Forward Cory Stillman (left) will be out in tonight's re-match with the Lightning. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com
TAMPA – The Panthers will face a different Lightning team here tonight than the one they shutout last week, and they’ll have to do it without Cory Stillman.
Coach Peter DeBoer said Tuesday morning after the team’s morning skate that Stillman is out at least through the remainder of the week due to symptoms of a concussion he suffered Nov. 2 in Atlanta.
“He left practice (Monday) and thought it was the flu,” DeBoer said. “It looks like it’s a reappearance of some concussion symptoms from before. He’ll be out indefinitely, for sure he’ll miss this week.”
Stillman played against Tampa and Detroit last week, “but I think (the concussion symptoms) affected him,” DeBoer said.
“I think he tried to battle through it,” he added. “When you want to play and help the team I think you ignore some of the symptoms. It’s been there for a few days. It’s not something you want to mess around with.”
With Stillman out, DeBoer will start the game with rookie Michael Frolik alongside Nathan Horton and Rostislav Olesz. Although Frolik hasn’t scored this season, he has played well.
“I think you look at players who compliment other players,” DeBoer said. “Even though he hasn’t scored he has the ability to create offense. He has a little bit of speed to his game, good hands, good creativity. He’s getting opportunities, which for me is important. We’ll give Michael a shot (with Horton and Olesz) and, hopefully, he’ll get the job done.”
Frolik said it’s “been hard,” missing several chances, including one open net. “I just can’t put it in,” he said. “I just have to play hard at practice, shoot more at practice and I have to think the right way and think it’s going to come.”
A NEW LOOK LIGHTNING
The Panthers will face a new-look Lightning team. Interim coach Rick Tocchet, who replaced Barry Melrose, is mixing things up. Although they lost Sunday to Carolina in a shootout, the Lightning were much more aggressive than they had been earlier in the year and they held Carolina to one, third-period shot.
“They’re a very talented team,” DeBoer said. “Obviously, with the coaching change you’re always going to get a shot of energy anytime there’s a new voice, and I expect that tonight. I expect to see a different team than the one we saw in Florida, and we’ll have to be ready for that because they do have a lot of talent on paper and its just a matter of time before they start scoring goals with the players they can throw at you.”
In an effort to help rookie Steven Stamkos, Tocchet has him practicing on the first line with Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis, and he will see time with those two All-Stars this evening.
“We got to give him some more minutes… get his confidence level up and his energy level up,” said Tocchet Tuesday morning after the Lightning’s morning skate.
Tocchet said his philosophy is pretty simple. He wants the intensity level up at practice and he wants players focused. “We’re only asking for 40 minutes (on the ice most days for practice),” he said. “They got 22 hours off the rest of the day. If you can’t be in here focused for 40 minutes of an hour…”
With a smile on his face, Tocchet joked, “If Allen Iverson was here he’d kill me on this, but it starts with practice and it starts with focus.”
Tomas Vokoun gets the starts in goal for the Panthers…The Lightning will be without Ryan Malone (leg injury). Ryan Craig will be a healthy scratch, Noah Welch for the Panthers...