By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com
|Defenseman Cory Murphy had 11 points (Goal, 10 Assists) in 19 games before suffering a bruised shoulder on November 13th against Atlanta.
Cory Murphy called it a “good day.” And one the Panthers had been anxiously waiting for two months.
Murphy, sidelined since Nov. 13 with a bruised shoulder, skated Tuesday morning with the Panthers during a spirited practice. Murphy will travel with the team during their three-game road trip this week to continue rehabilitating. GM and coach Jacques Martin said he’s hoping Murphy can return to action after the All-Star Game.
Murphy is cautiously optimistic. When asked if he had a timetable, the first-year defenseman smiled and said, “The last time I was asked that question I said, ‘A week.’ That was two months ago.”
But Murphy added; “I haven’t taken a wrist shot in two months, so that was a good sign for me and, mentally, it was good to be out there for practice.”
Murphy, who didn’t participate in contact drills Tuesday, has been working off the ice regularly since being injured. But being on the ice Tuesday was a sign that maybe the worst was behind.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been on the ice with the team,” he added. “It was a lot of fun. Now it’s just trying to get my strength back. The pain is gone. Now I’m trying to get stronger because I haven’t done much in a while. So that’s the big issue right now.
“I just know now I feel good. I’m not getting the same pain. So, hopefully, we’re beyond that. It’s the issue of getting into game shape and strengthening the muscles.”
Martin said Murphy’s on-ice appearance was “encouraging.”
“Hopefully, he can come back after the All-Star Game,” Martin said. “It will take two weeks to work on his strength and get his conditioning back. That’s the biggest factor. But being able to do some drills, getting his timing back, that’s a big help.”
Joining Murphy and the rest of the Panthers on their upcoming road trip will also be defenseman Branislav Mezei, who has been bothered by a hand injury. Mezei hasn’t skated with the team and isn’t expected to play during the three-game swing which begins Wednesday in Philadelphia and then moves Friday through New Jersey and Saturday in Washington. Martin said he also hopes Ville Peltonen will be able to return within a couple weeks from a broken leg.
Unfortunately, before Murphy, Peltonen or Mezei return, the Panthers have to make some ground up in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers traveled Tuesday afternoon to Philadelphia two games below .500 and four points behind Carolina in the Southeast Division.
The Panthers played a strong game Sunday against the Colorado after picking up their play late Friday against the Lightning. Meanwhile, the Panthers practice Tuesday was a spirited one that included Steve Montador and Nathan Horton going after each other.
“I think that’s good,” said Martin of the intensity at practice. “After the day off, I think we had a good practice. Good intensity, good execution. This is a big week for us with Philly, Jersey and Washington. We know we have to be engaged in battles tomorrow night against Philly. They’re a big team, a physical team, and you’ve got to be prepared.”Click Here
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