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Florida Panthers Could Get Kris Versteeg Back This Week ... Erik Gudbranson Sat to 'Take a Breath'

Versteeg2BY GEORGE RICHARDS Twitter: @OnFrozenPond

Panthers leading scorer Kris Versteeg says he's been feeling better after missing the past week with what's believed to be a hip injury.

Versteeg said he hopes to be back on the ice this week. The Panthers will practice Tuesday and Wednesday before playing in Philadelphia on Thursday.

“One-hundred percent, I'm playing down the stretch this season,'' Versteeg said. “It's just a matter of it feeling better and being cleared to go. But I'm coming back. That's for sure.''

Versteeg said the injury had been bothering him for more than a month, but hard hits on successive nights against Carolina and Montreal forced him to take some time off.

“That hit against Montreal made me realize it was time,'' he said. Versteeg left both of those games early.

--Erik Gudbranson was pulled from Saturday's loss after an ill-advised shift change during the third period led to Nashville's third goal in the Predators' 3-1 win.

“That was dumb,'' Gudbranson said.

He was then told to be at the arena early Sunday morning for a conditioning skate as he was scratched from Sunday's game as Ed Jovanovski returned to the lineup and Tyson Strachan came in. 

“That was a hard decision for me because I have a tremendous amount of respect for Gudbranson,'' Dineen said.

“He's going to be a cornerstone player for this franchise. But I know the learning curve at this level is very large. .-.-. Sometimes taking a breath isn't the worst thing.''