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FHN SUNDAY WRAP

The Florida Panthers Wrap: Luongo to Hall of Fame, Balcers to Tampa

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Florida panthers
Former Vancouver Canucks teammates Daniel Sedin and Roberto Luongo show off their new Hall of Fame rings in Toronto on Friday afternoon. — Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers got a couple key players back into their lineup this weekend, but with Aaron Ekblad returning off LTIR it cost them as well.

This salary cap thing is a killer, eh?

When the Panthers activated Ekblad off long-term injured reserve, that meant others would have to go.

Florida simply just does not have the cap space to mess around.

Sending Aleksi Heponiemi, Matt Kiersted and Lucas Carlsson back to AHL Charlotte were the obvious moves we all knew the Panthers would make.

But who would be the other player moved?

Turns out, Florida placed Rudolfs Balcers on waivers Friday; they hoped he would clear — like Heponiemi did at the end of preseason — but we all knew that was not going to happen.

Balcers got claimed as we all assumed he would Saturday, going to the Lightning.

It is a bold, new world for the cap-strapped Panthers, a team that is back to only having 20 players on their active roster.

Of course, having a player like Ekblad in the fold is worth whatever it costs.

And, at the end of the day, good for Balcers.

He is going to get a chance with the Lightning — something he was losing his grip on with the Panthers.

By last week, he had dropped to Florida’s fourth line and, had Matthew Tkachuk not been suspended following Saturday’s game in Los Angeles, he was probably going to be a healthy scratch Sunday in Anaheim.

The Panthers wish Rudy the best — and hope he does not come back and bite them in the rear.

Florida panthers

Rudolfs Balcers scored two goals with four points in 14 games with the Florida Panthers. He was placed on waivers Friday and claimed by the Lightning. — Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

TODAY

The Florida Panthers did a nice job of holding the Edmonton Oilers’ potent power play in check — until they did not.

Edmonton was 0-for-4 with the man advantage before Tyson Barrie got his second of the game to give the Oilers a lead they would not give back.

— Roberto Luongo is up in Toronto and a number of Panthers folks are meeting him for his Hall of Fame induction on Monday.

We will have a lot more on Lu and his big day tomorrow.

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— Hey, if you dig hearing from the Panthers themselves, check out the FHN YouTube Channel which can be accessed RIGHT HERE or click on the video below.

Following Saturday’s loss, we heard from coach Paul Maurice, Sam Bennett and Gus Forsling.

If you subscribe to the channel — which is free — you will be alerted whenever new content appears.

SATURDAY

The big news around the Panthers was the return of Ekblad, but what about Matthew Tkachuk?

Seems convenient the NHL only suspended Tkachuk for two games after he used his stick blade to poke Jonathan Quick in the face knowing he could come back against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.

Not putting on a tin hat or anything, but it was cool seeing the two renew their rivalry in Sunrise.

It was not the ‘Battle of Alberta’ but fun nonetheless.

— Do the Panthers have a goalie controversy brewing?

Nope.

Aaron Ekblad says it “sucks” to miss games, but he was pretty happy that his groin injury sustained in Boston was a short-term deal.

— Remember what we said about the FHN YouTube Channel? Had Ekblad and Tkachuk video as well.

FRIDAY

We have talked a lot about players who have filled in admirably with Ekblad out but Brandon Montour took things to another level.

Montour has simply taken his game to a new plateau and was the man with No. 5 out.

— The Panthers were pretty pumped about getting some of their big names back in the lineup.

THURSDAY

It was a nasty night in South Florida on Wednesday, but Spencer Knight certainly calmed down those Carolina Hurricanes with a 40-save shutout as Nicole raged outside.

The headline was titled: ‘Stormy Knight.’

Good luck getting that kind of good stuff anywhere else, folks.

— If there was any question whether the Panthers were going to activate Ekblad off LTIR, those thoughts were scuttled when they assigned three players to Charlotte.

— The Panthers had themselves a fancy Staal Family Reunion on Wednesday night.

WEDNESDAY

Aleksi Heponiemi knew his days were numbered with the Panthers, but that was probably true during training camp as well.

He still showed the Panthers what he had.

Heponiemi has shown he can play here. He knows it. We know it.

— Broward County was under a Hurricane Watch but the Panthers played the Hurricanes anyways.

— Which was a good thing considering Eric Staal got to play a milestone game against the team he came up with as well as having two of his brothers on the ice.

TUESDAY

Florida GM  Bill Zito has a pretty good track record when it comes to finding diamonds in the rough.

It looks like Colin White may be another one of his gems.

— The Panthers were keeping their eye on a storm named Nicole.

Would they play on Wednesday night? Spoiler: They did.

— If Wednesday’s game was to be postponed, Matthew Tkachuk’s two-game suspension carries through the Edmonton game on Saturday. He would not be able to return until next Tuesday against Washington.

Sigh. Another spoiler alert.

MONDAY

The Panthers may have been without Tkachuk due to his suspension, but they still were able to polish off their four-game road trip with a nice win in Anaheim.

— So, what happened to Matthew Tkachuk after all?

LAST SUNDAY

The Los Angeles Kings held off the Panthers in a nutty game.

Things happened.

PANTHERS ON DECK

WASHINGTON CAPITALS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
  • Last season: Panthers won 2-1 (defeated Capitals 4-2 in the first round of playoffs)
  • All-time regular season series: Washington leads 67-43-12, 9 ties

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