SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – New Florida Panthers head coach Bob Boughner is still tinkering with the team’s lineup despite the season being well into its third week.
After going the first few games without any changes, Boughner has shuffled the forward lines several times and this week has made a couple significant tweaks.
The biggest move came on Tuesday in Philadelphia when rookie Owen Tippett made his NHL debut.
Now with the Panthers back home to face the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, Boughner is adding another new face to the mix in the form of defensemen MacKenzie Weegar.
He replaces rookie Ian McCoshen, who will miss his first game of the season in order for Weegar to make his 2017 debut.
“It’ll be a good opportunity, a good test for me,” Weegar said. “Obviously pretty excited to get in the lineup. I’ve been waiting patiently for this and hopefully we get a W out of this.”
Weegar played in three games last season, his first in the NHL, registering three shots on goal, four hits and a blocked shot in an average of 17:27 on the ice.
He made the Opening Night roster this season after an impressive showing during training camp but had been a healthy scratch for every game before Friday.
Part of the reason he’s finding his way into the lineup now is his great attitude and dedicated work-ethic, one that the coaching staff has surely noticed.
“He’s been solid, I’ve had a lot of talks with him about staying positive, staying patient and being ready for his chance,” Boughner said of Weegar. “[Now] he’s gonna get his chance.”
Despite being held out of every game so far, the 23-year-old has a good understanding of how important it is to get two points each night.
“These are big games for us early on [in the season],” he said. “Every game is a big game but these ones add up at the end of the year.