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The Panthers 2011-12 season is quickly approaching and with that, floridapanthers.com is going 15 in 15 by taking a look at the top five questions, players to watch and games of the season on a countdown to the home opener on October 15th against Tampa Bay. We'll unveil one of the top five on a rotating basis each day to help fans get ready for what hopes to be an exciting season.

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Countdown 9: No. 3 Game; November 19 vs Pittsburgh

Thursday, 10.6.2011 / 7:08 PM ET / Countdown To Home Opener 2011
By Glenn Odebralski  - FloridaPanthers.com
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Countdown 9: No. 3 Game; November 19 vs Pittsburgh

Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov and goaltender Scott Clemmensen defend against Pittsburgh forward Pascal Dupuis during a game last season at the BankAtlantic Center. (Getty Images)
In today's topic, we take a closer look at the game vs the Pittsburgh Penguins on November 19th in the Top 5 Games this season.

For the Panthers, one of the biggest games on the docket this season will be against the Penguins on November 19th. There are numerous reasons, stemming from the Penguins having the Panthers numbers the last couple of years, to the match-up against Pens superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to the start of a four-game homestand over Thanksgiving week.

Starting with the first part, the Penguins have taken seven of the last eight games over the last two years. While the Panthers have been competitive in games (losing four times in overtime or the shootout) over that span, Pittsburgh has found ways to come out on top. Florida lost all four matchups last season, going 0-3-1, while being outscored 14-7.

Then you have to factor in the fact that the Penguins, have a deep team that has been to the playoffs, has won a Stanley Cup (2009) and therefore is battle tested. They just go through the regular season and prepare for a Cup run.

That deep team is led by their superstars; Crosby and Malkin. Prior to a concussion last season, Crosby had posted more than a 100 points in four of his first five seasons in the league. Malkin, also has put up 100 points in two of his last four seasons prior to 2010-11 where he faced several injuries which limited him to just 43 games. Malkin is back healthy this season while Crosby is still working his way back but both should be around when the Panthers and Penguins take to the ice.

Pittsburgh isn't limited to just the two superstars as they have Jordan Staal, Tyler Kennedy and James Neal up front along with Kris Letang and Paul Martin on the back end and Marc-Andre Fleury between the pipes.

For Florida, this game marks the start of a busy eight day stretch as they play five games over that span. Four of those will come from the comfort of the South Florida ice as the Panthers will host Pittsburgh (Nov. 19), New Jersey (Nov. 21), the NY Rangers (Nov. 23) and Tampa Bay (Nov. 25) before traveling to Tampa Bay to finish it up (Nov. 26). There's nothing like a Thanksgiving week with four strong opponents (Tampa twice) during one of the busiest holiday weeks of the year. The BankAtlantic Center has some of it's largest crowds on hand over the week and it all starts with Pittsburgh.

The November 19th meeting will be the second time the two teams meet (October 11th in Pittsburgh is the first). With Thanksgiving around the corner, it's a great time to start the week off right, against a formidable foe with superstars throughout the lineup.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 50 37 9 4 163 112 78
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
7 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
8 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
9 NYI 50 26 18 6 135 126 58
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 50 23 18 9 119 130 55
12 MTL 53 25 24 4 142 142 54
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 49 16 21 11 37
J. Huberdeau 52 10 27 10 37
A. Barkov 42 16 19 13 35
J. Jokinen 52 10 25 12 35
V. Trocheck 52 17 16 4 33
R. Smith 52 16 15 11 31
B. Pirri 48 10 13 -4 23
A. Ekblad 48 10 12 21 22
B. Campbell 52 4 16 17 20
N. Bjugstad 37 9 8 -3 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 23 13 5 .930 2.13
A. Montoya 8 2 1 .931 1.93

 
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