The Florida Panthers held practice Monday morning at the IceDen in Coral Springs and, with the season-opener coming up Thursday, the opening night lineup certainly looks much clearer.
Florida, which dealt fourth-line center Juho Lammikko to Vancouver on Sunday, was still without a couple of players who were expected to make the initial roster but may be on the injured list when GM Bill Zito puts in the team’s initial roster by Monday night.
Coach Joel Quenneville said that Mason Marchment, Maxim Mamin and Kevin Connauton are all close to returning to practice.
As it stands right now, newcomer Olli Juolevi will likely open up as Florida’s No. 7 defenseman even though the team does not have a timeline on his official arrival from Vancouver.
The Panthers were skating with six defensemen on Monday.
Florida was also going with 13 forwards so perhaps Marchment starts on the opening roster.
As far as the lines go, things went as expected with a few tweaks.
Rookie Anton Lundell, who so obviously impressed Quenneville and the Panthers in his first week on the ice after injury, is centering the third line with Frank Vatrano and Patric Hornqvist as was the case Saturday night against the Lightning.
Eetu Luostarinen beat out Lammikko during camp and is centering the fourth line with Joe Thornton on the right and Anthony Duclair on the left. Ryan Lomberg was skating as the 13th forward.
Quenneville said the fourth line is not solidified going into Thursday.
The Panthers will take Tuesday off so we’ll see who is running where on Wednesday morning.
“Marchment is close, you have Lomberg in the mix as well so that’s not set in stone who is running with that group,” Quenneville said.
Marchment, Quenneville said, has “an outside chance” of being ready for Thursday.
— Sam Bennett missed Saturday’s preseason finale against the Lightning because he was in the NHL’s Covid-19 protocol. Bennett was back on the ice Monday morning and is cleared to play Thursday against the Lightning.
FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP — MONDAY
Carter Verhaeghe // Sasha Barkov // Sam Reinhart
Jonathan Huberdeau // Sam Bennett // Owen Tippett
Frank Vatrano // Anton Lundell // Patric Hornqvist
Joe Thornton // Eetu Luostarinen // Anthony Duclair
MacKenzie Weegar // Aaron Ekblad
Gus Forsling // Radko Gudas
Markus Nutivaara // Brandon Montour
Sergei Bobrovsky // Spencer Knight
Missing: Mason Marchment, Maxim Mamin, Kevin Connauton, Olli Juolevi
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (0-0-0) AT FLORIDA PANTHERS (0-0-0)
- When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- Tickets: CLICK HERE
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida
- Radio: 560-AM
- 2021 regular season series: Did not play