Kenndal McArdle summed his NHL debut Thursday morning in one word.
“Awesome,” said McArdle after going through the team’s morning skate in preparation for tonight’s game against the Sabres at BankAtlantic Center.
McArdle, the Panthers’ first-round draft pick (20th overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, made his debut Tuesday in the Panthers’ 5-3 victory in Washington. McArdle played 5:26 in Washington and is scheduled to play this evening alongside Kamil Kreps and Nick Tarnasky.
“I know it’s a cliché, but when you first put on your skates you want to play here, in the NHL, and it was everything I dreamed of and I couldn’t have asked for anything more after we got the win,” he said. “Obviously, it was a dream come true. Now I’m looking forward to keeping things here on a roll.”
McArdle, 21, was called-up Monday from the Panthers American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate in Rochester where he had three goals and seven assists in 22 games.
“We got back from (a game in) Toronto Sunday and Monday morning, when I got up to eat breakfast, I got a call from our head coach (Benoit Groulx) telling me I was coming (to Florida),” McArdle said. “Four hours later, I was on a plane.”
McArdle’s season has gone a lot smoother than last season, when he played only 36 in Rochester after breaking his jaw early in the season and then breaking his left foot when blocking a shot.
“It was one of those years,” he said.
McArdle, who has played the power play, killed penalties and scrapped in the minors, is hoping to bring all those elements of his game while playing alongside Tarnasky and Kreps.
“It was a good line (in Washington),” McArdle said. “Kreps has a lot of skill, I like to bring a lot of speed to the game, and Tarnasky brings that grit.”
Craig Anderson will be in goal tonight… Coach Peter DeBoer said Thursday morning that Cory Stillman (concussion), Nathan Horton (cut), David Booth (shoulder) and Richard Zednik (arm) could all be “within a week” of returning to the lineup. “It all depends on whether there’s any setbacks,” he added.