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McKenzie: Watching out for the Panthers

Wednesday, 03.29.2006 / 12:00 AM ET / News
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McKenzie: Watching out for the Panthers

Bob McKenzie for TSN.ca

People always ask me if I have a favorite team that I cheer for.

The answer is no, as the fan in me died a long time ago.

But I do cheer for good stories, so I'll admit that, I'm rooting for the Florida Panthers to beat the odds and make the playoffs.

It's not so much that the Panthers are on a roll (and boy, are they on a roll).

But you have to consider their six straight wins. Dating back to a 6-2 victory over Ottawa the day before the trade deadline, the Panthers have won eight of nine games.

They've had overtime wins over Carolina and Tampa Bay, shootout victories over the Capitals, Lightning and Bruins and those wins over Washington and Boston came on the road, where the Panthers have been terrible this season.

Going into Tuesday night's action, they sit in 10th place, six points behind the Montreal Canadiens and New Jersey Devils, with the Atlanta Thrashers nestled in between.

What makes this story appealing is not just that the Panthers are hot.

It's that the organization took the high road at the trade deadline and dismissed the notion that a team with long odds of not making the playoffs should offload assets for future considerations.

The Panthers stepped up and signed Olli Jokinen rather than trade him. And they did the same with Chris Gratton.

And as head coach Jacques Martin pointed out the week before the deadline, with more than a quarter of the season still to play, why would they throw in the towel?

The Panthers have given their fans a reason to believe, a reason to come to the rink. And if the 18,000 plus that were there for the shootout win over the Rangers last Friday is any indication, that's a good sign for the future of the franchise.

Making the playoffs won't be easy for Florida, but it will definitely be interesting.

If they can do well in road games this week in Pittsburgh and Carolina, six of their last nine are at home.

They've got three games left with Tampa Bay and a pair with Atlanta. If Montreal or New Jersey stumble and Florida continues to stay hot, they have a chance.

They deserve something not only for their effort, but their approach.

It's a great story and here's hoping they can fashion a happy ending.

For TSN.ca, I'm Bob McKenzie.

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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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