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Battling The Champs

A tall task ahead, Florida looks to start stringing victories together.

Monday, 10.21.2013 / 5:45 PM ET / News
By Glenn Odebralski  - FloridaPanthers.com
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Battling The Champs

After a day off, the Panthers were back on the ice on Monday as they prepared for a big game on Tuesday night at the BB&T Center against the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.

Heading into their 10th game of the season, Florida will look to win their second straight game after earning a 2-1 come-from-behind shootout victory on Saturday against the Wild. After putting themselves in a hole to begin the season with two three-game losing streaks, a winning streak would obviously be a welcome as Florida looks to move up the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division standings. Getting that started against the reigning champs will certainly be a tall task.

"I think every game right now should be a measuring stick on a certain level. Obviously we're 3-6 and no one should be happy in this room right now," said forward Kris Versteeg who won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks back in 2010. "We need to start stringing wins together and that will come from solid efforts.

"We need to start beating these big teams too. Just like we did against Pittsburgh, hopefully getting some momentum off games like tomorrow night."

You often hear about the Stanley Cup hangover where a team gets off to a slow start to the season following their Stanley Cup run but the Hawks haven't seen that this season, going 5-1-2 in their first eight games of the season.

"It's going to be rich. They picked up right where they left off," said head coach Kevin Dineen. "They're off to an excellent start. They're a well-oiled opponent that has been together for a long time and it's an excellent challenge for our team right now."

Having won the Stanley Cup in the two of the last four seasons, there's a lot of teams trying to take the formula that the Blackhawks have put together as they have been the cream of the crop of the NHL.

"There's something there that makes you a champion and there's a difference. There's styles of play, there's different things but there's a level of confidence that has come with success there that that team understands they are a team," said Dineen. "They play like a team, they play hard every night…They picked up where they left off."

"I remember when I was there, they really tried to emulate the Detroit Red Wings style and that’s why they brought in Scottie Bowman," said Versteeg. "It seems to have poured into their team because now it's just like Detroit, year-after-year Chicago is the team that other teams probably try to emulate now."

Chicago has gotten production throughout its lineup on the offensive side but where they've been extremely effective is in their own zone. Led by goaltender Corey Crawford, they've allowed a little over two goals a game (2.12), good for fifth best in the league.

"They have a consistent level of play because there's a lot of guys that have been there a long time," said Versteeg. "You see the odd time they switch it up but these guys play as line mates and as a team consistently every night for the last five, six, seven years. They know where they are on the ice and understand their roles."

Both teams have been off since Saturday so the teams should be well rested. With the extra time to prepare for the Champs, Florida knows they’ll be ready for a great test.

“You watch their game and the same things that I saw them be successful in June last year is also working for them right now,” said Dineen. “We'll be prepared and it has the makings of a very good game for our team.”

BERGENHEIM ON THE ICE

Forward Sean Bergenheim returned to the ice to practice with the team at Saveology.com Iceplex Monday morning. It was the first time in about a week after the forward went to Toronto to see his physical therapist for extra work after having surgeries on his groin/hip and abdomen in March.

“He has not been cleared,” said Dineen. “He's back with us and we'll see where he is tomorrow.”

While still not close, Bergenheim believes he’ll return sooner rather than later.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 52 39 9 4 171 117 82
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
5 NYI 52 28 18 6 145 129 62
6 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
7 BOS 53 28 19 6 153 146 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
12 OTT 55 25 24 6 154 169 56
13 PHI 52 23 20 9 122 137 55
14 BUF 54 21 27 6 124 146 48
15 CBJ 55 21 28 6 137 170 48
16 TOR 52 19 24 9 120 144 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 51 17 21 14 38
J. Jokinen 54 11 27 12 38
J. Huberdeau 54 10 28 12 38
V. Trocheck 54 17 18 3 35
A. Barkov 43 16 19 13 35
R. Smith 54 18 16 12 34
B. Pirri 50 11 13 -4 24
A. Ekblad 50 10 13 20 23
B. Campbell 54 5 17 20 22
N. Bjugstad 39 9 10 -1 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 24 13 5 .928 2.17
A. Montoya 8 3 1 .929 2.01

 
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