CORAL SPRINGS — There is a possibility the Florida Panthers could be without Sam Bennett for Game 1 of their first-round series against the Boston Bruins.
Bennett has yet to re-join the team for practice after sustaining a groin injury in mid-March. He missed the last 12 games of Florida’s season and 19 total games with a lower-body injury believed to be connected to this one.
Panthers coach Paul Maurice said Bennett would travel with the team to Boston for the first two playoff games.
He skated on his own ahead of Saturday’s practice and could re-join the team as soon as Monday’s morning skate.
”If he comes back strong tomorrow, he’ll skate again on his own,” he said. “Then we will start working him into practice.”
Maurice said there was “a chance” he would return at some point during the series, but given his prognosis of the injury, Game 1 seems like a stretch.
While he would not divulge into full detail, Maurice has said that this is a “soft tissue” injury that Bennett has been dealing with — likely since he missed seven games in mid-February — and it is one he cannot play on until it is fully healed.
”It’s a tough injury that heals at it’s own rate,” Maurice said. “There is not a lot of room on it. It just has to get better. You can’t play as an NHL hockey player with it.”
The rest of the active roster was in attendance for Saturday’s practice at the Panthers Ice Den, aside from Mike Benning, who skated on his own afterward.
Regardless of Bennett’s status, Florida feels like it can handle the daunting task ahead of them that is the record-breaking Bruins.
After losing their first four games without him and finding themselves with their backs against the wall, they went 6-1-1 in the last eight to secure their spot in the playoffs.
“We have a lot of confidence in our group,” Carter Verhaeghe said.
”We have been through this situation, battling, the whole year. We believe in all of the guys and we just have to go out there, play hard and have fun.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS, ROUND 1
BOSTON BRUINS (ATL1) VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS (WC2)
- When: Monday, 7:30 p.m.
- Where: Boston Garden
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN/ESPN+
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM/WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Season Series (Tied 2-2): @Boston 5, Florida 3 (Oct. 17); @Florida 5, Boston 2 (Nov. 23); @Boston 7, Florida 3 (Dec. 19); @Florida 4, Boston 3 OT (Jan. 28)
- Last season: Boston won 2-1
- All-time regular season series: Boston leads 60-38-6, 6 ties
- Playoff History (Florida leads 1-0): Panthers 4-1, 1996 (first round)
- First Round Schedule — Game 1: Monday, 7:30 (ESPN); Game 2: at Boston, Wednesday, 7:30 (ESPN); Game 3: at Florida, Friday, 7:30 (TNT); Game 4: at Florida, Sunday, April 23, 3:30 (TNT); Game 5*: at Boston, Wednesday, April 26; Game 6*: at Florida, Friday, April 28; Game 7*: at Boston, Sunday, April 30.