CORAL SPRINGS – There’s an old country song titled ‘Stop And Start It All Again.’ It basically sums up the Panthers schedule the opening six weeks of the regular-season.
After going through a hectic preseason and opening weekend in Finland, the Panthers have gone through unusual breaks in their schedule followed by a rush of games. For instance, their game Wednesday against the Sabres at BankAtlantic Center will be only their second in nine days. But the Sabres will also kick off the first of three games in four days for the Panthers, with games Friday in Pittsburgh and Saturday in Philadelphia.
The following two weeks follow the same pattern. The Senators come to town Oct. 28 before the team takes off for games on consecutive nights Oct. 30 in Dallas and Oct. 31 in St. Louis. The first week of November, Carolina comes to town Nov. 4 and the Capitals Nov. 6 before the Panthers play Nov. 7 at Washington.
“We have had a lot of stops and starts this year, and looking ahead it’s going to be a lot of the same thing,” said forward Cory Stillman. “I guess it goes both ways. It gives us time to practice on things we have to and, on the other hand, it gives us some rest because it’s going to catch up with us.
When asked if he has a preference, Stillman replied; “If you’re winning you want to play every other night. I think I still prefer to play more than practice. We’re no different than kids in that we enjoy playing games over practicing.”
Coach Peter DeBoer said the schedule has made him consider when to give his players time off and how to pace practices.
One of the things you learn as a young coach is the time and energy management of these players,” he said. “Coming from juniors or college where you’re a weekend league, you practice hard all week in order to play some games on the weekend. Here your practice time is very limited and the focus is making sure you have a healthy, energized team by game night.
“It takes some real thought, sitting down with the schedule and looking at it. We had penciled in giving them Saturday and Sunday off so we wanted to make sure we came back today with a hard, hard practice to get right back into it. But it’s definitely something we put a lot of thought into.”
Radek Dvorak, whose second short-handed goal of the season Friday helped the Panthers to a 4-2 win over the Flyers, said it doesn’t matter when the games are played but how the Panthers perform.
“It doesn’t matter if we have one day or five days off,” he said. “We just have to make sure we play the same way we did against Philly.”
And they’ll have to this week to get some points. The Sabres are 4-1-1 and goalie Ryan Miller is one of the hottest in the league with a 1.58 goals against and .938 save percentage. The Stanley Cup-winning Penguins are 7-1 and Philly won’t be coming off a long break as they were Friday in South Florida.
“We’re getting ready for a tough weekend,” DeBoer said. “Obviously, you don’t want to look too far ahead, but we’ve got real tough teams this week.” CLEMMENSEN GOES VS BUFFALO
Coach Peter DeBoer said he’ll stay with the same lineup Wednesday against the Sabres, which means Scott Clemmensen
will be back in goal. Clemmensen made his Panthers debut Friday and earned his first win Friday against the Flyers when stopping 25 shots.
“I was anxious to get my first start in a Panther uniform,” said Clemmensen after Monday’s practice. “You always want to get off on the right foot, especially with a new team, new coach, new organization, new everything. It was important to get off to a good start. It led me to being a little uncomfortable early in the game. I wasn’t totally comfortable the whole game but as the game went on I relaxed and had more fun and I played better.
“I think I’ll get better with time. I’m still trying to prove myself, and I know I have a lot to prove. So it was great getting the win but it was mostly feeling good for the team.”
Clemmensen made several key saves against the Flyers, including one in the waning minutes on Jeff Carter from the side of the net. “Actually, I didn’t see it at all,” said Clemmensen of the Carter shot. “I saw a guy passing it, and assumed he was passing it to someone, so I just went down and it hit my blocker and then hit my back.” NOTES
DeBoer said he’d make a decision later in the week on whether defenseman Bryan Allen will play the back-to-back games this weekend or whether he’ll recall Jason Garrison
from Rochester for one of them. “Our plan week-to-week is to see where he is,” said DeBoer of Allen. “It’s a daily ongoing process deciding whether he can handle back to backs or not this early in the year.”…Nick Tarnasky, who fractured an orbital bone in preseason, is skating but there’s no timeframe as to when he’ll return to the lineup. “His recovery is slower than we anticipated,” DeBoer said. “He’s having complications due to the injury.”….