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.

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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.

Wednesday, 10.23.2013 / 9:45 AM ET / From The Press Box
By Alain Poupart  - FloridaPanthers.com
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Winning Performance In Defeat
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.

SCHEDULE

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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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