Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google
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
By Glenn Odebralski - FloridaPanthers.com / Panthers Insider
X
Share with your Friends


Panthers Insider
Pair Get Back In The Game

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 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYI 65 41 21 3 207 182 85
3 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
4 TBL 65 39 20 6 213 171 84
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 65 35 20 10 193 162 80
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 64 28 23 13 156 181 69
10 PHI 64 27 25 12 170 186 66
11 OTT 61 27 23 11 173 166 65
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 64 26 33 5 173 195 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 64 22 16 -9 38
J. Huberdeau 61 9 28 3 37
A. Ekblad 64 11 23 7 34
J. Jokinen 63 6 28 -1 34
B. Boyes 62 11 21 8 32
J. Jagr 60 12 19 -10 31
J. Hayes 55 17 12 -4 29
B. Campbell 64 3 20 2 23
A. Barkov 53 10 12 -5 22
V. Trocheck 34 5 11 8 16
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 23 16 11 .921 2.37
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
 
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 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 © 1999-2015 Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.