Fleischmann says scoreless slump is ‘like nothing I’ve ever had before’

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Since joining the Florida Panthers in 2011, Tomas Fleischmann has been a pretty consistent scorer — he led the team with 61 points en route to the Southeast Division title in ’11-12 and led again last year, with 35 points in 48 games.

But this year? Fleischmann is in some kinda slump.

The Czech winger is scoreless in 10 and had just three goals and 12 points through 26 games — putting him fourth on the Panthers in scoring and tied for 7th in goals.

“It’s unbelievable, it’s like nothing I’ve ever had before,” Fleischmann told the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I’ve put good games together and felt great last game [a 5-1 loss to Pittsburgh].

“Nothing seems to click my way. It’s something guys go through. [Tomas Kopecky] had it before.

“I took it from him and now I have to fight through it, too.”

Kopecky went the first 16 games of the season without a point — yes, a point — before registering an assist against Ottawa on Nov. 9.

(So, as you can see, scoring slumps aren’t uncommon for the Panthers this season).

For Fleischmann, though, this pointless streak could have larger ramifications. He has two seasons remaining on his four-year, $18 million deal — a $4.5 million average annual cap hit — and has been rumored as one of Florida’s veterans available for trade.

But, as you can imagine, there isn’t a big market for $4.5 million scoring wingers that aren’t scoring. It could hamstring Tallon when it comes time to try and make a trade, which won’t be easy to begin with given Fleischmann has a modified no-trade clause.

Of course, the 29-year-old isn’t even looking that far ahead. He wants to sort out his scoring issues and help the Panthers.

“We had a coaching change this month, different lines, so getting used to everything, maybe that’s the reason,” he explained. “I’m trying to be the best player in the game and hopefully, things follow.”

After healthy scratch, Severson vows to play ‘next 80 games’

Jimmy Hayes, Damon Severson
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Damon Severson was a healthy scratch on Saturday.

It’s the last game he wants to miss this season.

“I had a good chat with a few people and just pretty much said, ‘I want to be in the next 80 games,’” Severson said, per The Record. “I sat out my game and that’s all I want to be out for for the year.”

Severson is one of the Devils’ most important young players. But this is also the 21-year-old defenseman’s sophomore season, and that’s when slumps can occur.

Hence, the early message he was sent by the coaching staff.

Severson is expected to be back in the lineup tonight when New Jersey hosts Nashville.

“He doesn’t have to be perfect,” coach John Hynes told reporters. “We’d just like to see him have a high compete level. We know he’s ready to go. We had a couple of good meetings with him. He’s in a good spot mentally. I know he’s ready to roll.”

Virtanen to make NHL debut tonight versus Kings

Jake Virtanen
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Jake Virtanen, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, will make his NHL debut tonight when his Canucks meet the Kings in Los Angeles.

The 19-year-old winger was a healthy scratch for Vancouver’s first three games of the regular season. He had two goals and two assists in six preseason games.

“I can’t wait,” he told reporters. “My energy is high. I want to get a couple of hits on my first shift.”

Big and physical with goal-scoring ability, the consensus is that Virtanen will remain in the NHL and not be returned to junior after he’s played nine games. That consensus could always change based on his play, of course.

The Canucks — who won last night in Anaheim — did not have a full skate this morning, so it’s unclear who will come out of the lineup. The best guess is rookie Jared McCann, who’s been playing third-line center.

If McCann does come out, the Canucks could move Brandon Sutter to third-line center and Virtanen could take Sutter’s spot on the first line with the Sedin twins. Or, there could be more extensive line juggling.