Just as the Florida Panthers have begun to make a real push to climb the Eastern Conference standings, the team has been hit with a rash of major injuries. The team is down to an Alex Lyon–Mack Guzda tandem in net, and now it seems they could be without their top defenseman. The Panthers have announced that 2014 first-overall pick Aaron Ekblad and 2014 fourth-overall pick Sam Bennett each suffered an upper-body injury in tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild.
Per the team, Eklbad is doubtful to return, while Bennett has been ruled out. Ekblad is no stranger to injury troubles, as he has missed chunks of time in each of the past two seasons. Ekblad hasn’t escaped the Panthers’ team-wide regression from their President’s Trophy-winning form of last season, but he still has scored 20 points in 36 games and averages 24 minutes a night. While the emergence of Brandon Montour might help the team weather any extended Ekblad absence, this news is still unwelcome for a club desperate to gain ground on other contenders.
Some other injury notes from tonight’s games:
- The Carolina Hurricanes have announced that defenseman Jaccob Slavin has suffered a lower-body injury, and will miss tonight’s game against the New York Islanders. With Slavin out, the Hurricanes will be missing one of the NHL’s best defensive defensemen. Offseason trade acquisition Dylan Coghlan has moved into the lineup in Slavin’s place, and will have a chance to put some quality play forward in the absence of Carolina’s top blueliner.
- The Minnesota Wild have announced that forward Marcus Foligno will miss tonight’s game against the Panthers due to a non-COVID illness. While this is unlikely to keep him out of the lineup for any extended period, it does come as another piece of bad news in a difficult season for Foligno. The 31-year-old forward scored 23 goals last season and has seen much of that offense dry up this year, as he’s scoring at just a nine-goal 82-game pace.