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At the Rink blog

Weiss out again for Panthers

Saturday, 01.26.2013 / 12:45 PM

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

SUNRISE, Fla.Florida Panthers center Stephen Weiss will miss his second consecutive game Saturday night, but coach Kevin Dineen didn’t rule out the other two members of his top line, Kris Versteeg and Tomas Fleischmann, for the matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Versteeg has yet to play in a game this season after he sustained a lower-body injury in practice the day before the Jan. 19 opener against the Carolina Hurricanes. He took part in the morning skate Saturday, but didn’t work with a line and stayed on the ice for extra work after his teammates went off.

“He looked pretty good there today,” Dineen said. “With [Versteeg], I always have to be careful because his heart is telling him one thing and we’ve got to make sure that we get over this hump of our early-season injuries and make sure that guys are fully prepared to go instead of getting along with not firing on all the pistons. We’ll see where he’s at after a good skate today. It’s encouraging. There’s a possibility he can even play tonight.”

Fleischmann had the most ice time of any Florida forward in a 3-1 loss Thursday against the Ottawa Senators, but he sustained a cut on top of his right foot during the game.

Fleischmann stepped onto the ice before his teammates Saturday morning wearing warmup gear and skated briefly before stepping off. He returned after the start of the morning skate again in warmup gear before leaving after a short while and returning a third time in his full gear.

Dineen said Fleischmann’s availability has nothing to do with his past medical history — Fleischmann missed the second half of the 2010-11 because of a pulmonary embolism.

“Him and his medical team have done a really good job of staying on top of that,” Dineen said. “He’s aware of his history, but it’s all based on whether he can go out and be able to perform like he usually does.”

Like Versteeg, Fleischmann didn’t work with a line in the morning skate.

As for Weiss, who was a late scratch Thursday after taking part in the morning skate, Dineen said keeping him out because of his lower-body injury was a matter of playing things safely.

“Stephen is slowly coming along,” Dineen said. “It’s no different than anybody else. We want to make sure that when he comes back he’s feeling like he can contribute the way he usually does. He’s such a big part of everything we do here. He’s missed in the lineup. We’ll wait and get an evaluation, but he won’t be available for tonight.”

Because of the uncertain status of both Fleischmann and Versteeg, Dineen might have some line juggling to do before the puck drops Saturday night.

“We look at the morning skate and you look at the bodies in the lineup and the possibilities, we’re not sure what we’re putting on the ice tonight just based on guys are that close to coming back. It’s a little bit of a stickhandling to see where we’re at when we drop the puck tonight.”

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