|Stephen Weiss, middle, has netted the game-winner in the last two games for the Panthers. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick) |
The Panthers are rolling through Canada… and up the Eastern Conference standings.
The team pulled into Calgary early Friday morning as one of the hottest teams in the NHL after a 2-0 victory Thursday evening over the Oilers.
What kind of roll are the Panthers on?
They’re 6-1-2 in their last nine games having earned 14 of a possible 18 points. They’ve climbed out of the Eastern Conference cellar to within six points of Southeast Division-leading Washington and two points within the eighth spot.
And they’re doing without some of their most skilled players in the lineup.
“We’re going good,” said Stephen Weiss
, who scored the game-winner Thursday in Edmonton and Monday in Ottawa. “We’re doing the little things really well. We’re blocking shots and everyone’s on the same page and we’re all moving in the right direction, the same direction.
“When you get 20 guys playing that way, you’re going to have a good chance to win every night.”
Those little things Thursday included rookie Shawn Matthias
winning seven of eight faceoffs, Tanner Glass recording four hits in six minutes of work, and the team blocked 15 shots.
The Panthers have also had several of their top players step up in the absence of some of their more skilled forwards. Weiss has seven points (three goals) over the last nine games and is a plus-3. Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is a plus-11 in the last nine games with eight points. And rookie Michael Frolik has six points in the last six games.
Craig Anderson’s 41-save performance Thursday in Edmonton ran his record to 8-2-3. Anderson leads the league in save percentage (.946) and is second in goals against (1.94).
Tomas Vokoun gets the start this evening for the Panthers in Calgary. He’s 11-3-3 against the Flames in his career with a .930 save percentage and 1.97 goals against.
“Tomas deserves to play a game,” said coach Peter DeBoer. “We’re hoping he can give us a boost (in Calgary).”
The Panthers are 2-3 in the second of consecutive games. From Calgary, the Panthers will finish their week-long road trip Sunday in Vancouver.