It appears the Panthers are close to being healthy again as three of their top injured players practiced Sunday in Coral Springs.
Coach Pete DeBoer said none of those players would go Monday against the Bruins, but all three could return Friday evening against Montreal. After playing Monday, the Panthers will have three full practice sessions.
“They almost get another full week of rest if we keep them out Monday,'' DeBoer said. “We'll see how the week goes. .-.-. I'm hoping to get some healthy bodies around here and then have to make some decisions. It's a perfect situation for a coach: Having young guys push the veterans for playing time.''
Rostislav Olesz (broken middle finger) is still wearing a sleeve on his finger so it's possible he would not be ready for the Canadiens game. Both Radek Dvorak (shoulder) and Cory Stillman (back) will need a few practices with contact before they would be cleared.
None of the injured players took contact Sunday as they all skated on the same line and did drills together.
“Like every player, you want to be back out there,'' said Dvorak, who has been out since Dec. 5. “The most painful thing is having to watch the games and not be able to help. I'm doing everything I can to be back, but it's day-to-day. I feel great and it was great to be back out there with the boys. They've been on the road too long.''
Stillman's injury was initially thought to be back spasms, but it was later diagnosed as a fractured disk. Aside from taking physical contact, Stillman would likely need to be checked out by the team's medical staff before he returns.
“This was the first day skating with the team and it was fun,'' said Stillman, who has been out since Nov. 28. “You need to battle in practice, make some contract. But we're aiming for Friday. That would be great. The back is getting better. It's been four weeks now and it's been a slow recovery because there are things you can't do. But we're starting to push it. We'll see how I react to the level we're used to playing at.''
-- Evgeny Dadonov said he was a little perplexed on why he continually got passed over as he watched his teammates at Florida's AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., get promoted to the big club. Dadonov was Florida's last call-up of the 2009-10 season, getting in the final four games of the season. This year, Dadonov waited until Florida gave him the call on Dec. 6.
Looks like the Panthers have been impressed with the Russian winger's play.
Dadonov, who has both of his two-point NHL games in Florida's past four, has been strong of late. Dadonov has two goals and five assists in his past five games. On Sunday, found himself playing on Florida's top line alongside Chris Higgins (two goals Thursday at Buffalo) and center Stephen Weiss (five goals and six assists in his past eight games).
“He's given us everything we've asked for,'' DeBoer said. “When I see the player out here with us, I'm surprised that hasn't translated to bigger numbers in Rochester. That's the reason he hasn't been up; he hasn't brought the production down there based on what we've seen with his talent up here.
"Maybe he's one of those guys who is a better NHL player than a minor league one. The way he's playing, it's hard to take him out of our lineup.''
-- The Panthers will play their 14th home game of the season on Monday as Florida comes into the game tied with Tampa Bay for fewest home games in the league.
Florida, which has won six of its past nine, now play 11 of the next 13 games in Sunrise. The Panthers are 7-6 on home ice this season.
-- The Bruins escaped the snow of Boston and were expected to land in Fort Lauderdale sometime around 5 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.
MONDAY: BRUINS AT PANTHERS
When, Where: 7:30 p.m.; BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise
TV/Radio: FSNF; WQAM-560
The series: Panthers lead 30-29-6
The game: This is the third meeting between the teams since Nov. 18, with Boston winning both previous matchups. In the first game, Milan Lucic had a hat trick with former Panthers forward Nathan Horton assisting on all three goals in a 4-0 win. In the second, Florida led 1-0 going into the third before Boston came back to win 3-1. Boston has won nine of the past 14 against the Panthers.