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Stanley Cup Final
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."

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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.

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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."


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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.

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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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POSTED ON Saturday, 10.19.2013 / 1:56 PM

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

Wild, Panthers experiment with forward lines

SUNRISE, Fla -- The Florida Panthers and Minnesota Wild will go into their matchup Saturday with almost entirely new line combinations.

For Florida, the only line staying intact is the top trio of Tomas Fleischmann, rookie Aleksander Barkov and Brad Boyes.

For Minnesota, the only line unchanged is the fourth unit of Torrey Mitchell, Zenon Konopka and Stephane Veilleux.

"We need to try to find some offense here," Wild coach Mike Yeo said after his team's morning skate. "We've got to try to get more balance through our lineup."

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POSTED ON Thursday, 10.17.2013 / 1:56 PM

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

Panthers aiming for strong start to homestand

SUNRISE, Fla. -- After stumbling to a 2-5-0 start, the Florida Panthers are hoping their longest homestand of the season can help turn things around.

After playing five of their first seven games on the road, the Panthers' game Thursday against the Boston Bruins will be their first of six straight at BB&T Center.

The homestand also includes visits by the Minnesota Wild (Oct. 19), Chicago Blackhawks (Oct. 22), Buffalo Sabres (Oct. 25), Tampa Bay Lightning (Oct. 27) and St. Louis Blues (Nov. 1).

"This is a good test for us," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "It's a quality hockey team. We look at this, it's a window. We want to play at home, we want to be here and get things going in the right direction. Nothing better than a good, stiff challenge like Boston."


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POSTED ON Friday, 10.11.2013 / 1:55 PM

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

Panthers hoping to make home opener memorable

SUNRISE, Fla. -- After starting the regular season with four consecutive road games, the Florida Panthers finally have their home opener Friday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Panthers returned home with a 1-3-0 record following a 7-2 loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night. With the back-to-back games, the Panthers did not have a morning skate on Friday.

The game Friday night comes almost exactly 20 years after the first home game in franchise history, a 2-1 loss to the Penguins on Oct. 12, 1993. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the franchise, the Panthers are planning festivities throughout the season starting with a special "throwback" night Friday.

Original Panthers captain Brian Skrudland and first draft pick Rob Niedermayer will be on hand for the special occasion.


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POSTED ON Friday, 10.11.2013 / 1:32 PM

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

Penguins to give Zatkoff first NHL start vs. Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- More than seven years after being drafted by the Los Angeles Kings, goalie Jeff Zatkoff is set to make his NHL debut with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Zatkoff, 26, got the word Thursday night that he would be in net for the Penguins for their game against the Florida Panthers on Friday.

"Obviously excited, first one," Zatkoff said after the Penguins' morning skate. "Been waiting for this for a while, but once the game starts it's another game, another two points that we need to get in the standings."

Marc-Andre Fleury started the Penguins' first three games, all victories, but Pittsburgh faces a back-to-back set against the Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

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POSTED ON Friday, 10.11.2013 / 1:19 PM

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

Letang skates with Penguins; no return date yet

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Kris Letang will miss his fourth consecutive game Friday night, but the Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman took an important step toward his return at the team's morning skate.

Letang, who has yet to play this season because of a lower-body injury, skated with his teammates at practice for the first time prior to the team's Friday matchup with the Florida Panthers.

After his teammates left the ice, Letang stayed on and did work that involved contact.

"Today's practice won't be an indication that he's ready to go or not ready to go, but he's progressing and contact on the ice is the next step for him," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "He was able to skate and he looks good in that regard, in terms of getting up and down the ice and skating ability. I watched him practice yesterday as well and he's looking good right now, but in particular with this being an injury that he hasn't been able to play or practice yet, [we're] probably taking a little more time precautionary-wise than if this was a midseason situation."

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It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery