By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com
Coach Peter DeBoer decided to change the lineup Saturday night a bit by dressing Anthony Stewart and Michael Frolik and sitting Kamil Kreps and Wade Belak.
For Frolik, the 20-year-old former first-round draft choice, it was his NHL debut.
“I found out this morning after the (team) meeting,” Frolik said. “Coach said the lineup was on the wall and I saw my name on it. It was exciting. I sent a message home. I tried to play with confidence.”
Frolik played nine shifts (5:48) and was a minus-1. He remained on the bench in the third period and overtime. Stewart played 6:31 and also sat out the third period and overtime.
“Those two kids had a great preseason,” said DeBoer of Stewart and Frolik. “They played with a lot of energy, created things, and did some good things. They way we want to play, up-tempo with energy, you have to have good legs. It was just an opportunity to throw a couple guys in I think deserved a game. They gave us a couple periods of good energy tonight.”
When asked if the changes were performance related, DeBoer said; “No. More fresh legs and energy. We had a list of six or seven guys we were looking at, and this is the way we decided to go.”
ENCOURAGING NEWS ON MCCABE
Defenseman Bryan McCabe, who injured himself Friday when he checked Hurricanes defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, will likely only miss two weeks, said GM Jacques Martin before Saturday evening’s game.
“There’s no fracture,” Martin said. “So that’s good news for us. He’s probably going to need a couple of weeks, but that’s encouraging.”
Martin said McCabe saw doctors and had an MRI Saturday and results showed a contusion and sprained back.
“He’s day to day,” Martin added.STEWART CHANGES HIS NUMBER
Anthony Stewart switched his jersey number from 57 to 13. The only other Panther players to wear No. 13 have been Vaclav Prospal, Juraj Kolnik and Oleg Kvasha.
“I wore it about 10 years before getting here,” said Stewart, before adding with a smile, “The only lucky one was when I took a puck to the head on my 13th birthday.”NOTES
Richard Zednik, playing in his first regular-season NHL games since last February, had two assists. “It was really great,” Zednik said. “I felt good.” DeBoer said Zednik was “outstanding,” and said it was “the best game he’s played since we’ve been here.”…Jay Bouwmeester, who played 30:39 Friday in Carolina, played 34:52 Saturday evening. He logged 20:38 even strength, 7:25 on the power play and 6:49 short handed…Bryan Allen logged 30:22…The Panthers were credited with 24 hits (16 for Atlanta)…Stephen Weiss
won 13 of 20 faceoffs…