CALGARY – The Panthers have played two strong games to open the season, only a lack of scoring has kept them winless.
Florida has scored just three goals in losses at Edmonton and Vancouver, so heading into Thursday's game against the host Flames, coach Pete DeBoer – who expressed he's not married to any line combinations – has switched things up.
“We have to find scoring and don't have the luxury to wait 10 or 15 games and hope it works,'' said DeBoer. “We have to move things around until we start putting the puck in the net.''
DeBoer changed his lines in the third period of Monday's 2-1 loss to the Canucks and unveiled new combinations in Wednesday's afternoon practice at the Saddledome. David Booth is off the top line, with Chris Higgins joining Stephen Weiss and Michael Frolik.
Booth will join center Shawn Matthias and winger Rostislav Olesz on the second line.
“I don't think it came from bad play, we just need to get some goals,'' said Weiss. “It's a long season and you will have to switch things up at times. We have a lot of new players. We need to find some chemistry.''
The third line has quite a bit of experience as veterans Cory Stillman, Radek Dvorak and Marty Reasoner have joined forces. That trio has a combined 43 years of NHL experience between them. It would be easy to come up with a nickname for this line, but Dvorak says it's way to early for any of that.
“We have a lot of experience because we're old,'' said Dvorak, now in his ninth season with the Panthers. “It's good to play with these two, we've all been in the league a long time. We know each other and know what to do. It's nice. Hopefully we contribute some offense and help the team win some games.''
It appears Kenndal McArdle will come off the bench and play in his first game Thursday. He's on the fourth line with Mike Santorelli and Steve Bernier. Darcy Hordichuk and Steven Reinprecht appear to be the healthy scratches.
-- DeBoer split the team up for a shootout drill in which if a player missed a shot his team had to skate up-and-back sprints from the side boards. If the other team scored, the losing team also had to skate. Well, one side did most of the skating as it was made up of mostly defensemen.
Starting goalie Tomas Vokoun didn't let up, leading some players to joke that if Vokoun faces a lot of shots on Thursday, he'll know why.
“It's his own fault, he left us out to dry out there by not letting us score,'' said a sweat-soaked Bryan McCabe. “When you have to skate back-and-forth 40 times in five minutes, you're going to get gassed. The odds were stacked against us. Hey, we're saving our goals for games.''
-- Former goalie John Vanbiesbrouck will become the second member of the Panthers to be inducted into the Broward County Sports Hall of Fame on Nov. 9. Vanbiesbrouck was Florida's first pick in the 1993 expansion draft and led the team to the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals.
Vanbiesbrouck never played a game in Broward County as a member of the Panthers because he was traded to Philadelphia just before the Sunrise arena opened in 1998. Panthers alternate governor Bill Torrey is also a member of the Broward Hall.
THURSDAY: PANTHERS AT FLAMES
Where, When: Calgary Saddledome, 9:30 p.m.
TV/Radio: FS Florida; 560-AM
The Series: Flames lead 11-7-3
The Game: The Panthers won the previous meeting in Calgary on Dec. 12, 2008, when Stephen Weiss scored the shootout winner. Florida lost to the Flames in Sunrise last season. .-.-. Calgary, featuring former Panthers Olli Jokinen and Jay Bouwmeester, is pretty banged up with eight regulars nursing some sort of injury. .-.-. A loss in regulation would give Florida its second 0-3 start since 2007-08.