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Time To 'Believe' For Panthers Fans

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers

Fans are asked to come to the BankAtlantic Center and support their Cats down the stretch

SUNRISE, Fla. - With a 4-1 victory over the Washington Capitals in their final game before the All-Star break, the Florida Panthers currently sit just four points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, going 8-4-4 in games played since mid-December.

As the Panthers approach their final third of the regular season, the organization has delivered a rallying cry to fans and are asking them to 'Believe' in their Panthers and support them down the stretch by cheering them on at the BankAtlantic Center where great crowds have led to a 12-9-3 home record. The 'Believe' campaign is intended to galvanize the Panthers fan base, but also to support the team as they look to continue to climb in the standings. 'Believe' will begin to appear in the team's newspaper, radio and TV advertising, game presentation and the club's other various mediums.

"We are asking every single Panthers fan, as well as South Florida sports fans, to believe that this team will make progress over our remaining games, be successful and play hard very night from now until the last game is played,"Chief Operating Officer Michael Yormark said. "The goal of our franchise is to play to the best of our capabilities every night and to give our fans an incredible entertainment experience every time they come to the BankAtlantic Center. We want fans to recognize that there is a bond between them and their team. We believe in our fans and want them to believe in us."

As the Panthers enter the final stretch of the regular season, eight teams (Boston, Florida, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Washington) are separated by eight points or less in the standings. The Panthers have posted a combined record of 8-5-2 against these clubs and will play these teams 13 more times during their final 32 games. Last year, the Cats posted a 15-7-3 record in their final 25 games - following the Olympic Break - earning 33 out of a possible 50 points.

The Panthers roster currently boasts three players who have recorded 30 or more points already this season (Jokinen, Horton, Stumpel), as well as nine players who have tallied 20 or more points this year. Over their last 16 games, the Cats have outscored their opponents 58-48, while out shooting them 570-417 over that same span. The Cats rank in the top half of the league in both power play percentage (8th) and penalty kill percentage (13th) - a major improvement over last season.

Panthers C Olli Jokinen places among the NHL's top 20 scoring leaders with 52 points (22-30-52), while D Jay Bouwmeester places among the NHL's top 25 defensive scoring leaders with 26 points (8-18-26). Panthers G Ed Belfour has posted a 7-1-3 mark in his last 11 games, while both C Nathan Horton (15-23-38) and C Stephen Weiss (11-15-26)
are on pace to post career best seasons.

After the All-Star break the Panthers return to action on Saturday, Jan. 27 when they take on the New Jersey Devils at 7:30 p.m at the BankAtlantic Center. After a brief one game road trip to Pittsburgh on Jan. 30, the club returns to South Florida for a pair of games versus Washington (Feb. 1) and Los Angeles (Feb. 3). Great tickets are still available for the remainder of all Panthers home games by calling (954) 835-PUCK.
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