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Posted On Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 1:24 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Jovanovski joins Weiss on sidelines for Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers again will be without center Stephen Weiss on Thursday night against the Winnipeg Jets, and he'll be joined on the sidelines by captain Ed Jovanovski.

The veteran defenseman sustained a knee injury in Tuesday night's 5-2 loss at Tampa Bay.

Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said Jovanovski wouldn't play at Buffalo on Sunday, either. If there's any good news regarding Jovanovski, it's that an exam Wednesday revealed no structural damage.

"It's going to take a few days here, but the guy's heart is pretty big," Dineen said. "It's hard to put a number on how many days he'll be out."

As for Weiss, he continues to be sidelined by a groin injury and will miss his fourth consecutive game.

Dineen said the issue isn't conditioning, but rather making sure that Weiss isn't rushed back into action before he's ready.

"If it was conditioning, Weisser would be right into the thick of things for us, but I want to make sure a player as important as he is to our lineup is with us the next 40 games instead of for a short-term snapshot," Dineen said. "If Stephen Weiss was making the decision, it probably would be a different look to our lineup tonight. He's an important guy and we want to make sure that he's healthy."

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Posted On Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 1:18 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Panthers get Goc back in lineup against Jets

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Center Marcel Goc will make his season debut for the Florida Panthers Thursday night against the Winnipeg Jets.

Goc missed the first six games because of a lower-body injury sustained while he played in Germany during the lockout.

Goc is expected to center the top line between Tomas Fleischmann and Kris Versteeg.

"No injury comes at a good time, and this one came just a few days before the lockout was over," Goc said. "It was really bad timing, but you can't predict that. Things happen. I had to do my rehab work and I put the time in, and now I'm back, I'm excited and I hope I can help the team."

The Panthers are off to a disappointing 1-5 start, and have missed Goc's versatility.

"He's not a kind of player that you notice a heck of a lot during the course of the game, but boy, we use him in a lot of different situations," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "He kind of gives us one more bullet in the chamber to throw out in many different situations.

"In any sport there's a level of trust that gets into coaching when you're looking for that player that's going to make a difference, whether it's a faceoff or making a responsible play or can go out and give you a quality play on offense. Marcel is pretty diversified. He can do a lot of things."

While the injury was disappointing, Goc said he enjoyed playing in Germany because it gave him the opportunity to play on the same Manheim team as his younger brother Nikolai.

The big highlight, though, was a game against Hanover, which featured Goc's older brother Sasha.

"That was fun," Goc said. "The one game I played with my younger brother against my older brother, that was pretty cool. That was fun to play in that game."

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Posted On Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 12:55 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Jets defenseman Redmond prepared for NHL debut

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Winnipeg Jets defenseman Zach Redmond likely will be making his NHL debut Thursday night against the Florida Panthers.

While Jets coach Claude Noel wouldn't confirm that Redmond would be in the lineup, Redmond said he had been told he would play against the Panthers.

"It's a pretty nervous time period," Redmond said. "You're just kind of sitting there wondering, but I've been trying to stay as relaxed as I can. They have their plans for everybody, so I've just been trying to stay patient and just wait for them. I had a feeling this could be the game, and it was, and I can't wait. I'm excited."

Redmond was a healthy scratch for Winnipeg's first six games this season after spending all of 2011-12 with the St. John's IceCaps of the American Hockey League.

Redmond was a seventh-round pick of the then-Atlanta Thrashers in the 2008 NHL Draft after his first season at Ferris State University.

The 24-year-old Redmond, a native of Traverse City, Mich., was hoping to have family and friends in the stands Thursday night, but wasn't sure whether travel plans could be arranged quickly enough.

For his part, Redmond said he was hoping to be able to take a nap Thursday afternoon.

As for his first game, Redmond said he's gotten advice from Jets defenseman Paul Postma, a 2007 draft pick who made his NHL debut in November 2011.

"Everyone just keeps saying, do what got you here, that's kind of the old saying," Redmond said. "I'm sure there's going to be some surprises, as in everyone's first game. But I'm going to learn and go out there and give it my best shot."'

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Posted On Saturday, 01.26.2013 / 7:39 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Briere makes season debut for Flyers

SUNRISE, Fla.Philadelphia Flyers forward Danny Briere will be making his season debut Saturday night against the Florida Panthers.

Briere, who sustained a wrist injury while playing in Germany during the lockout, didn't sound optimistic after the morning skate about his chances of playing.

Briere said he feels comfortable in his ability to absord a hit and doesn't feel pain shooting the puck. The biggest problem, he says, is faceoffs.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.26.2013 / 2:23 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Howden could make NHL debut for Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers already have had three players make their NHL debut this season, and they could have a fourth Saturday night.

Forward Quinton Howden, one of the team’s three first-round picks in the 2010 NHL Draft, was recalled Friday from San Antonio of the American Hockey League and took part in the morning skate Saturday.

Howden skated on a line with Jack Skille and Drew Shore, with whom he played in San Antonio this season.

“Very excited,” Howden said. “This is what you dream of, opportunities like this. I’ve been working hard to get this opportunity and I’m looking forward to it.”

He was so excited, in fact, he didn’t mind dressing on a chair in the middle of the dressing room because all the seats were filled. Howden, who had nine goals and 10 assists in 41 games with San Antonio, is among the large group of blue-chip prospects in the Panthers organization.

Howden is in line to join 2011 first-round pick Jonathan Huberdeau, Shore and defenseman Michael Caruso in making his NHL debut this season.

“It’s exciting,” Howden said. “You can see that things are starting from the bottom and building up, but all those draft picks with [Shore] and [Huberdeau] and me and [Erik Gudbranson] and all that, there’s a lot of guys that are making their debuts and are going to make a name for themselves.”

A 6-foot-2, 189-pound left wing who can also play center, Howden was the 25th pick in the 2010 NHL Draft.

Asked what he was looking to get out of Howden, Panthers coach Kevin Dineen didn’t hesitate.

“Speed,” he said. “That’s his No. 1 asset is his speed. If he can come out and establish that, that’s a part of his game, that’s a good step.

“I think he’s had a solid first rookie season that he’s gone out there and he’s found the adjustment to the schedule and how it is to play against big men. He’s still a work in progress but he’s headed in the right direction and deserves his shot if he can get in there tonight.”

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Posted On Saturday, 01.26.2013 / 2:07 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Knuble excited to rejoin Flyers

SUNRISE, Fla. — Veteran forward Mike Knuble was the only Philadelphia Flyers player missing a nameplate in the visiting locker room at the BB&T Center Saturday morning.

After completing the morning skate in preparation for Saturday night's contest against the Florida Panthers, the first game of Knuble's second stint with the Flyers, the 40-year-old recent signee wasn’t about to complain.

While he enjoyed his one-game stint with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League, Knuble is happy to be back in the NHL after signing Friday with the Flyers.

"It was good. It was in my hometown. It was important. [I'm] pretty shocked that it wasn’t a little bit longer," Knuble said of his stint with the Griffins. "I thought I had two, three weeks before anything would pop up, but it was fun. Good experience. It’s funny to say, but I wish it would have been a couple more games there. It would have been fun."

Knuble was signed after the Flyers lost wing Scott Hartnell for 4-8 weeks with a foot injury. Knuble isn’t likely to replace Hartnell’s scoring, but he’s the kind of veteran who should fit in comfortably.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.26.2013 / 1:35 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Flyers, Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. — Here are the projected lines for the game Saturday between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Florida Panthers.

FLYERS

Wayne Simmonds - Claude Giroux - Matt Read

Jakub Voracek - Sean Couturier - Maxime Talbot

Ruslan Fedotenko - Brayden Schenn - Mike Knuble

Tom Sestito - Eric Wellwood - Scott Laughton

Kimmo Timonen - Luke Schenn

Nicklas Grossman - Braydon Coburn

Kurtis Foster - Bruno Gervais

Ilya Bryzgalov

Michael Leighton

Injured: Danny Briere, Andrej Meszaros, Scott Hartnell, Zac Rinaldo

Scratches: Tye McGinn, Jody Shelley

Notes: Veteran defenseman Kurtis Foster returns to the lineup after sitting out the last two games. Foster said an undisclosed injury kept him out against New Jersey on Tuesday, but he could have played Thursday night against the Rangers. The Flyers also will have forward Brayden Schenn back in the lineup after he served his one-game suspension for his hit on New Jersey defenseman Anton Volchenkov. “You may not agree with it, but you respect their decision,” Schenn said. “It’s no fun missing a game, but I’m glad I’m back after sitting out one game.”

PANTHERS

Tomas Fleischmann - Tomas Kopecky - Alex Kovalev

Jonathan Huberdeau - Peter Mueller - Scottie Upshall

Quinton Howden - Shawn Matthias - Drew Shore

Jack Skille - Jerred Smithson - George Parros

Filip Kuba - Brian Campbell

Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver

Ed Jovanovski - Keaton Ellerby

Jose Theodore

Scott Clemmensen

Injured: Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg, Erik Gudbranson, Marcel Goc, Sean Bergenheim, Michael Caruso

Scratches: Mike Santorelli, Tyson Strachan

Notes: The Florida Panthers’ lineup was up in the air after the morning skate because of the uncertain status of both Tomas Fleischmann and Kris Versteeg. “We were a hard scout today,” Dineen said. “You look at the morning skate and you look at the bodies in the lineup and the possibilities. We’re not sure what we’re putting on the ice tonight just based on guys are that close to coming back.”

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Posted On Saturday, 01.26.2013 / 1:11 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Briere closer to returning

SUNRISE, Fla. — Forward Danny Briere is inching closer to making his season debut for the Philadelphia Flyers, but he didn’t sound optimistic following the morning skate that it would happen Saturday night against the Florida Panthers.

Briere, who sustained a wrist injury during the lockout while playing for Berlin Polar Bears of the Deutsche Eishockey League in Germany, took part in the morning skate after being cleared for contact on Thursday.

“I’m going to come back, try to warm up, it didn’t feel great this morning,” Briere said. "There’s ups and downs. Maybe [it will be] a little better tonight, we’ll see what happens. But probably more no than yes at this point."

Briere wasn’t sure whether he would even take part in pregame warmups.

"It’s where it’s at, how much strength, how much pain, at this point," he said. "Sometimes during the day it loosens up and it might be a little better."

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Posted On Saturday, 01.26.2013 / 12:45 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Weiss out again for Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla.Florida Panthers center Stephen Weiss will miss his second consecutive game Saturday night, but coach Kevin Dineen didn’t rule out the other two members of his top line, Kris Versteeg and Tomas Fleischmann, for the matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Versteeg has yet to play in a game this season after he sustained a lower-body injury in practice the day before the Jan. 19 opener against the Carolina Hurricanes. He took part in the morning skate Saturday, but didn’t work with a line and stayed on the ice for extra work after his teammates went off.

“He looked pretty good there today,” Dineen said. “With [Versteeg], I always have to be careful because his heart is telling him one thing and we’ve got to make sure that we get over this hump of our early-season injuries and make sure that guys are fully prepared to go instead of getting along with not firing on all the pistons. We’ll see where he’s at after a good skate today. It’s encouraging. There’s a possibility he can even play tonight.”

Fleischmann had the most ice time of any Florida forward in a 3-1 loss Thursday against the Ottawa Senators, but he sustained a cut on top of his right foot during the game.

Fleischmann stepped onto the ice before his teammates Saturday morning wearing warmup gear and skated briefly before stepping off. He returned after the start of the morning skate again in warmup gear before leaving after a short while and returning a third time in his full gear.

Dineen said Fleischmann’s availability has nothing to do with his past medical history — Fleischmann missed the second half of the 2010-11 because of a pulmonary embolism.

“Him and his medical team have done a really good job of staying on top of that,” Dineen said. “He’s aware of his history, but it’s all based on whether he can go out and be able to perform like he usually does.”

Like Versteeg, Fleischmann didn’t work with a line in the morning skate.

As for Weiss, who was a late scratch Thursday after taking part in the morning skate, Dineen said keeping him out because of his lower-body injury was a matter of playing things safely.

“Stephen is slowly coming along,” Dineen said. “It’s no different than anybody else. We want to make sure that when he comes back he’s feeling like he can contribute the way he usually does. He’s such a big part of everything we do here. He’s missed in the lineup. We’ll wait and get an evaluation, but he won’t be available for tonight.”

Because of the uncertain status of both Fleischmann and Versteeg, Dineen might have some line juggling to do before the puck drops Saturday night.

“We look at the morning skate and you look at the bodies in the lineup and the possibilities, we’re not sure what we’re putting on the ice tonight just based on guys are that close to coming back. It’s a little bit of a stickhandling to see where we’re at when we drop the puck tonight.”

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Posted On Thursday, 01.24.2013 / 7:23 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Weiss out for Panthers against Senators

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers' injury woes have gotten worse.

Center Stephen Weiss joined the list of players missing from Thursday night's game against the Ottawa Senators when he was ruled out with a lower-body injury. Weiss, who had one assist in the first three games, took part in the morning skate but didn't come out for pregame warmups.

The Panthers also are without four regulars from last year's Southeast Division championship team — Kris Versteeg, Marcel Goc, Sean Bergenheim and Erik Gudbranson — and defenseman Michael Caruso is out with a broken wrist sustained in Tuesday's 4-1 loss at the Montreal Canadiens.

Mike Santorelli, who was scratched Tuesday night, took Weiss' place in the lineup.

Weiss' injury further disrupts the Panthers' top line, which already was set to have a fourth different combination in four games. Weiss and Tomas Fleischmann were flanked in the first three games by Santorelli, Scottie Upshall and Tomas Kopecky, and Alex Kovalev worked with the pair during Thursday's morning skate.

The line of Jonathan Huberdeau, Peter Mueller and Kopecky starts against Ottawa.

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