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GameDay 68: Lineups, Betting Odds for Panthers at Devils

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The seemingly always caffeinated Ryan Lomberg is in the midst of a career-high heater, scoring four goals with five points in his past three games for the Florida Panthers. — Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

Do not be surprised if the Florida Panthers packed plenty of Cafe Bustelo for their quick, two-game road trip.

If they did not, well, perhaps they can find some in Newark.

The Panthers are going to need a lot of strong coffee to get through this weekend.

Not only do the Panthers have early kickoffs in both Newark and Buffalo, Saturday’s game against the New Jersey Devils includes some additional travel.

Usually when an NHL team plays an early-afternoon game, they are staying within walking distance of the arena.

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The Panthers stayed in lower Manhattan on Friday night and had early busses headed to New Jersey on Saturday for their 12:30 game against the Devils.

Sunday’s 1 p.m. start against the Sabres at least has a Tim Hortons on the walk to the arena.

”It is a tough little way to get in, especially early in the morning,” Andrew Brunette said. “It’s going to be a challenge for us to be ready to play on time. I have said it a few times, but with these early games, the team ready to play the first little bit can decide it. We have to be ready.”

The Panthers can clinch a playoff spot this weekend as they face two teams long eliminated from postseason contention.

The Devils, who thumped the Panthers 7-3 on their last visit to The Rock in November, may not remember that feeling.

New Jersey has not only lost three of its past four games and six of eight, but Thursday, the Devils were rolled 8-1 by the Bruins.

Perhaps they will be an angry bunch come Saturday morning.

Regardless of the Devils’ mood, the Panthers know they need to keep winning if they want to continue leading the Atlantic what with everyone else chasing them within the division winning games as well.

“It’s a bizarre year,” Brunette said. “To see playoff races being done, in our division, almost a month ago. Even though the other divisions have heated up a little, you don’t see that often. And I don’t remember another time when it has happened. …

“I am always watching and I think you’re very aware of all these different teams. I catch Tampa a lot and they cause you nightmares certain nights, certainly sleepless nights.

“And the way Boston is playing and we played a very good Toronto team the other day. It’s crazy.”

PRACTICE NOTES

Anton Lundell has continued to work toward a return to the lineup and is back Saturday against the Devils.

Lundell has been out since sustaining a lower-body injury March 7 in Buffalo.

During warmups, Lundell was back centering Florida’s third line with Mason Marchment and Sam Reinhart; Eetu Luostarinen centers the fourth line.

Claude Giroux goes to the right side of Sam Bennett and Jonathan Huberdeau.

“(Luostarinen) is a rock for us, we play him everywhere and he is probably our most reliable two-way player we have on the team,” Brunette said.

“He is so smart of a player; he fits any mold and the versatility of our group is so important in the middle of the ice. He makes everyone around him more stable. He is a calming influence. He can play anywhere and he will help wherever he goes. He is the ultimate selfless player.”

— Although Patric Hornqvist was on the ice on Friday for a light pre-flight workout, Brunette said he would not travel with the team and would not return to the lineup until next week.

Hornqvist has missed the past three games.

Noel Acciari, who left Tuesday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens, is also day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He will not play this weekend, either.

Sergei Bobrovsky goes on Saturday.

Bobrovsky, the NHL’s Third Star of March after going 7-0 with two shutouts, is two wins away from tying Roberto Luongo’s franchise record for consecutive victories set in 2016.

UP NEXT FOR THE FLORIDA PANTHERS

FLORIDA PANTHERS AT NEW JERSEY DEVILS 

PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP

23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 10 Anthony Duclair

11 Jonathan Huberdeau // 8 Sam Bennett // 28 Claude Giroux

17 Mason Marchment // 15 Anton Lundell // 13 Sam Reinhart

94 Ryan Lomberg // 27 Eetu Luostarinen // 98 Maxim Mamin

42 Gus Forsling // 52 MacKenzie Weegar

8 Ben Chiarot // 7 Radko Gudas

18 Robert Hagg // 62 Brandon Montour

72 Sergei Bobrovsky

30 Spencer Knight

Scratched: Petteri Lindbohm, Lucas Carlsson, Joe Thornton

Injured: Markus Nutivaara (LTIR), Jonas Johansson (IR), Aaron Ekblad (LTIR), Noel Acciari (UBI), Patric Hornqvist (UBI)

PROJECTED NEW JERSEY DEVILS LINEUP

17 Yegor Sharangovich // 86 Jack Hughes // 18 Dawson Mercer

90 Tomas Tatar // 13 Nico Hirschier // 63 Jesper Bratt

11 Andreas Johnsson // 70 Jesper Boqvist // 44 Miles Wood

16 Jimmy Vesey // 20 Michael McLeod // 14 Nathan Bastian

71 Jonas Siegenthaler // 7 Dougie Hamilton

33 Ryan Graves // 28 Damon Severson

24 TY Smith // 76 P.K. Subban

50 Nico Daws

32 Jon Gilles

New Jersey Devils line combinations courtesy DailyFaceoff.com

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