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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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Posted On Thursday, 01.24.2013 / 2:56 PM

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

Panthers continue to mix and match with top line

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Florida Panthers coach Kevin Dineen will be going his fourth different top line in four games Thursday night against the Ottawa Senators.

Veteran Alex Kovalev will be the latest to skate alongside center Stephen Weiss and left wing Tomas Fleischmann. He follows Mike Santorelli, Scottie Upshall and Tomas Kopecky on the line that’s missing last year’s right wing, Kris Versteeg, who is out with a lower-body injury.

"You're always hoping for different things when you put a group together out there," Dineen said. "Just a little different look. That's going to be part of the package here early is trying to find some chemistry that's going to work."

After beating the Carolina Hurricanes 5-1 on the strength of three power-play goals, the Panthers combined for one goal in losses at Ottawa on Monday and the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

The Panthers have scored two goals at even strength all season, neither of which was produced by the top line.

Fleischmann has two assists in the first three games, and Weiss has one assist.

"We just don't have the same player on the line every game," Fleischmann said. "It's tough to get something going chemistry-wise, but everybody is an NHL player and we have to get used to it. We've just got to work hard and it's going to come. It's just about the time, I would say. It's going to be OK."

Kovalev, who was given a one-year contract after coming to camp as a tryout player, had three points in the opener playing on the second line with Peter Mueller and rookie Jonathan Huberdeau, but has been shut out since.

"Flasher is a good shooter and Weisser can make plays," Kovalev said. "Hopefully, with my skill I can open up some space."

Versteeg, who underwent hip surgery in the offseason, sustained a lower-body injury in practice the day before the opener and was placed on the injury list Monday.

He's eligible to return to action Saturday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, but Dineen said it was doubtful Versteeg would play in that game.

Dineen said the lineup change Thursday night is about more than just getting better production from the first line.

"I think everybody's shown well in that spot, but what we're trying to do is find balance through four lines," Dineen said. "With our injury situation, there's a little mix and match that would happen anytime. Those guys will be fine. They're high-end professionals."

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Posted On Thursday, 01.24.2013 / 1:54 PM

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

Wounded Panthers lose another in Caruso

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers will continue to be without some injured key players — at least in the short term.

And now there’s another player on the shelf, with coach Kevin Dineen confirming Thursday that defenseman Michael Caruso sustained a broken wrist in a 4-1 loss Tuesday at the Montreal Canadiens.

Caruso, a 2006 draft pick who made his NHL debut in the season opener Saturday, sustained the injury in the first period.

“Shame, I thought he actually had a couple of really good shifts to start the game in Montreal,” Dineen said. “Very unfortunate for him.”

The Panthers will face the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night and will again be missing four regulars from their Southeast Division championship team of 2011-12 — wings Kris Versteeg and Sean Bergenheim, center Marcel Goc and defenseman Erik Gudbranson.

All but Bergenheim have been skating, but Dineen said Goc and Gudbranson will be out at least through the game Tuesday at the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Versteeg, who was placed on the injury list Monday, will be eligible to return Saturday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, but Dineen said Versteeg was doubtful for that game.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.24.2013 / 1:06 PM

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

Projected lineups for Senators, Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. — Here are the projected lineups for the Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators on Thursday night at BB&T Center:

SENATORS

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Jakob Silfverberg

Guillaume Latendresse - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson

Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil

Jim O'Brien - Peter Regin - Erik Condra

Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson

Chris Phillips - Sergei Gonchar

Patrick Wiercioch - Andre Benoit

Craig Anderson

Ben Bishop

Injured: Jared Cowen, Mike Lundin

Scratches: Kaspars Daugavins, Mark Borowiecki

Coach Paul MacLean is going with the same lineup he used in the 4-0 victory Monday against those same Panthers, which was the team’s last game. The only difference is that Ben Bishop will serve as the backup goalie after Robin Lehner was reassigned Tuesday to Binghamton.

PANTHERS

Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Alex Kovalev

Jonathan Huberdeau - Peter Mueller - Tomas Kopecky

Scottie Upshall - 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: Kris Versteeg, Marcel Goc, Erik Gudbranson, Sean Bergenheim,

Michael Caruso

Scratches: Mike Santorelli, Tyson Strachan

Captain Ed Jovanovski will be back in the lineup after sitting out Tuesday at Montreal, the second set of back-to-back games.

Drew Shore earned another start after making his NHL debut in a 4-1 loss against the Canadiens.

“He had a lot of enthusiasm out there,” Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. “Extremely coachable and knows the game. He’s a kid that has stepped in and really made a statement. I thought he had a good game to start his NHL career the other night.”

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 1:57 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Projected Lineup: Hurricanes at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers are going to be short-handed when they begin defense of their Southeast Division title Saturday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Six regulars from last year’s team will be missing, the latest casualty being wing Kris Versteeg. He sustained a lower-body injury in practice Friday and left the morning skate early Saturday.

Taking Versteeg’s place on the top line with Stephen Weiss and Tomas Fleischmann will be Mike Santorelli, who was placed on waivers Friday.

Also out for Florida are forwards Sean Bergenheim and Marcel Goc as well as defensemen Dmitry Kulikov, Erik Gudbranson and Mike Weaver. All are dealing with injuries, except for Kulikov, who just rejoined the team after signing a new contract.

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