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Florida Panthers Pregame: Andrew Brunette shakes things up



Florida Panthers Andrew Brunette
Florida Panthers coach Andrew Brunette has switched up his lineup going into Thursday night’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks. — Photo @ColbyDGuy

SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers are going into Thursday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks with a bit of a different look.

With Noel Acciari joining Anton Lundell and Patric Hornqvist on the injury report — as well as some surprise performances — coach Andrew Brunette has decided to shake the lines up a bit.

This is the first major shakeup the lineup has had in a while.

Barring a few injuries here and there, Brunette has kept his lines pretty consistent throughout the season.

Now, he’s going to get a different look at his team.

“I think it’s important,” Brunette said of experimenting with the lineup.

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“It can be refreshing to change it up. We stayed with similar lines for a long period of time here, so we’re going to get a different look. We’re going to get all kinds going down the stretch here, so it’s going to be a little familiarity and a comfort level with everybody.”

One of the biggest changes to the lineup is the new-look second line.

Ryan Lomberg is getting his shot to play on the right side of Jonathan Huberdeau and Claude Giroux.

“He deserves it, he brings energy and a fresh body, so we rewarded him,” Brunette said.

“He’s done everything we’ve asked of him all year and he and [Huberdeau] played really well last game.”

Lomberg had a career night in Tuesday’s 7-4 win over the Montreal Canadiens, netting two goals and an assist while getting playing time with both Huberdeau and Sasha Barkov.

At some points, he found himself outside of the lineup, but he really found a place in the lineup by pumping up the fans with his physicality.

He brought even more to the table with his shot on Tuesday, is getting rewarded for it.

“It’s a great story, he’s hung in there and he’s been everything we’ve asked for and more,” Brunette said.

“It’s so much fun to see him score goals. I could hear the guys call him ‘Lomberdeau,’ which is pretty funny.”

The top line, meanwhile, is going back to a similar look as it was at the start of the season.

Sam Reinhart gets another chance to play with Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe, a line that saw some success in limited opportunities before Reinhart was paired up with Anton Lundell in late October.

“Whether it says, who knows? There’s so much that can happen with guys coming in and out,” Reinhart said.

“Any time you have an opportunity to play with [Barkov], you try to take advantage of it and enjoy the experience.”

The bottom six rounds at as combinations of Mason Marchment, Sam Bennett and Anthony Duclair; Joe Thornton, Eetu Luostarinen and Maxim Mamin make up the fourth line.

“Sometimes it’s nice to play with new guys and you can find some new chemistry,” Bennett said.

“It’s exciting, there are so many great players on this team that it really doesn’t matter who’s playing with who, you’re going to find chemistry and you’re going to find some new matches that work and we’re excited to try them out.”

Morning Skate Updates:

  • Sergei Bobrovsky starts in goal Thursday against the Blackhawks.
  • Anton Lundell is out. He will likely return over the weekend, per Brunette.
  • Noel Acciari and Patric Hornqvist are day-to-day and are questionable to join the team on their weekend road trip to New Jersey and Buffalo.



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