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One Of Those Crucial Four Point Games

Thursday, 03.05.2009 / 12:31 PM / Preview
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One Of Those Crucial Four Point Games
The Panthers and Penguins play for the second time this season. Florida earned a 6-1 victory in Pittsburgh on January 3rd. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com

SUNRISE – With the trade deadline past and the “best defenseman in the league” still in a Panther uniform, coach Peter DeBoer had his players back on the ice Thursday morning in preparation for tonight’s game at BankAtlantic Center against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“A four-point game,” is how DeBoer described tonight’s game with the Panthers sitting sixth in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the Penguins, who have won four consecutive games and six of their last seven.

“You see the standings, see where both teams are sitting,” DeBoer said. “The Penguins have won four in a row. These are all critical games down the stretch, especially when you’re playing a team you’re fighting for a playoff position with.”

The Panthers came out of Wednesday’s trade deadline not only with All-Star defenseman Jay Bouwmeester part of the team, but also with defenseman Steve Eminger, who was acquired from Tampa for Noah Welch and a 2009 draft pick.

Bouwmeester, an unrestricted free agent this summer, said he was happy to remain a Panther and was looking forward to the remainder of the season. DeBoer was equally as pleased.

“For me, he’s the best defenseman in the league,” said DeBoer of Bouwmeester. “He plays 30 minutes a night, he plays in all situations for us. It would have been an unfillable hole for us down the stretch (if he was traded). Whatever we got back in return we could have made the best of it, (but) it would have effected our team chemistry. It would have had an effect in a lot of different areas. Who knows whether we could have got through it or not.”

DeBoer also said the addition of Eminger gives the Panthers the “deepest seven defensemen in the league, which is a nice luxury to have.”

Eminger, who has averaged 22:27 of ice time this season and racked up 21 assists while playing in Philadelphia (12 games) and Tampa (50 games), will play tonight. Nick Boynton, who is back with the team after being sent home from last week’s road trip due to disciplinary reasons, will be a healthy scratch.

“My plan until we made the trade (for Eminger) was to play Nick (tonight),” said DeBoer, who coached Eminger in junior hockey. “We were through (the incident). We know what (Boynton) can do for us…but you don’t make a trade for a player and not play him.”

NOTES

David Booth skated with the team Thursday morning and will be a game time decision… Sidney Crosby, who’s missed four games with a groin injury, is 50-50…Tomas Vokoun gets the start in goal…Keaton Ellerby was sent back to Rochester…Cory Stillman has 33 points (11 goals) in 25 career games against the Penguins…Vokoun is 5-6-2 lifetime against the Pens with a 2.59 goals against and .914 save percentage…

GUERIN TO MAKE DEBUT

Bill Guerin, acquired Wednesday from the Islanders by the Penguins for a conditional draft pick, will make his Penguin debut tonight. Guerin, who knew assistant coach and former Panther Tom Fitzgerald when they were kids growing up outside Boston, is expected to bring the Penguins size and scoring up front and veteran leadership. Guerin is one point shy of becoming the 14th U.S., born player to record 800 NHL points. He’s one of only eight U.S., born players to have 400 NHL goals.

OLESZ SKATES WITH PANTHERS

Rostislav Olesz, who has missed 39 games after surgery to repair a sports hernia, skated with the team for the first time Thursday morning. “It felt good to be with the team,” said Olesz, who had been skating on his own the past six days. Olesz is hoping to be ready to play within two weeks…
UPCOMING EVENTS

SCHEDULE

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AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 76 16 22 -14 38
S. Upshall 76 15 22 1 37
B. Campbell 82 7 30 -6 37
B. Boyes 78 21 15 -6 36
S. Bergenheim 62 16 13 -16 29
J. Huberdeau 69 9 19 -5 28
T. Fleischmann 80 8 20 -18 28
T. Gilbert 73 3 25 -5 28
B. Pirri 49 13 12 6 25
A. Barkov 54 8 16 -3 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 25 23 7 .919 2.40
S. Clemmensen 6 7 1 .896 3.09
 
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