The Panthers will have three of their injured forwards back in the lineup Friday against the Canadiens, but could be without one of their biggest offensive guns.
David Booth suffered what is deemed to be a minor hip injury during Monday's loss to the Bruins. Booth was crunched into the back boards and limped off the ice, only to return for his last shift of the third and two shifts of overtime. Booth, who was not one of Florida's top three choices to compete in the shootout, did not practice the past two days.
“The trainers don't think it's serious and it's better [Wednesday] than it was [Tuesday],'' coach Pete DeBoer said. “It's more maintenance days than anything. I would expect by Friday that if he keeps progressing, he'll be fine.''
The Panthers made another roster move on Wednesday, sending forward Bill Thomas back to Florida's AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., to help make room for the three returning wingers.
Thomas was placed on waivers on Tuesday and cleared Wednesday. Like Keaton Ellerby, he flew to Cleveland for Wednesday night's game at Quicken Loans Arena.
Radek Dvorak (shoulder) and Cory Stillman (back) found themselves back on a familiar third line alongside center Marty Reasoner on Wednesday; Rostislav Olesz (finger) was on a fourth line with center Shawn Matthias and Steve Bernier.
The Dvorak-Reasoner-Stillman trio had a lot of success earlier in the season before the injuries started to mount.
In the first 18 games – when the three were almost exclusively together during 5-on-5 play – they combined for 11 goals and 15 assists. Dvorak has been out since Dec. 4 after injuring his shoulder against Phoenix. Stillman has been out since Nov. 27.
“They are really experienced players and we all compliment each other,'' Reasoner said. “We have familiarity so it'll be fun to be back. We want to make a difference in games like we did earlier in the season.''
Said DeBoer: “They were our best line and set the tone whether it was after goals or late in the game. We need an identity line like that. We've missed them.''
With Thomas back to Rochester, Florida wouldn't have to make a roster move even if Booth plays Friday.
-- The Panthers are moving around the radio dial this weekend because of conflicts with the University of Miami football and basketball. Friday's game against the Canadiens will start at 5 p.m. on WFTL 640-AM; Sunday's 5 p.m. game against the Rangers will be on WKIS 99.9-FM.
Radio voice Randy Moller said Sunday's game is one of three this season to be broadcast on the country station and it is believed this is the first time the team has ventured over to the FM side of the radio spectrum.
-- The Panthers continued their work in the community on Wednesday as Chris Higgins visited patients at the Chris Evert Children’s Hospital in Fort Lauderdale during the afternoon.
Three others were to host a holiday dinner in Coral Springs for more than 50 underprivileged children.
“Everyone remembers being that age. I have a little brother who is 16, so it wasn't that long ago that he was that age running around,'' said Higgins, who has no children of his own. “These are the events you want to sign up for and look forward to doing. They're enjoyable. Kids are a lot of fun. They're always smiling and you never know what's going to come out of their mouth.''
Jason Garrison, Rostislav Olesz and Stephen Weiss were scheduled to be on hand at the team's training facility for a meal as well as an open skate. The children from SOS Children’s Villages and Family Central of Broward County were to join the Panthers, as well as the team's junior hockey squad, on the ice.