HELSINKI -- The Florida Panthers are one sick bunch.
Yeah, they got the flu.
The Panthers prepared for tomorrow's season opener against the Blackhawks minus a number of key pieces today.
Center Stephen Weiss and defensemen Jordan Leopold, Bryan Allen and Keith Ballard were all held out of practice today because of illness. It's not known which of these guys will be in the lineup tomorrow. We'll see what happens at the morning skate.
With Weiss out, you had some pretty interesting line combos going.
Early in the practice, Shawn Matthias moved up to the top line to work with David Booth and Nathan Horton; Kamil Kreps centered a fourth line with Michal Repik and Mike Duco.
In the second half of practice, Matthias was back on the fourth line with Kreps and Repik on the wings. But here's the fun part: Michael Frolik was up on the top line as a center; Rostislav 'Ocho Cinco' Olesz was up on the second line with Steve Reinprecht and Cory Stillman; the third line had defenseman Jason Garrison working there, but it probably would be Gregory Campbell centering Duco and Radek Dvorak.
-- Two players could make their NHL debuts here tomorrow in Duco and Dmitry Kulikov.
-- Tomas Vokoun will start in goal tomorrow, with Pete DeBoer saying he'll make his decision on who plays Saturday based on that.
-- If you haven't checked out Pierre LeBrun's feature on David Booth, it's a good read. Check it out here. There's also bonus video of Pierre with Bryan McCabe.
-- Our buddy Dave Strader is back on FSN Arizona as that network picks up 50 Phoenix Coyotes games. That's not many, but all are in high def. So that's something.
-- Plenty of video coming up today, with quotes from Pete after practice as well as pretty full coverage of the pep rally with the two teams. Check it out all day long. Remember: It's still free!