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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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Posted On Thursday, 09.12.2013 / 1:16 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Training Camp 2013 blog

Panthers prospect Bjugstad sidelined by concussion

CORAL SPRINGS -- Florida Panthers rookie center Nick Bjugstad missed the first practice of training camp because of a concussion.

Coach Kevin Dineen said Bjugstad was injured in the last game of the Panthers prospect tournament last weekend.

"Nick has been diagnosed with a concussion that started at rookie camp and he's going through the NHL concussion protocol right now," Dineen said. "It happened a little bit toward the end of the third game and he was feeling good. Unfortunately, that's the sport. He's under care by our medical staff and it's a daily evaluation. That's where he's at."


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Posted On Wednesday, 09.11.2013 / 3:48 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Training Camp 2013 blog

Boyes ready for new beginning with Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Veteran forward Brad Boyes arrived in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Wednesday, on the eve of the Florida Panthers' first training camp practice.

He's hoping his stay is an extended one and the Panthers turn his professional tryout into a contract.

"I am looking forward to it," Boyes said. "The opportunity should be there, so that will be exciting. I know a few guys on the team, guys I've played with before, so I'm looking forward to that too. It's something that for me it's an opportunity and I want to make the most of it."

Boyes, who turned 31 in April, played last season with the New York Islanders, but remains unsigned as an unrestricted free agent. He said the Islanders offered him the opportunity to attend their training camp as a tryout player, but he didn't want to go that route. Boyes also said he had a couple of other tryout offers.

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Posted On Wednesday, 09.11.2013 / 1:37 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Training Camp 2013 blog

Panthers expect Huberdeau to skate Thursday

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau is expected to be on the ice when the Florida Panthers hold their first training camp practice Thursday.

He should be joined by all of his teammates, except for captain Ed Jovanovski.

That was the rundown provided Wednesday by general manager Dale Tallon, whose team struggled through an injury-ravaged 2012-13 season. Huberdeau had hip surgery following the season, while Jovanovski (hip) was one of 10 players who underwent procedures during the season.

Along with Huberdeau, others expected to make their return Thursday include forward Kris Versteeg, who played only 10 games last season and underwent knee surgery in March, and forward Sean Bergenheim, who missed all of last season after undergoing sports hernia surgery.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 1:22 PM

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

Maple Leafs want to build momentum for playoffs

SUNRISE, Fla. -- After suffering a 5-2 loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs held an optional morning skate at BB&T Center in preparation for their game against the Florida Panthers on Thursday.

A total of 15 players, including captain Dion Phaneuf and second-leading scorer Nazem Kadri, went on the ice.

The surprisingly large turnout could be attributed to two important reasons.

First and foremost, the Maple Leafs still have a shot at passing the Montreal Canadiens for fourth place in the Eastern Conference and getting home-ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Second, the Maple Leafs want to build some momentum entering the playoffs after losing three of their past four games.

"It just shows that the guys are willing to work to get back to where we were," Kadri said. "I don’t think we're far away from that. It's something that's very easy to correct, but at the same time we've got to be willing to work and execute the game plan."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.23.2013 / 12:16 PM

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

Rangers look to keep up surge against Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The New York Rangers will look to continue their march to the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Tuesday night when they face the Florida Panthers for the second time in less than a week.

The Rangers can clinch a playoff berth with a victory combined with a regulation loss by the Winnipeg Jets against the Washington Capitals.

The Panthers, who have been outscored 30-8 during their current six-game losing streak, would clinch the worst record in the NHL this season with a loss.

Florida will look different Tuesday from the team the Rangers beat 6-1 Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

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Posted On Saturday, 04.13.2013 / 1:34 PM

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

Still no timetable for Penguins' Crosby to skate

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Pittsburgh Penguins will play a sixth consecutive game without Sidney Crosby Saturday night against the Florida Panthers, and coach Dan Bylsma said after the morning skate there is no timetable for when his star center will resume skating.

Crosby has been out since sustaining a jaw injury when he was hit by a slap shot March 30 against the New York Islanders.

The Penguins also again will be without the services of defenseman Paul Martin and left wing James Neal. Martin will miss his seventh consecutive game because of a hand injury, while Neal will miss his third game because of a concussion.

Pittsburgh has a five-point lead over the Montreal Canadiens atop the Eastern Conference standings, but the Penguins aren’t likely to take the last-place Panthers lightly after what happened in their last visit to BB&T Center.

Florida scored four power-play goals, the most allowed by Pittsburgh all season, in a 6-4 victory on Feb. 26.

"We talked about the fact that they did beat us," Penguins wing Pascal Dupuis said. "We weren’t ready. We weren’t physically involved. They had four power-play goals. We definitely have to be better in our penalty killing. They’re a group of guys that play a fast game, they play a high-tempo game. We’ll have to be ready."

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Quote of the Day

This is a great day for me. This is something I've been thinking about for a long time. This is a great opportunity that the St. Louis Blues organization, (owner) Tom Stillman and Doug Armstrong are giving me and trusting me in doing...This is going to be a great challenge for me.

— Martin Brodeur, after announcing his retirement as an NHL player and becoming a senior adviser with the Blues on Thursday