SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – A little home cooking could be just what the Florida Panthers need.
Fresh off Tuesday’s embarrassing 5-1 loss in Montreal, the Panthers will kick off a five-game homestand Thursday night against the Anaheim Ducks at the BB&T Center.
Florida has played well at home so far this season and will need that to continue over the next two weeks.
A win over the Ducks would go a long way towards getting things back on track for a team that has struggled with consistency while learning a new system.
“If you get off on the right foot on a homestand, it can carry some momentum in these next games and we wanna get that mojo back,” said Panthers forward Nick Bjugstad. “I think we’ve had some really good games and a few not so good games so we’ve got to find a medium there and keep it even keep and make sure we’re focused and ready to go.”
Anaheim comes in having won back-to-back games for the first time this season.
The Ducks got Ryan Getzlaf back in the lineup this week, reuniting him with Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry on Anaheim’s top line.
Defensemen Hampus Lindholm also returned for the Ducks on Tuesday, providing a huge boost to their back line.
Florida will certainly be tested by the big, smooth skating team from California, which can be a good thing for a team still forming its identity.
“They’re a big team, they move the puck fast and they play hard,” Bjugstad said. “Any time you play a west coast team they make the game a little more boring, but they make you pay if you try to get to fancy. It’s gonna be a good test for us, they’ve got some big guns on their team so we’re definitely looking forward to it.”
Panthers coach Bob Boughner is hoping to get injured forward Jared McCann (lower-body injury) back on the ice this weekend.
Forward Colton Sceviour (upper-body injury) could resume practicing sometime next week.
Roberto Luongo worked on the ice with Panthers goalie coach Rob Tallas prior to Thursday’s morning skate.
“He’s still day-to-day, progressing,” said Boughner. “I think they’re going to reevaluate later this week. He’s starting to do more things, which is nice to see.”
Luongo injured his right hand during Florida’s loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins last Friday.
He is eligible to come off IR on Saturday but there has been no specific timetable given for his return.
“He’s rehabbing right now,” Boughner said. “He’s keeping his legs strong obviously and skating, and once he rehabs hopefully we can see him back in the net. That’s the plan.”