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Cats Battle High-Powered Hawks

Thursday, 02.19.2009 / 11:58 AM / Preview
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Cats Battle High-Powered Hawks
Florida last played Chicago on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2007 in Chicago. The Panthers won 3-1. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com

SUNRISE - Playing eight consecutive games against teams who are a combined 94 games over .500 can be a daunting task. But two games into the toughest stretch of their season, and with a 1-1 record, the Panthers are taking things one game at a time.

“It’s kind of funny,” said defenseman Jassen Cullimore after Tuesday’s 4-0 shutout win over New Jersey. “I have to ask my wife or the guys on the team who we’re playing next. It’s kind of a good thing. You can’t look too far ahead and I think that’s what we’re doing.

“We’re just playing one game at a time. I know it’s a cliché, but it works.”

The Panthers hope to continue their climb up the Eastern Conference standings tonight at BankAtlantic Center when they host the Chicago Blackhawks, currently second in the Central Division behind the Stanley Cup-winning Red Wings and fourth in the Western Conference. They’re 6-3 in their last nine road games and have 37 road points, second in the West behind Detroit.

The Panthers come into the game 29-20-8 (16-7-5 at home) and are 13-4-3 since Jan. 1. Going into tonight’s game, the Panthers are seventh in the Eastern Conference, only three points behind fourth-place Philadelphia. They’ve also distanced themselves by five points from ninth-place Carolina.

It’s a big night in the East, with the Panthers, eighth-place Buffalo, Philadelphia, sixth-place Montreal and Carolina all playing.

The Panthers are 1-2-1 this season against teams in the Central Division, 6-7-1 against teams in the Western Conference. This is only the third meeting between the two teams over the last three seasons. The Panthers are 7-10-3 over the years against the Blackhawks. The Panthers first regular-season game was played at Chicago Stadium on Oct. 6, 1993, when the teams skated to a 4-4 tie.

 
Other Links:
- Cats Going Global
-
DeBoer Pre-Game
- Frolik On Helsinki
- Campbell On Helsinki
- McCabe On Helsinki
 
“They’re a real dangerous team,” said Panther coach Peter DeBoer of the Blackhawks. “They can hurt you in a lot of different ways. They have great talent, great speed. Starting with their back-end, they have six as mobile, puck-moving defensemen as there are in the league. It starts back there, and with some of the dynamic forwards up front, with (Jonathan) Toews and (Patrick) Kane…I coached against Pat Kane for three, four years when he was a junior in London and this guy is fantastic. He’s a smaller version of (Alex) Ovechkin.”

The Blackhawks are led by Kane (51 points), Martin Havlat (47 points) and Jonathan Toews (20 goals), but they’ll be without two of their top players this evening.

Patrick Sharp, who leads the Blackhawks in goals (23), and goalie Nikolai Khabibulin were both put Wednesday in injured reserve. Sharp injured his left knee Saturday against the Stars while Khabibulin has a groin strain.

Cristobal Huet, who earned his 15th victory of the season Tuesday in Tampa, will likely get the start in goal. The Blackhawks took a season-high 49 shots Tuesday when winning 5-3 in Tampa. 

ROOKIES FROLIK, VERSTEEG ON SAME ICE

The Panthers Michael Frolik and ‘Hawks Kris Versteeg, both candidates for the Calder Trophy, will be on the ice together for the first time this season.

Versteeg, a fifth-round draft pick in 2004 by the Bruins, leads all rookies with 42 points (16 goals) while Frolik, the 10th pick overall in the 2006 draft, has 29 points (14 goals).

Versteeg told The Hockey News recently being part of the resurrected Blackhawks has been “absolutely amazing.”

“It’s not only a dream come true for us players, but it’s been great for the city,” he added.

NOTES

The Panthers are 21-1-1 when leading after two periods, and they’re 7-1-2 when allowing 40 or more shots…The Panthers last 18 goals have all come from their forwards, with Zednik scoring five, Horton four and Frolik three…Cory Stillman has 21 points in his last 20 games…Frolik has a four-game point streak (three goals)…Zednik has 15 points (eight goals) in his last 20 games…Weiss has 15 points (12 assists) in his last 17 games…Horton has four goals in his last five games…Defenseman Jassen Cullimore needs one more point for his 100th in the NHL…

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
3 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 63 22 16 -8 38
J. Huberdeau 60 9 27 4 36
J. Jokinen 62 6 28 0 34
A. Ekblad 63 10 23 8 33
B. Boyes 61 11 21 9 32
J. Jagr 59 12 19 -9 31
J. Hayes 54 17 10 -5 27
B. Campbell 63 3 20 3 23
A. Barkov 52 10 12 -4 22
T. Fleischmann 52 7 14 12 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 23 16 11 .920 2.40
A. Montoya 5 6 2 .891 2.98
 
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