According to multiple reports on Twitter including George Richards of the Miami Herald, Aaron Ekblad will be out for the Florida Panthers again after waking up with a sore neck. The injury is apparently unrelated to his most recent concussion.
After returning for just one game earlier this week, Ekblad will miss tonight’s matchup against the Arizona Coyotes and should be considered questionable for the rest of the regular season. Even if this neck injury is unrelated to his concussion, Ekblad suffered from whiplash during the World Cup in September and would likely be at risk of re-injuring himself.
With the Panthers nine points out of a playoff spot with only ten games to play, it would be an amazing feat to get them back into the postseason. Shutting down Ekblad now, as Matt Larkin of The Hockey News pleaded before the latest return, would likely be the most prudent course of action. One of the linchpins of the future in Florida, allowing the 21-year old superstar to injure himself further would be a mistake.
Panthers’ head coach Tom Rowe also mentioned to Harvey Fialkov of the Sun Sentinel that Nick Bjugstad’s season has been unacceptable regardless of the injuries he’s faced. After three straight seasons with at least 15 goals and 34 points, Bjugstad has been held to just nine points this year. His play at both ends of the rink has taken a huge step backwards this season, and is one of the (many) reasons for the Panthers missing the playoffs this year.