From The Press Box

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

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Winning Formula

Thanks to solid goaltending, timely scoring and some power-play production, the Panthers have gotten on a roll.

Wednesday, 11.20.2013 / 10:45 AM ET / From The Press Box
By Alain Poupart  -
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Winning Formula
Forward Jonathan Huberdeau scores the lone goal in the shootout Tuesday night to give the Panthers a 3-2 victory over the Canucks.

Now that’s more like it.

It’s taken longer than the team or their fans would have liked, but the Panthers have gotten on a little bit of a roll here lately. As has been pointed out already, the 3-2 shootout victory against the Canucks on Tuesday night was Florida’s first in Vancouver since the inaugural season of 1993-94.

More importantly, it gave the Panthers their first winning streak of the season and gave them three victories in their last four outings.

And let’s not forget that there was a certain degree of difficulty involved in those three wins. The three victories came against Anaheim, which took a five-game winning streak to the BB&T Center last week; Colorado, one of the surprise teams in the NHL early this season; and Vancouver, a perennial power in the Western Conference.

Put simply, the way the Panthers have been playing lately, they can compete with and beat any team in the league on a given night. That’s nothing new, considering the strong efforts they put forth earlier this season in tough losses against the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals.

The difference now is that the Panthers are getting rewarded for their efforts.

The Panthers have been winning lately thanks to some timely goals — Brad Boyes’ game-winner against Anaheim and Shawn Matthias’ equalizer in the third period at Vancouver come to mind — stellar goaltending from Tim Thomas and some production from the power play.

It’s the exact formula that we thought the Panthers would need heading into the season to be able to make a run at the playoffs.

Since we’re barely past the quarter mark of the regular season, it’s still too early to be worrying about the playoffs, though. In truth, this is still the time for teams to establish themselves, and that’s just what the Panthers have been doing ever since Peter Horachek took over as interim head coach.

Even though the Panthers lost their first two games under their new coach, they played well enough against both the Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers to have won either or both of those games.

It just seemed a matter of time before good things started happening, and that has materialized.

The power play has come to life — Boyes scored on the power play against Vancouver, Campbell scored with the man advantage against Colorado on a night when Boyes scored a mere eight seconds after an Avalanche penalty and Tomas Kopecky scored two seconds after the end of another. Thomas has been tremendous since returning to action after being sidelined with a lower-body injury. And the overall effort by every player on the team seems to have become more consistent.

Coaching changes early in a season usually are made to shake up a team and get them going, and that’s apparently what has happened with the Panthers. The trade of veteran forward Kris Versteeg also was a significant move, but the players obviously have responded in a positive manner considering they have won both games since Versteeg and minor-league forward Philippe Lefebvre were sent to Chicago in exchange for big-bodied forward Jimmy Hayes and promising defenseman prospect Dylan Olsen.

The Panthers now have two games remaining on their five-game road trip before they come home for their traditional Thanksgiving week home stand, which this year includes the Flyers on Monday, the Rangers on Wednesday and the Penguins on Saturday. The last two games of the road trip will be against Calgary and Edmonton, who happen to occupy the last two places in the Western Conference standings.

The opponent these days isn’t nearly as important for the Panthers as continuing to play the way they have over the past 10 days.

Simply put, they have become the team we had hoped to see from the start of the season.




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


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
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18 is the official Web site of the Florida Panthers. Florida Panthers and are trademarks of the Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks and NHL Draft name and logo are trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2016 Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.