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Posted On Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 1:02 PM

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

Panthers put Theodore back in net to face Devils

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Panthers goalie Jose Theodore will get the chance to quickly atone for his first bad performance of the season.

Coach Kevin Dineen said after the morning skate that Theodore will be back in net Tuesday night when Florida faces the New Jersey Devils.

Theodore was pulled after the second period of Sunday's 6-1 loss to the New York Rangers after allowing six goals on 22 shots. Despite that rough outing, Theodore will go into the New Jersey game with an 11-6-3 record with a 2.39 GAA and a .922 save percentage.

Sunday marked the first time this season that Theodore was pulled for ineffectiveness. He was replaced after the second period of an Oct. 22 game against the New York Islanders because a lower-body injury.

Theodore was in the net against New Jersey on Nov. 21 when the Panthers rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3.

"He's the right guy for the job," Dineen said. "He's played extremely well for us and he's given us a chance to win every night. He threw a stinker at us, like the rest of the crew, the other night. Now, you rebound and you come back and that's what's great about having people that have great experience. They move on and get ready for the next one."

The Panthers will face the Devils without the services of rookie defenseman Erik Gudbranson, who suffered a charley horse in the Rangers game.

That came after Gudbranson scored his first NHL goal.

Here are the projected lines for tonight's game:

DEVILS

Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Eric Boulton - Ryan Carter - David Clarkson
Mattias Tedenby - Tim Sestito - Cam Janssen

Henrik Tallinder - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Kurtis Foster
Alexander Urbom - Adam Larsson

Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg

PANTHERS
Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Marco Sturm - Tomas Kopecky - Mikael Samuelsson
Sean Bergenheim - Shawn Matthias - Jack Skille
Krystofer Barch - Mike Santorelli - Matt Bradley

Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver
Ed Jovanovski - Keaton Ellerby

Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen
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Posted On Monday, 12.05.2011 / 1:42 PM

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

Vokoun won't start in return to South Florida

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Washington goalie Tomas Vokoun was happy to return to South Florida so he could see his wife and two daughters. But the trip will not include a start against his former team.

Instead, Coach Dale Hunter said Michal Neuvirth will get the call against Florida, the team for which Vokoun played for the last four seasons.

"Those are the decisions Coach makes," Vokoun said. "I'm a paid employee and I don't make those kind of decisions. I'm a hockey player, I'm paid to play games. When they tell me I'm playing, I'm playing. When they told me I'm not playing, I'm not playing."

Vokoun left his family behind when he signed a one-year contract as a free agent with Washington this summer because he wanted his kids to stay in their school.

He flew to South Florida ahead of his teammates and stayed at his house on Sunday night.

"Obviously for me it's special becasue my family is here," he said. "I get to see my kids and stay home a couple of days. Being away since September, it's really nice."

Vokoun faced the Panthers earlier this season when the teams met in Washington and stopped 20 shots in a 3-0 shutout victory.

Hunter also said after Monday's morning skate that defenseman Roman Hamrlik will miss a third consecutive game with a lower-body injury.

Left wing Alexander Semin, however, could be available after missing Saturday night's 3-2 overtime victory over Ottawa with a shoulder injury. Hunter said a final call on his lineup will be a game-time decision.
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Posted On Monday, 12.05.2011 / 1:40 PM

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

Projected lineups for Capitals, Panthers

Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the Southeast Division-leading Florida Panthers host the Washington Capitals at the BankAtlantic Center:

CAPITALS
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Troy Brouwer
Cody Eakin - Marcus Johansson - Mike Knuble
Jason Chimera - Brooks Laich - Joel Ward
Matt Hendricks - Jeff Halpern - Mathieu Perreault

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
John Erskine - Dennis Wideman
Jeff Schultz - Dmitry Orlov

Michal Neuvirth
Tomas Vokoun

PANTHERS
Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Marco Sturm - Mike Santorelli - Jack Skille
Shawn Matthias - Tomas Kopecky - Sean Bergenheim
Evgenii Dadnov - Tim Kennedy - Bracken Kearns

Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver
Ed Jovanovski - Erik Gudbranson

Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 6:26 PM

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

Stralman set to make Rangers' debut

SUNRISE, Fla. — Anton Stralman will make his New York Rangers debut Wednesday night against the Florida Panthers.

The 25-year-old Swedish defenseman has been a healthy scratch since signing with the Rangers on Nov. 5. Coach John Tortorella is hoping Stralman can help a power play that is tied for 28th in the League.

"He needs to get in sooner or later, see what he is," Tortorella said. "I thought he moved the puck well on our power play yesterday (at practice). We'll see if he can help us a little bit there."

Tortorella said Jeff Woywitka will be scratched to make room for Stralman.

Stralman spent the last two seasons with Columbus. He led all Blue Jackets defensemen with 34 points two seasons ago and had 18 points in 51 games in 2010-11.


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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 1:46 PM

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

Upper-body injury continues to sideline Goc

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Panthers center Marcel Goc will miss his fourth consecutive game Wednesday night with what has been listed as an upper-body injury, and he might be out for a little while longer.

Coach Kevin Dineen addressed Goc's status after the Panthers' optional morning skate and said the injury was a result of Goc taking a hit to the head in a game at Dallas Nov. 15.

Dineen, however, stopped short of calling the injury a concussion.

"We're just in that precautionary stage before we make any kind of statement on exactly what the injury is," he said. "I had a really good talk with him today and he’s making strides in the right direction.

"He took a pretty good shot. I don't like playing this game where I'm trying to stickhandle around what exactly an injury is, but sometimes I have to get a definitive answer from my medical group before I make any kind of a public statement on that."

Goc, signed as a free agent from Nashville on July 1, has 2 goals in 17 games, but has been a key member of the penalty-killing unit and also has been asked to take a lot of key faceoffs in the defensive zone.

Dineen did not give a timetable for Goc’s return.

"Everybody has different reactions to injuries and his are consistent with us giving us some time to make sure that he's all right," Dineen said.
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 1:40 PM

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

Panthers looking to get other lines going

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Florida's top line of Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg and Tomas Fleischmann has produced big numbers all season, but now the Panthers are looking for more offensive contributions from their other lines.

That's why there might be different line combinations Wednesday night when the Panthers face the New York Rangers.

In the Panthers' last two games -- 3-2 and 4-3 victories over Pittsburgh and New Jersey, respectively -- the top line accounted for six of the seven goals. The other was scored by defenseman Brian Campbell on a feed from Versteeg.

Versteeg (11), Fleischmann (9) and Weiss (8) have combined for 28 goals on the season, but no other forward has more than three.

Injuries have been a factor up front, as the Panthers had to recently recall three players from the AHL -- Tim Kennedy, Evgenii Dadonov and Michal Repik.

"I'm always tweaking things and that's a blessing and a curse," Dineen said after the Panthers' optional morning skate Wednesday. "You're searching for chemistry. If I see it a snapshot of some chemistry, that's something I certainly am going to try to encourage and stay with.

"I'm fairly patient when it comes to that, and obviously with Michal Repik and Tim Kennedy and Dads in the lineup, it's changed our dynamic a little bit and it's important that you really engage those players and make them feel a part of it. That's what we're trying to do."

Dineen didn't dismiss the possibility of breaking up his top line at some point to try to generate more balanced offensive production.

"Obviously, we haven't tweaked Weisser's line and that's always maybe even tempting to say, let's put somebody on there to get them going," Dineen said. "We'll see where we go with that."

Dineen said Wednesday morning he hadn't decided whether Jose Theodore or Jacob Markstrom would be in net against the Rangers.

Theodore has started the last three games and played well, but Dineen said he was intrigued by the idea of Markstrom going against fellow Swede Henrik Lundqvist.

"You know what, Swede vs. Swede is very enticing (vs.) going with the hot hand, it makes for a tough decision for a coach," Dineen said. "I'll probably wait until the last minute to make that call."
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 1:38 PM

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

Projected lineups for Rangers, Panthers

Here's how the lines could look for tonight's game between the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center:

RANGERS
Brandon Dubinsky - Brad Richards - Ryan Callahan
Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Sean Avery - Brian Boyle - Ruslan Fedotenko
Brandon Prust - Erik Christensen - Andre Deveaux

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto - Michael Sauer
Jeff Woywitka - Steve Eminger

Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron

PANTHERS
Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Sean Bergenheim - Tomas Kopecky - Evgenii Dadonov
Marco Sturm - Mike Santorelli - Jack Skille
Shawn Matthias - Tim Kennedy - Michal Repik

Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver
Ed Jovanovski - Erik Gudbranson

Jose Theodore
Jacob Markstrom
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 1:18 PM

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

Panthers-Rangers a family affair for Dineens

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Florida Panthers coach Kevin Dineen comes from a hockey family, and Wednesday night's game against the New York Rangers at the BankAtlantic Center will reunite him with one of his brothers.

Former NHL player and coach Bill Dineen had five sons, all of whom currently work in hockey. Three of them -- Kevin, Gord and Peter -- also played in the NHL.

Jerry Dineen, the second-youngest of the clan at 45, made it as far as the ECHL and he's now a video coach for the Rangers.

"Jer has been a guy that's been around for a long time," Kevin Dineen said after the Panthers' optional skate Wednesday morning. "He's been through I don't know how many coaches, but I don't think that goes to luck. He's a valuable part of that organization and his personality lends itself to long-term stability and (he's) very helpful within the organization. It is special to have him on the other side."

In addition to Kevin and Jerry, Peter Dineen is a scout with Columbus and Shawn Dineen, the youngest brother at 43, is a scout with Nashville.

Gord Dineen, meanwhile, is an assistant coach with the AHL's Toronto Marlies.

But Wednesday, it's Kevin and Jerry.

"He's always been the young guy there and always very endearing to the rest of us," Kevin said of Jerry, who is in his 18th season with the Rangers. "We get to spent a lot of time as families during the summer and stay in touch, and on a night like tonight we're trying to kick each other's tails, no different than we were as young guys."
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Posted On Monday, 11.21.2011 / 12:50 PM

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

Projected lineups for Devils, Panthers

Here are how the lines could look when the New Jersey Devils face the Florida Panthers tonight at the BankAtlantic Center:

DEVILS

Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Mattias Tedenby - Rod Pelley - David Clarkson
Brad Mills - Ryan Carter - Cam Janssen

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson
Henrik Tallinder - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Anton Volchenkov

Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg

PANTHERS

Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Sean Bergenheim - Tomas Kopecky - Evgenii Dadonov
Marco Sturm - Mike Santorelli - Jack Skille
Shawn Matthias - Tim Kennedy - Michal Repik

Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver
Ed Jovanovski - Keaton Ellerby

Jose Theodore
Jacob Markstrom
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Posted On Monday, 11.21.2011 / 12:48 PM

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

Samuelsson moving closer to Panthers' debut

FLORIDA -- While Sidney Crosby will make his long-awaited season debut Monday night, Panthers forward Mikael Samuelsson is still waiting to make his debut with his new team.

At least Samuelsson is getting close.

The veteran, who won a Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2008, has been on injured reserve with a lower-body injury since he was acquired in the Oct. 22 trade that sent David Booth to Vancouver.

But the hope is that Samuelsson could make his Panthers debut before the end of the month.

Samuelsson appeared in six games for Vancouver early in the season before he had a setback related to the sports hernia surgery he underwent in May.

"We're taking it really slow," Samuelsson said. "Obviously I've never done that before. I think I need that time. We're getting there. Give me one more week or something like that. I'll let the guys in there decide, the trainers."

The other veteran acquired in the Booth trade, forward Marco Sturm, has 1 goal and 1 assist in 12 games with Florida.

After finishing with 50 points in 75 games for Vancouver last season, Samuelsson has 1 goal and 2 assists this season. He's looking forward to the opportunity of adding to that total.

"As long as I'm healthy when I get back, I'm good about it," Samuelsson said. "But I'm anxious to get going."
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