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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 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
5 PIT 77 42 24 11 211 194 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 PHI 77 31 29 17 202 220 79
12 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 78 29 43 6 204 249 64
16 BUF 77 22 47 8 152 258 52

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 74 13 36 9 49
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
J. Jokinen 76 8 33 -4 41
B. Boyes 74 13 23 10 36
A. Ekblad 76 11 24 10 35
J. Hayes 67 18 14 -6 32
A. Barkov 66 14 17 -3 31
B. Campbell 77 3 23 2 26
B. Pirri 44 21 2 6 23
D. Bolland 48 5 16 1 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 26 18 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
 
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