The final road trip of the regular season begins today for the Florida Panthers.
The mission of this road trip for the Panthers is to set themselves up for another trip in the playoffs this April. Currently five points behind the Ottawa Senators for the final Eastern Conference Wild Card position and four points behind the Boston Bruins, the Panthers will approach the playoff skirmish this week ready to fight their way to that final Wild Card spot.
“It’s good, we’re battling,” said Panthers Head Coach Gerard Gallant. “There’s two teams in front of us and it’s coming down to this. We have a tough five-game road trip starting [tonight] in Tampa. Let’s go play.”
Florida has ten games remaining, with five of them coming in this crucial road trip. Florida opens the trip tonight (7:30 p.m.) against the Tampa Bay Lightning before heading to eastern Canada for games against the Toronto Maple Leafs (March 26) and Montreal Canadiens (March 28) before their final two games of the road trip against Ottawa (March 29) and Boston (March 31).
“We’ve done our job over the last number of games,” said Gallant. “We’re playing well, and we’re getting points. The only two games we didn’t get points are the games we probably played our best hockey. It’s funny how things happen sometimes.”
With a mix of young players getting a taste of the playoff race and veterans who have experience fighting for a Stanley Cup, the Panthers as a team have come together through the season to create a cohesive group willing to go the distance every night. That type of mentality is going to be key for Florida to succeed on the biggest road trip of their season.
“It’s exciting to look forward to these trips,” said veteran winger Brad Boyes. “Big games are coming up and it’s going to be important to win the games, play well and make sure we get points. There are no moral victories at this point.”