“Well my home towns coming in sight/And if you think I’m happy you’re right/Six days on the road and I’m going make it home tonight.” Flying Burrito Brothers.
|(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Peter McCabe) |
Early Monday morning as the Panthers prepared to fly back to South Florida from Montreal, coach Peter DeBoer assessed his team’s trek across Canada as a “great evaluation week, especially for our young players.”
Having traveled from Florida to Calgary, Edmonton, Prince Edward Island (PEI) and Montreal, the Panthers return with 23 less players than they left and a week of preparation before playing Monday against the Islanders in their only preseason game at BankAtlantic Center.
DeBoer said the six-game, eight-day trip provided “real good quality time together as a group.”
“I thought the things we wanted to accomplish on the trip we accomplished,” he said. “We had a real good work ethic every n ight. With the travel and the schedule, it weighed a little here and there. The PEI game (Saturday) was probably our poorest, but I chalk a lot of that up to our travel getting out there.
“But I thought we really established our aggressive forecheck, especially in the first two games (in Calgary and Edmonton) when we had our veterans in the lineup, especially when we went into Edmonton and outshot them something like 16-1 in the first period.”
Although the Panthers made several cuts on the road, two players who will be returning to South Florida are rookie candidates Shawn Matthias
and Michael Frolik.
“I thought Frolik had his best game of the exhibition in Montreal,” DeBoer said. “I thought Matthias was our best player in PEI. With young players it’s about consistency and bringing that game to the rink every night. That’s the question, but, definitely, they deserved an opportunity to return with us to Florida.”
“I thought the things we wanted to accomplish on the trip we accomplished. We had a real good work ethic every night." - Head Coach Peter DeBoer
Also returning with the team are Anthony Stewart and Tanner Glass.
Bryan McCabe (hip), Nick Boynton (oblique strain), Bryan Allen (knee), Wade Belak (shoulder) and Stephen Weiss
(groin) return to South Florida having missed some or all the preseason games.
“I would classify them all as day to day right now,” DeBoer said. “Obviously, when we get back to Florida, they’ll get evaluated by our doctors.”