The Florida Panthers always seem to have issues with injuries at some point each season, of course the shortened lockout season is no different. To start the season the Panthers were without Kris Versteeg, who appeared to have issues after a surgery this past off-season. Then Stephen Weiss was long along with Tomas Fleischmann, leaving the team without it’s entire top line that had come together to torment goaltenders most of last season.
On top of those injuries, Florida was also skating without Marcel Goc and Sean Bergenheim who both were a big part in last seasons South East Division Championship. Captain Ed Jovanovski and second year blueliner Erik Gudbranson are also out with injuries, Gudbranson was sent to San Antonio of the AHL on a rehab stint and is looking to make his season debut with Florida on Tuesday in Winnipeg. Fleischmann has since returned to the lineup along with Versteeg and Goc this past Thursday and Weiss who returned Sunday against Buffalo. Scottie Upshall was also injured recently and is expected to miss up to a month, however with the great play of rookie center Drew Shore, it could be good for Upshall to take some extra time instead of rushing back and re-injuring something.
Overall it appears that Florida is getting healthier and getting some key pieces back and have picked up a few wins in the process. If this continues they could be on their way to the playoffs for the second straight season, looking to improve on last years Round One, Game 7 defeat.
Note: The unofficial count for Sunday’s game in Buffalo for scouts in the press box was 18, a large number was also reportedly in Florida for Thursdays game. Could Dale be shopping a few guys?