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2 posts from January 24, 2013

January 24, 2013

PANTHERS NOTEBOOK: Stephen Weiss Out, Panthers Limping ... Cats Practice Friday in Coral Springs at 11:30


TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

The health of the Panthers struggling offense is relative to the health to their offensive players.

As Florida's injury list grows, its offensive output has shrunk.

The Panthers added another to the injured list Thursday as Stephen Weiss missed the game against Ottawa with what is called a lower body injury.

With Weiss on the shelf, Florida - which scored one goal in its recent two-game road trip to Ottawa and Montreal -- is missing four of its top forwards as well as defenseman Erik Gudbranson.

The extent of Weiss' injury is unknown as he took part in Thursday's morning skate but didn't come out for warmups.

General manager Dale Tallon said Thursday that Weiss -- Florida's top line center -- is day-to-day and doesn't plan on putting him on injured reserve.

"He just came off the ice,'' Tallon said of Weiss at Thursday's morning skate.

Aside from Weiss, Florida is also missing Kris Versteeg and Marcel Goc from the top two lines as well as Sean Bergenheim.

Versteeg (groin) and Goc (ankle) could return in the coming days as both skated before Thursday's workout.

It doesn't appear Bergenheim will be joining the Panthers as quickly.

Bergenheim, who scored a career-high 17 goals last year, was hurt while playing professionally in his hometown of Helsinki, Finland, early in the lockout.

It was reported that Bergenheim injured his groin in Finland. Because the injury happened in October -- and he returned to South Florida but didn't skate with his teammates -- it is believed to be much more serious than that.

The Panthers aren't commenting on Bergenheim's status because he isn't being treated by the team's medical staff. "I don't know where he is,'' Tallon said.

Because Bergenheim is suspended from the team without pay as he was injured playing for a team other than the Panthers, he can search out his own medical treatment. Goc and Gudbranson are also suspended but signed a waiver agreeing to be treated by the team. Bergenheim has not.

All three players are suspended until cleared to play in games -- not just practice or rehabilitate his injury.

Due to the prorated salary because of games lost to the lockout, Bergenheim was scheduled to make around $1.7 million this season.

Versteeg is eligible to come off the injured list in time for Saturday's game against the Flyers and is expected to fully participate in Florida's practice Friday morning. Versteeg was hurt in Florida's final practice of training camp last Friday at BB&T Center.

-- The Panthers will hold their first full practice since the season started on Friday morning at the Saveology.com Iceplex in Coral Springs.

The workout starts at 11:30 a.m. and is open to the public.

With the abbreviated schedule, coach Kevin Dineen knew he would be hard pressed to get practices in -- but Florida's accelerated schedule has completely taken those days away.

Thursday's game was Florida's fourth in six days. Wednesday was an off day for the players as they arrived back in South Florida from Canada early that morning.

ANDY DOES IT AGAIN: Senators Drop Panthers 3-1, Florida Loses Third Straight


TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

When the Panthers game against Philadelphia is done come Saturday night, a little over 10 percent of the season will already be finished.

If Florida doesn't start winning some games, and soon, the 2013 season may be over just as it starts.

The Panthers lost for the third straight time Thursday night, dropping a 3-1 decision to Ottawa at BB&T Center. The Panthers have just two points in the standings courtesy of their rousing 5-1 win over Carolina on opening night.

That game may have just been a few days ago but seems like it happened around the holidays. Florida (1-3-0) lost three straight in regulation once last year; that already happened four games into the abbreviated 2013 season.

"We have to be in desperation mode right now,'' captain Ed Jovanovski said. "We need a win and we need one badly.''

On Thursday -- for the second time in four nights -- former Panthers goalie Craig Anderson kept Florida's sagging offense in check.

Anderson owns the Panthers as he won for the ninth time in 10 decisions against his former team by making 25 saves as Ottawa beat the Panthers for the 11th time in the past 12 meetings.

Despite playing without four of its top offensive forwards, Florida took its first lead in a game since last Saturday's season opener against Carolina in the first period.

Tomas Fleischmann, the only remaining first line player on the ice Thursday, picked up his first of the season when he scored on a power play 8:24 into Florida's second home game of the young season.

Fleischmann was playing on an all new line Thursday as Stephen Weiss joined Kris Versteeg on the sideline. That trio combined for 70 goals and 172 points last season; Fleischmann's goal was the first of the season for either he or Weiss. They had three points through the first three games.

When asked for comment afterward, Fleischmann said he had to go to the medical room and pointed to a bloody spot on his foot. That's just what the Panthers need.

"There's nothing I can do about it,'' coach Kevin Dineen said when asked about the injuries piling up. "I have other options. I have to take the 18 they give me and move forward.''

Goalie Jose Theodore has most definitely been giving the Panthers value on their financial investment this season as he was terrific again Thursday.

Theodore made 41 saves in last weekend's opening win and kept the Panthers in Monday's loss in Ottawa. Thursday, Theodore made 35 saves as Ottawa's third goal went into a vacant net.

"I feel like I'm in midseason form, feel really good,'' said Theodore, 1-2-0 this year. "I'm trying to give my team a chance to win every night.''

Ottawa tied the score three minutes after Fleischmann scored when Chris Phillips scored on a long shot on an extended power play chance. Florida was down two skaters for 1:01 but survived that; Phillips' goal came with 12 seconds left in Scottie Upshall's hooking penalty.

Phillips' goal came on Ottawa's 15th shot of the game as the Senators were outshooting Florida 15-3 at that point.

On Monday, the Senators outshot the Panthers 18-4 in the first period yet only led 1-0 at the break thanks to the play of Theodore. Thursday, Ottawa's shot advantage in the opening period ended up being just 16-7 as the game was tied going into intermission.

The Senators broke the deadlock in the second when defenseman Erik Karlsson -- the reigning Norris Trophy winner as the league's top blueliner -- zipped a shot that found its way over Theodore's shoulder midway through the period.

That goal was set up by a poor crossing pass from Shawn Matthias that was picked off by Karlsson.

Theodore also stopped a penalty shot taken by Guillaume Latendresse with 9:11 left after he was dragged down by Brian Campbell going unopposed to the net.

It could be argued Florida did more offensively in the second and third periods Thursday than it did Monday or Tuesday in Canada. Anderson, however, was spectacular when he needed to be.

Soon after Karlsson's goal, Alex Kovalev -- who was booed every time he touched the puck Monday after two uninspiring seasons in Ottawa -- snapped on a loose puck after Phillips mishandled it in the corner.

Anderson had initially come out of his net to play the puck and got it to Phillips. Anderson jumped back into position to make a spectacular play on Kovalev.

Earlier in the period, Anderson stoned Jonathan Huberdeau from close range after Florida's rookie winger got loose and broke toward the net. Anderson also made a slick glove save on a Peter Mueller shot with 6:04 left.

Anderson is 9-0-1 against the Panthers in 11 career starts. His lone loss to the Panthers came on Dec. 7, 2010, when Florida beat Anderson and the Colorado Avs 4-3 in overtime as Weiss scored off a pass from David Booth 43 seconds into overtime.

Luckily for the Panthers, Ottawa -- and South Florida resident Anderson -- doesn't return until April. Without some wins, Florida's playoff hopes could be gone by then.

"This stings,'' Mueller said. "We all have to dig down a little deeper, bring more to the table.''