Panthers Quietly Turning Season Around
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SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – While most of the attention from South Florida sports fans has been focused on the Miami Dolphins and Miami Heat; the Florida Panthers are quietly trying to make a push towards respectability in the NHL.
The Panthers are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games and have won four in a row after beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 Tuesday night. Tomas Fleischmann, Sean Bergenheim, and Brad Boyes all scored for the Panthers.
In addition, the victory pulled Florida to within six points of Toronto in the Eastern Conference. It’s been quite a turnaround for a hockey franchise left for dead after a horrendous start to the season.
“We’re looking for progress,” coach Peter Horachek said. “We’re looking for consistency in our play.”
Looking at the Eastern Conference, there’s a logjam of teams making runs at the wild card spots. Florida is just one point behind New Jersey and Columbus, two points behind the New York Rangers, three points behind the Philadelphia Flyers and Ottawa Senators, and six points behind the Maple Leafs.
Overall, Miami has pulled to within four games of .500 on the season, but have given up the third most goals of any team in the Eastern Conference. Florida has allowed 110 goals in 2013, behind only the New York Islanders’ 121 and the Ottawa Senators’ 113.
One of the brightest spots for the Panthers has been the play of Alexsander Barkov. The rookie center has come up big this season including setting up two Panthers’ goals on Tuesday night, including the game-winner in just 16:48 seconds of ice time.
Some pundits were surprised when Barkov was picked number two overall by the Panthers in this year’s draft, but the team thought he was the most NHL ready player in the draft and so far, he’s paying dividends for that analysis.
Florida has Wednesday evening off, but will return to the ice on Thursday night to play the third game of a four-game Canadian road trip with a game at Ottawa. The Panthers will then play again Friday night against the Winnipeg Jets before returning home on the 23rd for a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
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