Continuing with their five-game homestand this week, the Florida Panthers may be without defenseman Dmitry Kulikov tomorrow night against the Anaheim Ducks (X Link). It is unclear what exactly is plaguing Kulikov, but he only managed a tad under 14 minutes of ice time in the team’s most recent loss to the New Jersey Devils.
If Kulikov is unable to play on Monday, it likely means that Josh Mahura will join the bottom-pairing on defense, after serving as a healthy scratch since December 16th. Although there is an argument to be made that Mahura is ultimately the more well-rounded defenseman comparatively, Kulikov’s recent work on the penalty kill has given the Panthers little choice but to put him in the lineup.
Already operating as the fifth-best penalty kill in the league, Florida’s penalty kill has allowed only four goals in the last 17 games, as they’ve been operating at over 90% efficiency for over a month. The penalty kill unit as a whole is bigger than just one defenseman, but Kulikov’s ability to shut down the other team’s top power-play units has been a tremendous boon to the Panther’s defensive core this season.
- Per the AHL transactions page, the Ducks have returned defenseman Robert Hagg to their AHL affiliate, the San Diego Gulls. Hagg was originally recalled on an emergency basis on January 9th, in correspondence with Anaheim’s trade of Jamie Drysdale to the Philadelphia Flyers only a day prior. Fortunately for Hagg, he was ultimately able to make his Ducks’ debut, playing in two games overall, with no points to show for.
- The New York Rangers have assigned forward Anton Blidh to their AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack, per a team announcement. It was a brief stay with the Rangers for Blidh, who was originally recalled on an emergency basis to suit up in last night’s game against the Washington Capitals. In only a little over five minutes of ice time, Blidh had very little effect on the outcome of the game, and will now return to a Hartford team where he has nine points in 29 games on the season.