The Florida Panthers did not have time to enjoy — nor to breakdown their problems — from Thursday night’s win in Edmonton as they visit the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night.
Before beating the Oilers 6-0 on Thursday, the team place defenseman Olli Juolevi on injured reserve — spoiling his return to Vancouver where he was the fifth overall pick of the Canucks in 2016.
Juolevi was replaced in the lineup by Matt Kiersted — who had to do some flying to get to Edmonton in time.
When the Panthers announced their new AHL team would be a bit closer to South Florida, they really were not expecting to be in western Canada when they needed a callup.
Luckily, the Charlotte airport has numerous flights to Toronto.
According to Florida coach Andrew Brunette, Juolevi sustained a minor lower body injury Tuesday night against Calgary.
As a precaution, Kiersted was flown from Charlotte to Toronto — probably on Wednesday giving him time to get through customs without threat of missing a connecting flight — where he awaited the Panthers’ call.
Brunette talked about Juolevi being in the lineup following Thursday’s morning skate, but the injury flared up.
Kiersted hopped a flight to Edmonton.
Probably WestJet. Maybe Air Canada.
Regardless, the rookie got to Edmonton in time to make another good impression on the Panthers.
Kiersted, a highly-coveted collegiate free agent who signed with Florida last spring and played down the stretch, saw a lot of action Thursday.
The rookie played 19 shifts, had a nice role on the penalty kill — and saved a goal from going in by star Leon Draisaitl early in the game.
“He flew this morning and we threw him in,” Brunette said. “Really good for him. That’s a great experience and really shows his maturity level to be able to play a game like that after flying in from Toronto today. Really happy for him.”
With Juolevi now out for the next few games, Kiersted will get a chance to show a little more.
The Vancouver Canucks are in a bit of a Covid mess as well as the Canucks get ready to play their first home game since Dec. 14.
On Thursday night, the league announced that leading scorer JT Miller (39 points) and starting goalie Thatcher Demko were out due to Covid.
The Canucks were already missing captain Bo Horvat, forward Conor Garland and backup goalie Jaroslav Halak.
Michael DiPietro was recalled from the AHL and may start Friday night although it sounds as if Spencer Martin is the logical and probable choice.
Brunette said that Sam Bennett is dealing with a minor lower body concern which allows Joe Thornton to get back into the lineup for the first time since Jan. 8.
Thornton skated in Vancouver on Friday morning and is expected to take over the third line — we think Anton Lundell moves up between Jonathan Huberdeau and Anthony Duclair.
Spencer Knight will be in net.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT VANCOUVER CANUCKS
- When: Friday, 10 p.m.
- Where: Rogers Arena; Vancouver, B.C.
- Tickets: CLICK HERE
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM, SiriusXM
- NHL Betting Odds from BetUS: Florida favored (Money Line -190) — Over/Under 6.5 (-120/EVEN)
- Last season: Did not play
- All-time regular season series: Vancouver leads 18-11-3, 6 ties
- This season: @Florida 5, Vancouver 2 (Jan. 11)
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 13 Sam Reinhart
11 Jonathan Huberdeau // 15 Anton Lundell // 10 Anthony Duclair
17 Mason Marchment // 19 Joe Thornton // 74 Owen Tippett
94 Ryan Lomberg // 27 Eetu Luostarinen // 98 Maxim Mamin
52 MacKenzie Weegar // 5 Aaron Ekblad
8 Matt Kiersted // 62 Brandon Montour
32 Lucas Carlsson // 7 Radko Gudas
30 Spencer Knight
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
Scratched: Frank Vatrano
Taxi squad: Evan Fitzpatrick, Aleksi Heponiemi
Injured: Noel Acciari (LTIR), Markus Nutivaara (LTIR), Olli Juolevi (IR), Patric Hornqvist (d2d), Sam Bennett (d2d)
Covid Protocol: Jonas Johansson, Gus Forsling
PROJECTED VANCOUVER CANUCKS LINEUP
70 Tanner Pearson // 40 Elias Pettersson // 6 Brock Boeser
92 Vasily Podkolzin // 18 Jason Dickinson // 21 Nils Hoglander
64 Tyler Motte // 91 Juho Lammikko // 15 Matthew Highmore
73 Justin Dowling // 39 Alex Chiasson// 95 Justin Bailey
23 Oliver Ekman-Larsson // 57 Tyler Myers
43 Quinn Hughes // 5 Tucker Poolman
44 Kyle Burroughs // 2 Luke Schenn
30 Spencer Martin
75 Michael DiPietro