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Posted On Saturday, 11.30.2013 / 12:30 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Winchester back for Panthers against Penguins

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers will have right wing Jesse Winchester back in the lineup Saturday when they try to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins at home for the second time this season.

Winchester missed the past four games because of a lower-body injury sustained in a 4-1 loss against the Edmonton Oilers on Nov. 21. Winchester, signed as a free agent this summer after he spent all of 2012-13 playing in Europe, was one of Florida's most productive forwards earlier this season.

He had a run of five points in six games (three goals, two assists) before serving a three-game suspension for an elbow to the head of Boston Bruins center Chris Kelly.

"He works hard in all three areas of the rink," Panthers interim coach Peter Horachek said after the morning skate Saturday. "He's not afraid to go into the hard areas. He's pretty good on the walls. That's one of the areas before I got here that he was one of the players who were doing what they needed to do and living up to their responsibilities. He's a good kid, he works hard, and he's kind of a workhorse that people can follow and use as an example."

Posted On Monday, 11.25.2013 / 7:46 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Panthers place Kopecky, Gilroy on injured reserve

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers placed forward Tomas Kopecky and defenseman Matt Gilroy on injured reserve Monday.

Kopecky, who sustained an upper-body injury in a 4-1 loss against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, will miss games against the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers and be eligible to return for a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.

Gilroy was injured in a 4-3 shootout loss against the Calgary Flames on Friday and won't be eligible to return until a game against the Ottawa Senators on Dec. 3.

Posted On Monday, 11.25.2013 / 1:48 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Olsen set to make Panthers debut vs. Flyers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers will have both of the prospects they acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks 11 days ago in the lineup when they face the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night.

Defenseman Dylan Olsen will make his Panthers debut against the Flyers, joining forward Jimmy Hayes. The two were acquired on Nov. 14 in the trade that sent veteran forward Kris Versteeg to Chicago.

Hayes immediately joined the Panthers after the trade and played in the last four games of Florida's five-game road trip.

Olsen had been playing with the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League until he was called up on Sunday.


Posted On Tuesday, 11.12.2013 / 1:36 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Ducks without Getzlaf as they go for historic start

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Anaheim Ducks will be without center Ryan Getzlaf as they try to make franchise history Tuesday against the Florida Panthers.

Getzlaf will miss his second consecutive game with an upper-body injury sustained during a morning skate Friday. He went on that night to record a hat trick in a 6-2 victory against the Buffalo Sabres, but sat out Sunday when the Ducks beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 to finish a three-game homestand.

"Make no mistake about it, we missed the big fella coming in there," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said Tuesday. "He is our straw that stirs the drink. When he's playing he controls the power play, he kills penalties, he usually plays against the other team's best checking line. We miss him."

Posted On Tuesday, 11.05.2013 / 2:01 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Oilers, Panthers welcome returning players

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The struggling Edmonton Oilers will get a couple of key players back when they face the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.

Veteran forward Ryan Smyth returns after missing five games because of a groin injury and goalie Devan Dubnyk will make his first start since Oct. 24.

Dubnyk appeared in relief of Jason LaBarbera against the Phoenix Coyotes on Oct. 25 but left after 39 seconds due to an ankle injury.

The Oilers have lost their past five games, including back-to-back shutouts against the Toronto Maple Leafs (4-0) and Detroit Red Wings (5-0). They face a Florida team also in the midst of a five-game losing streak.

Posted On Tuesday, 11.05.2013 / 1:49 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Oilers' Fedun perseveres to reach NHL debut

SUNRISE, Fla. -- A little more than two years after sustaining a nasty leg injury in a preseason game, defenseman Taylor Fedun will make his NHL debut when the Edmonton Oilers face the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.

Fedun, who sat out the entire 2011-12 season after sustaining a broken right femur against the Minnesota Wild on Sept. 30, 2011, was called up Monday from the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League.

"From that moment on, this was what I've been looking toward for the last couple of years now," Fedun said after the Oilers' morning skate. "It's a pretty special feeling to finally be here. The nerves are definitely going to be present, but quite frankly I'd be a little more worried if they weren't present. I think that'll be a good thing. Just get out there and just play the game. I'm excited."

Posted On Friday, 11.01.2013 / 1:08 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blues want to re-focus Lapierre's energy

SUNRISE, Fla. -- St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock still wants to see the same kind of energy from center Maxim Lapierre as he returns from his five-game suspension. He just wants to see it applied a different way.

Lapierre will play Friday against the Florida Panthers for the first time since he was suspended for a hit on San Jose Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle in a game Oct. 15.

"He brings a different energy that's winning energy on the road," Hitchcock said after the Blues' optional skate Friday. "He plays hard. He draws our fourth line into a game that we need our fourth line to play in. It just adds stability to our lineup. He's a guy that can kill penalties.

"We're asking him to kind of channel his energy in a little bit different direction here than he's used to. I think he's really adapted to that. It's unfortunate because he was playing great until the incident. Our hope is he just gets back on the bike and just starts playing again like before that incident with Danny."

Lapierre said he understood the message.

Posted On Friday, 10.25.2013 / 1:56 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Panthers' Bergenheim eager to finally get back on ice

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Almost 18 months after his last game with the Florida Panthers, forward Sean Bergenheim will make his long-awaited return Friday against the Buffalo Sabres.

Bergenheim hasn't played in an NHL game since Game 7 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Panthers and New Jersey Devils, missing all of last season and the first 10 games this season because of abdomen, groin and hip issues.

"It's been a while, but I don't feel that it's been that long," Bergenheim said after the Panthers' morning skate. "When I look at how many months it's been since I played, I don't feel that on the ice. I don't feel it's been that long. I'm really happy to be back. For sure, I missed this.

"I'm not nervous right now, but I'm sure I'll get some butterflies before the game here. … [I'm] just feeling really good and ready. That's the feeling I have right now."


Posted On Tuesday, 10.22.2013 / 1:20 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Panthers not worried about Kopecky's slow start

SUNRISE, Fla. -- After leading the Florida Panthers in goals last season, Tomas Kopecky still is looking for his first point after nine games.

The veteran forward is frustrated about the drought, but coach Kevin Dineen said he has no issue with Kopecky's performance so far this season.

"Kopy is fine," Dineen said Tuesday after his team's morning skate in preparation for a game against the Chicago Blackhawks at BB&T Center. "He's a diverse player. I don't judge his games as much on what it shows on the score sheet at the end of the night. He has value in many different ways and a lot of that is in his leadership. That's not chirping in the room, that's going out there and playing the way that we have to play on a consistent basis to win."

Kopecky led the Panthers in 2012-13 season with 15 goals in 47 games. That tied his career high, which he had accomplished in 81 games with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010-11.

However, he failed to score a goal in the last nine games of last season, meaning his drought has reached 18 games.

Posted On Tuesday, 10.22.2013 / 1:14 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Panthers' Campbell happy with shift back to right side

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Brian Campbell will be going to a familiar spot Tuesday when the Florida Panthers face his former team, the Chicago Blackhawks.

After playing on the left side for most of the season, Campbell will be shifting to the right side with his new defense partner, Dmitry Kulikov.

"It's kind of good," Campbell said after the Panthers' morning skate. "It moves me back over to the right side, which I've played probably for eight years in a row now. It's been an adjustment going back to the left side. Now going to the right, I feel like I can contribute more offensively hopefully. It's more of a comfort for me. I do enjoy that."

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— Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins after their loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday
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