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Monday, January 27, 2014

Kopecky to IR, Winchester on third line for Panthers

By on 1/27/2014 02:00:00 PM

The Florida Panthers have moved left winger Tomas Kopecky to their Injured Reserved list while working centerman Jesse Winchester back into the flow after his return from injury.

Winchester, who had missed 14 games with a broken hand, showed little rust upon his return skating in Kopecky's spot on the wing along side Marcel Goc and Jonathan Huberdeau on the third line as the Panthers took down the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.

Winchester has 14 points in 30 games

In 30 games this season, the gritty Winchester has found twine seven times and helped on an equal number - not bad for a guy that was considered a longshot to make the roster.

"My mandate doesn't change," Winchester said upon his return last week. "I work hard, have fun, try to be tough around their net and in the corners, and just do whatever I can in whatever role I have to help our team win."

In contrast to Winchester's fired up, everywhere-on-the-ice style, Kopecky has adopted a more defensive posture to his game this season, as his stat line of four goals and six assists will attest - even so, he has agreed to play center to Team Slovakia in the upcoming Sochi Olympics, that is, provided that his lingering shoulder injury has healed.

Kopecky's trip to the IR is most likely retroactive to January 18th, which means that if he's well enough, he could return for the Panthers' match at Boston on Tuesday night.  If not, Winchester will fill in - as he has stated, "I'll play whatever position except for goalie".


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