Florida Panthers right wing Radek Dvorak, right, celebrates his second-period goal with Dominic Moore, center, and Gregory Campbell, against the Pittsburgh Penguins in an NHL hockey game Sunday, Jan. 3, 2010, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Mitchell)
By Glenn Odebralski for floridapanthers.com
Ending their three-game losing streak in grand fashion with a 6-2 victory over the Penguins Sunday, the Panthers coaches and players were in high spirits Monday at incredible ICE.
The team went through a brief 15-minute practice session focused on shooting drills before boarding a plane to Toronto in the afternoon.
"We played last night," said head coach Peter DeBoer. "Because our schedule has been pretty light (lately), this would be a day that you might look at taking off and just flying to Toronto but we wanted to keep the legs going.
"Guys are feeling good about the win last night and it's nice to get together and get something accomplished."
Florida plays three straight games in Eastern Canada this week with Toronto on Tuesday, Montreal on Thursday and Ottawa on Saturday. Florida had pretty good success against those teams last season, especially north of the border. The Panthers went 4-1-1, winning both contests in Toronto and Ottawa.
But for DeBoer, last year was just that. Last year.
"Well we were a pretty good home team last year too," joked DeBoer. "It hasn't translated into this year so, last year was last year and I know what you're saying. We did have a good trip.
"We need a good trip. The expectation, and we talked about it this morning, is these are three four-point games. All these three teams are right in the mix with us. Our expectation is to win all three and we've got to do that one at a time."
With each of the games having huge implications, the Panthers have to continue their hot play.
Florida is 6-4-1 in their last 11 games and two points out of a playoff spot. The offense has picked up the pace lately and they are fourth in the Eastern Conference in goals scored with 123. They've averaged 3.71 goals a game over the last 11 contests.
"We're in a good frame of mind right now," said DeBoer. "I think we're playing well and we've got to carry that into the trip."