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Panthers aiming for strong start to homestand

by Alain Poupart /

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."

Florida has the same record through seven games as it did last season when the Panthers finished with the fewest points in the NHL.

That's just one reason the Panthers want to get things back on track as quickly as possible.

"There's too many good teams in this League," forward Kris Versteeg said. "You know the Blackhawks had a pretty good run last year, but you don't see many runs like that anymore because of the parity in the League and scheduling where teams have to play maybe on nights where they wouldn't want to play. It's a tough schedule. You're going to have to get wins while you can, especially at home on homestands. This is a big time for us."

The Bruins, meanwhile, are looking to bounce back after losing two of their last three games.

In their most recent game the Bruins dropped a 3-2 home decision against the Detroit Red Wings.

"It's important to bounce back after a loss," center Chris Kelly said. "We didn't have a terrible game against Detroit. We didn't give them too many chances, but they're an elite hockey team and they were able to capitalize on the few chances they had and their goaltender played well. But we want to bounce back and correct a few things that were lacking in our game last game and be a bit better."

Here are the projected lineups the teams will use Thursday:


Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Jarome Iginla

Reilly Smith - Patrice Bergeron - Loui Eriksson

Brad Marchand - Chris Kelly - Jordan Caron

Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk

Matt Bartkowski - Dennis Seidenberg

Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid

Tuukka Rask

Chad Johnson

Scratched: Dougie Hamilton

Injured: Carl Soderberg (ankle)


Tomas Fleischmann - Aleksander Barkov - Brad Boyes

Jonathan Huberdeau - Scott Gomez - Kris Versteeg

Shawn Matthias - Marcel Goc - Jesse Winchester

Scottie Upshall - Nick Bjugstad - Tomas Kopecky

Brian Campbell - Tom Gilbert

Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver

Matt Gilroy - Erik Gudbranson

Tim Thomas

Jacob Markstrom

Injured: Ed Jovanovski (lower body), Sean Bergenheim (lower body), Steven Pinizzotto (lower body)

Scratched: Scott Clemmensen, Ryan Whitney, Krys Barch

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