SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers will be without Anthony Duclair when they take on the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.
The good news? It is just an illness that the team is optimistic that he will return from for Saturday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets.
In the meantime, Sam Reinhart will take over the top line right wing spot and Casey Fitzgerald will draw into the lineup as the Panthers roll 11 forwards and seven defensemen.
Reinhart is currently on a six-game goal drought — as is Matthew Tkachuk — but Panthers coach Paul Maurice is not worried about that as long as the team keeps winning.
“Our numbers are right and I know it is a cliche that we are getting chances but it is true,” Maurice said.
”Especially if you are playing against a team you are fighting with in Pittsburgh or an elite team like Vegas, if you are generating chances, all you have to do is get one more.”
Florida is riding two wins against the Penguins and Golden Knights and wants to keep playing the same tight-checking style they played to earn those wins against the Blackhawks tonight.
Even against a Chicago team that sits at the bottom of the Western Conference.
They already beat an Ottawa Senators team the Panthers are fighting with and Maurice has made it a point to tell his players about it.
”Ottawa had just had two huge wins over Detroit and came in and outshot Chicago significantly early and found themselves down 4-0,” he said.
”They pressed so hard and, to Chicago’s credit, they can finish, they can make plays, they got pucks into holes, they got lots of speed and skill. We have to be ready to defend against this team, this isn’t just going to be driving our offensive game down their throats because they can handle it.”
Sergei Bobrovsky will man the crease for the Panthers on Friday while Saturday’s starter against Winnipeg will be determined by his workload.
If Maurice and Florida’s goaltending department believe that Bobrovsky had too big of a workload, Alex Lyon could get his first NHL start since before the All-Star break against the Jets.
PANTHERS ON DECK
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Friday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5 FM-2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- DraftKings odds — Panthers favored: Money Line (-450); Puck line (-1.5, -175); Over/Under 6.5 (-105/-115)
- Last season: Florida won 2-0
- This season (Chicago leads 1-0): Blackhawks 4, Panthers 2 (Oct. 25)
- All-time regular season series: Blackhawks lead 28-17-4, 3 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Saturday vs. Winnipeg, 7 p.m.
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
27 Eetu Luostarinen // 16 Sasha Barkov //13 Sam Reinhart
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 9 Sam Bennett // 19 Matthew Tkachuk
94 Ryan Lomberg // 15 Anton Lundell //6 Colin White
21 Nick Cousins // 12 Eric Staal // 4 Casey Fitzgerald
42 Gus Forsling // 5 Aaron Ekblad
18 Marc Staal // 62 Brandon Montour
28 Josh Mahura // 7 Radko Gudas
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
34 Alex Lyon
Injured: Givani Smith (LTIR-face), Patric Hornqvist (LTIR-concussion), Anthony Duclair (illness)
PROJECTED CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS LINEUP
27 Lukas Reichel // 23 Philipp Kurashev // 89 Andreas Athanasiou
90 Tyler Johnson // 70 Cole Guttman // 11 Taylor Raddysh
24 Anders Bjork // 17 Jason Dickinson // 58 MacKenzie Entwistle
14 Boris Katchouk // 16 Jujha Kharia // 15 Joey Anderson
82 Caleb Jones // 4 Seth Jones
25 Jarred Tinordi // 51 Ian Mitchell
48 Filip Roos // 22 Nikita Zaitsev
34 Petr Mrazek
33 Alex Stalock