Panthers

Florida Panthers’ lineup in flux as injuries take toll

 

As the Panthers head for Carolina, Mike Weaver is out and there is no timetable for Ed Jovanovski’s return to the team.

Saturday: Panthers at Hurricanes

When/where: 7 p.m., RBC Center, Raleigh, N.C.

TV/radio: FSNF; WKIS 99.9 FM.

Season series: The Panthers won the only meeting, 5-1, in the season’s first game.

The game: Defenseman Brian Campbell has picked up five points in his past two games. The Panthers’ erratic offense is of less concern than the fact that they have allowed 73 goals in 20 games and can’t rely on either goalie to make the big save you need to make to win the average close game. Carolina is only 4-4 at home, but Florida is only 3-5-1 on the road.


dneal@MiamiHerald.com

OK, here’s your scorecard of Who’s Staying and Who’s Going with the Panthers on this one-game road trip to Carolina, the first of a home-and-home weekend set:

Staying: defensemen Mike Weaver and Ed Jovanvoski.

Weaver went down early in Thursday’s shootout loss to Buffalo. The vague “lower-body injury” was used, but Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said Friday that Weaver didn’t blow out a knee.

Still, he doesn’t expect Weaver back soon. That’s 19:48 of ice time to replace. Rookie Colby Robak will dress this weekend.

“It means a huge deal,” Dineen said “[Weaver’s] one of those incredible character guys who is all about the team. He’s got a demeanor about him that everybody enjoys being around him.”

As for Jovanovski’s knee injury, now a month old, Dineen said, “I don’t have a timetable for his return. We won’t see him in the next week.”

Going: Wingers Kris Versteeg and Scottie Upshall. Each has played only seven games this season, the latter because of an ankle injury.

Staying (Home) and Going (from the Panthers): 40-year-old forward Alex Kovalev, a healthy scratch four of the past five games, will stay home. Dineen said Kovalev’s “examining his options” and said the Panthers should have something to announce in two days.

Feel free to read that as Kovalev being bought out.

Coming? Rookie goalie Jacob Markstrom is back in San Antonio after a week with the Panthers. In two games, Markstrom put up a .915 save percentage and 3.05 goals-against average, better numbers in both categories than Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen. In fact, neither veteran Panthers goalie can say his save percentage crests even .900, the minimum for even hoping to claim mediocrity in modern goaltending.

Clemmensen got the hook Thursday night against Buffalo. Theodore came on in relief, just as Clemmensen did for Theodore against Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

“You could answer that yourself,” Theodore said when asked for self-analysis of his play. “We’re dead last in goals against, so it’s easy to say.”

As for Markstrom getting recalled, Dineen said, “Every day that’s an option I consider.”

Rookie of month

Center Jonathan Huberdeau was named NHL Rookie of the Month for February after recording six goals and three assists in 13 games. Huberdeau’s eight goals lead all rookies, and his 13 points are second behind Tampa Bay’s Cory Conacher.

Huberdeau’s linemate, fellow rookie and comic partner Drew Shore, ranks seventh with 10 points and was third in the award voting.

“Great linemates! Linemates!” Shore shouted at a laughing Huberdeau as the latter faced the media.

Huberdeau said that compared to earlier in the season, “Now, I’m trying to keep the puck more.

“Before, I was trying to get rid of it too much because I was scared to keep the puck and make a mistake.”

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