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NOTEBOOK: Maintenance Days; Halloween Fun

by Jameson Olive @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

11/1/21 Practice

11/1/21 Practice

MacKenzie Weegar details how important consistency has played in the team's successful start to the season

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In today's Baptist Health Practice Notebook, the Panthers finally got a chance to recharge after a busy couple of weeks, and players donned their best costumes for the club's Halloween Party.

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. - The Panthers had a collective exhale on Monday.

After playing four games in just six days -- including back-to-back set on the road against Detroit and Boston over the weekend -- players hit the ice for the first of two practices they'll have at the Panthers IceDen before returning to action against the Capitals on Thursday at FLA Live Arena.

"It's huge," defenseman MacKenzie Weegar said. "We're getting some rest and regrouping, really taking time to rehab. Obviously, a lot of guys didn't skate today. Big games coming up."

As Weegar mentioned, the Panthers were missing several key players at practice. According to Interim Head Coach Andrew Brunette, Markus Nutivaara, Aaron Ekblad, Radko Gudas and Spencer Knight all took maintenance days, but aren't in danger of missing any time.

"A lot of maintenance days," Brunette said. "We had a lot of games there in that stretch. There are very few times from now until February during this season to really get some days to rest."

When asked about the team's injured players, Brunette said that Sam Bennett remains day-to-day with an upper-body injury, while Anton Lundell, who is currently on the injured reserve list along with Joe Thornton, could possibly return from his upper-body injury sometime this week.

Bennett, who sat out Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss at Boston, had been off to a hot start prior to his injury, notching seven points (four goals, three assists) in seven games. Lundell, meanwhile, had opened up his rookie season by posting five points (two goals, three assists) in five games.

Despite being down a few key players, Brunette said he was happy with the pace of practice.

"I thought we worked pretty hard," he said. "A little slow early, but then good after."

Even watching from the sidelines, the energy and excitement on the ice was visible.

Off to an 8-0-1 start and in first place in the Atlantic Division, the Panthers, who currently have the most points (17) and goals (36) in the NHL, just want to keep their foot on the gas right now.

And with games coming up against the Capitals on Thursday and Hurricanes on Saturday in Sunrise, players are planning to come out of this respite recharged and ready to keep rolling.

"We've got two big games at home now against good teams," defenseman Gustav Forsing said when asked about the challenges facing the team later on this week. "We've got to stay ready."

Looking ahead, the Panthers will be off on Tuesday and then return to practice on Wednesday.

HALLOWEEN FUN

Even though they didn't play a game, the Panthers still suited up on Sunday.

Coming together to celebrate the spookiest of holidays as a team, Weegar said players, their significant others and a few staff members spent time together at a Halloween Party last night.

"We had a lot of fun together," Weegar said of the festivities. "We also got to meet all the wives and the girlfriends. We hadn't been able to hangout like that in a while [as a group] with all the [COVID-19 protocols] and stuff like that last season. It was nice to get everyone together."

When asked about his costume, Weegar said he felt like he dropped the ball.

"I went to Spirit Halloween last minute," he chuckled. "I picked Mr. Incredible."

That being said, there is a perk to dressing up as a Pixar superhero.

"It made me look pretty buff for once," he laughed.

Forsling, meanwhile, drew from his Swedish heritage for his costume.

"I went as an IKEA table named 'Gustav,' he grinned.

Although Weegar said he thinks the team's training staff had the best costumes at the party, I'm personally partial to Brandon Montour's incredible Cousin Itt costume from The Addams Family.

As you can see in the Instagram post below (Wednesday and Thing are on point as well), it was so good that even captain Aleksander Barkov replied with "congrats" in the comments section. 

But for the rest of the NHL, the Panthers might look scarier than any monster right now.

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