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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 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
5 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
6 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
7 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
12 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
15 BUF 55 21 28 6 125 151 48
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 51 17 21 14 38
J. Jokinen 54 11 27 12 38
J. Huberdeau 54 10 28 12 38
V. Trocheck 54 17 18 3 35
A. Barkov 43 16 19 13 35
R. Smith 54 18 16 12 34
B. Pirri 50 11 13 -4 24
A. Ekblad 50 10 13 20 23
B. Campbell 54 5 17 20 22
N. Bjugstad 39 9 10 -1 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 24 13 5 .928 2.17
A. Montoya 8 3 1 .929 2.01

 
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