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Cats & Coffee - Revving up for a trip to the Motor City

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers


Good morning and welcome to “Cats’ Coffee,” a weekly segment in which we keep you caffeinated with an exciting look at the week ahead for the Florida Panthers.


The Florida Panthers promise this isn’t like last time.

After having their five-game winning streak snapped at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, the Panthers are confident that they won’t fall prey to same pitfalls that resulted in a four-game slide following the conclusion of their franchise record 12-game win streak in January.
“I think we just brush this one off,” said defenseman Alex Petrovic. “We got the one point, we’ll take that. We can always bounce back and get ready for the next game.”

For the Panthers, who currently hold a six-point lead over intrastate rival Tampa Bay for first place in the Atlantic Division, the upcoming schedule certainly looks a little bit different than weeks past, with two sets of back-to-back games awaiting them in the coming days.

Florida will begin the week on the road with back-to-back games against the Detroit Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres before heading home for yet another set of back-to-back games over the weekend against the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators at the BB&T Center.

At this point, however, the team isn’t looking that far ahead into the future. In order to jumpstart their next winning streak, according to head coach Gerard Gallant, the Panthers need only concern themselves with the next game on their schedule – a divisional battle in Hockey Town.

“It's gonna be a tough trip,” said Gallant. “Detroit is a real good team. We've seen them here the other night and beat them 6-3, but it was far from a 6-3 game. That was a good hockey game with a lot of chances and (Luongo) had to play one of the best games of the year for us. It's gonna be a battle. We're in a good spot."

Here’s what you need to know for the upcoming week…

THE GAMES

Monday: at Detroit Red Wings, 7:30 p.m.


The Panthers will look to get back in the win column when they kick off their two-game road trip in Detroit on Monday. The Panthers came away with victories in both of their previous meetings with the Red Wings this season, winning by a combined score of 7-4. As it has been for many teams this season, the key to victory in this game could come down to Florida’s ability to stifle rookie forward Dylan Larkin, who has scored three goals in two games against the Panthers this season.

Panthers vs. Red Wings this season: 2-0-0

TV: FSF
Radio: English: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beaches); 97.7

WAVK (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast) Spanish: 1210 WNMA (Dade/Broward)


Tuesday: at Buffalo Sabres, 7:00 p.m.


The Panthers will look to close out their season series against Buffalo with a win when they visit the struggling Sabres on Tuesday. Florida has already taken two of three games from the Sabres this season, winning those contests by a combined score of 10-6. In this game, the Panthers will likely turn to goaltender Roberto Luongo, who has recorded a shutout in three of his last four games at Buffalo.

Panthers vs. Sabres this season 2-1-0

TV: FSF

Radio: English: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beaches); 97.7 WAVK (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast) Spanish: 1210 WNMA (Dade/Broward)



Friday: St. Louis Blues, 7:30 p.m.


The Panthers will be going for a season sweep of St. Louis when the Blues make their first and only visit to the BB&T Center on Friday. The Panthers, who defeated the Blues 3-1 in their only previous meeting this season, will likely have to work extra hard to establish their suddenly surging power play in this game as St. Louis currently boasts the league’s third-ranked penalty kill (85.8 percent). It’ll be a tough, but the Panthers certainly look up to the challenge as the team has now scored eight power play goals in their last five games.

Panthers vs. Blues this season: 1-0-0

TV: FSF
Radio: English: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beaches); 97.7

WAVK (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast) Spanish: 1210 WNMA (Dade/Broward)


Saturday: Nashville Predators, 7:00 p.m.


The Panthers could potentially be attempting to secure their second season sweep in as many games when the Predators visit the BB&T Center on Saturday. In their only previous meeting this season, the Panthers defeated Nashville 2-1 behind a stellar performance from goaltender Roberto Luongo, who stopped 32 of 33 shots in victory. This time around, however, the Panthers will have to deal with a new face among Nashville’s forward group as they get ready for their first look at former 30-goal scorer Ryan Johansen in a Predators uniform.

Panthers vs. Predators this season: 1-0-0

TV: FSF


Radio: English: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beaches); 97.7 WAVK (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast) Spanish: 1210 WNMA (Dade/Broward)


KEEP AN EYE ON


Tro-check him out!

With nine points (5-4—9) in his past five games, Vincent Trocheck has pulled within four points of the team-scoring lead. The 22-year-old center is in the midst of a five-game point streak and currently leads the team in both goals (17) and power-play points (11).

As a former MVP of the Onatrio Hockey League, this sort of offensive firepower should come as little surprise to anyone who has followed Trocheck throughout his career. He’s been showing consistent improvement since making his NHL debut two seasons ago and, according to Trocheck, all of that hard work is now beginning to pay off.

“I’ve worked at a lot of different aspects to my game,” said Trocheck. “I’m focusing on the defensive side of the puck more and realize if you work hard on the defensive side, it will create more offense. You always want to improve, and I’ve worked on everything throughout the summer and year. I feel good about things. You don’t want to get too high or too low on yourself.’’


Regner on the road


After spending what seemed like a lifetime in the minors, defenseman Brent Regner finally got his first taste of NHL action in Florida’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Penguins on Saturday.

“It was awesome, it was great,” said Regner, who has appeared in over 400 AHL contests. “It’s been a long road for me to make an appearance in the NHL, it was a very special moment.”

With defenseman Erik Gudbranson currently dealing with an upper-body injury and team captain Willie Mitchell still not ready to play, Regner could potentially draw into Florida’s starting lineup again during the upcoming road trip.

“You have got to make the most of it,” Regner said of his opportunity. “Hopefully we rebound against Detroit. I’m excited to be here.”

Regner, a fifth-round pick draft pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2008, was signed by the Panthers on July 1 as the organization looked to add veteran depth to its minor-league affiliate in Portland. The 26-year-old blueliner has registered two goals and 10 assists in 43 games for the Pirates this season.

INTERESTING STATS


  • LW Jussi Jokinen has scored nine points (2-7-9) in his last six games.
  • C Nick Bjugstad is one point away from 100 for his career.
  • The Panthers are 9-0-0 this season when LW Jonathan Huberdeau records a multi-point game.
  • The Panthers are 10-1-1 when playing on Tuesday this season.
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