Welcome to Florida Panthers: State of the Union, where we talk all things Panthers hockey as well as what is going on in the NHL.
Mike Lewis is the voice behind the State of the Union and each week will look to bring in some insight from analysts and Panthers media personalities.
This week’s guest, Florida Panthers television play-by-play announcer, Steve “Goldie” Goldstein.
ML: Nick Bjugstad absolutely exploded over the four-game road trip out West. Eight points in four games, including two multi-goal games and a shootout winner. Wednesday night, he scored the game-winning goal against Carolina. Playing with the type of confidence he has now, the sky seems to be the limit for the big center. What are your thoughts on Bjugstad and his impact on the Panthers?
SG: …When he plays with confidence and he holds onto that puck, it’s very difficult to get the puck from him. He’s got a great shot and off the ice he’s a great guy. He wants to be really good, he’s got that great desire. The thing to me that so impressive about the run he’s on is that he has scored twice on the first shift of the game. That tells me that (he is) a guy that’s prepared to play the game, engaged in the game and ready to go right off the opening faceoff.
ML: The Panthers have played a lot of Western teams so far this season, but December is right around the corner. Out of the 14 games in December, 13 are against Eastern Conference teams including three back-to-back contests. By the looks of it, December could be a big month for Florida.
SG: I think it’s huge. I think the first 20 games have been huge. All of those points they got in those games (the Panthers) that went into overtime against the West, you don’t really care about giving them the extra point. They don’t care that San Jose, when they played that great game out there and San Jose tied it in the final minute and the Panthers won the shootout. So what if you give the Sharks a point? That’s not the case anymore. You don’t want to be giving Philadelphia, Washington, the Rangers, Toronto and Ottawa because you’re battling with them for position. The Panthers did a super job against those tough teams in the West. They really played well, they picked up a lot of points in those games.
I always like to say you can never make the playoffs in October, November, December but you can miss them, because once you fall too far behind it is very difficult to make up the ground. The games get tighter, there are a lot of three-point games. The great thing about what’s going on right now in that dressing room is that they all know that.