SUNRISE - Afterof their , the Florida Panthers are home for Thanksgiving.
It's a busy schedule with games every other day, including a big matchup with Boston on Wednesday night. The Panthers eliminated the Bruins in a historic upset in the first round of the playoffs last season. But they may have to play the week without their best player, which will force some line juggling and a need for players to come up with big performances.
Barkov Banged Up
The Panthers' captain was having one of his best starts to a season in his career. But a knee-on-knee hit from Anaheim defenseman Jackson Lacombe forced Aleksander Barkov out of the game on Friday. The good news is that it isn't an overly serious injury and Barkov is day to day. Without him, Anton Lundell, who had his best game of the season in that same game, will take the place as top-line center. With Barkov, the Panthers are solid up the middle with players slotting in good positions. Without him, players like Lundell and Sam Bennett need to play their best hockey of the season.
Back On D
Ironically enough, on the same night that Barkov went out, the Panthers' blue line was bolstered with the season debuts of Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour. Both required extensive rehab after last season's playoff run. Both pretty much picked up where they had left off playing big minutes and looking good in their first games of the season.
The Panthers have had a good history over the last handful of years with backup goaltenders. From the flashes of strong play from Spencer Knight to Chris Driedger and Alex Lyon, there have been numerous big wins. Anthony Stolarz now teams with Sergei Bobrovsky, and he continued the trend. Stolarz earned both wins on the California road trip and was outstanding last game against the Ducks, coming up with 34 saves in a 2-1 victory.
Keep The Wins Coming
Since dropping the first two games of the season, the have ripped an 11-3-1 run for the past 15 games.
They have been terrific at home winning six of their first seven games. This week will be a test as Connor McDavid comes to town with Edmonton, a battle with the always-tough Bruins, and then the night after Thanksgiving against the solid Jets which handed the Panthers one of their few regulation losses back in game two of the season. And no, that isn't an error. The Panthers play the Winnipeg Jets on the same day the Dolphins play the New York Jets.
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