Welcome to the first edition of Panthers “Quotibles”. This time, we will look at the All Star Break, and the very important upcoming stretch. Inside Hockey caught up with Panthers All Star Brian Campbell last week to talk to him about his then upcoming trip to Ottawa. Monday afternoon, IH spoke with Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen about the critical upcoming schedule, with the next four games being against divisional opponents.
CAMPBELL ON THE ALL STAR GAME: “It’s a great honor, obviously, and I’m excited to go and represent the organization.”
ON BEING THE ONLY PANTHER IN OTTAWA: “There’s always guys who are candidates to go, and sometimes don’t get a chance to go. We had some guys who were deserving. It’s disappointing it didn’t work out.”
ON GOING TO OTTAWA INSTEAD OF STAYING IN WARM WEATHER: “Some guys are going to some nice places. I don’t mind Ottawa, I played my junior hockey there and I’ll have my family there.”
ON SOUTH FLORIDA SO FAR: “Everything is good. Adjustment wise I just find the travel’s really tough [here]. I tihnk that’s been the biggest adjustment for myself. You just have to continue getting rest.”
THE PANTHERS WERE RECENTLY IN CHICAGO…ARE THE PANTHERS CLOSE? “We’re trying to do whatever we can. I think we’re ready. We’ll see what happens. We’ve just gotta battle through this last little half here and rattle off a lot of wins to get in a good playoff spot and go from there.”
HOW HAS THE TEAM PERFORMED? “I had high expectations coming in. We got off to a great start, and lately we’ve been battling to get some wins. In Winnipeg, we had a really good team building win. How we played there is how we have to play down the stretch. We put ourselves in a postion, and we have to keep battling and attacking.”
WHAT DOES THE TEAM HAVE TO DO TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS? “Our special teams have to be good. We need to spread the scoring around, too. We’ve had great golatending all season, so we’ve gotta back those guys up.”
COACH KEVIN DINEEN ON NOT FACING OVECHKIN: “You can say there’s no difference, but let’s not kid outselves. We’re talking about a world class player and a player you really respect. Our fans have missed Sidney [Crosby] and [Alex Ovechkin].”
ON THE EXTRA DAY OFF: “You know, I thought a lot about that when I looked at the schedule. It doesn’t hurt, but we’re going to play 9 games in 17 days and 14 in February and 15 in March. Any days off are important. I look at it as a positive and say, ‘we used it wisely.’ Guys come in fresh tomorrow and are good to go Wednesday.”
The Panthers are back in action tonight against the Washington Capitals at the BankAtlantic Center. The game will begin at 8:00 PM in order to allow the NBC Sports blackout to expire so the game could air on local TV.