Florida Panthers Facebook Florida Panthers Twitter Florida Panthers Google+ Florida Panthers Pintrest Florida Panthers Instagram Florida Panthers
 
Panthers Insider

Pair Get Back In The Game

Both Kris Versteeg and Dmitry Kulikov should be in lineup for big game against Buffalo Saturday night.
Saturday, 03.17.2012 / 12:36 PM ET
By Glenn Odebralski - FloridaPanthers.com / Panthers Insider
X
Share with your Friends


Panthers Insider

Both Kris Versteeg (left) and Dmitry Kulikov (second from left) should be in the lineup as the Panthers host the Sabres for the fourth and final meeting between the two clubs.
Tonight is the night.

Finally after working out to get back healthy and countless questions by the media on their return, it seems that the Panthers will get two of their charges back for a big contest at the BankAtlantic Center with the Buffalo Sabres.

Asked once again following morning skate, head coach Kevin Dineen announced that both forward Kris Versteeg and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov should be back as long as there are no unseen complications.

"Yeah. They're positive (to go)," said Dineen. "We expect to see both those guys in the swing of things unless things change in the next couple of hours."

Both players couldn't hold back how excited they were to return to the ice following the skate after being told by the media that Dineen said they were a go.

"It's been a long time. I've been looking forward to this to this night," said Kulikov who has missed the last 23 games dating back to January 24th. "I've been looking forward to coming back and help out the team."

"I'm excited to go here," said Versteeg who has missed the last nine games, starting Febraury 28th. "It's been a little while now. I'm definitely ready, more than ready."

With the Panthers winning their last three games and looking to make it a perfect four for four on the homestand, both players are nervous about messing up the flow. They've put a lot of pressure on themselves to not only fit in but to be better than when they left.

"It's a tough time of the year. Every game is like a playoff game," said Kulikov who was fifth on the team in scoring with 24 points at the time of his injury. "You don't want to go into the game and get used to the game. You don't have time for that. You just have to go out there, pick up from where you left off and play even better."

"It's just about going out there and getting a job done on the ice and preparing for the two points and not worrying about easing into the game," said Versteeg. "Getting into the game and trying to be a factor."

Dineen doesn't think the missed time will be a factor, especially in Versteeg's case as the coach compared him to one of tonight's opposition who also missed time with an injury.

"You take a guy like Tyler Ennis who had a long stretch off and he's come back and he's played so well," said Dineen. "I think what happens is there's frustration when you're not able to get into the lineup and you come back with enthusiasm. I think Kris  will really add some quality to our lineup."

Adding two more players to the lineup gives the coaching staff plenty of ammo to get the best out of their players. If you want to stay in the lineup, you have to have production.

"When you get a coveted spot in the lineup, your job is to make sure that you make the coaches have a tough decision making every day and how they're going to put their lineup together," said Dineen.

"You want enthusiasm and some kind of production. It may not be on the scoresheet but there has to be a positive effect for every player in the lineup for us to be successful."

That has been going on the past few games and will continue against a Sabres team that has been on a roll of late, going 9-2-3 in their last 14 games to climb into the playoff picture. Currently tenth in the Conference, Buffalo can climb to within one point of idle Washington for eighth place in the East with a win.

"We looked at this as a key stretch and we're still right in the middle of it," said Dineen. "We have to respect our opponent, know we have a team that's coming in that's playing a good stretch of hockey right now and they are surging. It has a great implications in the lineup for us as well as them. It will make for a very exciting game."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
5 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
6 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
7 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
12 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
15 BUF 55 21 28 6 125 151 48
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 51 17 21 14 38
J. Jokinen 54 11 27 12 38
J. Huberdeau 54 10 28 12 38
V. Trocheck 54 17 18 3 35
A. Barkov 43 16 19 13 35
R. Smith 54 18 16 12 34
B. Pirri 50 11 13 -4 24
A. Ekblad 50 10 13 20 23
B. Campbell 54 5 17 20 22
N. Bjugstad 39 9 10 -1 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 24 13 5 .928 2.17
A. Montoya 8 3 1 .929 2.01

 
FloridaPanthers.com is the official Web site of the Florida Panthers. Florida Panthers and floridapanthers.com are trademarks of the Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks and NHL Draft name and logo are trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2016 Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.