The 5-7 Florida Panthers are in for their toughest month of the 2007-08 NHL season.
Olli Jokinen doesn't know why he records so many more goals and assists at home than on the road.The Panthers one road win was truly a miracle. This team has to start playing well on the road and avoid the late collapses that have plagued the team so far this year. The Panthers have been excellent on the power play this year. If the team doesn't begin playing that way at home, and in even strength situations, it will be another long year for the South Florida NHL hockey fans.
"I don't think I do anything different," the Panthers' captain said.
Yet for the past two-plus seasons, the results have been very different. Jokinen, who has scored 10 of his 13 points this season at home, had twice as many goals, 25 more points and a rating difference of plus-20 at BankAtlantic Center last season. He had 17 more points and a rating difference of plus-32 in 2005-06.
Because this is the month the Panthers play their most road games (eight) this season, starting with tonight's game at Buffalo and Saturday's at Carolina.
And because it happens to be November — in the past two Novembers, the Panthers have four wins combined and two seasons lost.
The Panthers were tied for fourth in the NHL last season in home goals (145) and 26th in road goals (101). Only Ville Peltonen finished with more points away from BankAtlantic Center (19) than inside the home arena (18). But no one came close to having the differential Jokinen had. Stephen Weiss and Martin Gelinas each had 14 more points at home.
Jokinen's road struggles embody that of the team. The Panthers are 1-5 on the road this season with 11 goals — one awarded for a shootout win.
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