Anyway, as the previous post stated, Rostislav Olesz is in. Bryan McCabe is out until Tuesday after having facial surgery after getting hit by a puck last week. Nick Tarnasky will be the scratch tonight.
Here are some Florida notes to share and trade with your friends:
Winger Rostislav Olesz was back in the lineup Saturday for the first time since being injured on Dec. 5. Olesz had sports hernia surgery on Jan. 28 and was expected to miss up to eight weeks of action.
Before missing 43 straight games, Olesz was having a disappointing season with two goals and three assists in 23 games. The Panthers wanted him to be more aggressive and be more active in his forechecking. Coach Pete DeBoer says he saw Olesz playing more the way the team wants him to before getting hurt. The team would also like him to shoot the puck more than he does.
''We battled with that .-.-. trying to get him to play to the identity we're trying to create here as a team,'' DeBoer said. ''Just before he got injured, I thought he was starting to get it. He was coming into his own and playing the way we wanted him to.''
BACK IN SUNRISE
The Panthers waived Murphy in January and the Lightning picked him up. Murphy didn't see much playing time with Florida, but that has not been the case with the Lightning. A free agent after this season, Murphy has been able to log a lot of minutes for a Tampa Bay team that has struggled defensively. Since joining the Lightning, Murphy has four goals and nine assists.
''This is a totally different situation,'' he said. ''It's a lot more fun when you're playing and playing significant minutes."
Like Murphy, Noah Welch has found plenty of playing time across the state. Welch wasn't used much in Florida and is happy the Panthers traded him to a place where he could play. Welch, who is now paired with Murphy, wouldn't say he was bitter with DeBoer – but it's obvious he is.
''Sometimes you knew you're weren't going to play no matter what happened,'' said Welch, averaging over 20 minutes a night in his first four games with the Lightning. ''It was a tough situation. I don't want to point fingers. It's a business. They felt they had a better chance of winning with the six guys they went with.''
-- DeBoer said defenseman Bryan McCabe could return Tuesday. McCabe has missed the past three games after having facial surgery.
OK, now onto the fun stuff:
Saturday's Games that affected the Panthers: Philadelphia beats the Rangers 4-2, so that's good news for the Panthers. I think catching the Flyers is now unrealistic as they are up seven on Florida, but the Rangers stay within a point. The Penguins pick up another point but have lost two straight in a shootout. That's good for the Cats, Pitt getting two of an available four instead of, well, all four. Pens now three up on the Cats.
DeBo on the wacky standings shuffle: "It's tough to watch, like a car accident. You're driving down the road and you don't want to look but you do. We better get used to it, and play through it.
"We've got no excuses. Our destiny is in our own hands. We've just got to take care of business."
Saturday's Games (and who the Panthers would be rooting for if they weren't so busy watching the Akron-Buffalo MAC Championship Game)
Thrashers @ Sabres, 7: Buffalo is 10-3 on home ice since Jan. 1. Florida would love to see the Thrash pull the upset but aren't betting the farm in Ontario on it.
Devils @ Canadiens, 7: Hockey Night in Canada is back in Montreal and this should be a good one. Habs are three ahead of the Panthers. Florida would like to keep it that way.
Hurricanes @ Capitals, 7: Caps aren't going to be caught, Canes can be. Rock the Red.
Lightning @ Panthers, 7: Florida is very happy for former teammates Cory Murphy and Noah Welch and would like to see them do well. So the Panthers are naturally rooting on the Bolts.
The Updated Standings (brought to you by Leonard Hamilton and courtesy of TSN.ca/NHL)
|2||New Jersey||67||44||20||3||91||210||166||24-10-1||20-10-2||7-3-0||Won 2|
|7||NY Rangers||69||35||26||8||78||173||189||20-10-4||15-16-4||4-4-2||Lost 1|
|14||Tampa Bay||68||22||32||14||58||177||224||11-14-9||11-18-5||3-5-2||Won 1|
|15||NY Islanders||69||23||38||8||54||172||222||16-14-5||7-24-3||5-3-2||Lost 1|
|2||San Jose||66||43||13||10||96||216||166||26-3-4||17-10-6||4-5-1||Lost 1|
|12||St. Louis||68||31||29||8||70||190||202||18-13-5||13-16-3||6-3-1||Lost 1|
|13||Los Angeles||67||29||29||9||67||178||197||16-13-8||13-16-1||4-6-0||Lost 1|