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A Good Time For A Long Trip?

Panthers play in first long road trip of the season, looking to get back to .500.

Saturday, 02.2.2013 / 6:48 PM ET / News
By Glenn Odebralski  - FloridaPanthers.com
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A Good Time For A Long Trip?

It's time for a real long road trip.

While they've already been on the road for three games this season, the Panthers make their first prolonged road trip of the season as they will play four games in seven nights.

The trek all starts Sunday with an afternoon contest in Buffalo against the Sabres before heading to Winnipeg on Tuesday, Philadelphia on Thursday and finally Washington on Saturday.

The Panthers held a brief practice on Saturday at the Saveology.com Iceplex to get the juices flowing before catching a charter to Buffalo.

"That was just the game plan," said head coach Kevin Dineen about the short but up-tempo practice. "We have a 3 o'clock game tomorrow. We accomplished a few things out there which we are trying to do every day.

"Short and crisp, get on the plane and get ready to go. gave them a little extra time here at home in the morning just to say goodbye to their families and now we head out together and all about hockey."

The Panthers feel that a prolonged trip can certainly be a help. It gives the team a chance to bond, something they didn't really get a good chance to do when playing two games in three nights in Ottawa and Montreal and then an up-and-back to Tampa.

"I just like the idea that you play a game, you get on a plane and head into the next city. Get a practice. It's just natural," said Dineen. "You always know that players are out together and obviously the conversation hits different directions but always seems to come back around the game and that's important."

"I think it's important to go out on the road, gel as a team, get together," said forward Jerred Smithson. "A lot of times that helps bring a team together, is when you get out on the road, eat dinner with different guys, get to know your teammates a little bit better."

With the way the team played against Winnipeg, they should go in to the trip with some confidence they hope to build upon.

“You never want to go on a losing streak, let alone what we just went on and the way we went on it,” said forward Kris Versteeg of the 6-3 victory on Thursday. “To get out of it that way was good but we have to build off that and not get too confident on one game.”

The team cautions that even though it's good to play on the road, there are pitfalls to it as playing away from home is always tough. But with the spot they're in, they just need to take as many points as possible.

"You don't want to hit a panic button too early but right now this road trip could be a big difference of making the playoffs or not," said Versteeg. "We have got to get back to .500.

"We have to claw our way back and however we do that is the way we're going to do it but we have to do it."

"It's tough to got out on the road. These are some good teams we're going to play," said Smithson. "It's going to be a great challenge for us but we have to find a way to get points...It's something we need right now and we're looking forward to it."

In this shortened season where they have three trips of four games or more, the Panthers believe this came at the perfect time. At least come next Saturday, they certainly hope that’s the case.

"We looked at this trip as a big part of our season. That we can get out and start establishing that cohesiveness that's really important," said Dineen. "We've had a few snap shot trips here and there but for the most part this is one where you actually get out and spend some time on the road. I think it's good timing for it."

SCHEDULE

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AWAY
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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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