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Greetings from Duck Country: Florida Panthers in Anaheim ... Steve Bernier Likely Back, Cool with Burns

Ana11 ANAHEIM – Panthers coach Pete DeBoer put his charges through a rigorous workout Monday afternoon, skating the jet lag out of them.

Although most players came off the ice as soon as they were released, Steve Bernier couldn't get enough work and had to be told to get off or miss the bus going back to the hotel in scenic Newport Beach.

Bernier hasn't played in a game since he took the butt end of a stick to the face on Nov. 5. He had facial surgery the next day and only recently returned to practice. With Cory Stillman out for the time being with back spasms, Bernier will likely be back in the lineup Wednesday against the Ducks at Honda Center.

Bernier will wear a full cage on his mask.

“I've had five or six very good practices just making sure I'm back in shape,'' Bernier said Monday, sweat pouring off his face. “Today was a good practice. I feel good. Hopefully I'm 100 percent on Wednesday.''

Ana2 Bernier was back working with Steven Reinprecht and Darcy Hordichuk on Monday meaning coach Pete DeBoer may want to put that trio together again.

Bernier only has one goal in his 14 games with the Panthers, but the things he does that do not show up on scoresheet is what's important to the team.

“I like him. He adds something to our lineup that we haven't had in a while and that's a big, strong guy up on the walls and in the battle areas,'' DeBoer said. “He's in front of the net and you need guys like that in the depth of your lineup. The numbers will come for him, although I'm not a numbers guy when it comes to a player like that. He's affective.''

The evidence to Bernier's injury is easy to spot only if you know what to look for. There is still darkness under his right eye and what looks to be a couple small scratches. That's all that is left. Bernier was lucky that his sight was not effected.

Ana3 The injury occurred in the final seconds of Florida's win over the Wild at BankAtlantic Center. Bernier checked Brent Burns after he shot after the horn sounded, Burns turned and hit Bernier in the face with his right hand. Burns then punched Bernier with his left hand – while still holding his stick. The end of the stick was exposed and got Bernier right under the eye. He was transported to a local hospital after the game and Burns was suspended for two games.

Burns was very apologetic after the game and quickly reached out to Bernier. The two talked and all seems fine.

“Things like that happen, it's part of the game,'' Bernier said. “You just have to bounce back. He texted me the next day, told me he was extremely sorry. You know what? I know him and I know he's not that kind of player. I could do that. You get in a scrum, stuff happens. You have to live with it.''

-- With the power play struggling (five total goals and none since Nov. 10), DeBoer has brought center Stephen Weiss up to play on the point to try and create some chances. Weiss has good ice vision and is a strong passer so it seems like a good idea to see if he can get something going from the top of the offensive set.

“He's played the point before and is a natural guy to go back there because he can distribute the puck,'' DeBoer said. “He can shoot it, get it though. It's a different look. We're not married to it, but I liked the way the power play looked [Saturday]. It's just a matter of time.''

-- Stillman did not practice on Monday and probably will take Tuesday off as well. Stillman hurt his back Friday against the Rangers but played through it; he left Saturday's game in the third period because of the pain.

“Hoping on the plane sure doesn't help,'' DeBoer said. “He's a hard guy to keep out of the lineup. He usually finds a way to get into the lineup.''