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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.

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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.




1 WSH 49 36 9 4 161 110 76
2 FLA 51 31 15 5 141 112 67
3 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
4 NYR 51 28 18 5 146 132 61
5 BOS 51 27 18 6 149 136 60
6 NYI 49 26 17 6 134 121 58
7 DET 51 25 18 8 125 130 58
8 NJD 52 26 20 6 117 118 58
9 PIT 50 25 18 7 129 128 57
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 49 23 18 8 117 128 54
12 MTL 52 24 24 4 137 141 52
13 OTT 52 23 23 6 142 164 52
14 TOR 50 19 22 9 116 134 47
15 BUF 52 21 26 5 119 137 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47


J. Jagr 48 16 21 12 37
J. Huberdeau 51 10 27 11 37
A. Barkov 41 15 19 13 34
J. Jokinen 51 9 24 12 33
V. Trocheck 51 17 15 4 32
R. Smith 51 16 15 12 31
B. Pirri 47 10 13 -4 23
A. Ekblad 47 10 12 23 22
B. Campbell 51 4 15 17 19
N. Bjugstad 36 9 8 -3 17
R. Luongo 23 13 4 .930 2.11
A. Montoya 8 2 1 .931 1.93

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