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Cats and Coffee: In Need of a Winning Streak

by Jameson Olive @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

Pantherfest

Pantherfest for season ticket holders

Season ticket holders get up close and personal with Panthers players

  • 02:03 •

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 know they need to start streaking.

After losing eight of their last 10 games, including a 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday, the Panthers (29-27-11) now trail the Toronto Maple Leafs by seven points for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with 15 games left to play in the regular season.

"We just need to win one, get our confidence back," Vincent Trocheck said after Sunday's loss in Tampa. "That will help us get back in the race."

With their season on the line, the Panthers will need to secure victories against several of the league's best teams if they hope to claw their way back into the playoff picture in the coming days, as matchups with the Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins await them this week.

"I'll be honest; I don't know what the standings are. I'm not looking at them," captain Derek MacKenzie said. "I have been in this position before. The only thing you can do is win, win and win."

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

THE GAMES

Tuesday: Toronto Maple Leafs, 7:30 p.m.

In the first of two pivotal meetings this month, the Panthers will have a golden chance to gain some ground in the playoff race when the Maple Leafs (31-22-14) visit the BB&T Center on Tuesday. Florida's defense will need to be on its toes in this game, as Toronto boasts the league's sixth-ranked offense (3.03 goals per game) and second-ranked power play (23.5 percent). In this contest, look for Mark Pysyk to play a key role in shutting down Toronto's high-powered offense, as the 25-year-old defenseman currently leads Florida's top-ranked penalty kill with an impressive 2:49 of shorthanded ice time per game.

Panthers vs. Maple Leafs this season: 0-2-1
TV: FSF, TVA 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)

Thursday: at Columbus Blue Jackets, 7:00 p.m.

The Panthers will look to once again quiet the cannons when they go for a season sweep of the Blue Jackets (43-18-6) at the Nationwide Arena on Thursday. Florida, which has already defeated Columbus twice this season, will need to play stout defense to come away with another victory in this matchup, as the Blue Jackets currently own the league's fifth-ranked offense (3.16 goals per game), led by first-time 30-goal scorer Cam Atkinson. With that in mind, the Panthers will hope for yet another stalwart performance from James Reimer in net, as the 28-year-old goaltender has made 30-or-more saves in six of his last seven starts.

Panthers vs. Blue Jackets this season 2-0-0
TV: FSF English: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast)

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

The Panthers will look to avenge a tough loss earlier this month when they battle the Rangers (44-23-2) at Madison Square Garden on Friday. Florida, which fell to New York 5-2 on March 7, will need to get off to a hot start in this contest, as the Panthers have won just 21 percent of their games when trailing after the first period this season. That being said, you should expect Vincent Trocheck to get the Panthers started off on the right foot in this one, as the All-Star center has notched a team-leading nine goals in the first frame this season.

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

Sunday: at Pittsburgh Penguins, 1:00 p.m.

The Panthers will look to head home on a high note when they wrap up their three-game road trip against the Penguins (43-16-8) at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday. Led by potential Art Ross Trophy winner Sidney Crosby, whose 72 points are three behind Edmonton's Connor McDavid for the league lead, Pittsburgh's top-ranked offense (3.48 goals per game) has scored four-or-more goals in three of its last five games. In this contest, look for Aleksander Barkov to try and match Crosby's offensive output, as the 21-year-old, two-way center has tallied five points (1-4-5) over his last four games for the Panthers. 

Panthers vs. Penguins this season 0-2-0
TV: FSF, TVA English: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast)

WATCH PARTY

While the Panthers are away, the fans will play.

If you're looking for a fun, feline-related time this weekend, make sure to head downtown to watch the Panthers battle the Rangers at American Social in Fort Lauderdale on Friday, March 17.

In addition to eating some good food with fellow Panther fans, there will be numerous drink specials available throughout the game, including $5 select draft beers and $4 green beer in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

You can RSVP here.

JOIN OUR HOUSE

It's time to commit to the Cats again, join #OurHouse for the 2017-18 season.

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: This is #OurHouse.You're Invited: https://t.co/fwYZRfo4Y6 pic.twitter.com/MmJlIXn1g9


MILESTONE WATCH

- Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr is four games away from 1,700 for his career.

- Panthers forward Shawn Thornton is eight games away from 700 for his career.

- Panthers center Aleksander Barkov is seven assists away from 100 for his career.

- Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo needs two 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)

-- Florida's all-time leader scoring leader, former fan-favorite Olli Jokinen officially retired as a member of the Panthers earlier last week.

"My heart has always been with the Panthers organization and now I feel like my career has come full circle," said Jokinen, who captained the Panthers from 2003-08. "I am extremely grateful that I had the chance to play hockey in South Florida and help the sport grow."

-- Florida's 2016 first-round pick Henrik Borgstrom was recently named the NCHC Rookie of the Week after notching four points in two games, while also earning 2016-17 NCHC All-Rookie Team honors. Read up on that and more in our latest prospect report.

-- The world's largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the over 200 million people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), Best Buddies was recently awarded $25,000 through the Florida Panthers Foundation Community Champions Grant Program.

"We have a great mentoring program," Best Buddies founder Anthony K. Shriver said. "It's our goal to help these people live incredibly rich and fulfilling lives, while at the same time having them enrich our own lives. We're in over 2,000 schools around the world and have a great job placement program as well. We've gotten great support in the South Florida community and hope to continue expanding."

-- Thanks to all of our season ticket holders for another amazing Pantherfest!

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: "It's a really one-of-a kind experience for our most loyal fans" Full & Half Season Ticket holders joined us for Pantherfest this week! pic.twitter.com/PVNRKFdrKO

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