NASHVILLE – When the Panthers took to the ice at their practice facility in Coral Springs on Sunday afternoon, the venue must have seemed strange.
The Panthers haven't been home very much the past few weeks.
Two games is not much of a homestand, but for the Panthers, that's better than last week when they came home from a four-game West Coast trip only to play Colorado in Sunrise before leaving once more. Since leaving town the night of Nov. 26, the Panthers have played one home game and have been away from South Florida for parts of 13 of the past 16 days.
With Sunday's practice – they landed in Fort Lauderdale just a few hours earlier after Saturday's 3-0 loss to the Predators – the Panthers will spend the next seven days in South Florida before moving on to the next road trip.
“Thank God. We've had a lot of traveling, a lot of road games,'' said center Stephen Weiss, whose team plays host to Carolina on Wednesday and Buffalo on Friday before going on a three-game trip to Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Buffalo prior to the Christmas break.
“We did a good job, won some games and got back to being close to .500 with a little homestretch coming. .-.-. Every team in this league is a battle and offers different threats and problems. We need to bring our 'A-game,' but it'll be nice to go home and play some hockey.''
Coach Pete DeBoer decided on holding a rare post-flight Sunday practice because the team is committed to participating in the Florida Panthers Foundation charity golf tournament Monday morning at Heron Bay in Coral Springs.
With the cool weather expected Monday, even golfing in Florida will feel like the road. The Panthers and Lightning have both played the fewest (11) home games in the league.
“It's been a tough month,'' DeBoer said. “We need to get home and take care of business, get a couple wins against teams in our conference. It doesn't get any easier, but if we can keep our head above water, the schedule becomes more favorable coming up.''
-- Cory Stillman hurt his back against the Rangers on Nov. 26 but tried to play through it the following night in Tampa. Stillman left that game early and hasn't skated since because of what was thought to be back spasms.
The team said on Sunday that Stillman actually has a disc fracture. A time frame for his return is not known.
-- Defenseman Bryan Allen (broken foot) and Chris Higgins (staph infection) both took part in Sunday's light practice.
Athletic trainer Dave Zenobi said Higgins may be able to play Wednesday if he felt good after Sunday's workout.
The Panthers will hold their next practice on Tuesday in Coral Springs.