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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 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 / From The Press Box
By Alain Poupart  - FloridaPanthers.com
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Winning Formula
Thanks to solid goaltending, timely scoring and some power-play production, the Panthers have gotten on a roll.
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.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
3 NYI 62 40 20 2 200 173 82
4 TBL 62 37 19 6 203 167 80
5 DET 60 34 15 11 176 156 79
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 62 33 19 10 184 156 76
8 BOS 60 29 22 9 158 158 67
9 FLA 61 26 22 13 145 172 65
10 PHI 62 26 25 11 164 181 63
11 OTT 59 26 23 10 167 161 62
12 NJD 61 25 27 9 137 161 59
13 CBJ 60 26 30 4 157 189 56
14 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
15 CAR 59 22 30 7 134 159 51
16 BUF 62 19 38 5 120 207 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 61 21 15 -9 36
J. Huberdeau 58 9 24 4 33
A. Ekblad 61 9 23 6 32
J. Jokinen 60 6 25 -3 31
B. Boyes 59 10 18 6 28
J. Hayes 52 17 10 -5 27
A. Barkov 50 9 12 -4 21
T. Fleischmann 52 7 14 12 21
B. Campbell 61 3 17 1 20
D. Bolland 37 3 13 2 16
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 22 16 11 .921 2.38
A. Montoya 4 6 2 .893 2.98
 
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