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POSTED ON Monday, 01.27.2014 / 11:30 AM ET
By Steve Goldstein - FloridaPanthers.com / From The Booth
Aleksander Barkov, Sean Bergenheim and Brad Boyes have been some of the Panthers best players this season (Getty Images).

It's been quite a turnaround for the Panthers. After winning just three of their first 18 games, the Cats have been one of the league's better teams since.

Tim Thomas and Scott Clemmensen have both provided goaltending that on most nights has been good enough to win with.

Veterans like Brad Boyes, Sean Bergenheim, Scottie Upshall and Tom Gilbert have been key to the resurgence. Boyes and Gilbert were late pickups in training camp while Bergenheim and Upshall are both healthy and playing the type of hockey they're capable of playing.

All of it has been made possible due to the system, structure and overall environment created by coach Peter Horacheck. He is a good communicator and there is absolutely no confusion about the way he wants his team to play. That goes a long way towards fostering a winning attitude.

Whether it's all enough to  overcome the poor start to the season remains to be seen but the setup for next season is taking shape. The Panthers have some key elements in place, mainly at the center position. Nick Bjugstad, Aleksander Barkov and Drew Shore are all young, have skill and have shown their ability.

There are many questions to be answered in goal, on defense and on the wings. The Panthers have numerous free agents to make decisions on. Will that happen during the season? Will the team make moves at the deadline to make a playoff push if they're close enough? Will the Cats make deals with an eye on next season? All these are questions that remain to be answered and many are tough decisions.

With owner Vinnie Viola declaring the Panthers will be a major payroll player spending in the upper threshold of the salary cap, things will be very interesting moving forward. This team is not that far from being a legitimate playoff contender. 

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AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

 
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