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Frozen in Florida: Panthers return to Coral Springs


After the Panthers 3-0 win over Ottawa on Saturday night, captain Bryan McCabe described the game as “a pretty boring road game, which is what we like. That's our type of hockey.''

It was one of the most uninspiring games the Panthers have played all season, but in the end, it was a success. The Panthers and Senators played a coma-inducing game, one McCabe described as “dump and bump and lull them to sleep.''

Unfortunately, the Sens weren't the only ones put to sleep during the game. Coach Pete DeBoer knows there is a fine line between entertainment and victories and that too many games like Saturday won't do much to grow the game in South Florida.

But he'll take a win every time – no matter the lack of excitement.

“It's a win but it's not going down in the record book as an all-time classic,'' DeBoer said Monday. “There's no sugar coating that. It wasn't a pretty game. But over an 82 game schedule, you'll see games like that.''

A number of players joked about Saturday's game, talking about how brutal it must have been to watch. Neither team brought much offense – the two teams took a total of three shots in the first 10 minutes and Nathan Horton's goal with 8:06 left in the first came off Florida's second shot of the game. Tomas Vokoun secured his fourth shutout and only had 24 saves.

DeBoer was quick to point out that the Panthers don't play too many games like that and used the two recent games against Montreal as examples. The Panthers don't play the dump-and-chase game much at home, and that may be a reason the team has more road wins than ones in Sunrise.

“Two nights before [Ottawa] you saw a great game in Montreal, speed and chances on both ends, great goaltending,'' DeBoer said. “You are trying to sell the game and you want to win, but you want people to see the real product. I believe our real product are like the games in Montreal. But it's a long season. You'll see a lot of different things.''

-- The Panthers three injured players took to the ice before Monday's lengthy practice with David Booth (concussion), Dmitry Kulikov (knee) and Kenndal McArdle (shoulder) skating hard. Booth's return is still a ways off, but Kulikov and McArdle could be back in the lineup next week.

DeBoer says he would like to get McArdle some playing time as soon as possible although he could be returned to Rochester.

“He was playing well before he left,'' DeBoer said. “The more speed and physical play we can have in the lineup, the better.''

-- Horton and Bryan Allen skipped practice as DeBoer gave them the day off because of “bumps and bruises.''

-- Thanks to FP&L outages in western Broward County blamed on the cold snap, DeBoer and a couple of players and staff members have been without electricity the past few days. DeBoer says his young family have become acclimated to the South Florida climate – which isn't a good thing when the temperatures drop.

“Their skin has definitely softened since we moved from Canada,'' he joked. “That would be a typical June day in Ontario and my kids are in sweatshirts and have their hats on.''