Rostislav Olesz has missed the Panthers last 15 games due to a groin injury. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com
CORAL SPRINGS - Nearly 1,500 miles from where the Panthers prepared Tuesday at the Air Canada Centre for their game against the Maple Leafs, Rostislav Olesz skated on his own here at IncredibleIce.
“It’s the worst part,” said the Panthers’ forward referring of being away from his teammates. “You’re skating alone, just you on the ice with a few pucks. It’s awful. All the time I’m home, watching the guys on television or the rink. You’re not with them.”
Olesz, who scored 14 goals in 56 games last season, has not played for more than a month (Dec. 4) due to a groin injury. At the time of the injury, according to Peter DeBoer, Olesz was playing his best hockey of the season.
Olesz admitted Tuesday afternoon he started his fourth NHL season slowly.
“I started the season…it wasn’t perfect,” said Olesz, who has five points (two goals). “It was pretty good. But after that I went down. My game wasn’t good. I didn’t play very well. I missed a few scoring chances. After that I felt better and started playing my way, but a couple games later I got injured.”
Olesz has been skating on his own at IncredibleIce since before the Panthers embarked on a four-game, seven day road trip that concluded Tuesday in Toronto. He’s hoping it won’t be much longer before he’s back in uniform.
“I feel pretty good, but I don’t want to say too much before I talk to the coach about it and the (trainers),” he said. “It’s been a month, and it’s been a long time. Hopefully, everything will be good and I’ll be ready soon.”
The Panthers arrived back in South Florida early Wednesday morning after Tuesday’s game in Toronto. The team will be back on ice at BankAtlantic Center for two critical games Thursday and Saturday against Southeast Division rivals. The Panthers play Carolina on Thursday evening and meet Atlanta Saturday afternoon.
Saturday is Kids Day. Tickets for children 12 years of age and younger are $10. Activities will also include jugglers, a bounce house, balloon artists, face painters and Radio Disney.