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Cats and Coffee: Second Half Begins; Palooza Notes

Start your Monday with a look at the week ahead

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.

It's time for Round 2 of the Florida Panthers' 2016-17 campaign.

With 41 games remaining in their regular season, the Panthers find themselves within striking distance of a playoff spot, as the team currently trails the Ottawa Senators by just four points for third place in the Atlantic Division.

"We've got a lot of games here to play," Panthers goaltender James Reimer said after Saturday's loss to Boston. "We'll take our game and not worry about anything else. Obviously in a perfect world we'd like to be more successful against [divisional] teams, but we're still in it."

As they attempt to heat up heading into the second half, the Panthers (17-16-8) have four games on their slate this week, starting with a pair of road contests against the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders. After that, the team will head back home to warmer weather and a pair of games against the Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets.

"There's still a lot of season left to play," Reimer said of Florida's upcoming schedule. "We'll keep playing more, we'll keep regrouping and we'll be alright."

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

THE GAMES

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

It's a good bet that we'll be seeing some extra hockey when the Panthers visit the Devils (16-17-8) at the Prudential Center on Monday. The Panthers, who needed overtime to dispatch of the Devils in each of their two previous meetings this season, should expect a good performance from their defense in this game, as New Jersey currently owns the league's 27th-ranked offense (2.24 goals per game) and 29th-ranked power play (13.5 percent). As for the other end of the ice, look for Jonathan Marchessault to play a big role on offense, as the 26-year-old forward has five points (2-3-5) in his last six games.

Panthers vs. Devils 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) *WAXE Start Time 8:00 PM

 

Wednesday: at New York Islanders, 7:00 p.m.

The Panthers should expect some fireworks on offense when they battle the Islanders (15-15-8) at the Barclays Center on Wednesday. The Islanders, who sit in last place in the Metropolitan Division, currently own the league's 27th-ranked defense (3.00 goals allowed per game) and have allowed four-or-more goals in five of their last 12 games. In this contest, look for Jussi Jokinen to play a key role in Florida's attack, as the 33-year-old forward has 20 points (6-14-20) in 32 career games against the Islanders.

Panthers vs. Islanders 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) *WAXE Start Time 8:00 PM

Friday: New York Islanders, 7:30 p.m.

In the second half of their home-and-home series, the Panthers will need to make sure that a certain superstar continues to remains in check when the Islanders visit the BB&T Center on Friday. John Tavares, who leads the Islanders with 27 points (11-16-27), has certainly had plenty of success against the Panthers in the past, recording 18 points (8-10-18) in 23 career regular-season games. That being said, look for Panthers backup goaltender James Reimer to come up big if he gets the nod in this contest, as the 28-year-old netminder has won two of his last three starts.

Panthers vs. Islanders 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) *WAXE Start Time 8:00 PM; Spanish: 990 WMYM (Dade/Broward); 760 WEFL (Palm Beach)

Saturday: Columbus Blue Jackets, 7:00 p.m.

The Panthers will be tasked with cooling off the league's hottest team when the Blue Jackets visit the BB&T Center on Saturday. The Blue Jackets, who recently saw their franchise-record 16-game winning streak come to an end, have been dominant on both ends of the ice this season and currently own the league's third-ranked offense (3.33 goals per game) and defense (2.15 goals allowed per game). Still, the Panthers are one of the few teams that were able to get the best of Columbus in recent months, defeating the Metropolitan Division leaders 2-1 in a shootout on Nov. 26. In this contest, look for Vincent Trocheck to light the lamp for the Panthers, as the 23-year-old center has three goals in seven career games against the Blue Jackets.

Panthers vs. Blue Jackets this season 1-0-0
TV: FSF
English: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 850 WFTL (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast) *WAXE Start Time 7:00 PM; Spanish: 990 WMYM (Dade/Broward)

 

MILESTONE WATCH

- Panthers forward Shawn Thornton is one point shy of 100 for his career.

- Panthers forward Jussi Jokinen is two assists shy of 350 for his career.

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

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

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

- Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo needs one victory to surpass Terry Sawchuk for sole possession of fifth-place on the NHL's all-time wins list.  

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

"We've got an awfully large list of injured guys out [of the lineup]. We ask our guys to give it everything they can, and they have and they'll continue to do that." - Panthers interim head coach Tom Rowe on dealing with injuries.

"I thought we battled hard the whole game. It's the second game of a back-to-back, so it's obviously a little tiring. And then when you get behind eight ball, it just makes it even harder on yourself. Unfortunately we couldn't get the two points, but there's still a lot of season left to play. We'll keep playing more, we'll keep regrouping and we'll be alright." - Panthers goaltender James Reimer after Saturday's loss to Boston.

#PANTHERSPALOOZA III

It's time to take a break from hashtags and get ready for some handshakes.

A social media meet-up designed to connect Panthers fans from across the Twitterverse, the third-annual #PanthersPalooza will be held at the BB&T Center prior to the Panthers-Blue Jackets game on Saturday, January 14.

In addition to meeting the faces behind some of your favorite Panthers-related Twitter accounts, the #PanthersPalooza ticket package will also earn you an invitation to a special dinner with Panthers co-owner and Alternate Governor Doug Cifu.

In addition to dining with @DougieLarge, fans will also receive a souvenir t-shirt and be able to participate in an interactive town hall-style conversation featuring Cifu, Panthers president and CEO Matthew Caldwell, former NHL players Billy Lindsay, Denis Potvin and Randy Moller and broadcasters Steve Goldstein and Doug Plagens. 

Not enough? Fine, there's more!

Additionally, #PanthersPalooza will include a 'draw your own Snapchat filter competition," with the winning design being purchased by the club and made available for public use at an upcoming home game.

"We started #PanthersPalooza as a way for fans of the Cats who are active in social media to meet in person other fans they only had met on Twitter or Facebook," Cifu said of the event. "As an active social media user myself, it was a great opportunity for me to put faces with twitter names and to get great feedback on the fan experience. I'm looking forward to meeting new people and reconnecting with our great loyal fanbase."

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit FloridaPanthers.com/Palooza. If you are a Season Ticket Holder, you can purchase an add on to participate in the event here

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.

BOKAMPER'S WATCH PARTY

Although the Panthers are hitting the road, it doesn't mean we can't have fun at home.

An official watch party will take place on Jan. 11 at Bokamper's Sports Bar & Grill in Miramar, where fans can watch the Panthers battle the New York Islanders at 7:30 p.m.

I'd definitely recommend bringing your appetite to this special occasion, as burgers start at just $5 and all fans wearing Panthers gear will receive 10 percent off their final bill! 

COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)

- Several members of the Panthers showed their support for the victims of last week's terrible tragedy at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, including rookie defenseman Mike Matheson, who etched "FLL" onto his skates as a tribute to everyone affected by the incident. 

"I was sitting in my apartment when I heard about the news," Matheson said. "It's pretty crazy when you think of what happened. I just felt like I wanted to do something to recognize the people that were affected by what happened and obviously the people that stepped in and probably saved a lot of lives."

- Acquired in a mid-November trade with the Anaheim Ducks, Michael Sgarbossa is ready to do "whatever it takes" to stick with the Panthers.

"If you play the right way and you play how [the coaches] want you to play, you'll get your chances," Sgarbossa said. "With me, it happened in Anaheim pretty early and I was there most of the year. Now, I'm getting my shot with Florida."

- In his latest diary entry, Panthers defenseman Jason Demers talks about the team's big win against the Dallas Stars on New Year's Eve. 

"When we had that 3-0 lead, the message was pretty straightforward on the bench: keep it simple," Demers writes. "We had to make sure that we kept pushing forward. We didn't want to be on our heels -- we wanted to stay on our toes. I thought we did a good job of that. We knew they were going to push and we were ready for it."

-Springfield Thunderbirds defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, a seventh-round pick of the Panthers in 2013, has been named to the 2016 AHL All-Star Classic.

- The Panthers recently recalled forward Jared McCann from Springfield (AHL). 

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