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Q&A: Hoffman on Playoff Push, Point Streaks & More!

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

Mike Hoffman has been up to his usual tricks this season.

Armed with one of the most-lethal shots in the league, the 30-year-old sniper is currently tied for second on the Florida Panthers in goals (19), including the game-winning tally in Monday's big 5-3 win in Toronto.

With the win, the Panthers (29-17-5) overtook the Maple Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division.

"We know all the games from here on out are huge, but especially against ones against teams in the division and teams we're battling for playoff a spot against," Hoffman told Panthers radio play-by-by host Doug Plagens after the win. "These are four-point games. To get another one tonight is big for us."

Video: FLA@TOR: Hoffman banks puck home off defender

After setting a new franchise record with a 17-game point streak last season, Hoffman reached double digits once again this season when he earned at least one point in 10 straight contests from Jan. 2 - 21. In that span, he notched five goals -- including two on the power play -- and eight assists for a 13 points.

Playing alongside Dominic Toninato and Frank Vatrano on Florida's third line for the majority of the last month, Hoffman is a threat to score both at 5-on-5 and on the power play on any given night. Ranking third on the team with 42 points, he's currently on pace to surpass 60 for the third time in his career.

Prior to the Panthers embarking on their important three-game road trip, Hoffman sat down with FloridaPanthers.com's Jameson Olive at the Panthers IceDen to talk about his how he spent his mid-season, the keys to maneuvering through a long and difficult playoff push, and much more!

OLIVE: First off, how was your break?

HOFFMAN: It was good. It's long, but it's good to get some rest for the second part of the season.

OLIVE: How'd you spend the time off?

HOFFMAN: I went down to Cancun, Mexico for a little bit.

OLIVE: Was that planned for a while or more of a spontaneous trip?

HOFFMAN: It was planned a couple weeks in advance. We just looked at places you can fly in and then come home directly. The days worked for us, so we went.

OLIVE: As the schedule begins to tighten up, how important was it to get that time off to recharge?

HOFFMAN: Being away from the rink, the break is nice but it's almost tough getting back into it. You'd almost rather have just a couple days off and then get back on the ice. But that's not how it is. I think the break is a little bit too long, especially this year, but it is what it is.

OLIVE: How hard is it to turn the hockey side of your brain off during the break?

HOFFMAN: You can't really. You can relax, but you know that in a week or so you've got to get back on the ice and get right back into top-season form. You always have that in the back of your head.

OLIVE: After winning six straight heading into the break, how do you pick up where you left off as a team?

HOFFMAN: We want to try and obviously come back and continue where we left off before the break. We were playing some good hockey, everyone was contributing, and goaltending was playing well. We were having fun, and that's the most important thing.

OLIVE: You reached the playoffs twice during your time in Ottawa. Given that experience, what, in your opinion, is the biggest key to staying the course during a long playoff push in the second half?

HOFFMAN: Probably just consistency. Every team in this league is good and can win on any given night. But the team that's playing the most consistent and chips away points, whether it's getting games into overtime or finding ways to win some other games, those points will add up at the end of the year.

OLIVE: As the games get more important, how do you look at the schedule moving forward?

HOFFMAN: Every game is big because they're all worth two points, but when you get your divisional teams or teams that maybe you're battling for a playoff spot against, then it turns into a four-point night. Some games might be a little bit more important, but at this point every game is huge. We need to accumulate as many points as we can.

OLIVE: For yourself, the points have been flowing freely as of late. How good do you feel right now?

HOFFMAN: Throughout the course of the season there's going to be stretches where it seems like everything's coming your way and pucks are finding the back of the net or you're getting a couple points on the board, and then there's times where it seems like no matter what you do you can't catch a bounce. You try to ride those high waves as long as you can and hopefully it can run for a little bit.

OLIVE: Last season one of those waves turned into a tsunami when you set a new franchise record with a 17-game point streak. Then, this season, you pieced together a 10-game point streak. At what point when you're on one of those hot streaks do you start to realize that you're onto something?

HOFFMAN: I only even knew on this recent one around the ninth game. I thought I was at four or five. I knew I had three or four goals scored in a row, but I really didn't know that I was at that number. That said, when the team's winning and you're contributing, you're definitely feeling pretty good. 

Video: FLA@PIT: Hoffman roofs wrist shot from outside circle

OLIVE: Speaking of contributions, your new line with Toninato and Vatrano has been chipping in quite a bit lately. How much have you enjoyed playing with those guys this season?

HOFFMAN: We've been working well together. Obviously if we can get three good lines that can score, it's tough to defend. That's what you need if you want to be a playoff team.

OLIVE: The Panthers have had one of the top offensive teams in the league throughout the entire season. In your opinion, what do you think has been the driving force behind that consistency?

HOFFMAN: There's a lot of offensive guys in here. You need contributions from all over. Look at (Noel) Acciari. What he's been doing has been a huge addition. I don't think anyone really saw that coming. You get some contributions like that and it turns your team right around.

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