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Cats Take On The Rangers

Friday, 11.28.2008 / 12:44 PM ET / Preview
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Cats Take On The Rangers
Foward Nick Tarnasky (right) will make his debut with the Panthers tonight after being acquired ina trade with Nashville yesterday. He will wear number 74. (AP Photo/Jeff Lewis)
By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com

When the Panthers play host at BankAtlantic Center this evening to the top team in the Eastern Conference in the New York Rangers, they’ll do so with new faces in the lineup and a familiar face out of action.

Nick Tarnasky, acquired Thursday from Nashville in exchange for Wade Belak, will be in the lineup this evening as will top prospect Shawn Matthias.

Missing tonight will be Nathan Horton, who sustained a deep leg cut during Wednesday’s game against the Devils and will likely be out through next week’s road trip through New York and Washington.

Craig Anderson, who stopped 24 shots in relief Wednesday of Tomas Vokoun against New Jersey, gets his first career start against the Rangers, who lead the east with 34 points (16-7-2).

Tarnasky, 24, is a 6-2, 224-pound forward who had one assist in 11 games this season with the Predators while averaging 5:38 of ice time. A former ninth-round draft pick (287th overall) in 2003, Tarnasky had six goals and four assists for Tampa in 80 games last season.

Coach Peter DeBoer said Tarnasky will likely play on the wing this evening. He added that he will fill a similar role as Belak but be “a little more versatile as far as filling some different roles.”

GM Jacques Martin echoed DeBoer’s comments.

“I think he brings us more speed,” said Martin of Tarnasky. “He’s more of a physical presence, a player who can play more than Wade and help us on the forecheck and finish checks. We’re trying to get a line that can kind of swing momentum. You send them out there and bang people.

“You’re trying to get players to meet the needs of your coach. With Wade it was difficult to play him.”

DeBoer said team’s who don’t start well need to shake things up.

“Wade is a good man, he’s good at his job,” he said. “I think when you’ve had the start we’ve had, sitting in the standings, you have to expect changes are going to happen. Whether or not they’re warranted or whether or not the individual deserves to be moved, it really at this point doesn’t have a lot to do with it. Sometimes you just have to shake things up.”

DeBoer hopes Matthias can help shake things up as well. One of the Panthers’ top prospects, Matthias has struggled a bit in the American Hockey League with the Panthers’ Rochester affiliate. Rochester is a lowly 2-16-0-1, and Matthias has three goals and one assist in 19 games while being a minus-19. DeBoer said he’s hoping Matthias, who was flying in from Rochester Friday morning, can “inject some energy.”

“We know what he can do, he’s obviously a top prospect in the organization,” he said. “I don’t think things have gone as well as he’s wanted down in Rochester. Hopefully, this is an opportunity for him to send a message to the organization that he’s close and ready to play.”

Horton is “doubtful” for the upcoming road trip, according to DeBoer. “It was kind of a fluky thing,” he said of Horton’s injury. “There was a collision of three players and somebody’s skate came up and cut him. It cut right through the boot of the skate and it’s pretty significant.”


Cory Stillman said Friday morning he continues to make some progress in returning from symptoms of a concussion he suffered back on Nov. 2 in Atlanta.

“We’re moving along slowly,” Stillman said. “Obviously, you want to end this as quick as you can and we want to take the right steps. Right now they’re slow steps.”

Stillman has been exercising and is hoping he can start skating sometime in the “next couple days.” Stillman returned to play two games Nov. 12 and 14 before he experienced symptoms again.

“Maybe we’re a little more cautious this time, but it will pay off in the end.”




1 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 CBJ 74 35 35 4 203 230 74
13 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48


J. Huberdeau 71 13 32 7 45
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
J. Jokinen 73 7 33 -1 40
J. Jagr 69 13 25 -4 38
B. Boyes 72 12 23 10 35
A. Ekblad 73 11 24 10 35
J. Hayes 64 18 13 -4 31
A. Barkov 63 12 17 -2 29
B. Campbell 74 3 21 1 24
B. Pirri 41 20 2 5 22
R. Luongo 26 17 11 .922 2.32
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
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