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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.


Youth Is Served

Panthers’ top prospects playing key roles and gaining valuable experience as the regular season winds down.

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 3:45 PM / From The Press Box
By Alain Poupart  - FloridaPanthers.com
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Youth Is Served
Panthers\u2019 top prospects playing key roles and gaining valuable experience as the regular season winds down.

Following their game against the New York Islanders on Tuesday night, the Panthers will close out the 2013-14 season with the longest season-ending homestand in franchise history.

The Panthers wrap up the regular season with five consecutive home games, starting Friday against the Calgary Flames and ending a week from Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. In between will be visits by the Dallas Stars, Philadelphia Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs.

For Panthers fans, this will represent more chances to see the team’s young players and brightest prospects as they continue to show that better days are soon to come for the organization.

We’ve seen several glimpses already. Two of them were provided Tuesday in the game against the Islanders.

Left wing Quinton Howden continued his impressive late-season run with a shorthanded goal that showcased his speed after he poked the puck away at the Panthers blue line. It was Howden’s fourth goal in 11 games since being called up from San Antonio.

Howden’s history shows that he has the scoring ability. Remember, he had 40 and 30 goals in his last two seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League. Howden’s speed alone should make him a valuable contributor for years to come and if he can deliver offensively it could very well cement his standing as a top-six forward.

The Panthers’ second goal on Tuesday night was scored by Brandon Pirri, who was touted as an offensive threat when he was acquired in a late-season trade with the Chicago Blackhawks and has proven to be just that after posting nine points (5-4-9) in his last 13 games. Pirri is another young player who will only get better with additional experience.

Pirri had four shots on goal against the Islanders, tying for the team lead with another impressive young player, Vincent Trocheck. After 15 games with the Panthers, it’s easy to see how Trocheck ended up leading the Ontario Hockey League in scoring last season on his way to winning the Red Tilson Trophy as the league’s Most Outstanding Player. The Pittsburgh, PA native is a factor on offense every game thanks mostly to his tremendous instincts.

The game against the Islanders also featured the NHL debut of defenseman Jonathan Racine, who wasted no time in demonstrating his rugged style by laying out Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck in the first minute of play.

Florida’s roster for the Islanders game featured 10 players who are 24 or younger. That doesn’t include Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau or Alex Petrovic, all of whom missed the game because of injuries.

No doubt, the plethora of young Panthers players are gaining valuable experience as the regular season winds down. That experience will pay dividends when next season rolls around.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 48 30 14 4 156 127 64
2 NYI 46 31 14 1 151 129 63
3 DET 47 27 11 9 139 119 63
4 MTL 45 29 13 3 123 106 61
5 PIT 46 26 12 8 138 117 60
6 NYR 44 27 13 4 134 106 58
7 WSH 46 24 13 9 137 120 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 44 20 14 10 107 122 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 48 19 22 7 130 146 45
13 CBJ 45 20 22 3 113 142 43
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 46 16 25 5 98 120 37
16 BUF 47 14 30 3 89 167 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 44 15 12 1 27
J. Huberdeau 41 8 17 1 25
A. Ekblad 44 6 19 7 25
J. Jokinen 43 4 20 0 24
J. Hayes 36 13 7 1 20
B. Boyes 42 9 11 1 20
S. Bergenheim 33 7 9 4 16
T. Fleischmann 38 5 8 9 13
V. Trocheck 28 4 9 6 13
D. Kulikov 39 1 12 -2 13
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 17 10 8 .923 2.32
A. Montoya 3 4 2 .887 3.09
 
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