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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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Posted On Sunday, 04.07.2013 / 11:56 AM

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

Anderson to make first start back for Senators

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Ottawa Senators have lost three straight in regulation for the first time this season, but they’re hoping the return of goaltender Craig Anderson can make a difference Sunday against the Florida Panthers.

Anderson, who leads the NHL in goals-against average (1.49) and save percentage (.952), will be in net for the first time since Feb. 21 when he sustained an ankle injury against the New York Rangers.

"It can certainly help the psyche of your team, for sure," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "We can use that boost right now."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.06.2013 / 1:34 PM

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

Laich out for Capitals, Bjugstad in for Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla.Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich will sit out Saturday night against the Florida Panthers, but coach Adam Oates said it was more as a precaution than anything else.

Laich played in Washington’s past nine games after missing the first 28 because of a groin injury, but he did not play in the last 9:26 of regulation or overtime in a 2-1 shootout victory Thursday against the New York Islanders.

“He didn’t really aggravate it,” Oates said after the morning skate Saturday. “He’s just sore all over, just from playing so much since he got back and fighting through it. I think we just need to give him a little rest.

“He probably could play today. But he’s getting a little weaker. He played fine the other night. I shut him down just because he got hit. He wasn’t feeling good all over.”

Oates said Laich’s status was day-to-day.

Martin Erat, acquired from the Nashville Predators before the NHL Trade Deadline Wednesday, will replace Laich on the second line alongside Mike Ribeiro and Troy Brouwer.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.30.2013 / 1:27 PM

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

Markstrom goes against former coach DeBoer

SUNRISE, Fla. — Things have come full circle for Florida Panthers goaltender Jacob Markstrom.

The talented Swede made his NHL debut in a relief appearance against the New Jersey Devils Jan. 23, 2011. His coach at the time was Pete DeBoer.

Now Markstrom is set to face his former coach when the Panthers play host to the New Jersey Devils Saturday night at BB&T Center.

Markstrom’s appearance in the 2011 game, when he replaced Scott Clemmensen after the first period of a 5-2 loss, was his only NHL action that season. After bouncing back and forth between Florida and San Antonio of the American Hockey League the past two seasons, Markstrom has become the Panthers’ starting goalie.

He’ll make his sixth start in the past seven games and had allowed only six goals in four starts before four deflections got by him in Thursday’s 5-4 shootout victory against the Buffalo Sabres.

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Posted On Thursday, 03.28.2013 / 12:32 PM

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

Vanek out, Brennan set to face former team

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Buffalo Sabres managed three goals and 32 shots in their past two games combined, and now they'll have to face the Florida Panthers on Thursday night without their leading scorer.

Coach Ron Rolston said after the morning skate Thursday that wing Thomas Vanek would miss the game because of an upper-body injury he sustained in Tuesday's 2-1 loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

While Vanek will sit, struggling forward Drew Stafford will be back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch the past two games.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.16.2013 / 1:07 PM

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

Panthers captain Jovanovski back against Islanders

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Florida Panthers defenseman Ed Jovanovski is expected back in the lineup for the first time since January when they face the New York Islanders on Saturday night at BB&T Center.

The Panthers captain has missed the past 22 games since sustaining a lower-body injury in a 5-2 loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 29.

Jovanovski took part in the morning skate for Thursday's game against the Boston Bruins and again Saturday morning.

"Jovo looks like he's a go there for tonight," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "That's a heck of an addition to have our captain back in the lineup. He's been sorely missed and he'll be a great addition to have back.

"He makes a big difference with our group. Obviously, I took my time deciding which direction I was going to go captain-wise, but at the end of it Jovo just kept sticking out. And as much as his leadership ability was his on-ice play. It was a mixture of both of those last year. We're looking forward to having both his leadership and his play back on the ice."

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.12.2013 / 1:14 PM

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

Lightning add Gudas for extra physicality on defense

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Defenseman Radko Gudas, called up by the Tampa Bay Lightning from Syracuse of the American Hockey League on Monday, will make his NHL debut Tuesday when the Lightning visit the Florida Panthers.

Lightning coach Guy Boucher said he was hoping Gudas would bring a physical presence to the Tampa Bay lineup -- he's fourth in the AHL with 207 penalty minutes, along with leading the league with a plus-32 rating.

"He's got a major upside in terms of his physicality," Boucher said. "He's one of those guys that will be compared to [former New York Islanders defenseman Darius] Kasparaitis, if you remember him. He's a major menace and threat on the ice. He hits guys extremely hard at moments they don't expect. He's a warrior. What's good, too, is that the last two years he's made his game a little calmer in the sense that he chooses those moments now a lot better than he used to."

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I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic