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GO WEST YOUNG MEN: Panthers Looking for Wins On Final Big Trip of Season

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

For the final time this season, the Panthers packed their bags Sunday night and boarded their charter for a long road trip.

Although Florida have one last trip to New York remaining, that's a quick trip with two games on successive nights.

On Tuesday, the Panthers kick off a four-game west coast swing in San Jose. Florida will visit the Sharks, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Anaheim before coming home on Monday.

Eight of Florida's final 10 games following this trip will be in Sunrise.

"We're not going to focus too much on what the other team's situation is,'' said coach Peter Horachek, who gave the team Monday off in California. The team returns to the ice for Tuesday's morning skate.

"I know in California, they're all the best teams aside from St. Louis and Chicago in the West. We have our hands full and it starts in a tough place to play. The Shark Tank is as tough a place as there is to play.''

The Panthers have long given up hope for the playoffs as they came into Monday 18 points out of the final spot in the Eastern Conference.

The same cannot be said for the teams Florida is playing this week.

All four teams the Panthers face are either holding a playoff position or close to it. Last Friday, the Panthers hurt New Jersey's chances in the east -- and they would like to do the same on this trip.

"This is definitely not going to be an easy one,'' Tom Gilbert said. "The teams we're playing have all put themselves in position to be near the top of the league. That just makes it better.''

The Panthers go into this road trip feeling a little better about themselves after picking up three of the available four points over the weekend.

Horachek said his team, which is now stacked with youngsters up from AHL San Antonio, are trying to win every game they can. Although some fans would rather the team continue losing to improve the team's draft status, tanking is not on the minds of the players.

"We have a lot of new faces, a lot of kids trying to make a name for themselves,'' Scottie Upshall said. "On a road trip like this with four good teams, we have to just keep things simple.''

Said Roberto Luongo: "It's really a good test for our team, see where we're at in tough environments. We'll see what we're made of.''

-- Horachek said he didn't even know Jonathan Huberdeau got hurt during the second period of Sunday's game. Huberdeau, listed as having an 'upper body' injury, didn't travel to California.

 

TUESDAY: PANTHERS AT SHARKS

When, Where: 10:30 p.m.; SAP Center, San Jose

TV/Radio: FSNF; WQAM 560

The series: San Jose leads 10-8-7

Scouting report: The Panthers had won four straight against the Sharks before losing 3-0 in Sunrise prior to the Olympic break. The Sharks have been rolling lately, winning six straight.

 

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