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Cats Battle High-Powered Hawks

Thursday, 02.19.2009 / 11:58 AM ET / Preview
Florida Panthers
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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
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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 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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