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At the Rink blog

Panthers getting great production from top line

Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 2:30 PM

By Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent / At the Rink blog

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At the Rink blog
Panthers getting great production from top line
ST. LOUIS -- The Florida Panthers (9-5-3), who enter tonight's game against the St. Louis Blues with the most wins on the road this season (they're 7-3-0), are getting tremendous amounts of respect from around the League. And their top line of Tomas Fleischmann, Kris Versteeg and Stephen Weiss is lighting the scoreboard up in droves.

The three have combined for 52 points in 17 games this season, including 8 in Wednesday night's 6-0 thumping of Dallas.

"We all want to play the best for this team and win hockey games," said Fleischmann, who has 7 goals and 17 points. "We're working hard out there and that's what we're trying to do. It's been working so far.

"Everybody's just contributing to winning hockey games. We don't have all those superstars out there. Everybody's doing their job."

Versteeg leads the team with 20 points while Weiss has 15. The line of David Backes along with T.J. Oshie and Alex Steen will get the task of shutting the trio down.

"I played against Stephen Weiss maybe three or four times in my career," Backes said. "It's not guys like in Chicago or Vancouver where you pretty much know the style of play, how they're going to play every single night.

"Fleischmann's the same way. He was in Colorado for a little while, hurt for a lot of it. Versteeg was in (Chicago). He's a little bit more of a known name, but they've been playing really well together. They've thrown up a ton of points. They've done a good job of gelling and having a lot of success so far early in the season."

Added Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk: "They're obviously fast. I know Fleischmann pretty well from Colorado. I've always had the highest things to say about him. He's a smart player, and when you put him with a guy like Weiss, who can obviously play and Versteeg who's been a good player here. It's going to be tough for us. I think we expect the challenge. Hopefully we can shut them down and go from there."

Speaking of Fleischmann, it's a great story considering the winger missed half of last season with a disorder known as pulmonary embolism, which is a blockage of the main artery of the lung or one of its branches by a substance that has travelled from elsewhere in the body through the bloodstream, likely a blood clot.

There was talk of whether Fleischmann, who was in Colorado last season, would ever play the game again but the Panthers took a chance and inked him to a four-year, $18-million contract. So far, so good.

"The health is the most important and I had to take care of that," Fleischmann said. "Everything seems good right now. I feel normal. Everything feels really good."

Quote of the Day

It's really exciting. I'm pretty sure that when I play my first game I'm going to be emotional. To be back on the ice playing a game, being in game situations, with all the routines and rituals I do before games and during the game, I feel like I'm going to be emotional. I'm going to be really happy.

— Canadiens forward Tim Bozon on playing for the first time since his life-threatening illness