BOSTON – Florida head coach Kevin Dineen is enjoying something of a homecoming today with his Panthers visiting TD Garden for a showdown with the Boston Bruins.
After years of battling the Bruins with the Hartford Whalers in his playing days, Dineen has maintained ties to the region.
“It’s always good. I guess we’d consider ourselves New Englanders,” he said after the morning skate. “I married a Hartford girl, and we’ve spent a lot time here, specifically in Portland the last six years. So it’s just fabulous to be back in the area.”
Dinner coached the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League the last six seasons.
The Panthers are schedule to have two new players in their lineup. Krys Barch was just acquired in a trade with Dallas, while Mikael Samuelsson should return after a 20-game absence with a lower-body injury.
“We’ve waited a long time for Sammy,” said Dineen. “We’re going to slowly matriculate him into our lineup here and I think it’s going to be well worth the wait. He’s a quality player and a great individual and he’s going to add a lot to our mix right now.”
Jose Theodore missed the Panthers’ last game with the flu. He practiced yesterday and took the morning skate, so Dineen said starting the veteran is an option for tonight.
Here are the Panthers’ probable lines and D pairs:
Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Tomas Kopecky - Shawn Matthias - Jack Skille
Marco Sturm - Mike Santorelli - Sean Bergenheim
Mikael Samuelsson - Tim Kennedy - Krys Barch
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver
Erik Gudbranson - Ed Jovanovski
Brian Campbell - Jason Garrison