CORAL SPRINGS — Sasha Barkov was not on the ice for the Florida Panthers practice Thursday morning but everyone else was.
It was all good news for the Panthers as they head into their final set of games before getting a nice break corresponding with All-Star Weekend in South Florida.
First off, coach Paul Maurice said Barkov was fine and was simply given a day off.
”We have a threshold of minutes played and he passed that probably in Game 5,’’ Maurice said. “A day off is fine.”
As for the rest of the Panthers, well, everyone was accounted for.
Both Sam Bennett and Eric Staal were full participants as were all three goalies.
Florida also had Patric Hornqvist skating before the practice with Anthony Duclair involved in no-practice yellow.
”It will be after All-Star break,’’ Maurice said when asked about Duclair returning to full practice. “Everyone is really sensitive about his Achilles right now. He has gone through a long process, has worked hard and is good up-and-down the ice. What’s up next is the grind. I am hopeful it is early after the break.’’
Bennett was hurt after getting tangled up with New York’s Filip Chytil during the first period on Monday night. He returned for the second period but said he aggravated the leg injury when he was hit breaking in on goal late in the second.
He did not return for the third and did not play Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
Maurice said on Monday that he did not expect Bennett to play in these final two games before the break; Thursday, he was more optimistic with Bennett saying he felt good to go.
“I expect both of them to be good to go,” Maurice said.
Said Bennett: “It was a little scary at first, thought it was going to be more serious than it was. I am feeling pretty good right now. We have to talk to the trainers but I feel good, optimistic I will be back sometime this weekend.”
Staal has been out since sustaining a concussion on a hit from Montreal’s Mike Matheson which cost the former Florida defenseman a $5,000 fine.
The Panthers placed Staal on Injured Reserve last week allowing him to come off in time for Friday night’s game.
Maurice said he had to get final medical clearance on Friday morning after being in concussion protocol.
The big question about the Panthers’ goaltending was not answered on Thursday although both Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight went through the full practice.
Knight was not available to play on Tuesday night against the Penguins as “he got to gametime and did not feel he could go,” Maurice said. Knight was not sick but was still dealing with the injury which has kept him out of the Florida lineup since Jan. 8.
He did play in two rehab games at Charlotte last weekend.
“We had three goalies on the ice and the medical staff was assessing where they’re at,” Maurice said. “(Bobrovsky) got through the whole thing but we will wait until tomorrow morning to see where he is at. How they come back is the big thing. It was a goalies’ practice; the whole idea was to get them post-to-post, moving across their crease. Those were all positive for us.”
PANTHERS ON DECK
LOS ANGELES KINGS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Friday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Last season: Los Angeles won 2-0
- This season — Los Angeles leads 1-0: Kings 5, Panthers 4 (Nov. 5)
- All-time regular season series: Los Angeles leads 24-14-0, 3 ties