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Rapid Fire: Road Trip, Getting Help And More

by Steve Goldstein / Florida Panthers
Welcome to Rapid Fire. Panthers broadcasters Steve Goldstein and Bill Lindsay will hit five different thoughts on a daily rotating basis. It's up to them as far as what topics they want to talk about as teams, and more specifically the Panthers, make a push towards the playoffs and the Stanley Cup.

Steve Goldstein takes his shot at the five things he's thinking about after Sunday's play around the NHL.

1. Road Tripping: The Panthers hit the road today for Philadelphia where they play the Flyers tomorrow night. Wednesday Florida is at Carolina. The Flyers are the only team the Panthers have played more than once that they haven't beaten this season. The two home games were tight, one going to overtime, but two weeks ago the Cats were beaten 5-0 in Philly. Since that game the Panthers are 4-0-1. I'm thinking revenge will be on their minds, in addition to setting themselves up really well in a playoff spot with a win.

2. "Help...I Need Somebody": The Beatles song lives up to its biking last night. While the Panthers took a well deserved day off, both Washington and Winnipeg were in action, needing points in the playoff race. Neither team got even one! While the Capitals got beat badly in Chicago 5-2, the Jets suffered a devastating home loss to Carolina. Winnipeg could've tied Washington for the 8th seed in the East and both teams would've been five points behind the Panthers in the Division. But the Hurricanes erased a 3-2 third period Jets lead and scored late in regulation for the win. The Panthers gained in a big way despite not playing.

3. Done At 11: Speaking of lost leads, the Penguins jumped out 2-0 in Philadelphia in yesterday's nationally televised NHL Sunday game. The Flyers kept their composure and battled back to win 3-2 in overtime, ending the Penguins winning streak at 11. Perhaps the Flyers have a little letdown against Florida tomorrow night?

4. Depth A Key: It wasn't long ago that any injury would've required the Panthers to call up a minor leaguer to fill in. That player often didn't have the trust of the coach, thus the inability to roll four lines and more ice time, sometimes too many minutes, for other players. Well, times have really changed for the Cats. Saturday night, Krys Barch, despite a strong game against Boston, Mike Santorelli and Keaton Ellerby all were forced to sit out as healthy scratches. The depth the Panthers have built is impressive and the competition created to play has been key. John Madden has goals in two straight games. He isn't sitting out. We'll see how Kevin Dineen plays it on this two-game road trip but it's a great "problem" for a coach to have.  Keep in mind, Scottie Upshall had been practicing and could return any day now as well.

5. Playoff Math: We have all waited so long for the Panthers to return to the playoffs and I certainly don't want to count them in today. But...the math shows they are VERY likely to bring playoff hockey back to south Florida. If the Cats go a very modest 5-5-1 the rest of the way, they would finish with 94 points. To reach 94 points both Winnpeg and Buffalo need to go 9-1 as they have one less game remaining than the Panthers do. And even that would only tie Florida as the tiebreaker is non-shootout wins. The Panthers are currently tied with Winnipeg in that category and four ahead of the Sabres. The Cats need to keep winning close to their recent pace and the playoffs will be a reality.

Author: Steve Goldstein |

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