On Monday, the Panther defenseman, sidelined the past two weeks with a lower neck injury, was cleared by doctors to begin practicing. In fact, the 6-1 defenseman could be ready as soon as Thursday when the Panthers play host at BankAtlantic Center to the Minnesota Wild.
Then, Tuesday afternoon after his first practice with teammates, Skrastins and his wife, Zane, celebrated the birth of their second child. Laurena was born at 3:40 p.m.
“Everyone is well,” said Skrastins after going through more than a 90 minute practice Wednesday with the Panthers. “I had two good news days. First the good news from the doctor that I’m OK, and then my daughter.”
Skrastins, who played in 17 games with the Panthers last season after being acquired Feb. 26 from Colorado, hurt himself after returning from the Panthers’ six-game preseason swing through Canada.
“It was before our last exhibition game (at home against the Islanders),” Skrastins said. “We came back, and it was something with the lower neck. So I had to stop.
“Those 10 days off were kind of tough for me. At the beginning of the season you had been working hard all summer and all preseason and then you get hurt right before the season. But now I’m ready, I feel good, and I want to help the team.”
Coach Peter DeBoer will have a decision to make come Thursday’s game. With Bryan McCabe (back) expected to miss two weeks, DeBoer went with Jay Bouwmeester, Cory Murphy, Bryan Allen, Nick Boynton, Noah Welch and Keith Ballard in Saturday’s overtime win over Atlanta.
When asked if Skrastins would play Thursday, DeBoer said; “I’m going to see. I think his adreneline is pumping, he had a baby girl (Tuesday afternoon). So we’ll see how he’s feeling, but we’d like to use him if we can.”
Beginning Thursday against the Wild, the Panthers will play six games in 10 nights…DeBoer said with the exception of McCabe, all the Panthers practiced Wednesday at BankAtlantic Center…The Wild come into BankAtlantic with some questions. Right winger Pierre-Marc Bouchard has returned to Minnesota because of a sore back and Owen Nolan sustained a lower-body injury in Tuesday’s victory in Atlanta…