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From The Press Box


From The Press Box is a weekly column written by FloridaPanthers.com and NHL.com writer Alain Poupart. Poupart has been covering the Panthers and the NHL for 20 years.

Have a question for Alain? Be sure to ask him through twitter @apoupartFins.


Winning Performance In Defeat

Strong effort ends in loss against Chicago, but shootouts still should be good to the Panthers in the long run.

Wednesday, 10.23.2013 / 9:45 AM / From The Press Box
By Alain Poupart  - FloridaPanthers.com
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Winning Performance In Defeat
Strong effort ends in loss against Chicago, but shootouts still should be good to the Panthers in the long run.
SUNRISE, FL - OCTOBER 22: Goaltender Tim Thomas #34 of the Florida Panthers defends the net with the help of teammate Nick Bjugstad #27 against Brandon Bollig #52 of the Chicago Blackhawks at the BB&T Center on October 22, 2013 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Panthers gave the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks all they could handle Tuesday night at BB&T Center, and easily could have left the ice with a victory.

Coach Kevin Dineen doesn’t particularly like the concept of moral victories, but he even said after the game he wouldn’t judge his team’s performance against Chicago based on the final outcome.

This wasn’t the first time this season that the Panthers played a good game but weren’t fully rewarded for it. Other examples that jump out include the early game at Philadelphia and the Boston game last week at the BB&T Center.

The outcome of the game Tuesday night was decided in the shootout when Chicago’s Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp scored, and Jonathan Huberdeau and Brad Boyes were denied by Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford.

Crawford also had stopped Huberdeau on a penalty shot in the second period that if successful would have tied the game at one.

Here’s the thing, though: Based on the make-up of their team, the Panthers are likely to win more shootouts than they lose this season — and it’s precisely because of guys like Huberdeau and Boyes.

Yes, they came up short on this night, but the fact is they’re two of the best shootout performers in the NHL. Just go back to Saturday night when they both beat Minnesota’s Josh Harding — who just happens to have the best goals-against average of any goalie in the league with at least four starts with a ridiculous 0.96 save percentage.

And Huberdeau and Boyes didn’t just beat Harding Saturday night, they made him look silly.

The reality is even the best shootout players aren’t going to score every time. On this night, Crawford just happened to get the best of Huberdeau and Boyes.

But don’t forget that Boyes is tied with Zach Parise among active players with 32 career shootout goals, one less than the great Pavel Datsyuk. Huberdeau, meanwhile, still has a career mark of 3-for-6 in shootouts and 2-for-3 in penalty shots even after the two misses against Chicago.

As Dineen pointed out, Crawford figured out Huberdeau’s moves on Tuesday, but the Panthers’ young star has plenty more where those came from. Just watching him stickhandle through some of the Chicago defenders made that very clear.

While on the topic of shootouts, here’s hoping the league does something about some of the ridiculous moves that players are using where they practically stop and/or just hold the puck until they see something they like.

A good example of that came Tuesday night when Patrick Kane came in, slowed down, slowed down some more, even some more and eventually went to his backhand and continued to hold the puck until he finally decided to shoot it. The league rulebook says, “The puck must be kept in motion towards the opponent’s goal line,” but there have been a couple of instances this season where that’s been violated, such as when Toronto’s Mason Raymond applied the breaks and did a spin-o-rama right in front of Ottawa goalie — and former Panther — Craig Anderson.

Back to the Panthers and the Chicago game, though the loss was disappointing, it was the type of performance for Florida that will produce victories on a consistent basis.

UPCOMING EVENTS

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 76 16 22 -14 38
S. Upshall 76 15 22 1 37
B. Campbell 82 7 30 -6 37
B. Boyes 78 21 15 -6 36
S. Bergenheim 62 16 13 -16 29
J. Huberdeau 69 9 19 -5 28
T. Fleischmann 80 8 20 -18 28
T. Gilbert 73 3 25 -5 28
B. Pirri 49 13 12 6 25
A. Barkov 54 8 16 -3 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 25 23 7 .919 2.40
S. Clemmensen 6 7 1 .896 3.09
 
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