SUNRISE — In the days following Joel Quenneville’s sudden resignation as coach of the Florida Panthers, there were many wondering how long Andrew Brunette would stay behind the bench.
No way the Panthers — a team looking like a legitimate Stanley Cup contender — would keep an interim coach, right?
Brunette’s first game as coach of the Panthers came on Oct. 29 in Detroit against the Red Wings.
On Saturday night, Brunette and his team face the Wings again.
A lot has happened in the 47 games in between meetings.
And, Brunette is still behind the Florida bench.
”He is great. I love playing for him,” Radko Gudas said. “I loved playing for Q as well and that was a sad thing for us when that came to an end. But it feels like that was a long time ago.
“Guys don’t talk about it anymore, don’t think about it anymore. We’re playing for Bruno and pulling for him. It’s fun to play for a guy like that and it’s fun to see him have this success knowing the kind of guy he is. Bruno is a guy you want to be around.”
Brunette says playing the Red Wings again does not stir up any special feelings.
The games since October, he said, have been a “blur.”
”I’m just trying to get over the last game, dissect last night,” Brunette said.
The Panthers come into Saturday night’s game still near the top of the NHL standings and are currently one point back of the Lightning for first in the Atlantic after it beat Detroit on Friday night.
Right before Brunette coached the Atlantic Division team at the All-Star Game, general manager Bill Zito told Florida Hockey Now that he planned to keep the interim tag on Brunette through the end of the season.
“I can tell you, I am not in the market for a coach right now,’’ Zito said last month. “We will address everything at the end of the season. But I reiterate, I am not looking. I am pretty comfortable with our All-Star coach.”
— The Panthers did not hold a morning skate on Saturday with Brunette saying there could be a lineup change coming depending on how certain players felt.
Sergei Bobrovsky, who made 18 saves in shutting out the Senators on Thursday night, will start against the Wings.
— The Panthers placed defenseman Olli Juolevi on waivers Saturday — either to make room for Petteri Lindbohm or Spencer Knight. To make room for both players, another roster move will have to be made.
Florida acquired Juolevi in a deal before the season with the Vancouver Canucks, giving up Juho Lammikko and Noah Juulsen.
Juolevi played in 10 games for the Panthers and will be a healthy scratch tonight against the Wings.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
DETROIT RED WINGS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- Tickets: CLICK HERE
- Streaming only: Hulu/ESPN+
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM, SiriusXM
- FanDuel odds — Florida favored: Money Line (-375); Puck line (-2.5, +116); Over/Under 7 (+124/-152)
- 2021 regular season series: Florida won 6-2
- Season Series — Florida leads 1-0: Florida 3, @Detroit 2 (Oct. 29)
- All-time regular season series: Florida leads 30-19-6, 5 ties
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 17 Mason Marchment
11 Jonathan Huberdeau // 9 Sam Bennett // 10 Anthony Duclair
77 Frank Vatrano // 15 Anton Lundell // 13 Sam Reinhart
27 Eetu Luostarinen // 55 Noel Acciari // 70 Patric Hornqvist
52 MacKenzie Weegar // 5 Aaron Ekblad
42 Gus Forsling // 7 Radko Gudas
32 Lucas Carlsson // 62 Brandon Montour
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
35 Jonas Johansson
Scratched: Ryan Lomberg, Maxim Mamin
Waivers: Olli Juolevi
Injured: Markus Nutivaara (LTIR), Joe Thornton (IR)
PROJECTED DETROIT RED WINGS LINEUP
92 Vladislav Namestnikov // 71 Dylan Larkin // 23 Lucas Raymond
14 Robby Fabbri // 24 Pius Suter // 59 Tyler Bertuzzi
27 Michael Rasmussen // 90 Joe Veleno // 11 Filip Zadina
73 Adam Erne // 37 Carter Rowney // 89 Sam Gagner
2 Nick Leddy // 53 Moritz Seider
82 Jordan Oesterle // 17 Filip Hronek
18 Marc Staal // 70 Troy Stecher
29 Thomas Greiss
39 Alex Nedeljkovic
Detroit Red Wings lines courtesy DailyFaceoff.com