TAMPA, Fla. – As the Florida Panthers prepare to begin a week-long road trip that takes the team through three cities, head coach Joel Quenneville dropped some disparaging news following Monday’s morning skate in Tampa.
Coach Q said Panthers forward Noel Acciari was not with the team on the road and would miss 7-10 days with an upper-body injury.
It’s a tough break for Florida’s lineup to lose a player who fills so many roles on the team.
If there is an important faceoff in the defensive zone, odds are its Acciari on the ice taking the draw.
Big penalty kill? You bet Acciari is the first guy over the boards, throwing his body in front of shots and getting his stick in passing lanes.
While he’s yet to find the back of the net this season, Acciari has sneaky-good offensive instincts and knows how to find the spot spots in the opposing team’s defensive coverage. It’s a big part of why he logged a career-high 20 goals last year.
“You lose your Swiss Army knife,” Quenneville said Monday morning. “We use him in all the situations.”
It’s unknown where and how Acciari sustained his injury.
He did not appear to miss any time during Saturday’s loss to Tampa, playing six shifts in each of the three periods, including two in the final three minutes of the game.
“We rely on him a lot, so you lose the options,” said Quenneville. “But at the same time, it creates some opportunities to see other guys in those positions.”
Q mentioned Juho Lammikko as a candidate to see some of the ice time and faceoff responsibilities that normally fall on Acciari.
“(We’ll) see how he handles the defensive responsibilities,” Q said of Lammikko.
The 25-year-old Finn has played in 46 games with Florida during his career, including six this season.
Still searching for his first NHL goal, Lammikko has zero points, four shots and a minus-3 on-ice rating so far this season.
The Panthers face Tampa for the third straight game on Monday night. Florida won last Thursday 5-2 but the defending Stanley Cup champs took the rematch on Saturday night by a score of 6-1.
After leaving Tampa, the Panthers will play at Carolina on Wednesday before heading to Detroit for a back-to-back set with the Red Wings on Friday and Saturday.