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News

Taking Steps Forward

Just over a month into the job, interim head coach Peter Horachek has seen progress.

Thursday, 12.12.2013 / 6:20 PM / News
By Alexandra Maass  - FloridaPanthers.com
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Taking Steps Forward
Just over a month into the job, interim head coach Peter Horachek has seen progress.

It’s been just over a month since Peter Horachek began as Interim Head Coach for the Florida Panthers. Since then, the team holds a 7-8-1 mark under him, and is 3-1 in the last four games played. Since day one, Horachek has brought a new energy to the team, advocated mental toughness, and a work ethic that continues to rub off on the players.

Horachek has seen the progress over the last couple of weeks.

“They’re doing what they need to do or playing better in the direction I want them to go,” said Horachek.

He has a clear image on the direction of the team, and he wants it to be consistent progress to get to the level of the best teams in the league.

“What we have to do if we want to become one of those teams, we have to get better on the defensive side of it,” said Horachek. “If we want to become one of those teams we have to make sure special teams continues to get better, because one night our power play looks good and we’re getting chances, and one night it looks like we can’t set up and we’re not poised and we’re not protecting pucks and doing what we have to do with it. It’s a continuing process.”

There’s obviously things that can be cleaned up as the Panthers hope to improve on a day-by-day and game-by-game basis.

“I think we still make a lot of mistakes on the defensive side, and that’s a lesson learned, we have to keep getting better and better,” said Horachek. “Offensively were creating a lot of opportunities and they aren’t always going in, but we’re creating chances.”

Tuesday’s shootout victory against Detroit brought a spotlight on the importance of overtime and shootout points. Earning a point in an overtime or shootout loss can make a huge difference in the long-run, especially when it’s time for playoffs.

“The way I look at the thing is, is when you get to 60 minutes of hockey, the game is a tie so you really should get a point,” said Horachek. “I mean that’s the way it is, what you’re really getting in a shootout is the marketing point. The shootout is for the fans it’s not for coaches. Sometimes you’re successful at it, and you get in those situations sometimes you don’t.”

So where is the recent shootout success sparking from?

It’s coming from the likes of confident goaltender Tim Thomas, sharp shooter Brad Boyes, and crafty young stars Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau.

“Well, you look at the personnel, you look at Timmy, obviously he is as we all know is a pretty good goaltender and he’s good on the shootouts,” said Horachek. “He’s done a pretty good job. When you have the goaltending you can win with just that and get one, but then our shooters I think are pretty good, especially the guys who have been going as of late, you know Huberdeau, Barkov and Boyes have all done a pretty good job.

“When you’ve got guys who can finish in those situations and a goaltender in the back, you hope you can go into those situations feeling confident.”

Confidence and mental toughness seems to be one of the biggest points that Horachek preaches to the team. And you can see it in the young players that have stepped up their game in the past few weeks. After Barkov danced around Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard in the shootout, it was pretty obvious how much skill the young, 18-year old has.

“Well when he can do that, you say ‘go for it,’” said Horachek. “He’s got a few things he can do in those situations, and it’s almost like a novelty the way he comes in and pulls it back or same thing with Huby, a spin-around move. It’s entertaining but they’re pretty good at it so you know, you say ‘go for it.’”

Barkov and Huberdeau aren’t the only young players making huge impacts on the team. Nick Bjugstad also came up with a spectacular goal against the Red Wings on Tuesday that tied the game and sent it into overtime.

“He’s doing a pretty good job, coming up with a huge goal like he did last night against Datsyuk, I mean that’s not done very often,” said Horachek. “Because he’s so big and strong I think that that makes a difference. He’s done a really good job; he’s playing in a big role. We’re obviously keen on keeping him energized and focused on playing his best hockey.”

After many years of coaching, Horachek knows what it takes to get the players confident and strong in their play. He has has led the movement towards a completely re-energized Panthers team, taking steps forward.

“It’s a continuing process that I want to see us get consistently better,” said Horachek.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 62 41 16 5 171 135 87
2 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
3 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 63 22 16 -8 38
J. Huberdeau 60 9 27 4 36
J. Jokinen 62 6 28 0 34
A. Ekblad 63 10 23 8 33
B. Boyes 61 11 21 9 32
J. Jagr 59 12 19 -9 31
J. Hayes 54 17 10 -5 27
B. Campbell 63 3 20 3 23
A. Barkov 52 10 12 -4 22
T. Fleischmann 52 7 14 12 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 23 16 11 .920 2.40
A. Montoya 5 6 2 .891 2.98
 
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