-13) in his last 10 games.  

"He did it last year. There was a part of the season where I thought he was our best player," Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr said of Trocheck, who will represent the Panthers at the 2016 NHL All-Star Game. "It was a smart decision of management to sign him long term. I really like him. He gives it everything he's got. He works very hard -- small size, but big heart. He didn't have it easy. He fought through that…. Whatever he's got, he deserves it."

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

THE GAMES

Tuesday: at Calgary Flames, 9:00 p.m.

The Panthers will look to start off their four-game road trip with a big win when they visit the Flames (23-20-3) at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday. The Panthers, who owned a 1-1-0 record against Calgary last season, should expect a good performance from their defense in this matchup, as the Flames have scored fewer than two goals in three of their last four games. As for the offensive side of the puck, look for Reilly Smith to find the back of the net for the Panthers, as the 25-year-old winger has scored two goals in his last four games.

Panthers vs. Flames this season: 0-0-0
TV: FSF
English: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast)

Wednesday: at Edmonton Oilers, 9:30 p.m.

The Panthers will be tasked with shutting down the league's hottest scorer when they visit Rogers Place to battle the Oilers (23-15-7) on Wednesday. In his sophomore campaign, Connor McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, currently sits atop the league's scoring list with 50 points (14-36-50) through 45 games played this season, but has yet to find the scoresheet against Florida so far in his career. In this contest, look for Mike Matheson to play a key role in shutting down Edmonton's superstar center, as the 22-year-old leads all Panthers D-men in blocked shots (60) and takeaways (28). 

Panthers vs. Oilers this season 0-0-0
TV: FSF
English: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast)

Friday: at Vancouver Canucks, 10:00 p.m.

The Panthers will be going for an early season sweep when they take on the Canucks (20-19-6) at Rogers Arena on Friday. The Panthers, who defeated Vancouver 4-2 in their first meeting of the season on Dec. 10, should expect a good performance from their special teams in this game, as the Canucks currently own the league's 27th-ranked power play (13.4 percent) and 21st-ranked penalty kill (79.8 percent). In this contest, look for Keith Yandle to be the spark that ignites Florida's power play, as the 30-year-old defenseman leads the Panthers with 10 points (2-8-10) when the extra attacker is on the ice.

Panthers vs. Canucks this season 1-0-0
TV: FSF
English: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast)

MILESTONE WATCH

- Panthers forward Reilly Smith is two assists shy of 100 for his career.

- Panthers goaltender James Reimer is two wins shy of 100 for his career.

- Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr is five points shy of 1,900 for his career.

- Panthers captain Derek MacKenzie is two games shy of 500 for his career.

- Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo needs seven victories to surpass Curtis Joseph for sole possession of fourth place on the NHL's all-time wins list.  

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

"I'm not that impressed with getting 100 points. You guys talk about it more than me. I could care less. I'm glad we won. That's a good team over there. I thought the team played the right way tonight and that's why we had success." - Panthers forward Shawn Thornton on recording the 100th point of his career.

"It's a big, big reason we wanted to sign him to a long-term deal. He's a warrior. He's a leader on the team even though he's not wearing a letter. He's going to be wearing a letter someday, for sure. He wants to be in the moment. He wants to be the guy that we put out there. He wants to be in every single pressure situation." - Panthers interim head coach Tom Rowe on Vincent Trocheck.

"We had that stretch that we were losing all our games in OT. It was huge. They're probably one of the best teams we've played this year. They're a really good team and we were able to come out on top. It was a big battle for us. Now we can go on the road and do our thing." - Panthers forward Jonathan Marchessault on getting a big win at home before hitting the road.

PANTHERS SUPPORT YMCA

As part of their continued commitment to improving the local community, the Florida Panthers Foundation Community Champions Grant Program, presented by Moss Construction and the Moss Foundation, recently awarded $15,000 to the YMCA of South Florida.

"We are touching the lives of over a half million people here in South Florida," said South Florida YMCA CEO Sheryl Woods. "We're doing that through a lot of our programs and services, our membership base and numerous projects with volunteers that have stepped up just like the Panthers."

The YMCA is a leading nonprofit committed to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. With the help of volunteers, the goal of the YMCA is to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn grow and thrive.

"When you think about think about kids and families, the social responsibility aspect is all about giving back and volunteering." Woods said. "Whether it's coaching a little kids hockey team or a basketball team, it's all about finding ways to give back to the community."

On Monday, the YMCA will celebrate one of their biggest events of the year, as the organization honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through a day of service. As a member of the YMCA growing up, Dr. King stood for the belief that a day off should be used rather as a "day on," encouraging those in the local community to spend their free time helping enrich the lives of others.

"We will have 20 locations throughout all of South Florida in which volunteers will come out and do projects that range from painting to working with kids and reading," Woods said of the MLK Day of Service. "It's our largest event. It's been a tradition in Broward County for 13 years and in Miami for two. This donation will really help underwrite the project. In addition to using the dollars to buy supplies, it really helps support the efforts of our volunteers. It's never too late to volunteer. The best thing about volunteering is that it's something you can do year-round.

Looking ahead, Woods believes that this latest donation has only strengthened ties between the YMCA and the Panthers, a relationship that continues to look for ways to improve the lives of everyone - not just hockey fans - in the community. 

"We're excited about our relationship with the Panthers," Woods said. "They're an incredible organization. We're currently working with them on one of their youth hockey programs and have some other good stuff going. We're pretty excited about the future."

If you want to learn more about volunteering at the South Florida YMCA, visit  http://www.ymcasouthflorida.org.  

 

 

 

VALUE PACK

Whether it's a family outing or a night out with your best friends, the Sahlen's Value Pack is a great way to make sure that you don't miss any of the action at the BB&T Center in January.

The Value Pack features four tickets, one parking pass and Flex Bucks, which can be used to purchase Panthers merchandise in Pantherland or food and beverages at Coca-Cola Stands while you are at the game.

The available Value Pack options are as follows:

•The Lower End Package includes seats in the Lower Bowl and $60 in Flex Bucks to share amongst your group.

•The Club End Package includes $50 in Flex Bucks to share amongst your group.

•The Upper End Package includes seats in the Upper Bowl and $40 in Flex Bucks.

One-fourth of the bucks for each package will be pre-loaded on to each ticket. For example, the Lower End Package would come with $15 loaded on to each ticket. Multiple tickets can be used towards a transaction.

Value Pack tickets can be purchased by clicking here.

COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)

-- The Panthers had  quite a few extra passengers on their two-game road trip last week, bringing the fathers of 15 different players along for the ride as part of the franchise's first-ever Dads Trip. 

"The Florida Panthers organization put a great trip together for us," said Panthers center Vincent Trocheck's father, Vince. It's great when you can get out and travel with the team and the boys, and it's always good to be with your son. We appreciate what they've done. The whole trip is a highlight. It's definitely been an awesome."

-- Adam Mascherin, a second-round pick of the Panthers in 2016, is  lighting up the Ontario Hockey League this season, hoping that his stellar play will someday lead him to the NHL. 

"I'm just working on rounding out my game," Mascherin said of his focus. "In the offensive zone, there's obviously parts you can teach, but there are also things you can't teach. I think I have some of that natural ability to create offense, for sure. Right now, it's more about rounding out my 200-foot game and making sure that I'm ready for the pros."

-- Springfield Thunderbirds defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, a seventh-round pick of the Panthers in 2013, has been named to the 2016 AHL All-Star Classic. Read up on his fantastic season and more in our latest prospect report! 

-- Panthers center Vincent Trocheck has been  named to the roster for the 2017 NHL All-Star Game held at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, Calif., on Sunday, Jan. 29. 

-- Panthers rookie defenseman Mike Matheson toured the NHL offices in New York last week, speaking with NHL.com about the benefits of the NHL/NHLPA Core Development Program. 

"It's a great resource for financial needs and education so if you want to pursue a certain degree with whatever level of education you're at, the CDP will help you with that," Matheson said. "Obviously philanthropy and getting involved in the community are also a big part."

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