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Cats Ready For Sens

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
By Dave Joseph for

The Panthers practiced in two groups Tuesday morning in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, before traveling by bus to Halifax for tonight’s preseason opener against the Senators.
The Panthers will skate a team against the Senators tonight that includes regulars David Booth, Nathan Horton, Stephen Weiss, Kamil Kreps, Keith Ballard and Nick Tarnasky along with rookies Shawn Matthias, Keaton Ellerby, Dmitry Kulikov, Jason Garrison, Kenndal McArdle and training camp invitee Christian Backman.
Scott Clemmensen, who won 25 games with the Devils last season and signed with the Panthers this summer, will start in goal. Alexander Salak will be his backup. Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said he wasn’t sure how much time Clemmensen and/or Salak would see in goal.
“How we rotate the guys tonight will be a feel thing during the game,” DeBoer said. “If (Clemmensen’s) playing well, feeling good, he might go the whole game.”
DeBoer said Clemmensen “created a name for himself” last year in New Jersey while playing in place of injured starter Martin Brodeur and will be counted on this season with the Panthers along with Tomas Vokoun.
“He’s a guy who isn’t filling a backup role,” he added. “We’re going to rely on him and he’ll play in games….Most teams are going to have to use both of their goaltenders and rely on them at different times. I see us in the same situation. I see us having two guys who are capable of starting and winning games and we’ll rely on them.”
The Panthers will leave Nova Scotia after three days tonight for Ottawa and another matchup Wednesday against the Senators. From Ottawa they’ll play Thursday in Montreal and Friday at Edmonton.
DeBoer said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who agreed to terms Monday with the Panthers, and defenseman Martin Skoula, a training camp invitee, are on their way to training camp but will likely not play in a preseason game until Thursday at the earliest.
“We don’t have a lot of practice time; basically we’re playing every night,” DeBoer said. “I think the plan is not to play them the first night they’re in town. We’ll try to get them on the ice a couple days and if everything goes well, and the travel is fine, and they both get physically cleared, as they did by the doctors, I think we’ll pencil them in for the game in Montreal as probably their first start.”
Seidenberg had career highs last season in points (30). Skoula has played all but four games the past three seasons with the Wild.
As the team prepared to bid farewell to Port Hawkesbury and Nova Scotia, DeBoer praised the community for its warmth and hospitality. “It’s been great,” he said. “There aren’t very many distractions. The guys are forced to spend time together…the hospitality has been outstanding. That’s probably been the biggest thing. The east coast is known for its hospitality and it’s been great, every town we’ve visited.”…The Panthers had some fun off the ice Tuesday by competing in a canoe race. The Defensemen beat the forwards. When asked if he took part in the race, DeBoer said; “That would be like playing paintball with players...strap antlers on my head. I would have wound up in the water.”…
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